The Classic Motorcycle Rally
THE DJ RUN - YEAR BY YEAR
Some of the fine old motorcycles entered for the Rand Daily Mail D-J Trial, which is run from Durban to Johannesburg. Heading the line are a Sunbeam, a BSA and a Harley-Davidson - all makes which figured prominently in the historic Durban-Johannesburg motorcycle races from 1913 to 1936, which the trial will commemorate. Rand Daily Mail.
In Years Gone By…
Article in the 1971 programme
On the morning of 24th April, 1970 the Mayor of Durban flagged away 53 motorcycles all built before 31st December, 1936, on the first Durban - Johannesburg Commemorative Motor Cycle Trial. Their destination was Johannesburg, which they expected to reach the following day after spending an overnight stop at Newcastle.
What was it that aroused such interest in this event that the starting point in Durban had to be changed at the last minute to avoid a chaotic traffic jam? Why did crowds line the streets of Durban and all the villages and towns on the road between Durban and Johannesburg?
To answer these, we must go back 57 years, to the 10th May, 1913, when Mr. W.R. Boustred, Mayor of Johannesburg, started the first motor cycle race between the two cities. Until then, only a few intrepid pioneer motor cyclists had done the 420 mile journey.
The Rand Motoring Club did a reconnaissance of the road and, although their notes recorded that the roads in places were "moderately good", "bad", "shocking" and "appalling", they decided to stage the event. The Hutchinson Tyre Company put up a silver trophy, 2ft. 6 in. high and weighing 106 ozs. Prize money of 10 Guineas was paid for second place and 5 Guineas for third place. Gold medals were awarded to the first ten places, silver medals to the following ten and a bronze medal for all the competitors who finished within twelve hours of the winner.
The event was run on a handicap basis over three days, the first stage being to Standerton, a distance of 104 miles. A large crowd turned up to see the start at City Deep on the outskirts of Johannesburg and stood awed as they watched the riders in their varied collection of riding clothing (ranging from ordinary clothes to traditional racing togs with large kidney belts and tight fitting leather skull caps), making last-minute adjustments to their machines. As all repairs were to be made by the riders with parts carried with them, most competitors carried loads of spare parts including belts, chains, plugs and tubes. One rider even carried a spare pair of front forks strapped to his machine.
At 9.00 a.m. the huge crowd cheered the first departing machines, ridden by Hatton, Lamprecht, Gibbons and Woodville, all on 265 c.c. F.IM's. The last machine away was a 987 c.c. B.A.T. Twin ridden by George Weddel. In between were many of the favourites including W. Reckenberg and A. Christian on 350 Douglas machines and J. Hodgson, J. McKeag and Clarrie Scott on the popular Bradbury's.
To C. Morris of Durban went the honours of having the first crash on the first corner on his Rudge. Despite a broken collarbone, he continued and finished 19th. First into Standerton was No.5, Arnott riding a 292 Hazelwood, having covered the distance in 3 hours 54 minutes, and fastest for the stage was Fenwick in 3 hours 18 minutes on a Rudge. It is said that the crowds in Standerton were so large that Saturday that all the restaurants and hotels exhausted their supplies of food, there not being enough for the competitors.
From Standerton to Ladysmith, a distance of 143 miles, competitors had to cross the mountains at Laings Nek, Majuba and Ingogo as well as the Biggarsberg. As expected, this section took its toll as many of the riders crashed and were delayed with repairs or put out of the event completely. The order at Ladysmith was Holder (Douglas), Arnott (Hazelwood), McKeag (Bradbury) and Clinch (Rudge). At Ladysmith too, the town had difficulty in feeding the large crowds.
The last leg to Durban provided excitement all the way. McKeag cut down Holders' lead of 36 minutes to 20 minutes at Estcourt. Clinch overtook McKeag after Mooi River, only to be repassed a few miles later. Holder was delayed with a broken belt at Merrievale and McKeag took the lead. Fenwick on a Rudge was now only minutes behind. On top of Maritzburg's Town Hill, McKeag ran out of petrol but was able to coast all the way down the hill to the control and refuel point. The delay allowed Fenwick to catch up on the road although on handicap he was well behind. The crowd were wild with excitement as the two riders tore out of Pietermaritzburg on the final 56 mile leg, McKeag was all set for a win and was going extremely well when with only 30 miles to go he crashed at Botha's Hill. His machine was badly damaged, with sand in the oil tank. Undaunted, he started the engine and proceeded to nurse the machine the last few miles.
The engine showed signs of seizure and his speed became slower and slower until only 200 yards from the finish it spluttered to a standstill. McKeag pushed the Bradbury to the finish line in front of the huge crowds to become the winner of this first event that was eventually to become one of the famous races in the world. Second home was Fenwick on the Rudge, with a time of 15 hours 26 minutes - being 40 minutes behind McKeag but only one minute ahead of third man, Adams, also on a Rudge. Only 20 of the 63 starters finished the run.
The unqualified success of this event assured its future and Mr. I.W. Schlesinger donated the now famous Schlesinger Vase as first prize. In addition prize money was raised to 100 guineas for first place. The 1914 race attracted no fewer than 100 entries and was won in the amazing time of 11 hours 30 minutes 19 seconds by mining surveyor Bernard Adams, on a 499 c.c. Rudge Multi.
World War I put a temporary stop to these events but in 1919 the race was again held, won this time by Percy Flook on a 350 c.c. Douglas. The event was now held over 2 days with the stop-over point in Newcastle.
It was in this race that the crowds first came to know the now famous Charlie Young of Durban. Young had crashed badly in the infamous Biggarsberg, but, despite broken forks and backstays held together with fence wire, he brought his machine home in second place. It must be remembered that although there were prizes for the fastest time for the event, main honours, including the Schlesinger Vase, were for first position on handicap which enabled even the smallest motor cycles of the day to compete for first place. In fact the races held in 1928 and 1932 were both won by machines with small 175 c.c. engines.
The 1920 event will be remembered for two reasons. Firstly, while the solo motor cycles had their race from Johannesburg to Durban, a race for side car combinations was held in the opposite direction i.e. from Durban to Johannesburg. Secondly, the event will be remembered as the "Snowstorm Derby".
The side car combination event was held for only two years, 1920 and 1921, being won both times by Alf Long on an Excelsior. His win in 1920 from second man Smith on a Harley Davidson was by an incredibly small margin of 5 seconds after 13 hours 34 minutes and 8 seconds of racing.
Alf Long was regarded by many as the greatest of South Africa's riders on the rough stuff. Apart from winning both combination races, he also won the solo event in 1924. He raced in every event up to the last race in 1936 during which time he achieved a second and third place and won 9 gold medals (for finishing in the first ten places) and 13 finishers medals. His third place in 1936 on a 350 Indian Prince showed the kind of determination that he had when he completed the last 100 miles with a broken leg - sustained in an accident.
No report on the history of the D.J. events would be complete without an account of the 1920 event. Storms had lashed the Transvaal and telephone communications between the towns had been cut off. It was bitterly cold and it was rumoured that drifts were impassable and the road closed.
At a meeting of competitors and organisers at the start, the riders of the small machines who favoured their chances in these conditions elected to go on and so the race was held. 51 Riders slithered, pushed and ploughed their way South through the mud and slush. They fell, they pushed, they ran, they battled until exhausted, and most of them gave up.
After passing through Volksrust, the leaders struck the full force of the blizzard. Percy Flook, on a Douglas, and Fletcher Owen, on an Indian, had to push their bikes downhill as the mud was so thick. Frozen stiff and utterly exhausted, they found their way to a farmhouse on the side of the road at Laings Nek where a farmer made them welcome. They stripped off their wet clothes and settled down for the night.
A third rider, Ted Murray on a Harley, joined them at about 8.30 p.m. At 10.30 Murray's father arrived from Natal in a car and told them of a Douglas rider who was still struggling on in the mud. They concluded that it must be Zurcher on his new sprung-frame Douglas. Flook and Owen immediately donned their cold wet clothing and set off in pursuit of Zurcher.
It must be remembered that the bikes did not carry any lighting equipment as the events were designed for daylight only. The skill of these riders in bringing their machines over the mountains and through the hills to Newcastle in the mud and snow and in darkness is truly remarkable.
The next day, they set off on the second leg. Flook overdid things and crashed, breaking off one side of his handlebars. Fencing wire and a tree branch provided makeshift repairs and he eventually finished only 37 minutes behind Zurcher, despite two punctures at Hillcrest. Only 8 riders finished the event with Zurcher on his Douglas completing the distance in 23 hours 18 minutes 20 seconds.
1921 Saw the event change direction. Instead of racing from Johannesburg to Durban, the organisers decided to start from Durban and finish in Johannesburg, which set the pattern for all future events.
Favoured by the spectators were the men on the big machines, such as the Harley Davidsons, Douglas's and Indians. While these men were still at the starting point in Mayville, the first small machines were passing through Ladysmith, 148 miles away.
The 9 hour barrier was broken in 1925 when Big Bill du Toit did the distance in 8 hours 46 minutes 57 seconds on his Harley. In 1931 the eight hour barrier broke to Griebenow on a Sunbeam in 7 hours 57 minutes. In 1935 Chick Harris, riding a 493 c.c Triumph, reduced the time to 6 hours 31 minutes 29 seconds. In the last event held in 1936, R.O. Hesketh riding a 349 c.c. overhead camshaft Excelsior set up the standing record of 6 hours 5 minutes and 2 seconds. The winner of the last event was C. Jarman riding a 350 side valve A.J.S. in a time of 6 hours 51 minutes 7 seconds.
As the years passed by, the roads improved, the number of gates diminished and even sections of the roads were tarred. Understandably, speeds rose higher and higher. To avoid speeding through the towns, competitors were clocked into each town and were not allowed to leave the other end of the town until a set time limit, They were allowed 12 minutes to traverse Pietermaritzburg and 6 minutes for Standerton.
However the time had arrived to call a halt to open road racing and so, in 1936, an era in South Africa's motor events ended.
J.M. Leishman was the first and only fatality in the long history of the event when he crashed after having a puncture in the 1936 race.
The years rolled by but the stalwarts of the past events never forgot. Some of the original machines that were raced found their way into the hands of a group of vintage enthusiasts while others are still with their original owners. In 1969 one of these enthusiasts, Dick Osborne, gathered around him a few of his friends to consider the possibility of re-running the event, not as a rape but now as a rally.
The idea gathered momentum and the Vintage and Veteran Club together with the Rand Motoring Club (the organisers of the original events) formed a committee to organise the first Durban Johannesburg Commemorative Motor Cycle Trial on 24 and 25 April 1970.
Not in their wildest dreams did this committee expect the response to the event to be so enthusiastic.
Enquiries came from as far afield as America and England, not to mention the numerous entries received from Rhodesia. What started out as a small vintage motor cycle rally rapidly developed into an event with international participation. The Rand Motoring Club agreed to use the original Schlesinger Vase as prize once again for first place, while many of the other original Trophies were found and donated back to the event.
A number of the original competitors such as 67 year old Angelo Bernadi of Pretoria competed in the 1970 event, this time with his 66 year old wife. So too did Andy Zeeman, who raced in 6 events between 1930 and 1936 and who used the same 1934 Triumph 250 in 1970 as he used in 1934, 1935 and 1936. H.P. Hall of Durban and Stan Collins of Verwoerdburg, both veterans of earlier events, competed in 1970.
Many of the competitors who were too old to race again, were at the start in Durban, along the route, and at the finish in Johannesburg. Notable amongst them was Syd Flook, now 78, who won the event in 1927 and competed in 7 events up to 1934. Syd entertained the competitors at last years prize-giving by telling them of the hardships that faced competitors in the "good old days".
To mark the actual finishing point of the old races, the Historical Transport Association have erected a plaque at this point in Heidelberg Road, City Deep. It will ensure the remembrance of the D-J to perpetuity. The current events finish only a few yards away.
The 1970 event was won by Geoff Palmer riding a 1926 model Royal Enfield. D.J. Brodie finished second on a 1934 Sunbeam while P. Theobald on a 1933 Villiers took third place. 39 of the original 53 starters qualified as finishers, including one of the two lady competitors, Mrs. Shirley Blaeser of Vereeniging, who rode a 1932 Triumph.
And so a new era in the history of the D.J. has begun. Once a year the grand old motor cycles of yesteryear will again blaze a trail between Durban and Johannesburg, bringing back nostalgic memories to those of us who still remember the good old days.
Many famous and notable personalities and exponents of motorcycle sport appeared through the years in the world-famous D.J. race. There in the forefront were the Scott Brothers - Baby, China, Douggie and Clarrie.
Baby, the youngest of the brothers, was fortunate in having brothers who were all keen motorcyclists. Two of them had set up a motorcycle business in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, on their return from World War I. Baby spent all his out-of-school time messing about with bikes of all sorts.
Under the rough but gentle guidance of his brothers, he learnt everything the hard way - about building bikes up, repairing and tuning them. He learnt tuning by watching the magic touch of his brother Clarence. That he learnt well was to show up later, when he astonished the world with what were considered "tiddler" two-stroke bikes.
Whenever the Scott family rode, and they rode frequently, they always did well, showing skill, stamina, and determination. They were not only great riders, they were outstanding motorcycle engineers. They knew every nut and bolt of their machines. More than that, they used their heads and would make more than one entry, so as to secure the best handicap.
The Scott brothers were great exponents on early A.J.S/s, the famous 2-3/4 h.p. O.H.V., 350cc machines of the early twenties. They also favoured Chater-Lea. But Baby was to astonish everyone with a Francis-Barnett and later a James.
Baby rode his first D.J. in 1924 on a Chater-Lea, coming fifth. Next year, 1925, he won £1501 (which would be about R 1,200 in today's purchasing power) in the Port Elizabeth 100 race, on a Francis-Barnett.
This gave him the chance of making a better entry in the D.J., and he came third on the Francis-Barnett. Developing his tuning knowledge, riding and winning in local races, he was in the forefront of racing, challenging the erstwhile greats like Joe Sarkis and the Flooks.
Then in 1928 he entered a 175cc Chater-Lea in the D.J. and won. Not satisfied with this, he won again in 1932, on a two-stroke James, to the amazement of all.
Baby Scott at 63 is still as bright and energetic as ever. That is what motorcycling does for you.
The winner and runner-up in 1932: Baby Scott, on the left, and E.D. Hayward, both riding 175cc James twostrokes.
Baby Scott (second from right), the winner in 1928, photographed with the Chater-Lea team.
Mr. Scott, senior (second from left) and his famous sons: Dougie (left), Baby and Clarrie.
Three separate newspaper reports appear below - unfortunately the newspaper is unknown.
80 veterans hit the D-J trail again
It was a big day for the oldies yesterday when close to 80 veteran and vintage motorcycles rolled away from the start of the second commemorative "D-J" motorcycle trial.
The trial, which is run along similar lines to the famous pre-war Durban to Johannesburg motorcycle race, attracted a large entry from South Africa and Rhodesia and the Mayor of Durban, Cir, Raoul Goldman was on hand to flag the old-timers away from the start at Albert Park.
Riders, who will pass through hidden checkpoints and times sections, are expected to arrive at City Deep mine on the Reef about 3 p.m. today. City Deep was the finish line of the original event.
Only machines constructed before 1936 were allowed to enter and the line-up was filled with long forgotten makes.
The oldest, and first machine away, was Mr. F. Riley's 1912 770cc side-valve Royal Enfield. Mr. Riley, who had his wife as passenger in a wicker sidecar, carried with him a message from the Mayor of Durban to the Mayor of Johannesburg.
Other machines included Ghater Leas, Clynos, a couple of Douglas sidevalves, a Cotton and five Harley Davidsons. Among the most popular bikes were Nortons and Velocettes.
The last machine to leave the line was a 1936 750cc Harley Davidson ridden by Mr. M. Schwulst of Pietermaritzburg.
Record entry for the D-J
All the courage and excitement of those awesome Durban to Johannesburg motor cycle races of 1913 to 1936 will be recaptured in the annual Rand Daily Mail D-J run of April 25 and 26.
This year a record 109 riders all astride machinery built before the end of 1936, will bring to thousands all the glory of the classic race that earned the reputation of being the world's longest and toughest
Their two-day journey will follow as closely as possible the original route that was little than more than a wandering ox-wagon track that meandered from Durban through the Drakensberg Mountain Ranges, to the Transvaal Highveld’s gold reef - often losing its way en route.
A 1913 Rudge, the sole surviving prototype of the legendary Rudge Multi, will be the oldest motorcycle in the event.
It will be ridden by its owner, Mr. Colin Oakhill of Sandton.
Multis finished second and third in the original 1913 race with a Multi trouncing all opposition to the 1914 event.
It was Percy Flook on 350 Douglas who won the first race. His time a creditable 12 hours 45 minutes 47 seconds.
The last race in 1936 saw the fastest ever time of 6 hours 5 minutes 2 seconds set by Roy Hesketh on a 350 Manxman.
Pride of place (writes Pit Stop) in the entry list must surely go to the 1934/5 250 Excelsior Manxman of Cliff McArthur of Durban.
The route is from Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Mooi River, Ladysmith, Newcastle (night stop), Volksrust, Standerton, Greylingstad to City Deep Mine, Johannesburg.
Scrutineering will take place at Olympic Motors, Smith Street, Durban, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. tomorrow.
A 1920 Matchless and sidecar, crewed by H. R. Aulfes and passenger of Greytown will set the D-J in motion from Olympic Bayside, Stanger Street, at 7 a.m. on Friday.
Natal entries include Ken Dunn (1936 Norton), Ossie Neill (1933 Velocette), Doug Page (1934 Levis), Mike Miner-Smyth (1925 AJS) and Joe McNamara /, Vic Jones (1933 Ariel and Sidecar).
Motorcycle Trial: 73 off
A large crowd gathered at Albert Park in Durban today to cheer the 73 competitors in the 2nd Durban-Johannesburg Commemorative Motor-cycle Trial on their way to the Reef.
Flagged off by the Mayor of Durban Mr. Raoul Goldman, the first machine, a 1912 Royal Enfield combination ridden by Mr. and Mrs. F. Riley of Bulawayo, putted off on the long, hard journey.
There were no incidents at the start and the full field got away without trouble, although some of the machines required some lengthy pushing before they fired.
The start was a colourful scene, with the beautifully prepared machines gleaming in the early sunlight. Riders stood around chatting or studying the route map out of town while others made last minute adjustments to their machines.
The riders will, as far as possible, follow the route taken in the actual race, which was run every year, other than during the First World War, from 1913 to 1936.
The 73 competitors, who left at two-minute intervals to loud cheers and clapping, stopped off at Pietermaritzburg for fuel and refreshments and were due at Estcourt for lunch.
They stop over at Newcastle for the night, as was done in the days of the race, and will continue on to Johannesburg tomorrow.
Just to prove that motorcycling is not only a man’s sport Mrs. J. Hayward, of Johannesburg entered this 1929 OK Supreme in the “D-J” trial. Mrs. Hayward was pictured doing a final check of her 300cc side-valve machine just before the start of the event.
The Mayor of Durban, Clr. Raoul Goldman flags away the first bike to leave the starting line of the second commemorative "D-J" motorcycle trial at Albert Park in Durban yesterday. The 1912 Royal Enfield sidecar outfit ridden by Mr, and Mrs, F. Riley, of Bulawayo, was the oldest machine in the event, which is scheduled to end in Johannesburg this afternoon.
Reflections on last year's event
by PETER THEOBALD
Article from the 1971 programme.
When I first heard that Dick Osborne, whose idea it was to have an event to commemorate the old road races between Durban and Jo'burg, had got his way and that an event was going to be organised, it sparked off a strong desire in me to return to motor cycling after a period of 26 years.
My first problem was to get hold of a bike, because I didn't possess one. I put out a few feelers and finally Dick himself came up with an offer of the ex-Eddie Grant flat-top racing Villiers machine, which had also been raced by Paddy Driver in his early days. It had been discovered in a thousand pieces, by Dick who rebuilt it, and I finished it off with odds and ends.
While submitting my entry, I suddenly realised that I didn't have a motor cycle licence, not having bothered to take one out when I emigrated to South Africa just after the War. Somehow or other this had to be overcome, so I plucked up enough courage to get a learner's licence and I then borrowed one of my firm's delivery bikes (without box! ) to get a bit of practice. I must admit that riding it for the first time in Jo'burg traffic frightened the life out of me. Without the protective steel of a motor car I felt almost naked and was convinced that every motorist had his sights set on me.
After a few trips from the office to home and back, I found my confidence and old skills again, and off I went for a test. This proved to be quite interesting because when I walked into the waiting room, there were about 18 or 20 pimply-faced youths dressed in the oddest clothing, all waiting for their oral examination. The glances I attracted were quite amused and they were obviously scornful of my chances. As it subsequently turned out, of the 20-odd who mounted their bikes and drove around the testing area, 17 of them were sent packing by the examiner and told that they still had a lot to learn and they had better come back in three weeks time. I must admit this gave my ego a real boost.
I found the tester very reasonable and somewhat amused that an old-timer like myself could possibly be stupid enough to undertake a bone-shaking exercise like the D.J.
To facilitate navigation for the event I had a special bracket made to take the route schedule which was mounted on the Villiers' handle bars and my watches were fitted to some vynide which I had wrapped around the petrol tank. This arrangement worked very well indeed, because I didn't have to take my hands off the steering to fumble with anything.
The organisers had arranged for all the bikes to go down by road and these were despatched the previous week, by Peter Morkel. As I was to have the unique experience of riding a motorcycle from Durban to Johannesburg, I also decided that I would go down by train, because it had been many years since I'd travelled that way.
So, a friend and I went down on the Wednesday, arriving on Thursday morning. On arrival we went round and picked up the bikes, and the first thing I discovered was that mine wouldn't start, because the timing had slipped. Hastily, I did a re-timing job on the ignition and got the bike running, and then went around to the showroom in Smith Street, where all the bikes were on view to the public.
There were real old veterans and some beautifully restored machines which took me back to the days when I had just left school and was a motorcycling enthusiast. (At that time my father was convinced that my one-track motorcycling mind was not far removed from being mentally unbalanced).
Friday morning we were all at the start, to ride from Smith Street up to Tollgate where the beginning of the regularity section was located. On the way to Tollgate, up Berea Road, you can imagine my consternation when the motor suddenly started to tighten up and I had no option but to stop.
As the machine has no kick start I had to turn it around and wheel it down one of the side roads where I tried to re-start, but the motor had gone pretty tight and I had to wait a few minutes for it to cool down. After restarting I pressed on, but now I was full of misgivings as to whether I'd ever make the 400 miles to Johannesburg!
Leaving the start, there was the long pull up through Westville, and, once again, on the motorway the motor started to tighten up. This time it was a bit embarrassing because it meant to re-start I had to turn around and go downhill, back into oncoming traffic. Fortunately, there was nothing coming so I got it going, turned around and continued.
From then on, until the time we arrived in Johannesburg on the Saturday, I had no further trouble - the motor ran like a dynamo. Due to the porting done by Eddie Grant many years ago and the re-arrangement of the exhaust system to make it go faster, the bike was generally credited with being the noisiest bike on the rally, and, as it was prone to four-stroking, it sounded like a .45 going off every time it fired.
Starting was in the true racing tradition, in that there was no kick-start so the run-and-bump technique had to be used. This was not all that easy because the bike still had its racing sprocket ratios and as a result was very highly geared. After the initial mileage on the motorway, the route then switched to the old road through the Valley of a Thousand Hills and Botha's Hill. I found this much more interesting, because of the winding roads and quite considerable gradients. The ride was also quite rough because the road surfaces hadn't had much attention since the new motorway opened, but nevertheless it was most enjoyable.
As we got along the route I came across some of the early casualties. Tony Taschner was one of the earliest, with a puncture, (of which he was to have many more before reaching Johannesburg), and my friend, Ted Falcke, on his 1926 AJS, which he borrowed from Ian Brody in Florida. This was a drama, because the gearbox selector fork had broken off, so he was sitting on the side of the road looking very disconsolate. As there was nothing I could do for him I pressed on.
Subsequently a passerby heading towards Durban on a Triumph Twin, a chap in his fifties, stopped and asked what the trouble was. When Ted told him, he said "Oh, whip it out and I'll get it fixed for you". He took it and rushed off to Pinetown, where he thought he would get it welded, but, being unsuccessful, he rode all the way back to Durban from the Valley of a Thousand Hills, near the Drummond Hotel, got the job done for free in Durban, and brought it all the way back, remembering to bring some oil (also free of charge) to put back in the gearbox once it was re-assembled. Ted was then able to proceed, having had his faith in humanity restored, although at this stage he was hopelessly late and was virtually out of the running.
One of the hardluck stories I picked up later also concerned friend Ted. He'd got going after his gearbox trouble, and was pressing along gently, minding his own business, when he rounded a corner to find another competitor stuck, frantically waving him down. Ted hit the foot brake and the anchor bolt holding the back plate snapped. He finished up wrapping the whole rear brake assembly, brake rod, etc., round the back axle, which unfortunately put him out again. So now there were two competitors sitting by the roadside commiserating with one another.
They sat for several hours trying to thumb a lift on a passing truck, but only managed this when a local miniskirted popsie came to their aid, and leapt out in the middle of the road to stop a large articulated vehicle which was running light. They managed to lift the bikes onto the back and off they went to the first night-stop at Newcastle. By this time it was half past ten at night, and, as they were still missing, we decided to go back down the route by car and see if we could find them. Just as we were leaving we noticed a truck arriving, so we drove over and sure enough, there were the two bikes, with Ted and the other competitor, a Rhodesian, I think. We helped them offload the bikes and listened to their story of woe. What struck me as rather amusing was the fact that the large articulated truck was carrying signs at either end marked "Abnormal Load". It looked quite ridiculous.
Next morning, everybody was up bright and early, in spite of many burning the midnight oil on running repairs, and we started off on the last leg. This was largely uneventful for most of the competitors except, for instance, Tony Taschner, whose petrol tank split open. He managed to keep going by using a plastic bottle held between his knees, with a bit of pipe going to the carb. The hard luck story of the year was that of Barry Broady, who had an outright win virtually in his pocket. His bike's magneto drive gave up the ghost only a few miles from the finish - that was really tough.
The run into City Deep and the finish was quite a business as the masses of cars and spectators made it difficult to find the official finish line. I don't think I have ever seen so many people at the finish of any vintage motoring event before.
For the record 60 machines were entered, 54 started from Durban and 41 were classified as finishers. There were 12 entries from Rhodesia and the oldest machine in the event was the 1913 Williamson outfit crewed by Mr. & Mrs. Felix Burke.
Altogether it was a great event, with no painful after effects, but, most of all, I think I enjoyed feeling like a schoolboy again.