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Australian Motocross Championships Amberley 1957

Australian Motocross Championships Amberley 1957

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Australian Motocross Championships Amberley

14 JULY 1957, HEIT PARK, AMBERLEY - QUEENSLAND
1957 George Bailey - Australian Unlimited Champion on Bailey 250 special at Heit Park, Amberley, Queensland

Photo:  Victorian George Bailey wins  back-to-back Australian 250cc Championships at Amberley in Queensland on his “Bailey Special” machine.

Bailey wins fifth Australian Motocross title at Queensland's first National Championship

Victorian riders continued to dominate the Australian Motocross Championships in 1957, which were hosted by the Ipswich Motor Cycle Club in Amberley, Queensland on 14 July.

A record 110 entries were received and over 2,500 spectators turned up to the Holt Park Circuit for Queensland’s first ever National Championship.

But the visitors criticised the exceptionally fast 70 mph front straight, as well as the Les Mans starting method.

This method, which was commonly used to start scrambles in Queensland, involved riders sprinting to their machines from the opposite side of the track, then having to kick-start their engines and take off individually.

Competitors from all states attended the meeting. However, the prohibitive travels costs from WA to Queensland saw only Peter Nicol attend from that State – having flown from Perth. 

Reigning Unlimited Champion Charlie West was unable to compete after sustaining near fatal injuries in a racing accident at Claremont Speedway during the off season.

Bailey wins the blue ribbon All Powers class

After winning three Australian Championships the previous year at Moorebank (NSW), Victorian George Bailey only competed in two titled events this year – the 250 and All Powers (Unlimited) classes, with the 500cc class not held.

Bailey successfully won both classes, winning the blue ribbon Unlimited race on a 500cc Triumph ahead of reigning 350cc Australian Champion Peter Nicol (WA, B.S.A.) and local Clarrie Stewart (QLD, Matchless).

Riding a second-hand Triumph unit he bought for £13 pounds (about $26 dollars) and modified himself, Bailey only just held on to win the event.  After opening up a commanding lead, Nicol caught up to him in the closing laps with Bailey’s machine starting to slow due to mechanical problems.

Just after the final dash down the main straight and after crossing the finish line, Bailey’s motor seized.

Due to the large number of entries, four qualifying heats were required to make the Unlimited final.  

One of the heat winners Kevin Cox, who was riding the latest model Velocette 350 scrambler, crashed in the final with speedway rider Gerry Hussey (SA, Royal Enfield), bringing them both down.

Photo: Five-times Australian Motocross Champion George Bailey with his winning Triumph 500cc  twin engine in a Matchless frame at Amberley in Queensland

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1957 George Bailey - Australian Unlimited Motocross Champion on a Triumph

Bailey retains his 250cc Australian crown

1957 George Bailey camping on the way to 1957 Australian Motocross Championships at Amberley QLD

George Bailey camping on the way to the 1957 Australian Motocross Championships at Amberley in Queensland

Bailey’s good luck at Amberley continued in the 250cc Championship, where he successfully retained his crown ahead of New South Wales riders Blair Harley (James) and John Astley (Puch). 

He almost did not qualify for the final when he oiled a spark plug in the heat on his “Bailey 250cc Special”, which he built himself using a 1948 350cc A.J.S. engine, then converted to a 250cc and housed in a Matchless frame.  

After quickly changing the plug, Bailey charged through the field to finish fourth to qualify for the final, the win giving him his fifth Australian Championship – drawing level with the great Ken Rumble.

Interestingly, Bailey’s heat winner was Tony Edwards, who rode the first ever Maico motocross machine in Australia. Edwards was slowed with ignition trouble in the final before a broken chain put him out.

Stewart becomes Queensland’s first Australian Champion

Earlier on the day, local Queensland rider Clarrie Stewart, who finished third in the Unlimited class, won the 350cc class to become Queensland’s first ever National motocross champion.

He beat home one of Queensland’s local stars Kevin Cox (Velocette) and Australian 350cc Champion Peter Nicol (WA, B.S.A.).

Victoria’s Ken Richards, after disposing of early leader Deagon (BSA), ran away with the 125 event, which was only decided over one race consisting of six laps of the one-mile Holt Park circuit.

New South Wales rider Ray Dole (B.S.A.) finished second with local C. Berendes in third (C.Z.)

1957 Clarrie Stewart QLD, Matchless - 1957 Australian 350cc Motocross Champion

Unlimited sidecar race the highlight at the Championships

According to the Australian Motorcycle News, the Unlimited sidecar event was the highlight of the day, with a script which read like a “B” movie.

It featured a great dual between local hotshot Ron Johnson, riding a big V-twin 1000cc Vincent, and 500cc winner Clive Smith (Vic, 650cc Triumph).

After some initial jostling and clashing with Smith, Johnson extended his lead until the final lap when his passenger collapsed in a state of exhaustion.  Johnson continued to ride with one hand while holding his passenger with the other, until the unfortunate “swinger” finally fell to the track, handing over the lead to Smith.

But Johnson spun his outfit round, picked up his fallen comrade, and took off after Smith who was now slowing with gearbox and clutch troubles. The pair entered the final straight locked together and Johnson passed Smith right on the finish line to win.

1957 Australian Motocross Championship Results

125cc

1 Ken Richards (VIC, B.S.A.)
2 Ray Dole (NSW, B.S.A.)
3 C. Berendes (QLD, C.Z.)

250cc

1 George Bailey (VIC, Bailey Special)
2 Blair Harley (NSW, James)
3 John Astley (NSW, Puch)

350cc

1 Clarrie Stewart (QLD, Matchless)
2 Kevin Cox (QLD, Velocette)
3 Peter Nicol (WA, B.S.A.)

Unlimited

1 George Bailey (VIC, Triumph)
2 Peter Nicol (WA, B.S.A.)
3 Clarrie Stewart (QLD, Matchless)

Junior Sidecar

1 Clive Smith – Miller (VIC, Ariel)
2 Noel Einsedel (VIC, Ariel)
3 N. Bennett (Norton)

Senior Sidecar

1 Ron Johnson (QLD, Vincent)
2 Clive Smith – Miller (VIC, Triumph)
3 Noel Einsedel (VIC, Ariel)

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