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1955The Ropeworks, Mosman Park, WAPHOTO: BY COURTESY MOTORCYCLING WAPeter Nicol (WA) won both the 350cc and Unlimited classes at the AustralianChampionships on 3 July 1955 on a 350cc BSA.
AUSTRALIAN SCRAMBLES RETURN TO ITSBIRTH PLACE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIAWestern Australia was the state hostfor the 1955 Australian Championshipswith Australian scrambling returning toits birthplace – the Ropeworks circuitin Mosman Park, Perth.All entrants were instructed that theirmachines must comply with all trafficregulations if the machines wereridden to and from the course, whichdid occur.More than 15,000 spectators attendedthe event which took the place of theannual Harley scramble, which startedin 1927 and ran annually at this circuituntil the mid-sixties.Kalgoorlie rider Bill Watson rode toand from Kalgoorlie to compete(600kms and over 10 hours one-way)and finished second in the 500cc classto Ron Edwards and third in theUnlimited class on a 500cc BSA.Amazingly, Bill is still competing todayin Vintage Motocross.The circuit consisted of approximately2.5 miles of cross-country terrainincluding limestone quarries and sandtracks, both loose and firm andnormally dry, with a number of steepascents and descents.West Australian Peter Nicol was thestar of the day winning both the 350ccclass and Unlimited class, which wasthe most prestigious class.The total distance was about 60 miles,covering about 10 laps in the morningsection and 14 laps in the afternoonsection. An aggregate of these timesdetermined the placings.He was also the outright winner andpocketed 100 plus the championshipsash and the Melrose Cup (which waspresented each year to the winner ofthe Harley Scramble).The machines were virtually road bikes– some up to 1300cc – except for offroad tyres and a fitting on the front oftheir machine to attach a rope andhook.Peter walked away from the meetingwith nearly 130 plus trophies, whichwas not bad given that the basic wageat the time was slightly less than 9.As the hills were so steep, helperswere stationed at the top of the steepslopes with ropes to haul strickenriders up if they failed mid-climb.This championship was the first toestablish the supremacy of WestAustralian scrambling – mainly due tothe demanding nature of the WAcourses and the gruelling distancesover which they were held.1955L. Sheehan, riding a 500 AJS fromCastlemain in Victoria, was thebest-performed of the visitors.At the end of the morning’s riding hewas leading Peter Nicol by 22 secondsin the Unlimited class. But just afterthe restart, Sheehan’s frame broke,leaving Nicol and Ron Edwards tobattle it out for victory.Les Jesser from South Australia wasthe only visiting rider to place in thechampionships, finishing second in the350cc class.The entry fee for the titles was 1 perrider and 112 riders entered. Only 38riders finished and the sidecar classwas not held that year.Charlie Scaysbrookfrom St George MCCin NSW on a 350ccMatchless
Moorebank, Sydney, NSW1956PHOTO: PETER NICOL COLLECTION(21) Peter Nicol, WA on his way to victory on a BSA in the 350cc class at theAustralian Scramble Championships at Moorebank, Sydney on 27 May 1956.
CHAMPIONSHIPS TAKE ON TRUE NATIONALSTATUSA short break followed before Bailey wasBy 1956 the Australian ScrambleChampionships had true national statuswith teams from WA, SA and Victoriaattending the titles at the MoorebankArmy Camp near Sydney.History was made at this event with TVChannel Nine recording their very firstoutside broadcast for a sporting event.The dominant rider that year wastalented Frankston rider George Bailey,who took advantage of Les Sheehan'sretirement to add a number of newtitles to his credit.confronted with four consecutiveevents, including the 350, 500 andUnlimited finals.AMCN June 8, 1956, reported: “Baileywon the 500 final in a convincingmanner, defeating West, the youngWest Australian champ, but because ofsheer physical exhaustion, could do nobetter than fourth in the All Powersfinal. In the 350 race Bailey used his 250Matchless special, which collapsedunder the added strain of unequalcompetition.”Bailey won three Australian Titles at thismeeting to go with his two Victoriantitles, two South Australian titles andfour New South Wales titles that year.The defending 350 champion, PeterNicol, successfully defended his title,then followed home Charlie West in theUnlimited class.Such was Bailey’s confidence as theMoorebank titles approached, hedecided to try for all five titles.South Australian sidecar ace Rex Wilsonhad little trouble defeating the localoutfits to take his first title.His major opposition came from WAriders Charlie West, Peter Nicol and DonRussell.This year featured the use of the LesMans start in all title events.Beginning with the 125 race, Bailey led aclean sweep for Victoria on his sleeveddown Triumph Terrier 150, then wonanother decisive victory in the 250 class,following this win with two more in the350 and 500 heats.1956An almost complete lack of scramblecompetition in NSW saw no seriouscompetition from the local riders,although some talent was evident in theperformances of Blair Harley, ChasScaysbrook, Harry Pyne, Les Fisher,Johnny Astley and Kel Carruthers.PHOTO: PETER NICOL COLLECTIONWA rider Peter Nicol after winning the 350cc Australian Title in Moorebank,NSW on 27 May 1956
Evansdale,Launceston,TAS1958(132) Jim Silvy, SA won the 500cc National title on a Matchless in Evansdale,Launceston on18 May 1958. He also placed in the 350cc & Umlimited classes.
1961Moorebank Army Camp NSWSouth Australian Ray East at the Moorebank Army Camp circuit in New SouthWales on 3 September. Ray won a National title on home soil in 1959.
1962The Ropeworks, Mosman Park, WA(23) Glen Britza, WA leads Leon Street (VIC) and Gerry Vial (NSW) in the 250ccAustralian Championship on 17 June. He finished second to Gordon Renfree.
WA RIDER ALAN NICOLREPEATS HIS OLDERBROTHER’S FEATThe 1962 Australian Scramblechampionships were held at theRopeworks circuit in WesternAustralia, for the second time, with thefirst event being in 1955.This was the first Australian ScramblesChampionship to be televised.Once again the race-hardened localbrigade filled the placings with AlanNicol, Peter’s younger brother,performing a repeat of Peter’s 1955efforts when he dominated the 1962championship.Alan rode his 350 BSA to three wins,setting the fastest lap in all of themand generally outclassing the largefields, including the 100 riders in theUnlimited class.Spiralling travel costs reduced theinterstate contingent to only tokenlevel with Gerry Vial (NSW), LeonStreet (VIC) and Rob McDonough (VIC)being the only ‘Easterners’.While BSA continued to dominate thesolo titles, the two-stroke wasimproving steadily with Glen Britza1962WA rider Gordon Renfree from the Bunbury MCC dropped his250cc BSA at the Ropeworks, but still went on to win the title.(Greeves) and John Mitchell (Jawa)filling the lightweight placings behindRenfree.The new 1962 model Greeves haddispensed with the chrome-plated(over alloy) bore in favour of a castiron liner. Fibreglass numberplates,light alloy tank and mudguards and aplastic twistgrip also kept the weightdown to 220 lbs.WA teams Lloyd Chapman - CharlieThomas and Stan Smith – BarryKennington were first and secondrespectively in the sidecars.Alan Nicol, WA, made ahat-trick winning the350cc, 500cc andUnlimited classes onhis BSA.
1966Christmas Hills, Yarra Glen - VICChristmas Hills circuit in Yarra Glen, Victoria
SIDECAR LEGENDS BOTHWIN THEIR FIRST OFMANY NATINONAL TITLES1966The 1966 Australian Scrambles Championshipsat Christmas Hills in Yarra Glen, Victoria sawthe emergence of two sidecar legends.South Australian Murray Williams, withpassenger Herb Castle, took out his first of nineNational titles on an ESO in the Junior Sidecarclass for bikes smaller than 750cc.In the Unlimited Sidecar Class, Victorians KenAdams and Dennis Cook continued theirdomination of sidecar events to also win theirfirst National Title.Apart from Williams, the event was dominatedby the Victorians. Williams was challengedearly by Western Australian Tony Ecclestone ona radical sprung-sidecar-wheel outfit whoopened up a clear lead in the 500 class.Ecclestone had worn out one sidecar passengerin practice and his replacement passengerlasted just two laps with sheer exhaustion.In the solos, the Christmas Hills circuitwitnessed the start of a prosperous and highlycompetitive era of scrambles racing inAustralia. The suspension was still some tenyears away, but the war against weight was infull swing.More than 10,000 paying spectators lined thegrassy slopes to witness riders from all overAustralia and New Zealand battle it out for the1966 titles. While road racing was experiencinga slump, scrambles was beginning to go ahead.The 500cc class was limited to machinesbetween 400 and 500cc, eliminating the 250two-strokes and the fire-breathing 360 CZ ofSouth Australiansidecar legend MurrayWilliams picked up hisfirst of nine AustralianTitles at Yarra Glen inthe Junior Sidecar classfor machines less than750cc with Herb Castleon a ESO outfit.Another sidecar ace from Victoria KenAdams also claimed his first of fiveNational Titles in the 1000cc class withDennis Cook in the chair.1966Graeme Burford. Victorian rider Ray Fisherrode quickly to the front of the field to win hissecond consecutive 500cc crown. Businesspartners Burrows and Stacker, both ridingMetisse-framed specials, filled the placings.The 250cc event was easily the mostcompetitive class, setting the fastest race timeson the day. South Australian rider GrahamBurford won this class on a CZ, ahead ofVictorians John Burrows (DOT) and Geoff Taylor(Cotton).In the 350cc class John Mapperson won thefirst heat in the fastest time, with Fisher takingthe other. But in the final, Fisher got bogged inthe infamous mud-hole and Mapperson ranaway to record a commanding win.After several closely-fought laps, Fisher, whohad contested all the main titles, ran out ofsteam and pulled in, leaving Mapperson to takethe Unlimited title on his Bultaco 250.The Unlimited “Allpowers” class was anyone’srace, particularly after Burford won the firstheat race on his CZ360. In the final, Fisherwent straight into the lead. Mappersongradually got into stride to pass the four-strokecontenders to contest the lead.Ray Owen won a lack-lustre 125 event on hisBultaco 125 from the Kawasaki 125 scramblerof Ray Fisher and the Bridgestone 90 of KeithStacker. The Kawasaki was the first of theJapanese scramble models to compete withany success.
Woolongong, NSW1967Victorian rider Ray Fisher (33) leads Laurie Alderton (NSW, 590) in the 500ccclass at the National Championships at Mt. Kembla on 8 October 1967
1968Collie, WAWestern Australian Gordon Renfree (no.14 far right) won the 250cc NationalChampionships at Collie on 20 October 1968.
1970Tovoli Park, Iswich QLDSouth Australian Ray East at the Tivoli Park circuit in Ipswich QLD on 23 August.
1971Clarendon, SAKIWI MILLER STEALSTWO AUSSIE TITLESThe early 1970s saw the emergence ofthe Swedish made Husqvarnamachines and multiple AustralianChampion Gary Flood (VIC) returnedfrom racing scrambles in England withthis glamour machine.But unfortunately at the 1971 NationalChampionships in Clarendon, Floodwas beaten in both the 500cc andUnlimited classes by touring NewZealander Ivan Miller – also on aHusqvarna.In the sidecars, the South Australiansdominated on home soil with AlfGoodwin and Wayne Kervall winningthe Junior Class for bikes smaller than650cc on an Arab/Jawa.Australian Legend Murray Williamsfinished second to Goodwin, but wonthe Unlimited Sidecars the next day.A young Barry Buckley was alsocompetitive in second positionbetween Goodwin and Williams in theJunior Sidecars until his bike brokedown towards the end of the first leg.More than 10,000 people attendedthis Championship, which was the firstone televised. Click here to view videoAlf Goodwin / Wayne Kervall, SA won the JuniorSidecar Championship on a 650cc Arab/JawaPHOTO: ROSCO HOLDEN COLLECTION
1973Foster Park, Mulbring NSWPer Klitland (Denmark, Maico) won the 250cc Australian Championship at theFoster Park circuit in NSW.
1977Acusa Park, SA(2) Barry Buckley – Chris Harris (CCM Wasp, SA) narrowly beat David Wells Geoff Graetz (Norton Wasp, SA) on home soil in the Unlimited Sidecar class.
1978Reg Hunt Park,Broadford (VIC)Riding a Husqcarna, Swedish rider Pelle Grandquist wonthe 250 and 500cc National titles in Broardford, VictoriaPHOTO: ROSCO HOLDEN COLLECTION
SWEDISH RIDER PELLEGRANQUIST DOMINATESTITLES AT WANNEROOSwedish rider Pelle Granquist (NSW)won two Australian Championships atthe Wanneroo circuit in WesternAustralia.1979Wanneroo, WA1000cc champions David Wells-Trevor Thompson leadSA sidecar ace Barry Buckley and Russell Elmi250cc winnerPelle Granquist (Sweden)with second-placegetterKevin Russell (WA)at the Wanneroopresentation ceremonyLocal sidecar championsthe Fanderlinden bros.Riding a Husqvarna, he finished aheadof local riders Kevin Russell andGraham Smythe in the 250cc class andNeville Cutts in the 500s.Apart from Granquist, the“sandgropers “ revelled in the deepsandy conditions with Shane Kirpatrickwinning the 125cc class, also on aHusqvarna, and Neville Cutts winningthe Unlimited All Powers on a Suzuki.An injured Kirpatrick defied doctorsorders that day to compete. Heactually tied for first place overall withAustralian legend Stephen Gall, withboth riders winning a leg each. But theBunbury rider was awarded victory forhis fastest time in the first leg.The South Australian teams dominatedthe sidecars with David Wells-TrevorThompson winning the Unlimted classand Geoff Taylor-Peter Menz winningthe 500cc class ahead of locals CliffCook-Jeff Holmes and Barry BuckleyRussell Elmi.Top: Riding a Husqcarna, Swedish rider Pelle Grandquist wonthe 250 and 50cc National titles at WannerooPHOTOS: PETER KITCHINGMAN
1980Dargle, NSWGALL WINS NATIONALTITLE DOUBLENSW champion Stephen Gall brokethrough in 1980 to win his firstAustralian Championship.With close friend and arch-rivalAnthony Gunther out with injury,Gall comfortably won both the250cc and Unlimited classes on aYamaha at the spectacular Darglecircuit – in his home state.Gall was almost unbeatable thatyear also taking out the prestigiousMr Motocross Series ahead ofVictorian Trevor Williams.Williams won the 500cc class atDargle ahead of Andrew Bailey(QLD) and Robert Woodward (WA).NSW rider Peter Carney took outthe 125cc Championship on aSuzuki ahead of Robert Bailey(NSW) and Ron Dinsdale (NSW).Emerging talent Jeff Leisk (WA) wonhis first senior National title,winning the Restricted Licenceholder class on a 125cc Honda.Australian 250cc and Unlimited Motocross ChampionStephen Gall, St George MCC, NSW (Yamaha)
1980Dargle, NSWBUCKLEY WINS FIFTHNATIONAL TITLESouth Australian sidecar legendBarry Buckley won his fifth NationalChampionship at Dargle, NSW in1980.He comfortably won the 500ccSidecar class with Russell Elmi inthe chair. Queenslanders VernonGrayson and R. Chippendalefinished second, ahead of GaryLauter and Russell Ellis (SA).But things didn’t go Buckley’s wayin the 1000cc class.Fellow South Australian PhilFranklin took out his first Nationaltitle winning both legs. But he waspushed all the way by RussellBergmeier and Lester Trewin untilthe Victorians (pictured at Dargle)dropped a chain towards the end ofthe second leg.After a huge pile up at the start ofthis race, which affected mostteams, Franklin and Bergmeieropened up a commanding lead onthe rest of the field and were neverchallenged.3rd overall in the 1000cc Sidecar event - Russell Bergmeier – Lester TrewinPHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN STEYNTJESDandenong MCC, VIC (Weslake WASP)
1980Dargle, NSW13 Phil Franklin / B. Wigzell (SA)23 Max Hills / Irvine Oliver (WA)4 Cliff Cook / John Steyntjes (WA)PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN STEYNTJES
1981Simmons Plains, TAS1000cc Sidecars26 Wayne & Dean Fanderlinden (Norton Wasp WA)PHOTOCONTRIBUTEDBY JOHNSTEYNTJESPHOTOSCONTRIBUTEDBY WAYNEFANDERLINDEN
YOUNG LEISK UPSTAGESTHE BIG GUNS1982On 28-29 August 1982, a young JeffLeisk (Honda, WA) upset the bigguns to break through and win theprestigious 500cc class at theAustralian Championships inToowoomba, Queensland.Echo Valley, Toowoomba QLDStephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha)showed his amazing fitness levelsto clinch the 250cc title winningboth legs ahead of DarrylWilloughby (SA, Yamaha) andVaughan Style (NSW, Honda).It was Gall’s first ride in two monthsafter being sidelined with a brokenwrist, which would have been givena fair workout on the hilly andwinding Echo Valley circuit.Victorian riders Ray Vandenbergbroke through to win the National125cc title on a Suzuki as didRussell Bergmeier-Lester Trewin(Weslake Wasp) in the UnlimitedSidecars.PHOTO: JOHN KITTLESouth Australian sidecar ace BarryBuckley clinched his eighthNational title with David Ahola inthe chair in the 500cc class.Riding a Yamaha, Jeff Leisk won his second senior National Title atToowoomba, Queensland in 1982 – in the prestigious 500cc class
1982Echo Valley, Toowoomba QLD1000cc Sidecars StartPHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN STEYNTJES
1983Acusa Park, SA500cc MotcrossJeff Leisk (WA)PHOTO: ROSCO HOLDEN COLLECTION
1985Noble Falls,Gidgegannup, WADarren Williams / Mark Kendall (SA/NT) won the 1000cc Australian SidecarChampionship at Noble Falls on 6 October 1985
DARREN WILLIAMS / MARK KENDALRaymond Terrace, NSW500cc & 1000cc Sidecars1986PHOTOCONTRIBUTEDBY JOHNSTEYNTJESPHOTOSCONTRIBUTEDBY WAYNEFANDERLINDEN32. CLIFF COOK / JOHN STEYNTJES15. ROBERT DUKE / BERNARD MUELLERPHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN STEYNTJES
Smithton, TAS1987CLIFF COOK / JOHN STEYNTJES500cc and 1000cc SidecarsBRIAN STEWART / KIM TRIBUTEDBYSTEYNTJESPHOTOSCONTRIBUTEDBY WAYNEFANDERLINDENPHOTOS BY CAROL WILLIAMS
historyTo contribute photos, videos, film, Championship results or stories to theAustralian Motocross HiStory website, email: [email protected]
While BSA continued to dominate the solo titles, the two-stroke was improving steadily with Glen Britza 1962 Alan Nicol, WA, made a hat-trick winning the 350cc, 500cc and Unlimited classes on his BSA. (Greeves) and John Mitchell (Jawa) filling the lightweight placings behind Renfree. The new 1962 model Greeves had dispensed with the chrome-plated