Rockin’ and rollin’
Your article on Sandown race circuit (OBA 45) prompted me to recount a meeting at which my passenger Kevin Burns and I raced circa 1979. A couple of years earlier, I purchased from Mick Atherton’s widow, an ex Bob Levy outfit (post Wedge) powered by a Z1 Kawasaki engine. This machine possessed the most frightening, unpredictable characteristics of any sidecar I have ridden. I was in two minds whether to cut the frame for scrap, but when a prospective purchaser had intentions of fitting a 500 Matchless single engine, I felt he would be fairly safe. I have never seen this outfit since. I subsequently had Bob Martin transplant the excellent engine into a British MGF frame which I purchased from Chris Robinson of Tasmania. As the engine had done little work since I purchased it and was running well, I felt no need for close examination. The previous engine builder had removed the unnecessary starter motor, and plugged the crankcase orifice with a cork, then painted the whole thing black. Perhaps due to insufficient crankcase breathing, the cork was expelled, resulting in engine oil hosing onto the rear tyre, fortunately not at one of the faster sections of the course. The resulting series of three photos appeared in Auto Action with predictable reference to sidecar sanity.
One of several interesting outfits competing at that meeting was the O’Rourke brothers who were running a 750 Suzuki and to upgrade the capacity, simply coupled a T500 Suzuki engine onto the end of the crankshaft. What happened to these chaps? What a bonus if they could bring out these machines and join us in historic racing. Max Hooper Melbourne, Vic.
ABOVE What happens when you pop your cork. Max Hooper and Kevin Burns abandon ship.