Legendary race caller Ron Hawkswell was awarded the 2017 Ken Carr Medal at tonight’s 2016/17 Victorian Greyhound Awards at the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club.
Named in honour of the late Kenneth Russell Carr, a leading Victorian greyhound racing administrator and GRV Hall of Fame inductee, the Ken Carr Medal is considered the highest award for excellence within the Victorian greyhound racing industry.
RSN’s Hawkswell has been calling greyhound races for more than 40 years, and his voice resonates with Victorian greyhound racing perhaps more than anyone else in history. He served considerable years on the Victorian Greyhound of the Year Panel, and his tips have long appeared in form guides in the Herald Sun newspaper.
A shocked Ron Hawkswell said: “To go to work and love what you do and be paid for doing is an absolute privilege.”
“Ken Carr was a great administrator, and I really want to donate this medal to my parents, who supported me so much in my ambition to be a race caller.”
Ron’s brother Allan Hawkswell said Ron was 13 when he got “the bug” for calling races.
“Our dad worked with horses on a cattle ranch at Springsure in Queensland and our relatives were all interested in horse racing, so the natural progression was an introduction to the racetrack,” Allan said.
At 17, Ron wondered if there was a location behind Moonee Valley where he could hone his skills on horse racing. After sussing out the surrounds of Valley, a fantastic vantage point was discovered.
“Ron and I would go to Moonee Valley in his 4-on-the-floor XY Falcon, plus plenty of food and drinks and a cumbersome open reel recorder, and Ron posted himself at the western end of Hunter Street (now a children’s playground),” Allan recalled.
“After each race, Ron would do at least a half a dozen replays of his call, highlighting the mistakes and occasionally berating himself – usually saying ‘I can do better than that.’ Oh yeah, because the huge recorder was plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter socket and used stacks of power, at half time the car had to be started and left running for a while to recharge the battery. That routine lasted a few years.”
Ron then took a job as a clerk at the tramways, however, after getting his driver’s licence, the desire to be a good race caller was overwhelming and every Thursday night he drove from his workplace in the city to Shepparton to call Race 9, taking over from good friend, Ian (Sambo) Samblebe. That gave Ron essential on-air experience whilst working with 3UZ and 3SR, thus furthering his passion and desire to succeed.
He then gained a calling spot at Wangaratta, driving from Preston to the north-east venue (at a financial loss) for a couple of years. When the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club opened in August 1974, Ron applied for the caller’s job and after fighting off some tough opposition, he secured the position. He is now a Life Member of the Cranbourne GRC.
“Greyhound racing has been a marvellous venture for Ron, who looked up to the late Bill Collins as a mentor. And while he has called many top sprinters, he always refers to four-time Sandown Cup winner Bold Trease as the best stayer he’s seen,” Allan said.