Australian Motocross Championships Christmas Hills 1966

Australian Motocross Championships Christmas Hills 1966

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Australian Motocross Championships Christmas Hills

9 october 1966, christmas hills, Yarra Glen - VICtoria
Two-times Australian 350cc Motocross Champion (32) John Mapperson chasing Ray Fisher
1965 Christmas Hills Motocross - Geoff Taylor, Bob Mitchell, Ken Rumble, John Mapperson and John Burrows

Photos: [Left] Ray Fisher (VIC) leading  John  Mapperson (VIC) in one of the races at the 1966 Australian Championships at Christmas Hills.  Mapperson won two titles that day; and  [right] Christmas Hills was the first National Championships in Victoria where wearing leather pants and jackets were no longer mandatory  [L-R]  Bob Mitchell (88), Ken Rumble (99), Geoff Taylor (14), John Mapperson (32) and John Burrows (96) proudly wear colorful rugby tops.

Christmas Hills - The start of a new era for Motocross in Australia

Reigning 350cc Australian Motocross Champion John Mapperson, from Victoria defended his crown at the 1966 Championships on home soil, at the new Christmas Hills circuit.

Mapperson won the 350cc class on a B.S.A. machine, also clinching his third National title in the prestigious All Powers (Unlimited) class aboard a 250cc Bultaco, opting for this smaller bike in this class as the 250s showed greater speed setting the fastest race times on the day.

Christmas Hills saw more than 10,000 paying spectators line its grassy slopes to witness riders from all over Australia and New Zealand, to battle it out for the 1966 titles.

These titles witnessed the start of a prosperous and highly competitive era of scrambles racing in Australia. 

The suspension was still some ten years away, but the war against weight was in full swing.

The British four-stroke B.S.A. machines – which had dominated the Australian Championships since the inaugural event at Korweinguboora, Daylesford in Victoria on 14 November 1953 – were still competitive.

But they were now starting to be challenged with the emergence of the lighter two stroke-machines and purpose-built motocross frames, including the Rickman Metisse frame.

Motocross legend Ray Fisher, from Victoria, was riding one of the first Japanese 125cc motocross bikes, finishing second in that class behind Ray Owen (VIC, Bultaco) and ahead of Keith Stacker (VIC, Bridgestone).

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Stacker and Burrows - new motocross importers

While still racing – Keith Stacker and another motocross legend John Burrows – set up a motorcycle shop in Malvern, Melbourne, which became the Mecca for purpose-built motocross machines.

The shop dispensed the latest British scramblers and the partners rode a variety of newly imported engines, some fitted in Metisse-framed specials, finishing on the rostrum in four out of the five events.

Stacker was second in the 125cc class on a Bridgestone, behind Ray Owen (VIC, Bultaco) and was third in the 500cc class on a Matchless, behind Ray Fisher (VIC, Matchless Metisse).

Burrows was twice the Runner-up Australian Champion in the 250 and 500cc classes on a D.O.T. (the first in Australia) and B/S special, respectively, also finishing third in the Unlimited class.

Stacker, Burrows, his brother Mike, Bob Walpole and Leon Street were just a few of the big names who were members of the Hartwell Club in Melbourne, which hosted this event.

Photo:  At Christmas Hills in 1966, Keith Stacker was the Runner-Up Australian 125cc Champion on a Bridgestone and was third in the 500cc class on a Matchless, in a Metisse frame.

The hills are alive with colour

The Christmas Hills circuit only opened two years earlier, promoting Victoria’s most prestigious event – the Ron Hunter Memorial Grand National, named after the club’s former president who was tragically killed at a grasstrack meeting.

The circuit ran on both sides of a steep gully, with black loamy soil that soaked up water like a sponge. With a lap of almost 2km, it was extremely physically demanding – especially in wet weather – and was also very fast with a long downhill main straight.

The 1966 titles were also notable for the final capitulation by the Auto Cycle Union of Victoria to allow riders to wear football jumpers instead of the previously compulsory leather jackets.

Photo:  John Burrows and the first DOT motocross bike in Australia, which he rode to second in the Australian 250cc  Championship at Christmas Hills.  John became a spokesperson for the riders in the famous “jumpers war” with the Auto Cycle Union of Victoria and proudly displays his new rugby  top here.

The 250 class - the fastest and most competitive!

Christmas Hills was a turning point in Australia for lightweight motocross machines.

The 250 class was easily the most competitive class and these machines clocked the fastest lap times. 

Strong contenders for 250 honours included Ray Fisher (CZ250), Graham Burford (CZ250), Geoff Taylor (Cotton 250), John Burrows (DOT250), Ken Rumble (Montesa 250) and John Mapperson on the Bert Flood-tuned Bultaco Metisse.

With Fisher getting bogged in the infamous mud-hole, he handed the lead to Mapperson who ran away to a commanding lead. But he pulled out with a dead motor on the third lap, handing the race to South Australian rider Burford on a platter.

Photo:   Riders get ready for the start of the Australian 250cc Motocross Championship at Christmas Hills, the fastest  bikes on the day!

1966 Australian Motocross CHampionships - Christmas Hills - Graham Burford (21 360 CZ) takes the wide line through the bog hole in the Unlimited Championship - High Res

Photo: South Australian rider Graham Burford (21, CZ) leads the start of the Australian 250cc Championship and went on to win this class.

Mapperson wins Allpowers on a Bultaco 250

The Allpowers was anyone’s race, particularly after Burford won the first heat race on his CZ360. 

In the final, Fisher proved he’d been foxing in the 500 race by going straight into the lead.

Burford got bogged on the first lap, seemingly ending the two-stroke challenge. Mapperson was getting into stride by then and he quickly pulled through the four-stroke contenders to contest the lead.

After several closely-fought laps, Fisher, who had contested all the main titles, ran out of steam and pulled in, leaving Mapperson to take the Unlimited title on his Bultaco 250.

Sidecar legends Adams and Williams win first titles

The sidecar class saw both Ken Adams-Dennis Cook (VIC, J.A.P.) and Murray Williams – Herb Castle (SA, ESO) win their first Australian Championships, in the Junior and Unlimited classes, respectively.

Adams -Cook finished second to Williams-Castle in the Juniors, ahead of Alf Dickenson – K.Hull (VIC).

Tony Ecclestone led this class early sporting a new radical sprung-sidecar-wheel on his outfit.  But after wearing out one sidecar passenger in practice, his replacement only lasted two laps in the race.

In the Unlimited Sidecar Championship, Adams – Cook (VIC, J.A.P.) won ahead of fellow Victorians Gordon Richards – George Peters (VIC, Ariel) and Robert McDonough – Don Denver (VIC, B.S.A.)

Photo:   Two sidecar legends in battle – Ken Adams-Dennis Cook (VIC, J.A.P. ) lead Murray Williams-Herb Castle (SA, ESO) in the Junior Sidecar Championship at Christmas Hills.

1966 Australian Motocross Championship Results


1. Ray Owen (VIC, Bultaco)
2. Ray Fisher (VIC, Kawasaki)
3. Keith Stacker (VIC, Bridgestone)


1. Graham Burford (SA, C.Z.)
2. John Burrows (VIC, D.O.T)
3. Geoff Taylor (VIC, Cotton)



1. John Mapperson (VIC, B.S.A.)
2. Paul Franklin (B.S.A.)
3. A. Young (B.S.A.)


1. Ray Fisher (VIC, Matchless Metisse)
2. John Burrows (VIC, B/S Special)
3. Keith Stacker (VIC, Matchless)

Allpowers (Unlimited)

1. John Mapperson (VIC, Bultaco)
2. Geoff Taylor (VIC, Metisse)
3. John Burrows (VIC, B/S Special)


Junior Sidecars

1. Murray Williams – Herb Castle (SA, ESO)
2. Ken Adams – Dennis Cook (VIC, J.A.P.)
3. Alf Dickenson – K.Hull (VIC)

Unlimited Sidecars

1. Ken Adams – Dennis Cook (VIC, J.A.P.)
2. Gordon Richards – George Peters (VIC, Ariel)
3. Robert McDonough – Don Denver (VIC, B.S.A.)

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