DURING the 1980s several enthusiastic club members banded together with the idea of starting junior speedway training and competition for riders aged seven to 16 years.
A co-op was formed with each partner committing a generous sum of money to the idea. In return they would receive a junior speedway machine of five-eighths scale, powered by a fourstroke motorcycle motor.
The sheep stations and wheat farms around Sunraysia were scoured for donor agricultural machines using the ultra-reliable Honda 125cc motor.
John Adams, Rod Lyons, Brian Alderton, John Write and Sy Nunan were core members of the group under the direction of Fred Hancock 1that kept its finger on the pulse while the wider club membership assisted by establishing junior rules and constructing a track within the confines of the main senior’ Olympic Park circuit.
The juniors, with a continual and dedicated band of parents in the frontline, are now ensuring that there will always be riders graduating into senior competition, keeping the local competition vibrant and strong.
The formation of the junior section nearly 30 years ago has resulted in so many riders graduating to senior ranks with all the necessary race craft and skills to serve them well in open competition.
Desert racing, Motorcross, supercross, rally and enduro
THE winter season for many club competitors meant plenty of off-road dirt action. Scrambles became motocross, with Ben Rigby showing that he was probably the Club’s best all-round motorcyclist and the local sand-hill and desert country to our south became popular as a venue for desert racing and rallying when winter rains generally kept the ground in reasonable race condition.
During the 1970s, Bob Bate and Geoff Leighton won significant events, at both Sea Lake and Hattah, while others like Sy Nunan chose to ride a modified 750cc Honda road machine in one Hattah Rally!
Nominations for these events were always in the hundreds, with many competitors just enjoying a competitive ride in the bush.
John Hendricks and Steve Collett entered the Australian Safari as serious competitors and did well right from the start. The 8000-kilometer journey, through some of Australia’s roughest country, with sand, rocks and no life to speak of, became one of the world’s toughest motorcycle events.
John Hederics was to become the motorcycle master of the Australian Safari, winning six times outright on his motorcycle and then, after a short lay-off came back to win three more Safaris on four wheels! Hederics has become legend in outback racing, setting up a very professional team and support crew that exists to this day.
Fred Hancock led the club into the promotion of supercross, a stadium-style, concentrated form of motocross under lights, providing great excitement due to the constant and spectacular action on the track and its proximity to theÂ crowd. A dedicated facility was built adjacent to the speedway track on the club’s Johnson’s Bend property and proving a great boon for the club.
In the early days, two meetings per year were held, one in early December each year, called the Mallee Masters’ and the second meeting traditionally being held on Easter Saturday night and promoted as the King of the Murray’.
This meeting ultimately became a contributor to a massive weekend of motorsport in Sunraysia each Easter weekend.Â Stars of that era were Anthony Caldwell, Dale Knudsen and Rohan Hollis. Hollis has completed more laps of the facilityÂ than any other individual.
These highly popular meetings attracted the cream of Australia’s impressive motocross/supercross list with CraigÂ Dack, Glen Bell, Jeff Leisk, Marty Moates, Jimmy Ellis, Lyndon Heffernan, Craig Anderson, Jono Porter, Chad Reed,Â Michael Byrne, Cameron Taylor, Troy Dorron, Andrew McFarlane, Kim Ashkenazi, Peter Melton, Jye Harvey, Takeshi Katsuya, Brett and Shane Metcalfe, Paul Broomfield, Lee Hogan and Craig Carmichael gathering experience at Olympic
Australian Championships in the discipline became regular over Easter and Sunraysia fans always enjoyed watching the top standard riders going around.
Meanwhile, the â€˜open’ Motorcross scene still continues to develop, with some riders preferring the less concentrated form of the sport. A good crop of youngsters is now coming through with Jason Wood, Ryan Grayling, DaleÂ Chamberlain and a new second generation of Tullochs, Hollis’s and Caldwell’s set to see motocross flourish.
THE leisurely sport of trials could not be spoken about without reference to John Lever, who’s highly polished Bultaco Sherpa T was not only his pride and joy, but also an excellent ‘trials iron’.
John was always keen to organise a trial in the classic European way. Often these events were at Cowanna Bend with the whole group moving from section to section for their individual ride. The sport took a hold, especially after Yamaha acquired the amazing talents of the then World Trials Champion and Scot, Mick Andrews, from the Spanish marque, Ossa, to get the Japanese manufacturers into the trials business.
John Adams headed up a talented group of trials riders, when the sport flourished in Mildura during the 1970s. Adams was a hugely talented rider, who quickly became a State A Grade rider and competed successfully around Australia. Many folk within the sport believed that had Sunraysia had a natural rock terrain, John would have been an Australian Champion.
Rod Lyons, Brian Adams, Snow and Darryl DeBoo, Stan Edwards, Cliff and John Chapman, Dave Guild, Geoff Leighton, Ray Lyons all were more than proficient and travelled widely on solos while Brendon Gledhill/Craig Shields, John Abell/Geoff Leighton, Danny Lee/Wayne Krake and Greg Johns/Ray Wood all competed with sidecars.
Trials competition is always serious but always conducted in a very social atmosphere, with most competitors camping on-site the night before the event. The rocks of the Adelaide Hills and the similar terrain around Bendigo and Ballarat were often the sites for great competition.
The sport became so popular in Mildura that the club hosted the Mallee Cup’ for some years with the competition often being staged at Nowingi, or near to the river, using the massive logs, creek beds and banks as the obstacles.
Many visiting riders were uncomfortable riding the big logs at Mildura and yet were quite happy climbing all over the rocks of their home’ sites.
In later years the club flag was flown by Mal Seymour, Jeff Uchtman and Shan Singh as well as Chris Holmes, a talented rider who, apart from being a good trials rider is well known for winning the 1981 24-Hour Road Trial, one of the longest running and toughest events in motorcycle history. The 1981 event was staged in the Adelaide Hills and Chris’ victory came before his move to Sunraysia.
Holmes has ridden in all forms of competition, both solo and sidecar and is more than proficient at them all, again a great all-rounder.
ONE of the most social sectors within the club has always been the dedicated group of people who ride their trail bikes through the mountains, the deserts and the bush, taking their riding seriously when on the trail, but enjoying the socialising at a watering hole or around the bbq or camp oven come nightfall.
Probably the club’s largest event was in 1988, when the riders rode across the Simpson Desert, one of Australia’s less forgiving areas. Impeccable organisation and more than adequate support was provided, with medical,Â communication, fuel and logistics all carefully planned.
Annual rides are taken to Rainbow, to the mountains, through the Sunset country with even the novice rider being catered for with the Chicken Run’ (or B Grade) trail ride as it is often referred to. These rides allow for riders of all standards with options within each ride to cater for various equipment or ability. Amongst others, Peter Oliver, Craig Baker, Jeff Power, Garry Watt, Jock Macleod, Sy Nunan, Mal Seymour, Bob Bate, and Kevin Muirhead regularly head up the trail riding team.
The Mildura Motor Cycle Club Inc. has been an excellent training ground for many riders during the past 60 years.
The club’s competition facilities are world class and it continues to excell as an orgnaiser of events in a town that admires its sportspeople and reveres a wide range of sports.
The community and business benefit of the club to Sunraysia over the past six decades would be incalculable and there have been so many people who have all contributed in their own way to make the club the institution it is today.
The club’s traditional fortnightly meetings continue to contribute to the future of motorcycling, either locally or nationally, in some way.
There is a feeling at the club that the continued commitment of its members today will build on the foundations of the good work and effort put in by those in the past.
This, I am sure, will also guarantee the club will flourish as it has for the past 60 years.