The Classic Motorcycle Rally
THE SCOTT BROTHERS - CLARRIE, DOUG, IAN AND BERNARD
Great Scotts – the Scott Brothers.
by Jock Leyden
This history of the old Durban-Johannesburg "DJ" event shows several families where brothers distinguished themselves in the races. The Flooks (Percy and Sid), Longs (Alf and ‘R S’), Gibsons (Jack and Eric), but topping the list were the Scotts, Ian, Clarrie, Doug and 'Baby’. At least one of their names is to be found in every finishing list from 1933 to 1936, and Baby won the race twice, an honour shared with Percy Flook (solo), though Alf Long won the sidecar DJ twice and won it once on a solo. The first Scott to hit the headlines was I H R — Ian Hamilton Roberts — and often referred to as 'China'.
When World War I broke out Clarrie and Doug joined up and were sent off to East Africa with the SA forces. Younger brother Ian wanted to be a dispatch rider too, and tried to enlist, but, because of his age (he was born in May 1900) he was, to his disgust, retained as a Don R in the Union. If he felt he had not had all the 'fun' his brothers had in German East during the war, he made up for it by tackling competition work immediately after, with an avid enthusiasm.
When motorcycle sport started again in 1919 Ian entered his 1913 Rudge Multi. The 'multi' referred to the unusual system of variable gears employed. A long hand lever engaged in an abnormally long notched gate on the tank. By manipulating the gear lever, pulleys on the engine shaft and the back wheel expanded or contracted, enabling the rider to choose some 21 different ratios. This was before gearboxes, such as we know them, were normal fitments, and was a decided and welcome advantage when most machines of the period had fixed gears. Final drive, of course, was by belt.
When the entry lists for the first post-war Jo'burg race were opened, Ian sent in his entry, with the £4 fee. Unlike the 1913 and '14 races, which had been three-day events, this was to be run in two days, the overnight stop being at Newcastle. I W Schlesinger had donated a beautiful cup valued at £125 (and twenty miniatures). The 'vase' was to be won by the first man to reach Durban, plus a cash prize of £100 and an RMCC gold medal. For the second, a prize of £50 (later reduced to £40) and bronze medal, £20 and a certificate to the third, £12 for 4th and £5 to the fifth finisher. To the fastest in each of three classes there was a further prize of £5.
No 1 was Durban's Jack Booth on a 225 cc machine in receipt of 4 hrs 43 mins from scratch. His baby Triumph made history by being the first machine powered by a two-stroke motor to appear in the races. Scratch man was Pete ('Split Pin') Lawrence, the crack Indian rider, but favourite to win was Bobby Blackburn, the Maritzburg star celebrating his 18th birthday on the first day. Bobby was astride the big Harley Davidson on which he had a few weeks before won the Durban-Ladysmith-Durban grind. Also tipped to watch were George Taylor (Harley), Ralph Suzor on an ex-Don R. Norton, Alf Long (Bradbury), Dave Owen (500 cc Indian twin), 40-year-old W Reckenberg (BSA), a more than useful performer from the Transvaal, and, of course, Percy Flook, holder of the record for the 400 miles, which he had set up in 1917 on a 557 Triumph when he did the journey in 12 hrs 33 mins. Percy was on a Douglas built up from war-surplus stock.
Ian Scott was not deterred by the opposition. He was fit, he had fettled his old Rudge as well as he could, and he was just looking forward to riding in the world's toughest road race. When the half-way times were posted up at Newcastle it was seen that 25 of the original 45 had got through, and the two Douglas stars, Percy Flook and Fritz Zurcher, were leading. Ian had lost 40 mins on the redoubtable Percy, but was happy at the showing of his 'old crock'. Biggest surprise was that of a Durban novice called Young, another ex Don R. who was third.
At Newcastle W R Smith (Rudge) retired, and one report states that a local challenged him to a cycle race. The conditions of the push cycle event are not stated, but as Smith was the Transvaal and SA motor paced champion over 25 miles, it comes as no surprise to learn that he won.
After the racers departed from City Deep, Messrs G Abernethy and J W F Hoffman, officials of the RMCC set off for Durban, in a sidecar outfit but gave up the unequal struggle, and finished the journey by train. Much more comfortable.
On the Biggarsberg, Charlie Young next day had the misfortune to dispute the right of way with a wandering horse, and damaged his machine almost beyond repair, but, using fencing posts and wire, he lashed up his broken back-wheel forks and continued. Ian's Rudge was picking up places as he raced coastwards - he knew he could not harry the leaders and he was content to finish, leaving the fireworks to others. The Natal roads were in appalling condition and the rutted 'mountain' sections took their toll of machines.
So to Durban, where he was happy to finish fourth behind Percy Flook, Charlie Young and Bobby Blackburn. Scratch man Pete Lawrence finished the course in 6th place, but told the officials he has received outside assistance, and so disqualified himself.
At the prize-giving after the race George Abernethy, Chairman of the RMCC suggested that efforts should be made to make the race one from Durban UP to Jo'burg instead of a down run. It struck the Rand officials as somewhat crazy that they should organise the race, collect the prize money and trophies, do all the multi-tudinous tasks that go with the smooth running of such an event, wave the boys good-bye at the start, then wait for the newspaper to see who won!
The Jackson's Drift - Van Wyk's Rust circuit was the scene of many trials between 1921 and 1923. Present-day motor sport enthusiasts will be surprised to know that all the early races like the Jo'burg - Durban, and Durban - Ladysmith - Durban, Pmb - Estcourt - Pmb, Pmb - Kranskop - Pmb, the Mountfort Trophy (bet you've never heard of these events, boys) were called trials. Old time competitors always reasoned that the true 'trial' of a machine was to batter it as hard as possible over the roughest roads, and, if the batting iron stood up to it, then it had proved its worth beyond argument. The only concession they made on that point was that, because of the varied engine capacities, handicapping was necessary to give everyone a fair chance. This was trial by fury.
After the Rudge, Ian got a war-surplus Douglas, and on this rode 2nd in the RMCC Championships. Things brightened up for the Scott ménage when the nippy little black and gold AJS machines started arriving from Wolverhampton, and the three brothers competed regularly in all the RMCC events at Jackson's Drift, Alberton and elsewhere. Ian won a 100-miler from scratch on the 'Drift' circuit, and was, with Doug, prominent at hill climbs and speed trials, which were regular and well attended features of motor sport on the Reef and Pretoria.
Spurred on by his successes Ian made a trip to Durban and shook the Banana boys by winning the 350 and 600 scratch races on Clairwood racecourse. Only Bunny Loader with his big Harley beat him that day, in the unlimited class. The little AJ gave Durban fans plenty to talk about, and several local riders thought a visit to Killerbys, the local agents, might be a good and profitable idea. The AJS also appeared in the 2nd SA TT races, held on the Dardanelles circuit near Pietermaritzburg.
Even if the grass was growing in the centre of the shockingly bumpy stretch of veld called road, it was no worse than the farm road of the Alberton triangle. In the Junior TT he had no luck, and Charlie Young romped home to victory.
The triumvirate entered in the 1921 Jo'burg, the first 'up' race. Before the 53 solos started, 11 sidecars went off. Their prize, the Hendee Vase, £100 and a gold medal for the winner. For the first time the riders were graded into A, B and C class categories and handicapped accordingly.
There were few spectators at Toll Gate to see A V Smith's Indian head the sidecar field off on the rutted sandy road that wound its way down to Mayville, up Black Hill and away on the 400-mile journey. 1920 sidecar winner Alf Long with his American X twin left 21 mins later at 6.51 and H Rosenthal the scratch man on the big Indian (he was holder of the 'down' record with a time of 13 hrs 40 mins) departed at 7.05.
When Jack King pushed his machine to the line to head the procession of 53 solos, the narrow loose surfaced road for several miles out was lined with spectators who had come on foot, by bicycle, motorcycle or cars (there weren't too many of the latter in those days). After the riders had run the human gauntlet, just to complicate matters, and add to the danger, all the way to Pinetown they had to contend with a stream of donkey carts piled high with vegetables and fruit wending their ponderous way to market, the white turbaned 'Sammies' perched atop being brought suddenly to life as riders rushed along the narrow road, and the racers had to be doubly alert lest they meet one using all the road round one of the many blind corners. Modern day road-users have just no idea what the old road to Maritzburg was like.
Doug, Ian and Clarrie Scott were Nos 17, 28 and 33, but they all retired and the winner was young Bobby Blackburn who rode his Harley off the scratch mark. Hildebrandt on a Hilda - a machine made in Jo'burg by the rider using proprietary parts and powered by a side valve 292 cc JAP was second, and Len Cohen's 557 cc s/v Triumph was third.
Alf Long with his brother R S in the chair, won the sidecar race, putting up a new record for the journey. Only Blackburn (10 hrs 12 mins 19 secs) and Tommy Nicholls' Indian Scout (11 hrs 25 mins 24 secs) of the solo brigade bettering his time of 11 hrs 26 mins 55 secs. After the races letters appeared in the local newspaper in which the writers complained of “these madcaps racing along the principal road of the colony at breakneck speed”, etc.
Championing the competitors was Ralph Suzor, who drew praise from racing fans for his reply, in which he stated that the race was of immense value as a testing and proving ground for motorcycles, the lessons learned in racing being applied to production machines, and resulted in better brakes, tyres, handling, engine reliability etc. He also stated that there had been no fatal accidents during the running of these inter-town events, so the danger aspect was exaggerated.
As soon as this hubbub died down there was another minor uproar. This time in racing circles. It concerned the cheeky two-strokes which were now pushing into the prize lists. Someone in the Transvaal suggested that, as two-strokes had twice as many power strokes as four strokes, a 250 t/s. should start off the same mark as a 500 poppet-valve machine! Laugh that one off! (Somebody must have done so, for no more was heard of it.) Percy Flook also put forward his suggestion that, to preserve the classic status of the DJ, a limit handicap of 3 hrs. 30 mins be imposed. After Blackburn's win from scratch — the only one ever to perform this feat, by the way — nothing more was heard of that either. For this, many of the competitors in later races must have been well and truly thankful.
The following year I H R was really making his AJS hum in hill climbs and trials. He won another 100-miler, the second of three such victories at the Drift venue, came 2nd in an RMCC knock-out hill climb championship, and 2nd in a 220 mile event. But the highlight of 1922 was the DJ race.
There were 45 starters from Toll Gate and the limit man, Blyth, on a 250 cc two-stroke Velocette was in receipt of 5 hrs 20 mins from back-markers Bunny Loader (7/9 Harley) and Alf Long (American X). All the big names of SA racing were there, except Bobby Blackburn who had been killed while returning from a social trip to Maritzburg a month before the big race. Doug and Ian Scott were again entered on 350 ohv AJS, the latter being an 'A' class rider, conceding 20 mins to his big brother!
The riders started in pairs at 5 min intervals, the handicap adjustments being made at the end of the day's run. (If a rider managed to get as far as Newcastle.) Just to add to the confusion, riders were not numbered consecutively, so one had to be a bit of a mathematician to keep track of things on the opening day. From before sun-up, droves of people poured out of the town heading for the start at Toll Gate and lining the roads for some miles out. The start was particularly tricky, not to say dangerous, for the crowds of Europeans, Africans and Indians pressed closer together to see better, and left the riders a narrow human alleyway to negotiate over the first couple of hundred yards.
Art Hildebrand elected to ride the smaller of his two Hilda entries, off the 2 hrs 25 mins mark. At Botha's Hill he crashed, then limped back to Durban, picked up his second machine and set forth, for the second time, off the 1 hr starting time! That must be some sort of world record ? Unfortunately, however, he met with trouble again, and when he reached Newcastle the control was closed. (This did not stop him racing next day either, but though he finished, he was not listed among the timed arrivals.)
Before Westville Hotel a car ran into Loader, but the driver didn't stop to find out if he had been hurt. Bunny remounted and dashed off after Alf Long who had got past in the dust, unscathed. Through the deep sand from the top of Cowies to the big 'Horse-shoe bend' on Field's Hill, Bunny wound things up, but at Hillcrest he was stopped again with tyre trouble, and when he arrived in Maritzburg he had to buy a new tyre and fit it before proceeding. Here he learned that Doug Scott had come through first, having passed the earlier starters. Percy Flook (Douglas) was next in. Ian Scott had lost time to the City through having to go back some 20 miles from Durban and retrieve his tools which had fallen out of his tool box and scattered all over the road.
Making their way through the field were Young (1 hr 5 mins 30 secs to Pmb.), Vic Borland (1 hr 3 mins) on the Harley, and Alf Long (1 hr 5 mins 30 secs). On Town Hill, Long's saddle broke and he rode from there to Newcastle standing on the footboards. Another to suffer from broken saddle springs was Charlie Young. As if this was not enough his Triumph buckled a wheel at Estcourt, and he had to replace a tube. All this lost him nearly half an hour. Borland too, had a tyre burst but he still made the half-way house in a time which equalled Blackburn's 1921 race time.
But away up in front, Ian Scott was showing a dusty pair of wheels to all, as the little black-and-gold machine, now a uniform khaki-colour all over from the dusty roads, was heading for the last hop across the Biggarsberg mountains. This 66 mile nightmare journey was dreaded by all, for it invariably marked the end of many riders' hopes. Sixty-six murderous back and machine-breaking miles, which were remembered for nothing but the agony, the endless succession of bends and the miles of barbed wire fencing the road on one side.
This frightsome looking boundary helped remind the over-enthusiastic of the perils of a heavy finger on the throttle lever. No-one fancied ending up hung out to cool off on a barbed wire entanglement, for passers-by were few and far between, and dwellings non-existent. This indeed, was the D.J.'s no-man's land. Jack Booth's baby Triumph arrived, his wheel rim broken, and held together with the tyre and tube, but he had second place for all that. It was lucky for him that replacements were allowed.
Loader had battered his machine through Howick and the notorious Curries Post — another of the sections dreaded in good weather, and almost impossible in wet, when the mud was so deep and glutinous that, if a rider dismounted, his machine would stand by itself! But misfortune struck again and at Mooi River there was another new tyre and tube to be bought, from the 'small change' which the promoting body wisely asked riders to carry. At 7 am next morning when the signal to “go” was given, Ian Scott scurried off. Jack Booth was due to go 9 mins later, Doug Scott 36 mins after, Young 1 hr. 3 mins, Flook 1 hr 11 mins. On paper it looked like an out-and-out race between Ian Scott and Charlie Young's 'Riccy' Triumph, the dangers being P Flook (Douglas), M Dessells (Rudge), Borland (HD), Cohen (Triumph) and Long.
Doug Scott lost time repairing his mag. and changing a wheel. He was one of several who, when the word to “go” was given, immediately started on repairs to their battle-weary mounts, before proceeding on the run up Ingogo and on to the steep tree-lined Majuba heights. Here Ian spilled, breaking his handlebars. He got going again for Volksrust, but before reaching the Transvaal dorp he had to traverse the frightfully cut-up approach to Charlestown, where the ruts were 6 to 8 inches deep and so frame-shattering that most riders left the road and explored the veld for a smoother passage. Just what this felt like (no pun) on a machine with narrow section tyres and broken handlebars, can best be left to the imagination. No wonder so many of the early riders suffered from kidney trouble!
But he made the control point and straight away dashed into a garage where he repaired the damage, and left again still well in the lead, though Young was now only 45 mins behind and in 5th place. Charlie had snatched 18 mins in 34 miles. Ian was fighting every yard of the way but it looked as if it was only a matter of miles before the bigger machine would catch him, as catch him it must — bar accidents. Now it was wintry and cold and locals who knew the weather predicted snow.
At Greylingstad (343 miles), Ian held grimly on to a 20 min lead from the Triumph. The field was closing up now that they were on the Transvaal flats where the bigger machines could use their speed. The jarring vibration loosened the AJS petrol tank cap which was lost. Fuel splashed all over, and Ian had to stop and staunch the flow with a towel. Charlie was getting closer. At Balfour (356 miles) the Triumph had the AJS in its sights as it screamed away leaving a long dust plume in its wake.
Before Heidelberg the thundering Ricardo went ahead. Here on the final 25 miles of metalled road, for the first time since leaving Durban, riders were able to use all the speed they'd got — if they had any left. Charlie's bigger banger went on to win in 10 hrs 1 min 32 secs. Ian hung on to his hard-earned second place, and Alf Long pushed his big Excelsior through to take third spot in a new record time of 9 hrs 46 mins 23 secs. This despite time lost in the morning repairing his broken saddle, and a spill en route which broke his handlebars and injured his knee. As if this wasn't enough, Alf declared the road was in the worst state he had ever known!
Doug Scott had more than his share of troubles too, but managed to reach City Deep in 19th position. No matter where one finished in a DJ, a rider was always happy to have completed the course, and no wonder. Those who did always spoke of their races with a glint of satisfaction in their eyes, for to finish at all was an achievement.
The following year was a busy one for the Scott triumvirate in the Transvaal. In the Jackson's Drift “100” Doug was 2nd to Hildebrand (Hilda) and Clarrie brought the first 147 cc Sun-Villiers home into 5th position. It was his first outing on a two-stroke. In the years that were to follow he proved himself to be one of the shrewdest and ablest handlers of these temperamental little engines in the business. Hildebrand later added the Vacuum Vase to his collection of silverware, with another win, this time at Alberton. Doug Scott crashed when going well, and only four finished the course, last in being brother Ian who caused great amusement among spectators and officials by riding up with a meercat draped round his neck. It appeared that he had run over it on his last lap, and he went back to collect it. Racing was fun in those days.
Ian had now shown all and sundry he was a force to be reckoned with, whatever he tackled - on the road, on grass, and in climbs on Jan Meyers Hill and Black Reef Hill. Doug and Clarrrie had some fun too with sidecars. As passenger, Clarrie roped in his kid brother, a 16-year-old who was even then wildly enthusiastic about motorcycles. Not surprising either, with three brothers like he'd got. B E had first ridden a motorcycle when he was 8 years old, an old NUT (Newcastle-upon-Tyne; belonging to his cousin, Jackie McNicol. The 500 cc twin had previously been owned by Billy Reckenberg a star performer in pre-war races in the Transvaal.
Clarrie wanted to be the first man to ride a 350 cc outfit from Jo'burg to Durban. It had never been done before. Indeed, if anyone had spoken of such an attempt he would have been laughed out of the garage. A 350 side-valve pull a sidecar plus a man and boy all the way to Durban ? Not? likely! Clarrie had other ideas. He hitched a slim basket-work chair to his AJS, the boy hopped into the bull rushes which fitted like a glove, and off they rushed for the seaside. To add to their misery - for no-one can tell me that was a plea-sant trip - they ran into snow and rain near Volksrust, and splashed their way into Natal, reaching Durban some 21 hrs 15 mins later! A stout effort, which drew forth well merited congratulations from the sporting fraternity in Durban.
They about-turned, declared they were ready for another crack at it, and off they went to nip a cool 2½ hours off their earlier “down” time and establish a class record which was never beaten, as all other sidecar records were in the big engine categories, where Indians and Excelsiors had the “unlimited” battle to themselves. B E also crewed for Clarrie at Alberton, and then decided it was time to have a go himself. His mount was a Diamond with a side-valve JAP motor. That Diamond must have had a flaw, for it cracked up.
It was here that he was christened 'Baby' by 'Hoffie' the RMCC Secretary, and the name stuck to him through his career. Indeed it would be no exaggeration to say that few people knew (or even know now) what B E stood for. I only found out forty years later! B E? Bernard Edward – “Baby” Scott.
It was here too that Clarrie won his first race - a one lap (44 mile) dash for novice riders. Among the entries were two, later to become famous, but in this race they made the headlines by crashing. Joe Sarkis and Ginger Bower. It was nearly little Joe's first, and his last race, for he hit a cow, and was badly injured. Ginger spilled also, but managed to finish 8th on his Norton. Clarrie rode well to take the flag, with Green (AJS) and Koch (Indian) following. The riders must have been thankful for the RMCC ruling which made the wearing of crash helmets compulsory for the first time, though the ex-French Air Force lids they were wearing would never pass today's RAC hammer tests. In a sidecar event, also for novices, Brooks (Harley) won from R S Long (Reading Standard) and P Christie (Harley). This was the same Perry Christie who later moved to Durban and won the 1925 Natal 100 and finished 6th in the DJ the following year.
Because of the bad state of the roads, the entries were down for the 1923 “Jo'burg”, and only 38 started. In the weeks preceding the race, police had been active in some of the towns en route and competitors were “requested” by the promoting club not to exceed 20 mph through Maritzburg and 15 mph through Volksrust, Standerton, Balfour and Heidelberg. How they were to do this without speedos, as anyone who has suddenly to slow down after blinding flat out knows, was anybody's guess. But the idea and intention were good. Because of the congestion at Toll Gate, the previous year, the start was moved to the bottom of Mayville Hill.
The handicappers had three classes for riders - A, B and C, as well as for the machines - touring, ohv and - Ricardo. They hadn't forgotten that man Young's win the previous year, or his second with record time, in the Durban - Ladysmith - Durban a few weeks earlier! To assist in following the progress of the race, wireless was used for the first time, messages being relayed from the home of Mr D F Forsyth in Maritzburg to Shimwells in Durban and Jo'burg, where huge progress boards had been erected and the riders' times posted up as they were signalled through the towns en route. Huge crowds gathered in the streets and the police had a busy time keeping streets clear for the trams and other traffic to pass.
If the field was small it was select. First to leave was W R (“Chick”) Harris, competing in only his second road race. This ex-Don R was on a 225 cc two-stroke Enfield and was in receipt of a 5 hr 20 min start from scratch men, Loader, Murray (Harleys), Long and Nicholl (Indians). 20 minutes after Chick, was V Ressell, well-known Rand rider of Enfields. All the big names were there, Sid and Percy Flook (Douglas), Tom Spargo (Norton), the Scott brothers, Ian and Doug (AJS) and their brother-in-law Claude du Plooy similarly mounted. P Flook, Zurcher and Ian all started off the 1 hr 45 min mark. Tom Spargo was off 15 mins and Len Cohen's Triumph left 10 mins later, with Charlie Young another 15 mins behind Len.
Again the riders left in pairs at 5 min intervals, handicap adjustments coming later, but it was soon obvious that Ian Scott was really flying as was Loader and Gill on Harleys, Young, Cohen, Doug Scott and Evans. Harris and Ressell were going to find their work cut out to stay ahead. Then Young looped the loop on Karkloof's boulder-strewn wilds, Suzor retired after a meteoric ride — he had stopped, then got going again — and passed some of the back-markers. Tom Spargo crashed, dislocating his shoulder and sustaining arm and leg injuries.
Gill, of Ladysmith, startled everyone by doing the first day's run in 3 hrs 34 mins. Loader was 2 mins slower, and — what's this ? Ian Scott's little AJ only 12 mins slower than Bunny's Harley! Cohen two minutes astern. Percy Flook had been delayed by a fractured petrol pipe but was not far behind.
When Chick Harris kicked off next morning he had still 2 hours in hand over Flook and 3 over Gill. Chick's chances still looked rosy, though Ressell, starting 15 mins later, was favoured because of his greater experience (8th in 1921, 6th in 1922), and being a Transvaaler had the added advantage of knowing the roads. One hour 44 minutes after Chick came Ian Scott, then Percy Flook 8 mins behind, with Doug 4 mins afterwards. But the road was almost like a breakers-yard as the riders frantically started repairing, adjusting and changing parts when given the signal to go. Ian, Doug and Du Plooy changed back wheels. Evans clamped a piece of metal, specially sent down from Jo'burg, to the broken handlebars of his Sunbeam. Gill and Loader got their tool kits out too, and Percy Flook repaired that annoying petrol pipe.
Riders whose machines had the old type rim brakes were virtually brakeless. Broken forks, saddles and wheels were common. On the climb over the Berg to Volksrust, Harris took 20 mins out of Ressell, who must have encountered trouble. Ian had gained 25 mins on Chick, and 8 on Flook. Doug was still going strong, but Evans was out. Had the handlebars parted?
It looked like a Harris - I Scott duel for the winner's laurels, with the odds on the latter, as he had covered the 87 miles from Newcastle to Standerton in 1 hr 50 mins, slicing a cool 43 mins off Chick's lead, and doing the Volksrust - Standerton section in the fastest time of the day. Harris was in difficulties too, for he had run into a gate (remember, there were over thirty to be opened and shut by the riders). His almost non-existent brakes had failed to pull him up in time, and this did the forks a bit of no good and made navigation rather dicy.
At this stage, Ressell was ready for gobbling up, being a paltry 30 seconds in front. Flook was not far behind, but even he was not without trouble to worry him. Vibration had loosened his tank holding-down bolts and he was holding it on with his knees. No wonder the petrol pipe fractured! But Gill was thundering along in hot pursuit, lessening the lead with every mile.
Fortunately for Ian, his motor was healthy and at Greylingstad he clocked in 22 mins behind the leader. 58 miles to go. It looked as if victory was already in his grasp. Ressell trailed him by 14 mins, then came Flook a further 4 mins later and big brother Dougie Scott, riding a more canny race, but not wasting any time either. He was some 20 mins behind the Douglas rider. Gill was next and going fast. To Balfour (356 miles) Ian averaged 60 mph, Harris limping along at a mere 28. Flook dropped 3 mins to the AJS Forty-seven miles to go - it appeared to be all over bar the shouting. Ian refuelled, and as he pushed off the carburettor base nut fell into the dirt road. Fortunately he saw it, retrieved it, cleaned it, screwed it back and was off in seconds.
Then it happened. Half a mile from the control there was a shattering, sickening, tearing of metal. A valve broke, went through the piston, wrecked the engine - and Ian's hopes. Ruefully he surveyed the wreck and Percy Flook went past giving him a sympathetic wave. But Ian's misfortune was Percy's fortune. Now instead of nursing his vibrating mount to a sure place, Percy saw the prospect of an outright win, and rode flat out - vibration, or no vibration. It was win - or bust! At Heidelberg (375 miles) the Douglas was only 8 mins behind the wobbly Enfield.
But Flook's troubles were not over, for in the town he was stopped by police for speeding! As if he didn't have enough on his mind! Only Harris and 28 miles, between him and victory. And now the possibility of disqualification because of the speeding charge! This Jo'burg race, you must admit, had everything!
Fleeing to City Deep, Percy rapidly overhauled the crippled two-stroke and passed the gallant Chick 15 miles from the finish. Ressell was third, and big brother Doug Scott brought his AJS home fourth, making fastest 350 time. A first class performance, even if overshadowed for most of the distance by the more dashing Ian.
Gill was very unlucky, packing up only 8 miles from Jo'burg, and Loader got 5th place and fastest race time. His 9 hrs 47 mins 23 secs, failed to break Alf Long's 1922 record by a mere 1 minute. (Note - much to everyone's relief, the winner was not disqualified, though he was fined for speeding.)
Towards the end of the year Ian set a Transvaal 350 cc speed record - his AJS doing 70,3 mph against a head wind, and he finished the year by giving the crowds a thrill in a Blue Riband race on the Wanderers Track. This was the first time since 1909 that motorcycles appeared here - a ban having been imposed after a rider had gone through the fence and was killed. The RMCC held 26 events here and Ted Murray (250 Connaught) won the headliner from Ian and Alf Long (Sunbeam).
In one of the closest finishes ever seen at Alberton for the 176-mile Harley-Davidson Shield, Clarrie finished third, R S Long and Claude du Plooy preceding him, and Ted Murray following him across the line. 2 mins 16 secs covered all four at the end.
Scott Brothers, who already had the Reading Standard agency, took over the Chater Lea concession in 1924 and set about showing their own wares in competition, plus some outings on the tiny little Francis Barnetts. The Chater-Leas, powered by Blackburne side-valve and ohv motors, sported the first saddle-tanks in the business, and were sturdy good lookers. A different assortment of hardware were the little Barnetts, with 147 and 172 cc Villiers engines, housed in spider frames. Their slogan, 'built like a bridge', looked almost like a touch of humour, but proof was not long in coming.
In the Hoffman Cup 100-mile race at Jackson's Drift, on the little 'un Ian kept ahead till the end, Clarrie brought his 250 ohv Chater-Lea in behind him, and, just to sew things up properly and keep all the prize money in the family, brother-in-law Du Plooy's OEC was third. Baby, on a 250 Chater, showed signs of the good things to come when, riding in his second road race, a 58-mile novice race at Alberton, he finished fourth, showing exceptional skill and judgment for one so young.
When nominations were called for representatives to go to the TT in the Isle of Man, several names were put forward. The Transvaal nominees were Percy Flook, Ted Murray and Ian Scott. Some thought Ian was too young to tackle the famous island course, but in the end he was chosen, and joined Charlie Young and Bunny Loader who were Natal's selected. Nobody thought much of the South Africans' chances, and some suggested they were wasting their time and money. The last one to go was Percy Flook, who finished 18th in 1913. Their performances in practice made lots of people change their minds, however. The Natal pair were spectacular in the extreme. Ian contented himself with riding cannily, learning the course thoroughly, for the Isle of Man circuit was unlike anything he had ever raced on! Narrow roads bordered by high stone dykes which were hard and unforgiving.
This year there was keen competition as well to see who would be the first to record the magic 60 mph lap for the first time. Simpson had done 59,59 in the Junior race the previous year on an AJS. Spectators did not have long to wait, and the honour went on the opening lap to Jimmy Simpson who led from Wal Handley (Rex Acme) and Len Horton (New Imperial) who also exceeded a 60 mph average. At this stage Ian was 12th.
There were 10 AJS among the 59 starters, and they were noteworthy for the fact that, for the first time we saw motorcycle engines with inlet valves bigger than their exhaust valves, and had dry sump lubrication. They were the forerunners of what is now common practice. A new fashion too, was introduced by New Imperials. Their JAP engines had two exhaust pipes from a single exhaust valve, and started the two-port era. Ricardo had two ports but two exhaust valves.
Round came Simpson on lap 2, to clock a staggering 64.54 mph - 2 mins 55 secs better than his old record, and 1 mph faster than the fastest Senior, Dixon's Douglas, later in the week. But, while setting the pace, Simpson had succeeded in doing what he'd set out to do, blow up the opposition, and retirements among the hares were heavy. Handley went out. Next went Jimmy himself, when the inlet valve seat cracked from the high revs. More retirements. Ian found himself promoted from 9th on lap 2 to 3rd on lap 3! Then Ken Twemlow, who hadn't been in the first dozen on the opening lap, took over, to lead the 4th lap runners. Ian lost a place next time round, and the “Springbok Supporters Club” at the pits, Bunny Loader, Charlie Young and “Old Man” John Hall, nearly went frantic waving him on. In this race, anything might happen. Ian tucked his head down and? picked up a place, finishing 3rd behind Ken Twemlow (New Imperial) and Ollerhead (DOT).
He was elated, and no wonder - a place in his first TT! He'd have been more elated if he'd known that this was to be the highest placing of any S African ever! For this he was awarded the “Visitors” Cup' presented by “The Motorcycle”, for the first overseas rider to finish. This was handed over at a little ceremony in “The Motorcycle” offices in Tudor Street, London, when all the South Africans were present. There was more rejoicing when another cup was presented to Charlie Young for his great ride in the Senior TT when he finished fourth. This was the first and only time that two Visitors Cups were given in one year. An historic occasion to be sure.
Asked to say a few words afterwards, all three Springboks stated how happy they were to have ridden on the famous Manx circuit, but they thought if it was to be a true test of a machine the course should have a rough stuff “Colonial Section” to test frames. In their opinion, it only tested brakes and engines!
J. M. LEYDEN
Copyright J. Leyden 1965.
With Baby in the chair Clarrie put up a record that was never beaten...