The biggest moment of BRIAN CLARKSON’S extensive and varied racing career came in 1971 when he won the inaugural Sunraysia Desert Rally near Mildura. The event was a new concept for locals, and there were many different approaches taken by competitors. Clarkson’s approach was simply pull on his faded yellow Husqvarna jersey, strap a gallon of petrol to the top of the forks, and go for it. The win was a touch fortunate after several of the leading competitors became lost due to incorrect course marking, but ‘Clarko’ just soldiered on through the dust storms, battling with the loss of first gear which made getting through the deep sand difficult. But for the most part, it was flat in top and after 170 miles, the three-year old Husky came home not just ahead of all the other bikes, but way ahead of the closest car. Brian just trousered the $625 first prize and went home happy. Born in 1943 and a member of AnnandaleLeichhardt MCC, Brian raced various bikes on Sydney dirt Short Circuits like Vineyards, Arcadia and Glenorie, and in Scrambles at Moorebank and Mount Kembla. Getting onto a new 360 Husqvarna elevated him to the A Grade ranks, and he used the Swedish machine not only off-road, but for road racing at Oran Park. In 1970, he suffered a serious crash at Bathurst when his Velocette Thruxton seized at the flat out downhill kink entering Conrod Straight, leaving him a with a broken wrist, but in order to take part in the much-publicised ‘Steeplechase’ event on the Husky at Sydney Showground Speedway, he painted the plaster cast black and slipped on an oversize glove. Brian gained further notoriety when he entered an MV Agusta in the 1972 Castrol Six Hour Race, an entry that gained considerable publicity but little else after clutch failure forced an early retirement. He campaigned an odd variety of bikes in motocross, including Mexican Carabellas, a TM400 Suzuki owned by Hazell & Moore, and the ‘All Australian’ (actually built in Britain by Sprite) Alron. After quitting racing, he opened a motorcycle wrecking business at Penrith which he operated until he retired to live on the NSW Central Coast. Of burly physique, fitness was never one of Brian’s strong points, but his natural strength helped him greatly in the off road events. Brian Clarkson passed away on 21st May, 2019, at his home.
Brian Clarkson on his 360 Husqvarna at Moorebank, 1969. ABOVE Brian Clarkson with his MV Agusta at scrutineering for the 1972 Castrol Six Hour Race.