Memories of the Mile
Story Charlie Edwards
Morgan Mile was the most memorable big track I have ever ridden on with a graded dirt surface of over a mile, best described as similar to a speedway track but many times larger with a very high top speed. With two long main straights and two sweepers only the very brave could keep their bike on full song for the whole track, and very few ever did this.
In early 1970 I built up two big track bikes designed for Morgan, one a 125 Road Racing engine Yamaha in a Hagon frame and the other a real beast, a modified 350cc Road Racing motor Yamaha twin in an Elstar Frame. Most competitors in the past have not had a great lot of success on dirt with twins due to excess wheel spin, but as an engineer I overcame this inherent problem by modifying the geometry of the drive chain giving my machines great traction and maintaining top speed.
Unfortunately I had to retire only days after a rock hit me in the face at my last ride at Morgan whilst doing a pass down the back straight, the bleeding went for weeks requiring many blood transfusions at the Albury Private hospital. I had contacted a rare blood disease and immediately, for my love of racing, I was looking for a rider game enough to ride this 350 Yamaha twin. I first offered the ride to my good friend Leslie Lewis Jnr who also had many titles to his name, and who had travelled most parts of Australia as my mechanic. Leslie Lewis Jnr also lived in Hay NSW, although he hit blistering speeds during a try-out at Morgan he never made the sweeper at the Morgan pits unfortunately, with him sliding it to the ground. I had many offers from other riders to ride the 350. My next choice was an outfit speedway rider Clarrie Jones who lost it completely when he throttled off, the Yamaha gaining full traction taking him and the Yamaha completely over the Bendigo safety fence, wrecking my 350. The third rider was "Half Pint" Rod Hunter who was soon to go to England for the 1978 Speedway season. He begged me to allow him to ride it as he had witnessed its performance. I told him he was the only rider left who was crazy enough to ride it, and Rod agreed. As it was for the Australian titles at Morgan, I had Rod entered in the 350cc, 500cc and All Powers events. During the previous meeting at Morgan the 350 Yamaha had demonstrated it was going to be a threat to the larger classes and a large shock came in the mail only 10 days before the Australian titles that my bike had been banned from the classes larger than the 350cc class. Rod Hunter and his father drove 500km to meet me in Hay NSW to see if we could make a complaint as my entries had already been accepted. I said this was going to be a waste of time but I promised he would be riding it in all the classes no matter how I did this. As an engineer this was right in my expertise as I had made my own model racing engines when I was a kid. I
grabbed one of these engines and made a special alloy mounting and cut away the drive side of the Yamaha engine then ran the engine thru a sprag clutch. As the 6cc engine ran on methanol I was able to use a balloon as a fuel tank. The model motor could be swung out of drive for the 350cc race and swung into mesh on larger races, making it a 356cc 3 cylinder Yamaha which made it officially entitled to ride in the larger classes; it all came together perfectly. But on machine examining day they saw my modification to be allowed into larger events, so the organisers had to now allow the 350cc bikes into the larger classes. Although I put in a large amount of wasted effort it did have the rule changed back on the day of the titles, to what it should have been from the start. Rod Hunter was the perfect rider at Morgan on the day, setting a new lap record for the All Powers. The scream of the highly modified Yamaha coming down the main straight with Hunter laying flat out on the bike with his legs parallel out over the rear wheel sliding into the first corner well over a hundred miles an hour without throttling of for even a second was exciting to watch and was music to many ears as the Yamaha went by the pits. I will never forget the high-pitched scream from this bike, it was just magic. After the first race of the day at Morgan, Hunter after passing his opposition at high speed came into the pits and asked me if I could get more out of the Yamaha, due to his light weight (Half Pint). I leaned out the engine to the point of danger; I am so pleased I did not have a rev counter on the 350 – only my 125 Twin had a rev counter. The trip to Morgan was also quite often exciting. One was towing my three Hagons on a specially made high speed low trailer with brakes and shock suspension behind my very fast E38 Charger which was fitted with triple dual-throat Weber carbies. Travelling much faster than I should have been, we came over a high rise not far from the Morgan turn off. After the Charger came back to road surface again we were fronted with a patrol car parked on the opposite side of the road; the police both had wide open mouths. I asked the crew in my car what I should do, and we all agreed to get to the turn off as fast as possible. For some unknown reason we never saw the police again; thank goodness as I would not have been racing that weekend.
Ken I’anson leads David Adams in 1980. ABOVE Start of an Unlimited final with (from left) Trevor Sweetman (8), Les Lewis (789) Barry Sweetman (03) Ray Owen (27) with John Dewhurst (111) far right.
BELOW TR3 fitted with the 6cc motor on the bottom right of the engine.