After 26 years of Speedway racing, Aubrey Lawson announced his retirement at the age of 47. His retirement was the finish of an era in Australian Speedway history, for Aub was the last of the pre war ( World War II ) riders competing in this country.
Lawson as a youngster started out in life as a Telegram boy, and possibly his early ecapades on a push bike were parltly responsible for his commencing racing in 1937.
Success did not come immediately, but there were those who could see the promise in the slender young lad with the broad grin when he began having minor wins in the 1937/38 season.
Aub decided to try his luck in England in 1939, where he joined the Wembley side. Wembley loaned him out to Middlesborough and the unknown from Down Under qualified for the World Championship Final - subsequently never held due to the outbreak of World War II.
Shortly afterwards Aub wed his charming wife Mary and joined the Armed Forces- all in the same week" one of the most hectic in my life" he said. He became a dispatch rider and served with the 8th Division in Malaya. One of the lucky to escape when Singapore fell, he was promoted to Lieutenant and served in Borneo and Morotai with the 9th. During his service, Aub received an injury to an eye, and most fans would probably be unaware that almost certain blindness was a black cloud looming over his head until he underwent a successful operation in Perth in 1962.
Discharged in 1946, Aub went straight back to Speedway. He went to England in 1947 and joined West Ham.
In 1948/49 Aub's luck changed and he won the 1949 Australian 3 lap Solo Championship at the Sydney Sportsground Speedway and in the same season the Australian1/4 Mile Championship and the 1949 "Champion of Champions" . ( This was to recognise the actual Australian Solo Champion as several "Australian Championships " were held each year.)
Back to England with added confidence in 1950, Aub became the first rider for several years to win the British Match Race title - a great achievement, for the event had become to be known as "Parker's Pension".
Locally, Aub captained the Test side against England and shared honours for the series with Parker, although the great Jack took the 1950 4 lap Australian title and the NSW Championship ( by 1 point from Aub.) Aub won the 1951 Queensland title.
Parker won his Match Race title back in England in 1951, when Aub skippered West Ham. Aub won the London Rider's Championship and his step brother Don,
( a very successful local handicap rider) showed form in his first Overseas venture.
Back home, and again Lawson was Test Skipper, although Keith Ryan was leader in the 3rd Test after defeating Parker, Lionel Levy and Aub ( who blew his engine in the final heat when equal leader) in the Australian Championship. Aub won the Champion of Champions at the Brisbane Exhibition track on the 26/1/1952 from Lionel Levy and Keith Ryan.
Aub then "retired", purchasing a farm at Quirindi NSW and not journeying to England in 1952. However the summer saw him back in action again and on the 17/1/1953 he won the Australian 3 lap Championship from Lionel Levy and Allan Quinn ( Aub's ex mechanic). In 1953 Lionel Levy successfully defended his 4 lap title with Aub runner up and Don third.
Aub won the 1954 NSW Solo title from Graham Warren and Dick Seers. By now a veteran, Aub was again the star of a victorious Australia Vs England series.
Brisbane Exhibition Grounds 7/2/1953 Aub takes out the Champion of Champions from Lionel Levy and Keith Ryan.
1953/54 saw the European side out here and Aub again was main Australian test captain, with Lionel Levy leading the second test side. Aub again won the 1954 3 lap Australian title at the Sydney Sportsground from Scot. Ken McKinlay, Levy and Sweden's Danny Forsberg and took the 1954 Champion of Champions for the third time with Levy second and Rune Sormander third. 1954/55 saw Aub winning the Australian title for the third successive year, however the bikes were on the "outer" in Sydney with firstly the Stockcar craze and later the Speedcar boom taking preference and Aub then concentrated his main activities overseas.
Aub's career was possibly highlighted by a well earned third place in the World Championship Final in 1958.
In 1961 he joined Eddie Dark in promoting the Westmead ( Sydney) track, after having taken over the Western Australian track, Claremont, a couple of seasons earlier. Although now out of the saddle speedway was still his life. It was fitting that his last race would be a NSW Championship Final, which the master took in no uncertain manner from Jim Airey and Bob Sharpe at the Kembla Grange Speedway in 1963 at the age of 47. Such a field was nowhere near the quality of the fields of '48-'54 but the wiley veteran proved himself still to be" a master of the cinders". Aub had 4 children, Rosemary, John, Lionel and Patricia.
His greatest opponent? "Jack Parker" said Aub. " I could always be confident against anyone but him". Mention Lionel Van Praag, mention Vic Duggan, but whenever the speedway past is discussed the name of Aub Lawson must pop up.
Thanks Aub, for giving us 26 years of true greatness.