Peter Se­nior and Brian Cartwright WA stars

The tyranny of dis­tance meant few West Aus­tralian rid­ers reg­u­larly ven­tured to the ‘sev­en­ties big time in the East­ern States, but that didn’t mean there was a lack of tal­ent there. Far from it.

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story Des Lewis. Pho­tos Cartwright and Se­nior ar­chives, OBA ar­chives.

Lit­tle did Peter Se­nior know af­ter punc­tur­ing his bi­cy­cle tyre back in ‘65 that by chance he’d strike up a friend­ship that would en­dure his life­time and in­tro­duce the young English lad to Aussie mate­ship and mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing. His fam­ily hadn’t long ar­rived in West­ern Aus­tralia as “10 pound poms” and the 15 year old was still find­ing his way. He was in Scar­bor­ough and on his way home when he struck tyre trou­ble. By chance, Brian Cartwright hap­pened to be pass­ing and stopped to help. They went back to Brian’s place to re­pair the tyre. To Peter’s amaze­ment, the Cartwright shed had sev­eral old mo­tor­cy­cles in var­i­ous states of re­pair, which Brian was work­ing on.

The two clicked to be­come best mates and de­vel­oped a shared in­ter­est in mo­tor­cy­cles. This would morph into rac­ing, where their mate­ship and on-track ri­valry spurred the two on to be­com­ing a cou­ple of WA’s most suc­cess­ful rid­ers through­out the ‘70s.

Brian, a year older than Peter, was al­ready en­trenched in mo­tor­cy­cles and me­chan­ics, hav­ing formed an in­ter­est at the age of 12 when he “gave life” to an old CZ 125 aban­doned in his grand­mother’s shed. By the time he was 17, he’d re­built 43 ma­chines, most of which he’d sell for a bit of cash. “In those days, you’d walk down the street and see a bike lean­ing against a shed or fence, weeds grow­ing around it,” re­called Brian. “No­body wanted them. Of­ten, I’d just knock on the door and be told if I could get it go­ing, I could have it. So that’s how it all started for me.” A while later the pair headed to Caver­sham, which was the main cir­cuit be­fore Wan­neroo Park race­way opened. Brian, be­ing a lit­tle older and a bit cocky, reck­oned he could prob­a­bly go as fast as the rid­ers they watched and, as soon as they were old enough, both headed to the Mo­tor Cy­cle Rac­ing Club of WA and ap­plied for their rac­ing li­censes. Brian’s rac­ing ca­reer started with a high per­for­mance Shel­s­ley Walsh Match­less that he’d man­aged to get his hands on, fit­ted with a gen­uine Shel­s­ley Walsh mo­tor and a Match­less close ra­tio fac­tory gear­box. In his sec­ond out­ing, the 1968 Fly­ing 50 Hand­i­cap event, he had a win, which drove the teenager on. Shortly af­ter, his rac­ing had an abrupt set­back. “We had a cat­a­strophic fire in the shed, which de­stroyed about half a dozen bikes. The worst of it was I was away rac­ing in Col­lie and had the orig­i­nal en­gine from my Shel­s­ley Walsh Match­less sit­ting on the floor of the garage, with the spare en­gine in the bike I was rid­ing. All that was left was some molten me­tal, the fly­wheel, a cam and a few other bits and pieces. It was re­ally sad be­cause it was a pretty spe­cial en­gine,” Brian re­called.

While Brian had taught him­self me­chan­ics from an early age, Peter also had a nat­u­ral abil­ity with a span­ner, which served both well as they started their rac­ing ca­reers. They would spend hours tin­ker­ing away on their bikes and learn­ing. Co­in­ci­den­tally, Peter also lived next door to Graeme Sigley, who was al­ready in­volved in rac­ing. This fur­ther fu­elled his in­ter­est. Graeme, along with the late Eric Ni­choll, had for­mi­da­ble achieve­ments through­out the ‘70s, win­ning thir­teen state ti­tles across var­i­ous classes as well as be­ing crowned King of Wan­neroo four times in the decade, while Eric cleaned up in side­cars. Peter and Brian would of­ten find them­selves du­elling with Graeme as their rac­ing ca­reers pro­gressed, which pro­vided healthy and very spir­ited com­pe­ti­tion.

Peter started rac­ing a lit­tle later than Brian. His first race bike was a Nor­ton 500 Dom­i­na­tor and while he didn’t meet with early suc­cess, the bike was very re­li­able and a good start as he learnt the tricks of the trade and de­vel­oped his me­chan­i­cal skills. Around 1970 he pur­chased a Kawasaki A1 Sa­mu­rai 250cc road bike, which he set up for rac­ing and started win­ning a few events. His po­ten­tial was ev­i­dent when he had a sur­prise win and a sec­ond at the Gnowangeru­p Round the Houses event that year, which sig­nalled his ar­rival. Un­for­tu­nately, he wrote the bike off shortly af­ter­wards in an ac­ci­dent at Wan­neroo, al­though quickly se­cured an­other and con­tin­ued to mark his pres­ence. Later that year, Brian moved to Bun­bury, but the two re­mained the clos­est of mates. On mov­ing to Bun­bury, Brian was in­vited to ride a Kawasaki A7 Avenger 350cc be­ing built by Ray Tre­bly. This bike was a ma­jor step up in per­for­mance from his age­ing Match­less and very com­pet­i­tive with the bikes of the day. He and Peter were see­ing more suc­cess and Brian soon got a ride with Honda Aus­tralia as part of the state’s Honda Rac­ing Team. His re­la­tion­ship with Honda lasted for more than 12 years. Peter also joined the team for a pe­riod. While he rode for Honda for some years, he also moved across to ride for Yamaha and later, Suzuki. Both re­called their an­tic­i­pa­tion when Honda Ja­pan sent across a fac­tory pre­pared Honda CR750 racer built as part of its Day­tona cam­paign. The CR750 ar­rived fol­low­ing Honda’s suc­cess in the 1970 Day­tona Beach 200, its first and only out­ing there. The CR had been specif­i­cally de­vel­oped by Honda to win the pres­ti­gious race as it sought to make in­roads with its larger bikes into the Amer­i­can mar­ket and had reached al­most leg­endary sta­tus with this one achieve­ment, largely thanks to Honda’s mar­ket­ing. But what wasn’t well known was the win­ning bike was close to ex­pir­ing and only just made it across the line. The bike to ar­rive in WA was the first (and pos­si­bly only) Ja­panese fac­tory built CR750 to hit Aus­tralia. Also to ar­rive from Honda Ja­pan was a CR kit to be used on a CB750 donor bike. Peter ex­plained the bike was in a sorry state and had ob­vi­ously been raced. He be­lieves it was part of Honda’s Day­tona cam­paign. It was al­most seized and when started, spewed co­pi­ous amounts of oil smoke and was mak­ing very un­healthy sounds. It had to be re­built. In the mean-time, Brian and the me­chan­ics from Honda as­sem­bled the sec­ond bike with the kit. Back in the day, li­cens­ing re­quire­ments in re­gional towns weren’t as strict as to­day and they man­aged to get the kit­ted bike li­censed in Bun­bury, where Brian ran it in on the road. “The CR came to WA and there were huge ex­pec­ta­tions,” said Brian. “But the bike re­ally wasn’t suited to the WA com­pe­ti­tion. It was fine at Wan­neroo where its long legs could be used to ad­van­tage. But on tight street cir­cuits, which made up half the cham­pi­onship events, and weigh­ing half as much again as a TR2 Yamaha, it was a real hand­ful. It was also plagued with top end oil star­va­tion prob­lems and un­re­li­able. But to put it into per­spec­tive, it was re­ally just a pro­duc­tion bike, heav­ily kit­ted up and not de­signed from the ground up as a race bike, so the ex­pec­ta­tions were pretty un­re­al­is­tic. It had, af­ter all, achieved what it was cre­ated to do, which was to win at Day­tona,” he said.

Shortly af­ter get­ting the orig­i­nal CR run­ning, Peter re­calls there was “a bit of fuss” from the East that WA had two “CRs” and the east­ern states none. The orig­i­nal bike was then sent over east, where it was thought to have been raced for a while and ended up on dis­play within Honda Aus­tralia. Word is that a few years later, some vis­it­ing ex­ec­u­tives from Honda Ja­pan saw the bike on dis­play and had it re­turned to Ja­pan, where it now sits in the Honda mu­seum. This would ap­pear to con­firm Peter’s be­lief that it may have been one of the orig­i­nal bikes from the Day­tona cam­paign, al­though Honda Aus­tralia could not shed any light on this chap­ter of its rac­ing his­tory.

In ad­di­tion to their rides with Honda, Peter and Brian each pur­chased a new Yamaha TR2 to con­test the 350cc and 500cc classes for the 1972 sea­son. Brian met with suc­cess and took out both the 350cc and 500cc State Cham­pi­onships, while Peter won the 500cc class the fol­low­ing year. They both re­call how tem­per­a­men­tal the TR2 was, es­pe­cially with start­ing. Brian fixed the prob­lem by in­stalling Moto Par­illa go kart points with a to­tal loss bat­tery sys­tem. Em­bed­ded in Peter’s mem­ory with his TR2 is the first of the “Fly­ing 50’s” at Wan­neroo, where his hand­i­cap to other bikes was 7 ½ min­utes. “The bike was stone cold and wouldn’t start,” he re­called. “Luck­ily, I was a bit fit­ter back then and ended up push­ing the bloody thing from the start, down into the basin and around when it even­tu­ally fired. I man­aged to make up ground and fin­ished third. I learnt the next year and kept the bike to the side and run­ning be­fore the start, to turn it off a short while be­fore the flag dropped and then got it go­ing and won the race. I was told I couldn’t do that as it was break­ing the rules, but no one could show me any­thing about that, so I stood my ground and the re­sult stood,” he said. A high­light for the two when both were rid­ing with Honda was the in­au­gu­ral 3-hour Pro­duc­tion Bike race at Wan­neroo Park. The Mo­tor Cy­cle Rac­ing Club of WA or­gan­ised this event in re­sponse to grow­ing in­ter­est and a world­wide trend to en­durance races with pro­duc­tion bikes. Fol­low­ing their suc­cess and ex­pe­ri­ence at Day­tona, Honda Aus­tralia saw suc­cess on the track as in­te­gral to their mar­ket­ing strat­egy and Gra­ham McKenna from Honda WA ob­tained a CB750 for each of them to con­test the Pro­duc­tion se­ries. Two Honda 750s were en­tered in the 3-Hour, with Brian and Peter pair­ing up for the event. It was clear the race would be keenly con­tested with a wide range of ma­chines en­tered, re­flect­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of this type of event and im­por­tance to man­u­fac­tur­ers. The field in­cluded Graeme Sigley and Stan Cheesman rid­ing the Mort­lock-spon­sored 650 Tri­umph, Ross Chap­man and Den­nis Ryan on the Lloyd Chap­man 750 Du­cati, Fred Bloom­field and Peter O’Meara on a 750 Suzuki and John Rova and Jack Rowe on a 750 Kawasaki. The smaller ca­pac­ity ma­chines in­cluded the likes of Brian Cull and Barry Store­mont on an RD350 Yamaha, Ian West and Ron Ni­coll on a GT380 Suzuki, and many oth­ers in the mix. Brian and Peter had a good win, com­plet­ing 144 laps, while sec­ond place get­ters, Ross Chap­man and Den­nis Ryan com­pleted 143 laps, with Graeme Sigley and Stan Cheese­man com­ing in third on 142 laps. In those days, both rid­ers would com­pete in most classes avail­able in the State Cham­pi­onships.

Brian com­mented that some­times he’d take four bikes to a meet­ing; spon­sored Hon­das for some events and his own Yama­has for oth­ers. It wasn’t un­com­mon for him to be seen rid­ing a Yamaha while wear­ing Honda leathers! “There was also a lot of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and mod­i­fi­ca­tion of bikes, that wasn’t al­ways led by the fac­tory,” Brian said of the pe­riod. “Around 1972 (the late) Bryan Hin­dle came across from the East­ern States to ride for Honda in the Aus­tralian Road Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship round at Wan­neroo Park,” Brian said. “He spot­ted the new CR 125 Mo­tocross in Honda Can­ning­ton and reck­oned that with some mod­i­fi­ca­tions, it’d make a good road racer. Honda WA in­stalled forks from a CB175, changed the brakes and made a few other mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Hin­dle rode it at the Aus­tralian Road Rac­ing Round at Wan­neroo and placed third. “Af­ter this suc­cess, we made some more mod­i­fi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing run­ning it on al­co­hol, and took it to Bathurst where I clocked 123mph down the back straight. Honda Aus­tralia got wind of it and, be­fore much longer, pro­duced a 125 in full race trim based on that bike,” he said. “Af­ter that, Honda Ja­pan fur­ther de­vel­oped it into the Honda CR125R, a bike I raced for many years.” On re­tir­ing from rac­ing, Honda Aus­tralia pre­sented Brian with his CR125R, fully re­stored. It is now proudly dis­played in a se­cure cab­i­net un­der his bar.

Af­ter rid­ing with Honda in the early ‘70s, Peter con­tin­ued hav­ing suc­cess on a num­ber of dif­fer­ent bikes, in­clud­ing the first TZ350 Yamaha to be as­sem­bled in WA. In 1975 he bought a Suzuki RG500, a bike that has be­come one of his favourites. He still has the RG, which is now raced by his son Adam in His­toric rac­ing events. And it was on this bike he had one of his most mem­o­rable rides, which was against the late Mike Hail­wood. “Mike had al­ways been one of my he­roes, from the time I was a real young bloke” said Peter. “In 1978, Mike came across as part of his come­back to com­pete in Bathurst at Easter. I couldn’t be­lieve it when I found my­self lined up along­side him for three races. He was on a new OW31 TZ750 Yamaha and me on the Suzi’. “Over each race, we were side by side. He was quicker up over the top, but I could pick him up on other parts of the cir­cuit. I had an ab­so­lute ball, some­thing I’ll never for­get,” he said. Trag­i­cally, Mike died in 1981 in a ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent in the UK.

Nei­ther Brian or Peter made a re­ally se­ri­ous tilt at rac­ing over East. They both trav­elled across for some events but found the tyranny of dis­tance re­stric­tive when it came to rac­ing at the na­tional level. They both laugh that one of their strong­est in­cen­tives was that in each race they’d al­ways wa­ger a jug of beer to the first around the first cor­ner, and a jug for

who­ever won the race. This cer­tainly led to many fierce starts and they both at­tribute much suc­cess to this. The mate­ship and the ca­ma­raderie they ex­pe­ri­enced within the lo­cal rac­ing com­mu­nity through­out the ‘70s is some­thing both re­call as be­ing quite unique, with Peter com­ment­ing that he of­ten felt he raced for the so­cial life. In par­tic­u­lar, the Round the Houses events that formed part of the state cham­pi­onships added a unique el­e­ment to the rac­ing scene in WA. The pe­riod was the hey­day of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing in the state, where the sport was very pop­u­lar, com­pe­ti­tion was in­tense, but friend­ships and bonds within the rac­ing com­mu­nity were par­tic­u­larly strong. By 1989, in­sur­ance is­sues had ef­fec­tively put paid to Round the Houses events and with it, a colour­ful part of WA mo­tor rac­ing his­tory. Brian com­peted in his last race in 1989 and has stayed in­volved in mo­tor­cy­cling with his main in­ter­ests in vin­tage and vet­eran bikes, par­tic­i­pat­ing in club events and sup­port of his son Mathew, who races at a state level in Mo­tocross. Peter’s pas­sion for rac­ing has con­tin­ued and he has passed the ba­ton to his son Adam, who com­petes both at a state and na­tional level. He and his wife Julie sup­port Adam and reg­u­larly travel over east, pro­vid­ing back up for his rac­ing. They both reg­u­larly catch up and have also kept in touch with Graeme Sigley and oth­ers from this spe­cial era in WA mo­tor cy­cle rac­ing.

FAR LEFT Brian Cartwright to­day with his re­stored Match­less. CEN­TRE Peter with his trea­sured Suzuki RG500. BE­LOW Al­bany circa 1971. Brian leads Peter Se­nior, both on 350 Yama­has.

Brian on the race kit­ted CB/CR750. Ri­val and men­tor to Brian and Peter, Graeme Sigley fin­ished 2nd on his Suzuki RG500 in the Bathurst 500cc GP in 1979. Peter Se­nior at Caver­sham in 1968 on his Nor­ton Dom­i­na­tor.

Honda leathers but Yamaha mounted – Brian on a Yamaha FZ750.

Early days. Brian in 1968 in a Round the Houses event. Brian Cartwright on the CB750FZ Honda he shared with Rick Gill in the 1980 Cas­trol Six Hour Race at Ama­roo Park. They fin­ished 12th out­right in the very wet race.

Brian on the smoky kit­ted CB/CR750 shortly be­fore it ex­pired at Wan­neroo.

ABOVE Is this the ex-Cartwright CR750? On dis­play in the Honda Mu­seum, Motegi, Ja­pan. RIGHT The kit­ted CB/CR750 af­ter it was li­censed for the road in Bun­bury.

LEFT Brian air­borne on a Yamaha FZR1000 in the Round the Houses event at Bun­bury in 1989. ABOVE Fa­ther and son. Adam (77) and Peter Se­nior at Wan­neroo on TR3 Yama­has. BE­LOW In good com­pany. Peter (77) at Wan­neroo with Ross Barelli (13), Bryan Hin­dle (50), and Gregg Hans­ford (02).

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