Rockin’ and rollin’

Old Bike Australasia - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

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.

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