A day at the races

Old Bike Australasia - - TRACKS IN TIME SPRINGBANK -

Doug Voss re­calls 1947’s open­ing meet­ing, held on 1st Fe­bru­ary, as “rather dull”, how­ever he vividly re­mem­bers the trip to the cir­cuit in his friend Ian Tren­gove’s home built car. It’s a story worth re­lat­ing. “In 1943 my brother Fred, four years my se­nior, was in his fi­nal year at the Univer­sity of Ade­laide study­ing me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing. Fred was frus­trated with the fact that nei­ther of our cars (dad’s 1938 Vaux­hall Wyvern, or Fred’s 1928 Mor­ris Mi­nor) were able to get over the Napoleon hat-shaped Clapham rail­way bridge in top gear. So he de­cied to build a Spe­cial in the Shelsey Walsh tra­di­tion – a large motorcycle en­gine (1100cc side-valve v-twin JAP), a light chas­sis from a 1928 Mor­ris Mi­nor, and an Austin 7 gear­box. Weight was kept at a min­i­mum by dis­pens­ing with a body. “The Spe­cial was a great suc­cess; it cleared the Clapham Bridge (which no longer ex­ists) in top gear, with ease. Then for about six months, it was a Camelot pe­riod for us, we for­got about the war. We had the Spe­cial and my old AJS and the Windy Point Hill at our back door. The crackle of the old JAP and the raw en­ergy of the car was ex­hil­a­ra­tion. Then 1944 came, Fred grad­u­ated from univer­sity with hon­ours – and joined the A.I.F. I turned 18 years, and joined the Air Force. Sadly within six months Fred had died as the re­sult of an ac­ci­dent – there would be no more Camelots. “After the war, with friends Ian Tren­gove and Brian Fuss, we got the Spe­cial go­ing again and raced around the hills roads south of Ade­laide. In 1947 Ian and I took the Spe­cial to the races at Spring­bank, where it cre­ated a lot of in­ter­est. In 1948 I bought a 1000cc OHV v-twin JAP (ex-Cam­den speed­way). I fit­ted the new mo­tor and made a few cos­metic al­ter­ations. The change was em­phatic! Now we could not only cross the Clapham rail­way bridge in top gear, but got air­borne at the crest! “Some years later, I wheeled the Spe­cial out again, joined the Sport­ing Car Club and had some mod­est suc­cess in the up to 150cc rac­ing class at the Collingrov­e Hill Climb. The Spe­cial now rests qui­etly in my garage – the source of many mem­o­ries both happy and sad.”

The Spe­cial draws plenty of in­ter­ested on­look­ers in the pits at Spring­bank in Fe­bru­ary 1947.

Ian Tren­gove giv­ing the Spe­cial a work­out at Hawthorn­dene.

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