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Australian Motocross Championships Devonport 1964

Australian Motocross Championships Devonport 1964

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1964 Australian Motocross Championships Launceston

21 JUNE 1964, st. leonards. LAUNCESTON - TASMANIA
1964 Ray Turner won the Australian 350cc Championship and was third in the Unlimited class at St Leonards in Launceston Tasmania
1964 Ray Turner's BSA, which he won the Australian 350cc Championship on

Photos [Clockwise]:  Local  rider Ray Turner won the Australian 350cc Championship at St Leonards in Launceston, Tasmania in 1964 and also finished on the podium in the 250cc and Unlimited classes; Turner’s winning 350cc BSA  restored  and on display in a Tasmanian museum; and past Victorian Grand National winners with the 1964 Champion Ian Gaff (far right) – Ken Rumble, Ray Fisher, John Burrows and George Bailey – who won the 250 and Unlimited Australian titles at Devonport in Tasmania.

Victorians dominate the Australian titles in the mud at St. Leonards in Tasmania

The 1964 Australian Motocross Championships at St. Leonards, near Launceston in Tasmania were one of the most disappointing on record.

Only a handful of top riders attended the meeting and entrees were low due to the travel costs and time to get to the Apple Isle. Plus the treacherous weather conditions on the weekend created a sea of mud on the circuit, up to 15 inches deep in many places.

Officials and spectators had to be turned back to the main road as the half-mile approach to the circuit was a quagmire. The racing was almost over by the time Local Councillor S.G. Chapple, who was to officially open the meeting, was able to get in.

Victorian Greeves rider Ian Gaff won two titles – the prestigious Unlimited class and 250cc titles, and also won the prestigious Victorian Grand National that year at Christmas Hills. The other titles went to Stan Jones (125cc, BSA), Ray Turner (350cc, BSA) and Geoff Taylor (500cc, Cotton).

It was around this time that the riders finally got permission to wear individual colourful rugby jumpers, rather than leather suits, but all the riders were coated in thick mud and were unrecognisable.

The conditions played havoc with most of the titles.  Only one third of the riders completed each race and not one rider completed a race without crashing at least once, with many riders losing all hope of a placing when their machines bogged.  The 125cc winner Stan Jones was the only finisher in this class.

One report suggests that reigning Australian 250 and 500cc Champion Ian Gaff and Bob O’Leary, respectively,  were asked to accept the decision for the prestigious Unlimited title on the toss of a coin, which went to Gaff.   With everyone in the race being unrecognisable, none of the officials were any wiser as to the final placings. 

Geoff Taylor led the Unlimited race early, but soon fell down and retired, leaving Gaff and Bob O’Leary (reigning 250 and 500cc Australian Champion) to battle it out.  Gaff then got bogged and several minutes later when O’Leary crashed, passed him and took the flag. O’Leary remounted to finish second but lodged a protest claiming that Gaff had been bogged and was, in fact, a lap behind.

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Sidecar mayhem in the mud

1964 Warrick Lang placed in the Australian Sidecar Championship - By Tony Forsyth

The treacherous muddy conditions were even more difficult for the heavier sidecars.  

Victorian sidecar team Athol Paterson – P. Norton, who won the Unlimited Sidecars on their AJS outfit, were the only team to finish.  Only five outfits started this event, which quickly became a shambles.

At one stage none of the outfits were moving. Then after five laps, the judges decided that if Paterson/Norton could get their AJS outfit to complete their current lap, they would be the winner. Fifteen minutes later, Patterson completed the 900-yard circuit to claim the title.

Paterson – the owner of a motorcycle shop in Spingvale, Victoria – also finished third in the 500cc Sidecar class.  Fellow Victorians Jim Mioni and R. Freene were the 500cc Sidecar Champions  ahead of Warrick Lang and B. White from Western Australia.

Photo: WA sidecar rider Warrick Lang – in action on a dry circuit back home in Northam – came 2nd in the 500cc Sidecar title with B. White (By Tony Forsyth).

1964 Australian Motocross Championship Results

125cc

Stan Jones (VIC, B.S.A.)
Ian Harrison (TAS)
No other finishers

250cc

Ian Gaff (VIC, Greeves)
Leon Street (VIC, Greeves)
Ray Turner (TAS, B.S.A.)

350cc

Ray Turner (TAS, B.S.A.)
H. Morice (TAS, B.S.A.)
Bob O’Leary (WA, B.S.A.)

500cc

Geoff Taylor (VIC, Cotton)
Leon Street (VIC, Greeves)
H. Morice (TAS, B.S.A.)

Unlimited

Ian Gaff (VIC, Greeves)
Bob O’Leary (WA, B.S.A.)
Ray Turner (TAS, B.S.A.)

500cc Sidecars

Jim Mioni – R. Freene (VIC, B.S.A.)
Warrick Lang – B. White (WA, Ariel)
Athol Paterson – Peter Norton (VIC, A.J.S.)

Unlimited Sidecars

Athol Paterson – P. Norton (VIC, A.J.S)
No Other Finishers

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