2014 Penrite Broadford Bike Bonanza
More than 1000 pre-1990 bikes strutted their stuff on the various tracks inside the Broadford motorcycle complex near Melbourne over the Easter weekend. All were applauded by the 4000-strong crowd who provided their own show of classic machinery in the complex’s parking areas and camp sites. If your interest was veteran, vintage and classic bikes, there would have been no better place in the world to spend the three days.
Along with the brilliant machinery were, of course, the equally brilliant riders. This year’s BBB had dual themes: the Australian Castrol Six-Hour and the BP Desert Rally. Many of the great names associated with these events attended and visitors rubbed shoulders with an A-grade list of celebrities.
Outstanding among them was Graeme Crosby, who was interviewed by Alan Cathcart at the official dinner on the Saturday night. Despite five attempts, Croz never actually won a Six-Hour. His best result was seventh outright in 1977 but he was consistently among the fastest riders. Bad luck followed him, with his co-riders crashing out in two races and his pole-qualifying Honda CBX1000 destroying itself in 1978.
THE REST IS HISTORY
The idea behind the Broadford Bike Bonanza came from Motorcycling Australia’s museum and heritage committee. Its members were aware that thousands of bikes with rich racing histories were languishing in the backs of garages because there wasn’t an event that would allow them to circulate again in a non-competitive environment. Castrol Six-Hour bikes were a case in point.
The Six-Hour ran from 1970 to 1987 and a surprising number of the bikes survive in as-raced condition or have been carefully restored. While their riders are no longer in ‘as-raced condition’, plenty of them turned up and were reunited with the bikes which made them into legends.
Riders included the winner of the last two races, Kevin Magee, the winner of the first, Len Atlee, and plenty of outright and class winners in-between including Jim Scaysbrook, Paul Feeney, Dave Hiscock, Alan Hales, Bob Rosenthal, Mal Pitman, Richard Scoular and Joe Eastmure.
The event organiser, Peter Drakeford, was delighted with the event and predicts a strong future for it. “We had the great Australian lubricants company, Penrite, as major sponsor this year and will be discussing its future involvement in the coming weeks,” he said. “The crowd numbers, particularly on Saturday, were outstanding and everyone who attended is raving about it.
“It worked so well because of the high quality and hard work of our volunteer army who we should all thank profusely. We can keep the cost of participating in the event down and the cost of visiting low only because of the generosity of the volunteers.”
MT will be the media partner of the event again in 2015 and we’ll keep you updated on plans for next year’s event. Mark it in your calendar now and start polishing your pre-’90 classic. The BBB is fast becoming a must for Australian and New Zealand enthusiasts. Find Spannerman in his Kombi in the camp ground and he’ll shout you a glass of red…
Len Atlee/Triumph Bonneville
The first Castrol Six-Hour race (the Castrol 1000 in 1970) was a knock-’em-down, drag-’em out slugfest. Appropriately, it was held at Amaroo Park, a dangerous 1.9-kilometre track that snaked around a Sydney suburb. Fittingly, the last man standing was Len Atlee. It was a case of the old warhorse, wearing a pudding bowl helmet and riding a 1970 Triumph Bonneville, vanquishing the young pretender, Craig Brown, in modern leathers and full-face helmet, riding a Honda Four. Atlee’s co-rider was Bryan Hindle.
“Craig should have won it really,” Atlee said as he prepared to hit the track at Broadford on a replica of his winning bike, “but he had to pit twice to change brake pads.”
“That’s not a true replica of my bike,” said Atlee on his return to the pits. “We had a Yamaha quick-action throttle on the original. We got it approved as a safety issue.”
Controversy was never far away in the Six-Hour.
Joe Eastmure/Suzuki T350
How could a little Suzuki two-stroke beat the big production bikes of 1972? Officials pinged Joe Eastmure for removing the horn (to gain more airflow over the engine) then he was accused of having illegal porting. The disqualification still hurts.
“I gave the bike to a mate to run in and he seized it,” Eastmure explained. “When it was rebored, the machine shop put a 1mm chamfer on the piston skirt – something they did to all two-stroke pistons.”
Next year he prepared the little giant-killer himself and completed exactly the same number of laps as when the bike was alleged to be a cheater.
Eastmure has since clocked up 90,000 miles (yes miles) on it after fitting a rack for touring. He’s also punctured the pride of many modern Sunday sportsbike riders in Queensland’s Glasshouse Mountains.
Lindsay Walker and Mal Pitman/Yamaha XS1100
The Castrol Six-Hour was a breeding ground for sponsors and technicians. Lindsay Walker and Mal Pitman were just two who relived the good old days at Broadford.
Walker was Team Avon boss, and became synonymous with a stable of production motorcycles, usually painted in white. A tyre war soon broke out in the Six-Hour with Avon, Continental, Metzeler and Pirelli stumping up with huge sponsorship and advertising budgets.
Meanwhile, tuners like Mal Pitman were coming into their own. Pitman converted the shaft-drive Yamaha XS1100 to chain drive for early Superbike events and won several titles with Greg Pretty. He went on to become Red Bull WCM Yamaha crew chief for Garry McCoy, GP’s “Sultan of Slide”.
“A weekend like this is one to savour,” said Pitman, summing up the thoughts of many old warriors.
Eric Soutens/Kawasaki Z900
Castrol Six-Hour production racers often ended up on the scrapheap or sold for a song as the new, you-beaut models arrived for the following year’s event.
Eric Soutens recreated the 1976 Jim Budd/Roger Hayes Kawasaki Z900 from many original parts that could easily have ended up in a rubbish tip.
“The original bike’s frame was destroyed but I got the tank and many other parts in a workshop cleanout,” he said. “I knew the significance of the bits and was able to put an honest version of the bike back together.”
Soutens rode the 1975 event. “We were novices then,” said the man who subsequently fell in love with Z1s and now owns 18 of them.
Paul Dempsey/Triumph Tiger 100 race kit
Broadford is all about diversity and learning something new about motorcycles. Paul Dempsey’s 1951 Triumph Tiger 100 is just one example.
Factory race kits were all the rage in the late 1980s on such models as Honda’s RC30 and Ducati’s 851. Triumph did all that back in the 1950s.
“The race kit was an option for the alloy-engine 500cc Triumph twin,” explained Dempsey. “You got a cardboard box with all the hot bits, such as twin carbs, high-comp pistons, race exhausts, camshafts, close-ratio gears, etc.”
The pre-unit (separate engine and gearbox) Tiger 100 was a true ride-to-work/race-at-the-weekend motorcycle. Owners could easily modify it for road racing, scrambles, grasstrack and other disciplines.
Dempsey loves pre-unit Triumphs and even owns a rare 1946 Grand Prix Triumph as well as the first Triumph he bought, an ex-police 1956 Grey Ghost in 1966.
Jeff Curley/BMW R80
You can’t stop growing old but you don’t have to grow up. That seems to be the philosophy of Jeff Curley, a self-described “1928 model”.
The 85-year-old rode up to Broadford and back each day from Melbourne to hit the track on some of the bikes he’s raced over the years. Make that decades.
“I raced seriously from the age of 19 years to when I turned 68,” he said after belting around Broadford on a Triton he created two legends on.
The Harold Carter-built “Yellow Terror” had a tuned Triumph engine in a Manx frame and weighed just 115kg. It beat much bigger bikes through the late 1960s and early ’70s and then “Curley” brought it back for historic racing in the 1980s and did it all again.
“As I’ve got older I haven’t lost my love of riding but my golf handicap has definitely dropped off,” he said as he prepared to climb aboard his BMW R80. The mileage on the speedo read over 100,000km.