Mem­o­ries of the Mile

Story Char­lie Ed­wards

Old Bike Australasia - - TRACKS IN TIME -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.