Wizard for Aussies

Wizard for Aussies

by classic-bike |
Published on

Precipitous changes in elevation, a one-mile straight and tortuous turns faced motorcycle racers at Australia’s greatest annual races – and spectators loved it too

Captions: JIM SCAYSBROOK OAM Photographs: OBA ARCHIVES

Wizard for Aussies

The Bathurst district of New South Wales, 130 miles west of Sydney, has hosted motorcycle races at various venues since 1914, when the Australian Grand Prix was held at Yetholme. From 1931, Easter became the date for an annual motorcycle race meeting, initially held over a 7.23-mile (11.5km) public roads circuit which used part of the main road to Goulburn. In 1938, the Bathurst Easter race meeting moved just up the road to the now world-famous 3.87-mile (6.2km) Mount Panorama circuit, where it continued to be run until the final meeting in 2000. By this time, the circuit was deemed unsuitable for motorcycles following continued modifications to suit car racing (such as concrete walls), and the fact that the rugged terrain the track inhabited meant adding run-off areas was not possible.

Watch wherever you want

1939 was a big year for Australian road racing, with the Mount Panorama circuit now fully tar-sealed. A massive crowd of 18,000 swarmed in and occupied every vantage point available to witness the running of the Australian Grand Prix. The New South Wales Police, at the time vehmently anti-motorsport, took a dim view of the lack of crowd control, which was progressively improved in future years. This photograph was taken at The Elbow, which became Forrest’s Elbow eight years later, commemorating Jack Forrest’s crash there in practice when he seriously injured his left elbow. The name is still used for the corner in today’s car races. This dramatic shot shows Jack Towner leading Norm Osborne (who raced under the name of Reg East), Dave Jenkins and Australia’s first post-war TT rider, Eric McPherson in the Junior GP, won by Eddie Warnick on a Norton.

Heaving off towards Hell Corner

It was a big year for the Bathurst races in 1951, with two meetings. The previous year had seen Clubman’s races included, resulting in a crowded programme with the Experts’ races shortened accordingly. Easter 1951, held at the NSW Jubilee TT, was for Experts only, with Clubman’s races moved to October. This photograph was taken at the Junior TT, with Jack Forrest (104, Norton), Sid Willis (87, Velocette) and Harry Hinton (21, Norton), pushing off for the 20-lap race. Willis had earlier won the Lightweight TT on his home-built dohc Velocette-based special, and was the man to beat in that class for ten years. Number 55 is Maurie Quincey, who was drafted into the Norton works team for the 1955 Isle of Man TT.

To read more, head into stores and grab the latest issue of Classic Bike, or why not check out our subscription options so you never miss an issue!

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us