Cyril ‘Sam’ Hughes A life in ser­vice of the sport

The name Cyril Hughes is cer­tainly not well known in rac­ing cir­cles in Launce­s­ton, but he has spent a life­time in the sport in vir­tu­ally ev­ery facet.

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT - Story Ken Young Pho­tos Sam Hughes ar­chives

“Sam made a mighty ef­fort to miss him, but in putting out his left foot he placed it on the pri­mary chain, rip­ping his boot off.”

As a teenager Sam would ride his push bike from his home to watch grass hill climbs, but his love of bikes was cer­tainly not shared by his par­ents as they banned him from own­ing a bike un­til he turned 21. As a book­ing clerk for an auc­tion­eer he started saving to buy his first bike soon af­ter his 21st birth­day, but doesn’t re­mem­ber the early 600 BSA Side Valve fondly. Later, as a sales rep for Cas­trol Oils Sam de­cided to try rac­ing , be­gin­ning with a beach race meet­ing in De­cem­ber 1952 at Greens Beach where he got the taste for win­ning on a 498 Matchless.

The start of the Long­ford race meet­ings (from 1953) saw Sam, along with so many oth­ers, spend a great deal of time help­ing to set up the track for rac­ing. In fact, he was in­volved as a track pre­parer, of­fi­cial or rider at ev­ery Long­ford meet­ing ex­cept the last when bikes were dropped from the pro­gram. Ma­jor prepa­ra­tion in­cluded the lay­ing of the cables needed for com­mu­ni­ca­tion; two for the pub­lic ad­dress and two for the phone line to pro­vide com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the ma­jor flag points. That meant four laps of the 4½ mile track, or well over 18 miles of cables. Then hun­dreds of hay bales had to be placed for the rid­ers’ pro­tec­tion, and then af­ter the meet­ing ev­ery­thing had to be re­moved.

Sam de­cided that a new 500 AJS would be best for 1955 and or­dered one from his ex-em­ployer Trevor Jowett, the AJS agent at Jowett Bros. Un­for­tu­nately, a 350 turned up and he was talked into tak­ing that and re­grets it to this day. Sam had taken to scram­ble rac­ing and was of­ten win­ning at Lock Bay and Baskervill­e, on a new Matchless G80 CS (Com­pe­ti­tion Spring frame). When the 1957 Long­ford meet­ing ap­proached Sam de­cided to give it a try on his Matchless G80 CS which re­quired some ef­fort to get it ready to road race, in be­tween win­ning count­less scram­ble and beach race events.

Good friend Dave Perry had pur­chased a very trick 350 Manx with a close ra­tio gear­box, but was strug­gling to come to grips with it so put Sam on it. Even­tu­ally the Manx de­feated the team and it was sold to good friend Ian Til­ley who had his fa­ther Bill, a long-term Norton racer, as the me­chanic and the com­bi­na­tion worked. In 1960 Dave Perry asked Sam if he would like to ride his 350 Manx at Sym­mons Plains at a ma­jor meet­ing – two weeks be­fore his wed­ding. Re­sults were great up to a fea­ture race where a WA rider dropped the bike at pit cor­ner. Sam made a mighty ef­fort to miss him, but in putting out his left foot he placed it on the pri­mary chain, rip­ping his boot off. That was the last race meet­ing for quite a few years.

Al­though rac­ing had vir­tu­ally stopped he was to con­tinue as a com­mit­tee man with the Tas­ma­nian Mo­tor Cycle Club. Rac­ing was about to move to a new decade and slightly new struc­ture with Stew­ards ap­pointed from out­side the or­gan­is­ing club. Les Walk­den was ap­pointed Clerk of Course and Sam Hughes was Chief Course Mar­shall. The two clicked and stayed in those po­si­tions un­til the start of the 1990s. A ma­jor en­dorse­ment to the way Les, or “Boris” as he was known, and Sam worked to­gether was when many top line main­land rid­ers con­tacted the Com­pe­ti­tion Sec­re­tary about en­ter­ing a meet­ing the first ques­tion was, “Are Boris and Sam run­ning the meet­ing?” If the an­swer was yes, the usual re­sponse was OK I’m com­ing down for the event. The ul­ti­mate en­dorse­ment from the Tas­ma­nian Mo­tor Cycle Club for his rid­ing and of­fi­ci­at­ing was to award him Life Mem­ber­ship.

Graeme White, “Dicky” Lee and Sam Hughes at the com­ple­tion of a 12 Hour Road Trial. On his muchused Matchless G80 CS at Long­ford. Dis­play­ing his speed­way style in a beach race. Sam tinker­ing with his new AJS in 1954.

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