Robin Yates

Old Bike Australasia - - • HAROLD GRIMES • CLUB LAVERDA • KENNY BLAKE • - Ken Young

A stal­wart of Tas­ma­nian mo­tor­cy­cling, ROBIN FRAN­CIS YATES died 8th Fe­bru­ary 2018, aged 80. Robin started mak­ing a name for him­self in mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing in the early 1960s along with younger broth­ers Stu­art and Martin. The three came up with many in­no­va­tive ideas to sup­port their club, the Tas­ma­nian Mo­tor Cy­cle Club, and their own rac­ing, and Robin was usu­ally at the fore­front of the ideas. They were run­ning Au­toland Cars in Launce­s­ton and de­cided to branch out into mo­tor cy­cles, form­ing Yates Bros. Mo­tor Cy­cles. The deal­er­ship was a mixed bag with Nor­ton, Du­cati, Bul­taco, BMW, Bridge­stone and Yamaha. A Dun­stall Nor­ton was im­ported for Stu­art, quickly fol­lowed by one of only three Yamaha TD1-Bs to come to Aus­tralia. The three of them used Bul­taco Cam­peras in tri­als events and im­ported the only 350 Du­cati race bike seen out­side Europe at that time. Robin was a good Club­man racer who of­ten stepped in to race what­ever Stu­art was not rac­ing on any par­tic­u­lar day. Af­ter re­tir­ing from rac­ing he be­came a very strong and ac­tive com­mit­tee man tak­ing on many and var­ied po­si­tions, such as pres­i­dent and com­men­ta­tor, on the com­mit­tee and at race meet­ings. When rac­ing was at a very low ebb in the state he came up with the idea of tak­ing up the gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive of spon­sor­ing an English fam­ily out to Aus­tralia. He or­gan­ised for five English rac­ers to come to Tas­ma­nia with their fam­i­lies with the promise of a job and the chance to con­tinue their rac­ing. His early work in the ru­ral sup­ply in­dus­try al­lowed him to use his knowl­edge of the back roads of the state to organise some qual­ity road tri­als for a num­ber of years. Dur­ing the 1970s he brought two top club­men back to the sport when he con­vinced for­mer Yates Broth­ers me­chanic Ge­orge Gib­bons to slot a Suzuki T500 road bike mo­tor into the ex-Bill McBride 350 Aer­ma­c­chi, and con­vinced Lau­rie O’Shea to come out of re­tire­ment to race it. They quickly be­came a force in lo­cal rac­ing. Af­ter a trip to the Isle of Man he be­came a strong ad­vo­cate for his­toric rac­ing and pur­chased a Yamaha SRX600 and dressed it up to look like a Manx Nor­ton. Life long friend Ian Til­ley was the me­chanic and Robin’s son Craig was to race it. His work was recog­nised in 2005 with Life Mem­ber­ship of the Tas­ma­nian Mo­tor Cy­cle Club.

Robin Yates (cen­tre), Lau­rie O’Shea and Ge­orge Gib­bons with the Gib­bons Suzuki 500 twin in 1972.

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