Back to Documentary

Killarney

Words by Wamuwi Mbao // Photos by Retha Ferguson

"Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Killarney is that it still exists. On a Saturday, with the heat rebounding off the tarmac and the air filling with the smell of burnt oil, burnt fuel, burnt rubber, you can’t help but think – surely this is in the wrong place? The track began life as a superseded thing. Its roots lie in a disused piece of road, bypassed when the new road to Malmesbury was laid by the council. This trace of the old lives on at the entrance to the track, a bit of history disguised by its new purpose. 

It is a sustained assault that threatens all the senses at once: haptic, visual, olfactory, auditory. When you leave Killarney at the end of a session, your skin has been scorched by the sun. You have inhaled rubber particles, exhaust gasses, sweat. Your ears have been harangued past the point of delirium. Your clothes smell like tyre smoke. Motor racing is dirty. The car is a by-product of industrial modernity: the waste generated by cars extending themselves to their mechanical limits clings to one like the filth of a 19th-century factory. It feels like you’ve done an honest day’s greasy labour, even when you’ve just been watching."