Dave King ‘Erstwhile racer’
I met Dave King through a fellow Bridgestone enthusiast Bob Edwards. Dave had been helping Bob with restoration of his Bridgestone motorcycles. Dave would often tell us of his previous road racing experiences, and the more I got to know Dave it occurred to me that I should put the story in words.
Dave was born in Melbourne in 1948, and later attended Newington College in Sydney. Upon leaving school he trained as an Architectural Draughtsman, but it was not long before he had a change of career around 1969 when he was employed by Bennett Honda in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane as a Spare Parts salesman. A gentleman named Max James used to leave a CR93 Factory Honda in the showroom between events, and this piqued Dave’s interest and led to an interest in road racing. He then decided to join the Brisbane Club Motorcycle Sportsmen. His first race in 1969 was on a mate’s A1R 250 Kawasaki at Surfers Paradise. Dave eventually acquired a CB92 Honda twin which had been built up from a basket case. “It had factory pipes and pistons etc.,” says Dave. “I managed 93 mph at Bathurst in 1970 – wow! My flatmate Geoff Howie helped me build it; Geoff later became a mechanic for Phil Read in the UK” Later Dave became a traveller for Bennett and Wood until the mid 1970s and tells me he used to call in on a shop in Victoria Road Gladesville. ‘I used to call and try to sell them stuff, I believe this was a Jim Scaysbrook and Blair Harley partnership’. Dave’s second bike was a T20 Suzuki which was rebuilt with help from Alan Hales and Kevin Cass. “The T20 got me to B Grade with some sponsorship from Karl and Willi Praml Motorcycles at Oak Flat”. Upon reaching B Grade Dave’s next bike was a TZ350C, and for a time he set some ‘grade’ records on the Yamaha at Amaroo Park, Oran Park and Surfers Paradise. Dave later competed in 2 Castrol Six Hour events; in 1974 on a T250 Suzuki with Rodney Walters as co-rider, and in 1978 on a Honda CB750F with co-rider Glenn Macquarie, finishing 22nd outright and 8th in the 750 class. Unfortunately Glenn was killed 12 months later in a road accident. Dave has also tried his hand at sidecar racing. He showed me a photo, ‘This is me swinging for fellow Manly Warringah club member, Peter Cutting at the top of the Bitupave Hill at Amaroo Park 1974. We competed at Bathurst Easter races that year. The 750 Honda engine blew up after 1 lap. I was very relieved after that, it was incredibly hard work.’ In 1980 Dave was racing at Bathurst on his TZ350F and crashed when the engine broke a con rod. This was not the only break; Dave suffered three broken vertebrae in his neck and two in his lower back as well as a smashed left ankle. The result was a 9 month stint in Royal North Shore Hospital. This brought Dave’s road racing career to an end but not his interest in motorcycles. During the ‘eighties and ‘nineties he was still trail bike riding around Nowra although a little more carefully with memories of his previous injuries. To quote Dave, “Many times I get the urge to buy an old bike and go back to do some historic racing, what cures me unfortunately are the memories of trail bike riding and falling off with a numb feeling down my spine.’ He went on to own and operate a Honda MPE dealership for 20 years in South Nowra before retirement. Dave never lost his interest in small engines and to this day is a dab hand at restoring them. He is married to Lynette and along with three stepsons and seven grandchildren is kept quite busy around Nowra. Since retirement he has taken up a new hobby – flying. To quote Dave, ‘I had had models when I was younger but it was now time for something bigger.’ In 1990 Dave obtained his Ultralight pilot’s certificate, since that time he has built four planes, three from kits and one from plans. He currently owns two of these aircraft, the ‘plans built’ Hummelbird and a RANS S19 Venterra and has 1,600 hours in his logbooks. The Hummelbird is the only airworthy example in Australia and the RANS Venterra is registered as a light sport aircraft. Both these planes have Rotax motors; the Hummelbird a 359cc twin cylinder 2 stroke of 52 HP and the RANS a 100HP 912S 4 Stroke. They run on 95 and 98 ULP making them less expensive to run and maintain. Based out of Holbrook, Dave and Lynette have flown around Southern NSW and Victoria and as far as William Creek in SA and Gladstone in QLD. Although Dave’s racing career was cut short, with his tenacity who knows where he may have progressed to without that fateful crash in Bathurst in 1980.
Dave with his S19 Venterra. ABOVE LEFT At Oran Park on the TZ350F. ABOVE RIGHT Early days at Lakeside on the 125 Honda.
In the chair with Peter Cutting at Oran Park.