Red Dust Revival 2025
The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival will return from 29 September to 5 October 2025.
Red Dust Revival t-shirts and books from the last event can be purchased at the shop
Follow the Red Dust Revival on Facebook to get the latest information about future plans.
More updates will be posted but if you plan to enter the next event with a historic car please keep your eye on the Facebook page or here. Before you do anything, grab a copy of the Red Dust Racers book so that you have an appreciation of the cars which actually raced on the claypan. With so many people wanting to enter, authenticity will be important!
We have a vision for the next event that we will have fields of cars and bikes so similar to the 1920s and 1930s that it will be getting into a Time Machine!
So You Want To Build a Perkolilli Car? It has to be true to the spirit of the event! Updated 31.8.2025
With many people inspired by the Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revivals of 2019 and 2022, we have had many people planning to build a vehicle for 2025. It is a very exciting period with people's creativity being applied to the challenge of building an authentic racer. It’s probably the right time to summarise what type of car is acceptable at the Perkolilli revival events. Basically, it has to be a “pre-war” car which means that components from cars built before the Second World War are acceptable. Post-war engines, chassis, and bodies are not in the spirit of Perkolilli and will not qualify for entry. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule but there is no point in putting a modern overhead valve V8 in an old car and expecting it to be eligible.
From the interest we have had since the last event, we could well have 200 cars applying to enter and only a max of 120 spaces so people get enough time on the track. With so many people wanting to enter the next Red Dust Revival, we will have to apply a stricter criteria relating to authenticity as a way of deciding who will be accepted. For the next event, the cars which are built to replicate original Perkolilli racers will be preferred, then cars which replicate the style of cars of the era will be OK, and last to be accepted will be cars which do not meet either of the criteria but have a vague pre-war look. Keep this in mind. Being accepted at a previous event does not necessarily mean automatic entry to the next event.
RACE CAR CONSTRUCTION GUIDELINES
The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival celebrates the golden years of racing at Lake Perkolilli from 1914 to 1939 and cars built in this era are acceptable for the event. This provides an enormous range of possibilities without having to revert to modern, post-1939 engines and chassis and bodywork. The cars suitable for Perkolilli have to look like the cars which people put together in those days. It was a very innovative period so it opens up an enormous range of possibilities without having to make cars look like modern rat rods. It is very pleasing to see members of the hot rod movement going back to the pre-war roots of hot rodding and building cars which were true to the period using discarded parts from their hot rod projects. We are being very careful about keeping the event pure to its roots and not having it slip into a post-war look. There are lots of other events where post-war cars and hot rods can compete. Being pre-war is what makes our event unique. It does not celebrate who has the fastest car, but it celebrates the person who has put together something that looks right with period components and gets on the track to re-create the era.
The Red Dust Revival is not for post-war hot rods such as T-buckets. It was not common in Australia during the 1930s to put a Ford flathead V8 engine into a Ford Model A or Model T chassis. This is more like post-war hot rod practice, and not what we are about. A great variety of performance parts were made to improve Model A engines and several firms continue to make these parts. Check out: http://www.millerhi-speedheads.com/index.html as an example.
Lake Perkolilli is not a speedway track. Cars from the 1930s were not like post-war speedway cars which were built from pre-war parts but with more recent updates. Stripped out 1930s Ford Coupes with mudguards removed, smaller wheels and big roll cages did not race at Perkolilli. Once again, your car must closely follow the look of cars which raced between 1914 and 1939. There was lots of talk at the last event about a car which looked like a 1950s dirt track speedcar rather than a 1930s racer. Next time, if the car looks like it is from the wrong era then it will have less chance of getting accepted.
We had several people who revived 1930s "barn find" sedans at the last event. We were very supportive of these people who saved these cars from being broken up. In the 1930s, these sedans were new cars and the owner would often drive the car to the track, race, and then drive home. They did not take the front and rear mudguards off the cars so we would prefer that people kept cars like this, outwardly looking stock. Modern wide wheels are not in the spirit of the event. Some people have asked whether we would prefer their car to be kept rusted and ratty or even made to look old and rusty. The answer is NO! This is not an event to see who can have the crappiest looking car. Yes, buff the paint and be proud. Repaint it if you like. In the 1920s and 1930s, cars did not have a lot of drag stripes and wild logos. There is no need to paint your car like it could have been at Claremont Speedway in the 1970s. Barn finds/rust buckets/rat rods are not in the spirit of the Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival 2025.
WHERE TO START?
This is a shameless ad but for good reason. The book, "Red Dust Racers", has hundreds of photographs of cars which raced at Lake Perkolilli during the golden era. There are still copies available from www.motoringpast.com.au/shop. This book is essential if you are building a car which you want to look the part at the Red Dust Revival. The photographic book, "Red Dust Revival", has images of cars from the 2019 event and "Denizens of Dust" from 2022. Borrow or buy a copy before you start building a car.
It starts with the chassis and there are still enough chassis laying around Australia to ensure that Perkolilli cars can be built for many years in the future. During the 1930s, racing cars were often built from chassis scrounged from old Chev Fours, Rugbys, Whippets or other American cars because they were so plentiful. Of course, the ever reliable Ford Model A chassis was the basis for many home-built racing cars. Other cars such as Ford Model Ts and Austin Sevens make great fun racers. It is worth saying up front that we all frown upon people who buy restored cars and rip them apart to make racers. Don’t do it! Cars which have been built by destroying perfectly good older restorations will not be accepted. There is no need to do this when there is still a ready supply of parts to build cars from the remains of cars which will probably never be restored. Often the bodies of these cars have fallen apart a long time ago. It is bad karma to rip apart a restored car to make a racer, and of course, you can take it to Perko just as it is! Several cars are being built from the donor cars of fully restored cars — once again, a great use for that car that would otherwise never see the light of day. Just Cars magazine and website regularly lists unrestored rolling chassis which could be transformed into Perkolilli racers.
The Ford range of T, Model A and V8 models from 1909 to 1939 were all entered at Perko events during the period and several cars have been made from rolling chassis which remained after the steel bodies were removed to make hot rods. Make a Perko racer from these old chassis is a great way to get a fun use from these parts. It was not common during the period, however, to have Ford Model As with later flathead V8 motors. This is more post-war hot rod practice.
Cars with modern RHS or fabricated chassis will not be accepted. Cars with "token" lumps of pre-war chassis grafted into a modern chassis will not be accepted.
Boxing a chassis is OK but not necessary. Very rarely were chassis boxed in the pre-war period. There is no need to box a chassis for Perko as chassis flexing on corners is not an issue! If the engine is too heavy for the chassis then find a bigger chassis.
The engine is the heart of the Perko car and as long as it is an engine built in the pre-war period or the same as a pre-war engine then it’s good to go. It’s better if your car looks like its engine could have been used in a car of the period. Things like alternators and SU carbs are OK but modern carbies and modern electronic distributors just don’t look right. No GM blowers or fuel injection please. Remember, it’s not about beating someone else’s time but re-creating the era and having fun. IT IS NOT ABOUT SPEED! If you want to race and be the fastest, go to Wanneroo.
Any gearboxes from the pre-war period are fine. Modern automatic gearboxes are not acceptable unless the driver has a disability which means they will be unable to press a clutch with their feet. Remember, only top gear is used at Perko.
Wheels and tyres should be 16 inch and above and not modern rims. We are very much aware that the price of old-style tyres has gone through the roof recently. Radials are OK on cars from the late 1930s because they use 16 inch rims (such as Ford wire wheels) but don’t look right on early cars. If you are using radials, see if you can source the square-sided radials used on light trucks or 4WDs - at least they look half-right.
The body is where your creative imagination can run riot within the limits of making a car which is in the spirit of the era. Cars which raced at Perkolilli had everything from just a cowl and two seats to beautifully made aluminium boat-tail bodies which wouldn’t look out of place at the Indy 500. There were bodies made with wooden frames like a boat with fabric stretched over them. Many cars were roadsters or tourers stripped down for the job. The best way to choose a body is to look at lots of old motor racing photographs to get inspiration. Before you launch into your build, please send us photographs of the car you intend to copy so we can give you feedback.
It is good fun to get into the mind of the early racing car builders of those days. Making your car look right in the detail is very satisfying and the public love the cars which have period detailing. For example, the first patent for a pop rivet was issued in 1939 so they aren’t really in keeping with the period. If you want to keep the period look, then buy soft sold aluminium rivets and a rivet gun kit from the Eastwood company. It's easier than you might think. Yes, also Phillips head screws, roofing bolts and tek screws weren’t the go in the 1920s and 1930s so if you keep to slot headed screws and bolts without “Zenith” on them then you can’t go wrong and you won’t get some nitpicker pointing them out to you! Fibreglass bodies weren't around in those days and are out of place at Perko. Mudguards are not required on cars built as racers but are required for unmodified cars.
Once you get close to the Red Dust Revival it is worth talking to other competitors about their experiences at the clay pan. Perko is the great red dyno! It finds out all the niggling little problems your car may have had which doesn’t show up when you run around the block. Just like everywhere else, with that red dust, 90% of carbs problems are electrical! While oil and water catch tanks aren't required, a water overflow tank is a good idea at Perko because it can get very hot. Carburettors need two return springs for safety and the electrics need a cutout switch. The tail shaft needs to have a hoop around it so you don’t have a nasty accident if it comes off. There are a lot of different ideas for air filters. They are a necessity at Perko where the dust can be thick and gets everywhere, including into your engine. Either paper filters or oiled foam filters seem to be preferred. Roll bars aren’t required. If you think you need a roll cage at Perkolilli then you don't understand the fun nature of the event. If you need to know about something specific, ask first. The rules are made to provide cars which are as safe as practical for a pre-war car, to provide a field of cars which looks right and to have cars which don’t have modern car speed and performance. The scrutineers will knock back cars they think aren’t safe.
If you think you need to run your car on ethanol then you are coming to the wrong event. No racing slicks please.
Hugh Fryer of Austin Seven fame has put together this summary of requirements. Remember it is broad and specific in some things. There are always exceptions to the rule:
• All major components, i.e. Engine, Gearbox, Diff, Chassis (not modern RHS or modern fabricated), Brakes, Wheels to be Pre 1939. Note components are dated from the year they were first made. For example the MG XPAG engine was first made in 1939 so is eligible even though they were made through until the early 50s.
• Body to look Pre 1939, i.e as it did in the day with standard radiator/grill, bonnet and scuttle with streamlined back. There are lots of period photos which show a variety of bodies.
• Wheels, minimum dia 16 inches. Tyres, prefer cross plies.
• Minor components - carburettors, ignition, electrical, instruments and general fittings - best if they are period for the car. If using an alternator try and hide it. Pop rivets and Philips head screws are to be discouraged in favour of solid rivets and slotted screws.
Safety Summary to be used as a guide
• Throttle return springs, one for each carb plus one for mechanism.
• Towing eyes front and rear, marked.
• Battery secure with isolator and blue triangle showing location.
• Fuel tank vented to atmosphere.
• General mechanical, steering free play, kingpins, brake pedal, wheels tyres, oil leaks, exhaust etc all to be in good condition.
• Drive shaft if exposed needs a safety hoop.
• Body, seat, windscreen, firewall etc all to be in good condition. If got headlights, glass to be covered or taped over. No hubcaps allowed.
• Fire extinguisher, current date and fixed securely.
• For tuning days and other track events water and oil catch tanks are required so you have more uses for your car if you fit them.
All of the above is relatively straight forward, it is far better to be aware of what required before starting to build a car, rather than altering to suit, if possible.
At the last event some competitors bent the eligibility requirements and we will be stricter in future events. People who take the time to build a pre-war racer which is period-correct will be preferred over people who try to stretch the guidlines. With more people wanting to enter the event than spaces available, the ones who do the right thing will be rewarded with an entry.
We aren’t into putting modern or tasteless period advertising on cars. It looks wrong and they never did it. Once again, it’s getting back to the look of the era. No advertising for your or someone else's business is allowed.
Remember, for the Red Dust Revival itself it is all about re-creating the era and having fun. It is not about speed. Nobody cares who is the fastest, but we love to see the cars which look as if they just came off Perko 80 or 90 years ago. That's why we are not into the 50s hot rod or speedway look. It make our event unique.
See you at Perkolilli in 2025!
We will provide more information in the coming months.
PLEASE TALK TO US RATHER THAN STARTING TO BUILD A CAR WHICH YOU THINK MAY BE OK, THEN HAVING DISAPPOINTMENT LATER ON! SEND US A PHOTOGRAPH OF WHAT YOU INTEND TO COPY.
Any questions about building cars which fit into the spirit of the Red Dust Revival please email Graeme at gacocks (at) iinet.net.au.