A BRIEF HISTORY OF MOTORCYCLE ROAD RACING IN BRISBANE.

 

THE EARLY YEARS

 

The only knowledge of road racing before World War 1 was apparently at Woodford, on a circuit which included the main street, being dirt of course. A rider by the name of Ulhmann was known to compete on a Rudge Multi. 

 

Little is known regarding organized, officially sanctioned motorcycle road racing as we know it today, before WW 2 in Brisbane.

 

Primarily I suspect because of lack of bitumen venues and no doubt cost.  Some organized racing however was conducted on gravel surfaces. The track at Kingston being one such example, with riders Les Moore, Les Sherrin, the three Anderson brothers and Bert Skuce senior, all participating.

 

There are also reported instances of spirited larrikins racing unofficially on their motor bikes at clandestine meetings on public roads. Stories abound where Constable Plod on pedal power was unable to prevent such seemingly irresponsible behaviour and quietly turning a blind eye.

 

Most motorcycle racing was confined to Speedway which incidentally, was an Australian invention. The Brisbane exhibition grounds, being the preferred venue. Hill climbs, short circuit and scrambles, now known as motocross, were also very popular.

 

Speedway was by far the most popular bike competition with spectators.  For some riders, it became quite lucrative with stars such as Vic Huxley born in 1906 travelling to the UK, where he was reputed to be the highest paid sportsman in the world.

 

POST WAR – ACTION APLENTY

 

The cessation of hostilities in 1945 paved the way for road racing in Queensland. War time air strips built at Strathpine, Leyburn and Lowood, provided ready made venues for both bike and car racing to flourish.

 

The road circuit at Southport provided yet another track for both bikes and cars.

 

As service personnel were “de-mobbed”, and the local economy blossomed, young terraways with a few quid in their pockets, were able to compete in the thrilling and spectacular sport of motor cycle road racing.

 

Those post war years gave riders, some of whom will no doubt visit this wonderful celebration today, an opportunity to indulge in their passion.                                     .                         

                                                                                 

Riders such as Doug Wacker, Stan Wilmot, Joe Costin, Sandy McCrae (sidecars), Tony Edwards, Derek Hutchings, Ray Gibson, Gordon Gilles, Les Allen and Vince Walker entertained the crowds, large even by today standards, with their skill and daring.

                                                                                                                                           

Motorcycle brands, including AJS, Ariel, BSA, Douglas, Matchless, Norton, Royal Enfield, Triumph, Velocette and Vincent breathed a cocktail of Castrol “R” and methanol, much to the delight of the crowds.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 A NEW ERA.

 

The birth of the new purpose built and very challenging Lakeside motor racing circuit North of Brisbane in 1961, catapulted both car and bike racing into a new dimension.

 

Here at last motorcycle road racing came of age.  Combined with the formation of “The Motorcycle Sportsmen” club, road racing in Queensland was launched to a level never before experienced.

 

The sixties and seventies saw local stars like Rob Olsen, Ian Kratz, Peter Driessens, Trevor Woods,  Gary Middleton and Ian Munro to name  but a few, compete against future international champion Greg Hansford.

 

Another handy club rider Geoff Howie, whose engineering skills took him to work for multiple world champion Phil Read, rose from these ranks.

 

Kevin (Bluey) Smith who, following an industrial accident, retired from racing, only to become, along with wife Win, life long stalwarts and supporters of road racing.

 

Mention should also be made of Graham and Nancy Carseldine, who although not riders, have devoted much of their time, along with many other volunteers to make road racing possible.

 

Suddenly riders had a choice of tracks with Surfers Paradise circuit providing an additional exciting venue.

 

A young Mick Doohan destined to become five times world champion honed his skills on the excellent tracks available close to Brisbane. GP winner Darryl Beattie along with riders Michael Dowson, Greg Neal, Brian Payne (sidecars), David Snape, Pete Byers, Scott Doohan, Trevor Cox, Geoff French, Tony Armstong, Paul Feney and Rob Turton, all added to the spectacle.

 

Road Racing continued to prosper through the eighties and nineties despite the closure of Surfers Paradise.  The Hub 300 at Lakeside for example, was a huge success attracting many interstate up and coming stars.   

 

The opening of Queensland Raceway however provided an alternative, very fast venue, although not one preferred by many riders.

 

Sadly the collapse of the Lakeside circuit in 2001, which was the favourite of most competitors and spectators alike, saw the decline in road race numbers.

 

Hopefully with the re-opening of Lakeside, we will soon see the return of bikes to that wonderful venue.

 

HISTORIC RACING

 

The preservation and racing of historic motorcycles is the passion enjoyed by members of Queensland Early Motorcycle Sports Club Inc. (QEMSC), many of whose members are participating here today.                                                                 

 

QEMSC conducts historic road racing events at both Carnell Park at Stanthorpe and Morgan Park at Warwick.

 

The Motorcycle Sportsmen will host the 2009 Australian Historic Championships at Morgan Park on the first weekend in September.

 

If you have an interest in early motorcycles, please visit our display in the pits here at Mt Coot-tha.

 

In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate both the HRCC and the Brisbane City Council for their commitment and foresight in promoting this event.  Finally on behalf of QEMSC, I would also like to sincerely thank Mr. Bill Westerman for his efforts and dedication for making the event possible and for inviting us to participate in this wonderful Coot-tha Classic.

 

Ian Milton

Race Secretary,

Motorcycles.