From the Blog

A real “find”

It never ceases to amaze me how that, some 40 years after the time that I was actively involved in the sport as a photographer, commentator and administrator, photos and memorabilia from the era are still surfacing. As enthusiasts, and sometimes their children! clean out their cupboards and sheds, new photos and videos are emerging that haven’t been seen since they were made, much to everyone’s delight.

When I was recovering from my accident I passed the time by scanning in and cataloguing all of my road racing photos. There were over 3000 of them and it took a long time, which was OK because I had all the time in the world. When I published them in over 30 albums on my Facebook page they were met with genuine surprise and delight, especially by the many riders who were featured in them, most of whom had no photos of themselves from the era. That was a long time ago but I am still enjoying peoples’ reactions when I post up a picture or two from the day.

As well as this, I love seeing stuff from other collections. And the photo at the head of the article is an example. Actually it’s not a photo as such but rather a screen shot from a video that was published yesterday in a Facebook group. It’s Bill McCulloch on his GSX1100 Suzuki, splashing through the downpour at Oran Park in February 1981. Bill, and co-rider, Phil O’Brien, finished second that day in the shortened Coca Cola 800 endurance race riding a mildly warmed-over production Suzuki. At about 2/3 race distance the organisers that day realised that, were they to let the race run its full course, 800kms or 306 laps of the Oran Park Grand Prix circuit, and, were the torrential rain to continue as it looked like doing, the race would be finishing in the dark, so the race was shortened by 40 laps and even then it was VERY gloomy by the time Greg Pretty (RIP) splashed across the finishing line to take the win on the Pitmans Yamaha XS1100.

Interestingly, and this must be the subject of another article, the bike pictured above is STILL racing, fitted now with Katana bodywork but mechanically intact from that wicked day some 37 years ago.

Of course, this race was the one that saw the debut of my bike, the Shadowfax Kawasaki which is one of the many reasons why the race maintains its fascination for me. Because I have always known that there WAS a video of the race, a 2 hour compilation of the ABC direct telecast from the day but I had never seen it. And yesterday it made its appearance, and here it is.

Now as well as being the race where my bike raced, the video is interesting to me for a number of other reasons. Firstly, I was the on-course commentator for the Coke and, in fact, my voice can be heard when the bikes are in the pits for their pit stops (the first one at the 23 minute mark). Then, right near the end of the race the Shadowfax (bike #3) is featured where the TV commentator talks about the bike and its riders (it can also be seen in various shots during the race as well). Listen as Will Hagon, in one of his bloopers on the day, describes the bike as a Ducati! Then, as Greg Pretty rides the bike back to the presentation area after the race, he passes a man dressed in an orange jacket and wearing a cloth cap. That person is my brother!

I warn you that it IS a long video, nearly 2 hours, but it is well worth watching. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.