Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Pictorial look at the 1976 Castrol 6 Hour Production race..held at Amaroo Park Raceway on the northern outskirts of Sydney...

I've always been a rather keen photographer, especially in my earlier days for black and white images and some of my early work was done with Voigtlander Bessamatic M cameras,  Zeizz Ikon Icarex cameras, Leica M3 camera... all 35mm format as well as a Mamiya C3 2¼” square 120 format camera.
I used mostly Ilford FP3  125ASA B &W film, developing it myself and utilised a Durst enlarger with Schneider lenses for printing photos on Ilford paper.
I have some some years back converted to Canon digital SLRs, progressing through EOS350, EOS450, EOS550 to my current EOS6D. 
Enough of this technical stuff....
Many of the film rolls I shot were cut into strips and filed into envelopes for later printing but for some reason this didn't always occur and recently looking through my negative collection I've come across the unprinted ones...
Using a Microtek 1000XL larger format scanner with negative capability and software I quite like, the images have finally "come to life"...
In the early 1970's I rode BMW motorcycles and a friend, John Galvin who was the Metzeler tyre importer to Australia became involved in the Castrol 6 Hour production machine race. A race for standard and I emphasis standard motorcycles...little in the way of modifications were allowed. I rode in the 1971 event on my 1967 Velocette Venom Thruxton 500.
People from the NSW BMW distributor, Tom Byrne, Don Bain in particular who I knew from my interest in Velocette and it's earlier successes in Australian racing from 1930-1955 when he was a  champion rider, asked me to lap score for them in the event.
So let's look at my "photographic involvement" in the 1976 event. One which carried the hopes of some of the major motorcycle distributors in Australia...as this list from Jim Scaysbrook's excellent book on the race series from 1970-1987 shows....


The practice period for the event is in the week leading up to the race on the Sunday. Riders mill around awaiting a practice session to start...

Joe Eastmure and Dave Burgess on their R90S #8
 Murray Sayle, Bryan Hindle (back to camera) Greg Hansford and Helmut Dahne.
Preparing for the Le Mans start....
The start sequence....
Tony Hatton #2 BMW R90S and Roger Heyes #3 Team Avon Z1-B Kawasaki
The first two hour stint over, the Hatton/Blake R90S refuels....
Team Avon had  to refuel every 1.5 hours, 4 stops to the BMW teams two stops....
Team Avon had practiced the refuelling stops and they did their stop to take off in 6.5 seconds...you read it right...!
As shown in an earlier post of the tyre war between Metzeler and Avon, the Avon on the 4 cylinder Z1-B 900 Kawasaki was marginal to last the distance...they had to be able to get out of the pits after their last refuelling stop avoiding being ordered to change the tyre, a certain loss of the race.
Their last refuelling stop caught the chief scrutineer, Chris Peckham, off guard and he's pictured rushing up to look at the rear tyre, but they got out before he could see the tyre and below shows the tyre or what remains of it after the race....!
The results of the 1976 Castrol 6 Hour race from page 103 of Jim Scaysbrook's excellent book of the race's history 1970-1987 and also from Jim's book, p.92, the poster by artist Alan Puckett depicting the winning tactic for the race that year by team Avon...the 6.5 second fuel stops.....
The cover of Jim Scaysbrook's excellent book.....



Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Roarer re-created...Dan Smith in Vancouver, B.C.,Canada builds a second Velocette Roarer from scratch and The Velobanjogent called in for a "photographic look"...

In late March this year during a rather lightning visit to the USA to interview Hedley Cox the last remaining member of the post war Velocette racing team... he was a race mechanic...and this story is for a future post, shortly.....I was in Canada visiting my son-in-laws family and good friends, The Muehlings who live in Surrey on the outskirts of Vancouver. Win Muehling suggested we call in briefly to see Dan Smith the recreater of amongst other things a prewar Vincent series A twin and an prototype AJS V4 cylinder prewar machine....his latest effort is to recreate the one off Velocette Roarer 499cc twin racer of 1939. Initially it was the engine which was displayed at a motorcycle show in Vancouver a little while back but which is now the complete machine as you'll see by my photos...
But first a look at the Roarer made at Veloce in 1938/39, a creation of Charles Udall a then designer at Velocette.
 At Veloce, just before the 1939 IOM TT, Percy Goodman, Tommy Mutton and Harry Thorne work on assembling the Roarer...

The finished machine was taken to the 1939 IOM TT races but despite one lap at a relatively slow speed it was never raced and WW2 finished racing for some 6 years and following the resumption in the later 1940's the FIM ban on supercharging meant the Roarer was mothballed.
Veloce must have been confident as they had entered it in the 1939 Senior IOM TT race....it was a listed as a 499cc Velocette, whereas the normal single cylinder 500 racers were 495cc...see the program..

It languished at Velocette for years before being cleaned up and the internals removed to lighten the machine for moving around and appeared at motorcycle shows in 1956. The internals of the engine were stored under a bench in the race shop in a cardboard box and unknowingly a family or mice or rats made their home in it and the urine from them rusted the parts beyond further use....
Following Veloce's demise in early 1971, the Roarer was exchanged in a deal with John Griffith who ran Stanford Hall and on his tragic death in a high speed car accident ( not his fault) on the M1 in the early 1970's, passed into the hands of Vintage MCC  luminary "Titch" Allen. 
Prior to "Titch's" death Ivan Rhodes acquired the bike and started the long restoration, made more difficult by the loss of all the engine internals which were made from scratch by Ivan's son Graham.
The finished machine is a credit to the Rhodes family and has been displayed as far away as New Zealand and Australia.
The partially completed Roarer in the race shop in 1939.
The Roarer engine on the way to the test house for running in or power testing on the special dynomometer installed for it.
Tommy Mutton centre.
Stanley Woods on the Roarer at the 1939 IOM TT...
The Dutch Velocette Owners Club Committee visited the UK in 2008 for the UK Velo Club's AGM and then later visited Ivan Rhodes at "Fellside Cottage"....President Carl Drees is pictured with the Roarer as it was then...the photo below shows other members of the Dutch VOC with the bike....
But now on to DQs visit to Dan Smith's workshop for a look at his latest project and the finished Roarer engine...built from drawings made by Dan from photographs, exploded views in motorcycle magazines and help from Ivan Rhodes....Dan had all but finished the frame and wheels for his completed machine and as I write this I wonder how long before the engine fires up and he rides the bike...?


What an effort and a great job...congratulation's Dan....

Finally a photo of Ivan Rhodes with his 1939 original, taken in Australia when the roarer was part of the NZ Classic meeting at Pukekohe in the 1990's, featuring the three major supercharged machines of the era.... The Velocette Roarer, The John surtees owned ex. Schorsh Meier 1939 TT winning BMW and Sammy Miller's AJS V4.
And a Leyden cartoon of the 1939 era depicting the politicised situation in Europe at the time with WW2 imminent.