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Motocross Legend Renfree

Motocross Legend Renfree

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Australian Motocross Legend Renfree

Australian Motocross Legends in the 1960s - Glen Britza, Charlie West, Gordon Renfree and Bob O'Leary
1968 Coastal Short Circuit course Mandurah - Includes Gordon Renfree, 14 and Glen Britza 23
1968 - Gordon Renfree from Bunbury wheel stands his Greeves down the straight -Photo Tony Forsyth

Photos: [Left to right] Gordon Renfree (third from left) with three other WA Motocross Legends – Glen Britza, Charlie West and Bob O’Leary; in 1968 Renfree  (14) won all four races at the Coastal Short Circuit in Mandurah on a Greeves, and his fourth Australian Motocross title at Collie WA, pictured here at Rockingham.

Gordon Renfree – Multiple Australian, WA and QLD motocross champion

Gordon Renfree, from Bunbury in the South West of Western Australia, was one of Australia’s top motocross riders in the 1960s (or scramblers as it was called in those days) – winning four National and 13 State motocross titles in WA and Queensland.

In his first season of racing, at just aged 18, in his first attempt he won the 1960 WA State 250cc Motocross Championship as well as the Australian 250cc title aboard a BSA machine, driving all the way from Perth across the unsealed Nullabor Plain in an FJ Holden to race at Authurs Creek in Victoria.

Recovering from a shoulder injury in 1961, Gordon contested the Australian 350 and 500 titles at Moorebank in New South Wales on 3 September, finishing second and third, respectively.

Back to full strength in 1962, he retained his Australian 250cc crown when the Australian Championships were held in his home state at the famous Rope Works Circuit at Buckland Hill in Mosman Park, on the outskirts of Perth.

But his most successful year came in 1963 when he won the Australian Unlimited Championship at Archerfield in Brisbane (QLD), was the runner-up 350cc Champion, clinched all four Queensland State Championships at Beenleigh (125, 250, 350 and 500 classes) and won the State 250 and Unlimited series in WA.

He also won the famous Harley Scramble at the Rope Works, going on to win this prestigious event three times between 1963 and 1968.

Gordon’s Number 14 race plate was now famous across the country and – in recognition of his achievements – in 1962 and 1963 Gordon was named the South West Sportsman of the Year, competing against all sports.

Gordon only rode in WA between 1964 and 1967, winning five more WA State titles, but he contested his last Australian Championship in 1968 when the event was held in the nearby South West mining town Collie.

Riding one of the new lightweight Husqvarna motocross machines, after winning all his National Championships on BSAs and his 1965-66 state titles on a Greeves, on 20 October 1968 Renfree won his fourth Australian motocross title – adding his first National 350cc title to his earlier 250 and Unlimited wins.

Throughout the history of the sport, Gordan Renfree is Australia’s most successful 350cc racer – based on the top three overall results in each class at the Australian Championships between 1953 and 1974 – finishing on the podium four times during this period.

After retiring from motocross in 1969 due to back pain, which he attributed to all the years on the old heavy BSA four-stroke machines with minimal suspension, Gordon continued to ride locally at his Bunbury Club for the next decade.

In 2016, Gordon was inducted into Motorcycle WA’s Hall of Fame.

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Charlie West with his father and Gordon Renfree at the the 1956 Australian Motocross Championships at Moorebank NSW

Renfree  (far right) with Charlie West junior and senior at the 1961 Australian Motocross Championships at Moorebank in NSW.

Growing up in the South West of WA

Gordon Renfree was one of the first Bunbury Motorcycle Club members in the early 1960s.

Gordon Renfree was born the youngest of five children in 1941 at Bunbury, in the South West of Western Australia.  His father was a water diviner and borehole digger and wanted a farming life, so the family went to acreage at nearby country towns Boyanup and Harvey.

Young Gordon didn’t really like life on the farm – the only thing he enjoyed was riding an old 350cc BSA motorbike, which was his first introduction to motorcycling. When he was fifteen, Gordon told his father that he was going back to Bunbury to get a job and off he went.

Aged sixteen, he started riding a 200cc Francis Barnett on the sand hills of the beaches in Bunbury with some of the early members of the Bunbury Motorcycle Club. They progressed to as track set up on the local rifle range and eventually to the existing track at Scrubland Park near the airport.

In his early years, Gordon mostly road BSA machines and as a self-taught mechanic owned and operated a service station and spare parts centre in Bunbury with his brother.  But later when purpose-built motocross machines were manufactured, Gordon would move to Greeves and Husqvarna machines .

State and National Motocross Champion at just 18

At only 18 years of age, Gordon was the leading scrambles rider at the Bunbury Motorcycle Club and State Champion on a 250cc BSA, so he decided to try his luck at the 1960 Australian Championships, which were held that year at Arthurs Creek in Victoria.

In an FC Holden laden with his BSA C15, other gear and riders, Gordon travelled to Melbourne when most of the road was a gravel track. So good was his effort, that he won the Australian 250cc Championship in his first attempt.

Another WA State 250cc Championship followed in 1961. In addition to scrambles, Gordon tried his hand at Short Circuit racing on the Mandurah Flats on a Triumph 500cc, won another state scrambles title, another 250 Australian Championship at the Rope Works circuit in Mosman Park and managed to find time to marry his sweetheart Jan in Harvey. The ceremony had to wait until the cows were milked as Jan’s father ran a dairy farm.

Renfree racks up more titles across the country

In 1963, Gordon, who was sponsored by BP, went on to win the Harley Scramble, an Unlimited Australian Championship at Archerfield in Queensland, a 250cc WA State Championship, a State 350cc Grasstrack Championship and four QLD State Championships in the 125, 250, 350, and 500cc classes at Beenleigh in Brisbane. 

BP certainly got their money’s worth that year! Gordon was twice voted the South West Times Sportsman of the Year in 1962 and 1963.
In the five years that followed, Gordon continued his winning ways with Australian titles in the 350cc scrambles and 250cc Short Circuit, three Unlimited WA State titles and two more wins in the prestigious Harley Scramble.

Between 1964 and 1967, Gordon didn’t contest any Australian Championships, but with the 1968 Australian Championships planned for the nearby Collie mining town in the nearby South West of WA, he decided to have a final crack at a National title.

After winning all his National titles on BSA machines, for the 20 October 1968 event Gordon rode one of the new lightweight purpose-built Husqvarna motocross bikes and won his fourth Australian title on it, adding his first National 350cc title to his earlier Unlimited and two 250cc wins.

With Victorian Ray Fisher winning the first ever Australian Championship aboard a Japanese bike (125cc Kawasaki) and the Swedish Husqvarnas now dominating the sport, that year saw the demise of the famous BSA machines that Gordon rode through his early career.

Gordon won five Australian Championships (four motocross sand a short circuit) and was a 13-times WA and Queensland State Champion in multiple disciplines over six capacity classes.

Gordon Renfree at the Rope Works in Mosman Park - He won the 1963 Harley Scramble on a 250 BSA despite dropping his bike

Gordon Renfree won the 1963 Harley Scramble at the Rope Works in Mosman Park, despite dropping his 250cc BSA machine.

The Number 14 plate became famous across Australia after Gordon won three National titles in the Eastern States and four QLD titles.

1968 Gordon Renfree won his third Australian Motocross Championship on a Husqvarna

Renfree won three Australian motocross titles on BSA machines, his fourth on a Husqvarna, plus four WA state titles on a Greeves.

Gordon Renfree's Key Achievements

Four-times Australian Motocross Champion Gordon Renfree

In addition to these achievements, Gordon Renfree won an Australian 250cc Short Circuit Championship, WA State Grass Track Championship and many big events.

Australian Motocross Championships

1960
Australian 250cc Champion, Arthurs Creek (VIC, BSA)
1961 2nd Australian 350cc Championship, Moorebank (NSW, BSA)

1961
3rd Australian 500cc Championship

1962
Australian 250cc Champion, Rope Works (WA, BSA)
3rd Australian 500cc Championship

1963
Australian Unlimited Champion, Archerfield (QLD, BSA)
2nd Australian 350cc Championship, Archerfield (QLD, BSA)

1968
Australian 350cc Champion, Collie (WA, Husqvarna)

Harley Scrambles

Gordon won the 1968 Harley Scramble, the last event at the Rope Works, then two more events between 1964 and 1968 when the event moved to York.

 

State Motocross Championships

1960
WA State 250cc Champion (BSA)

1962
WA State 250cc Champion (BSA)

1963
WA State 250cc Champion (BSA)
WA State Unlimited Champion (BSA)
QLD State 125cc Champion, Beenleigh (BSA)
QLD State 250cc Champion, (BSA)
QLD State 350cc Champion, (BSA)
QLD State 500cc Champion, (BSA)

1964
WA State 250cc Champion (BSA)
WA State 350cc Champion (BSA)

1965
WA State Unlimited Champion (Greeves)

1966
WA State 350cc Champion (Greeves)
WA State Unlimited Champion (Greeves)

 

Australian Championship results and photos

Click on the links below to view Australian Motocross Championship results back to 1953, event photos or rider profiles.
Australian Motocross Champions 350cc
Australian Motocross Champions List (All classes)
Australian Motocross Legends

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