40th Anniversary Kawasaki Z1300 Rally
Late in 1978 the Kawasaki Z1300 made its way onto the European market. The first one saw the light of day in Australia early 1979. I first became aware of the Z1300 when in Bathurst for the motorcycle races in Easter 1979. It took me some years before I actually owned one, however after having my first ride on a mates ’79 model I was hooked for life. Around 1992 I was contacted my Wilco Vonk president of the Dutch Z1300 owners Club and we have remained friends and have maintained regular correspondence ever since. Wilco has been out to Australia three times when he and some other Dutch- men travelled around Australia. I visited Holland for the 30th anniversary of the Z1300 in 2008 and my report appeared in OBA. As the 40th anniversary approached I enquired if there was going to be another rally to celebrate the event. Wilco had it in mind so I said I would come over for the rally which was planned for the weekend of June 1617. My wife and I included a trip to Spain in our itinerary and made it over to Holland a week before the rally. Wilco had arranged our accommodation with his brother who incidentally also rides a Z1300.We spent the week visiting various interesting people with a motorcycle flavour. Nol Bikker, who I met ten years ago is still in business as a Kawasaki dealer now mainly into watercraft, however he showed me his enormous collection of NOS parts for old Kawakas and his display of most of the Kawasakis ever produced has to be seen to be believed. Another fellow, Koos Smits has a garage full of vintage motorcycles, most of which I had never seen before. I was also taken to see a clever guy who had fettled two Gold Star B.S.A. engines together to make a 1000cc twin, a fine looking machine. The Rally itself was held at Meddo, a very small village with one pub, totally biker friendly. We arrived in time to see other Z1300 riders come in from Holland and as far away as Sweden, the UK and Germany. In all 25 Z1300s made it to the weekend. I caught up with a few guys I had met in 2008 and the party started. Saturday night took the form of a dinner and prize giving for the longest distance travelled for which I received the award. I did not ride my bike all the way, but the boys agreed I had made the effort, so the award was mine. Sunday’s ride was led by Wilco Vonk through the back lanes and minor country roads to lunch at Felsen Muhll, about 60 km inside the German border – another friendly biker stopping place for anyone thinking of visiting Germany. The ride returned to Meddo for Sunday night dinner and more motorcycle fellowship in the form of local ale to wash down a great spit roast put on by the Meddo publican. On Monday we had time to make one last visit to see Elaine Schenk, widow of another great Dutch friend of ours who was tragically killed last year. Hans Schenk was a Z1300 rider, his 1300 collection has mostly been sold, however I did re-acquaint myself with his pride and joy a ‘Legendary’ model with less than 3,000km on the clock. That bike is being saved for Wilco. Then came the long and mostly boring trip home via Abu Dhabi with great memories to keep for the rest of my life. Is there going to be a 50th anniversary? Well I will be aged 90 so they will have to come to Australia!
Ron’s host and friend from Netherlands, Wilco Vonk.
ABOVE Ron Weste (kneeling) with the entrants in the 40th anniversary Z1300 rally at Meddo. BELOW Wire-wheeled Z1300 took Ron’s eye.