The Classic Motorcycle Rally

Not quite as luxurious as the Mayoral Daimler, but comfortable nevertheless! Mayor Goldman tries out the sidecar of a 1928 Harley-Davidson at the start of today's Durban-Johannesburg motorcycle trial. Mr Goldman was on hand to flag the first riders out on the long journey. Riding the bike is Mr Vere Bresler, a foundation member of the Harley-Davidson Owners' Club and one of the motorcyclists who provided Mr Goldman with an escort to the starting line.

By Ken Stewart.

W. R. (Chick) Harris is one of the great characters associated with the D.-J.

Born at the turn of the century and still spry at 72, Chick has always loved motorcycles. He was a despatch rider in East Africa during the First World War, earning a mention in despatches by General Northey, signed interestingly enough by none other than Winston Churchill.

In 1920 he took part in his first D-J on a Triumph 4¼ h.p. chain-cum-belt drive, side valve, ex-army surplus.

This was the year of the great snowstorm and Chick had to cry quits at Standerton with clutch and kick start gone!

He had more luck in later years; competing continuously from 1923 to 1936 he earned no less than 11 gold medals. In 1923 he revenged his defeat in the snowstorm debacle by placing second overall, a notable achievement.

In 1932 he notched up fastest time and in all the years he competed he was to be classified a non-finisher only three times, and in the remaining races he placed no lower than 9th!

The bikes used during these years ranged through two stroke, side valve and o.h.v. Enfields and a variety of Triumphs. From 1924 he was employed by Shimwells of Durban and was their "works" entry.

Although he competed in the days when the roads were of a sometime nature and was fastest 500 three times, fastest 250 once, he was never seriously injured in all the years.

During the Second World War Chick mobilized and organised a despatch rider corps for the defence force; these men drawn largely from Natal Motor Cycle Club ranks. He himself held the rank of Sergeant.

In later years Chick, a fitter and trainer by trade, was in charge of machine shops and retired from a rubber company in Howick. A bright and engaging personality, Chick Harris is a happy reminder of those halcyon days when a wide variety of machines and events enabled even »the keen amateur to enjoy life.

H. C. Pearman:

Harry Clifford Pearman better known as "Boet" Pearman, achieved the notable distinction of winning the Diamond Trophy outright.

This magnificent cup, standing two feet high, was awarded annually for second place in the Durban Johannesburg Motorcycle run.

Besides this achievement, Boet Pearman scored many successes on tracks all over the country, notably the Auckland Park motordrome.

Among his many trophies are three others which stand out:

The Dunlop Trophy awarded for winning the 25 miles scratch race at the motordrome at an average of 79 m.p.h. in 1928.

The Bloemfontein Blue Ribbon Trophy for a 65 m.p.h. average in the 200 mile race in 1928 and a trophy for winning the 150 mile event at Pienaars River at an average of 68 m.p.h. in 1927.

Boet, born in 1907, came from a pioneer family of Johannesburg; his father had left the Sundays River in the Easter Cape to seek his fortune in Barberton but news of the Rand prompted him to look in on the Johannesburg of early 1886.

There he obtained the licence to supply water to the residents of the dusty mining village. Source of the water was a well in the vicinity of the present Kazerne goods yards and charges were 6d. per bucket or 2/6 per barrel which he conveyed on a two wheel cart.

Old Mr. Pearman died in 1931 at the ripe old age of 87.

Young Boet attended the Newtown Government School where he made his mark at the age of thirteen as a shottist of some ability, earning his place in the team which won the 1921 Imperial Challenge Shield.

His motorcycling exploits reached a peak in the latter twenties with the winning of the diamond trophy. By 1932 he had met Norah, daughter of Thomas Case, one of the pioneers of the Newtown market and settled down to breed bulldogs and look after the needs of racing enthusiasts on the Reef, one of his horses named "Red Hot" winning the 1935 Rose Deep Handicap.

Boet was employed initially as a steam wagon driver with the Johannesburg City Council, moving later to the market, whence he retired in 1966 having earned his gold watch for long and meritorious service.


Until recently I have never had any definite feelings about lawnmowers other than avoiding any strenuous association with them. In fact, I have always been lukewarm about these contraptions.

Lawnmowers and I were content to keep our respective distance and, in consequence, we lived in comparative harmony. However, through a set of unhappy circumstances, I suddenly developed a peculiar aversion to them which developed swiftly into a malaise that would have baffled medical science.

It all started one Sunday after noon last year while I was listlessly carving ethnic designs on one of my wooden crutches appendages to my personality after a motorcycle accident - and I was shocked out of doleful convalescence by the deep beat of what was palpably a single-cylinder vintage machine.

I put aside the crutch and listened intently to the sound that had disturbed the morning calm and it became painfully evident that Ted Falke was pottering around on his A. J. S. To say that I was disturbed .by these goings on, was putting it mildly. I was assailed by an all-consuming envy, an emotional state that ill becomes me.

I hobbled to the French doors and from there caught a glimpse of Ted riding down the road. I was overwhelmed by impotent fury. I muttered lurid imprecations under my breath which, if given physical form, would have gathered like a towering nimbus against the Bryanston horizon.

"That's Ted Falke messing about with his fly-blown machine, trying to get the thing to go for the D-J. He'll never make it! ' I said hoarsely to Hilary, my wife.

"It's the CNA delivery," she muttered absently, displaying her abysmal ignorance on the subject of motorcycles and scooters.

From that Sunday morning on, every time I heard the exhaust of a motorcycle, I became the victim of funereal melancholy, a state which nothing could dispel. Things were reaching psychotic proportions.

Time, the great healer, saw me mending physically, but he dreaded possibility of my not being able to take part in the D-J and the aggravating sound of Ted's A. J. S., were taking their toll on what I consider to be my stable mind. Things became so bad that a distant backfire in the dead of night was enough to have me waking, 'bathed in a cold sweat and tortured by unreasoning pangs of jealousy.

Things took a decided turn for the worse when I started mistaking the very chug of a power-driven lawnmower, of which there are a plethora in Bryanston, for vintage motorcycles being "tarted-up" for the D-J.

The devils that drove me gave me not a moment's peace and the slightest sound of these infernal grass-cutters would find me mounting my stationary therapeutic bicycle and pedalling insanely; the speedo at times flickering dangerously at the 45 m.p.h. mark.

Hilary was no help at all. She blithely prescribed weaving or pewter work as occupational therapy to take my mind off what she termed "Your internal combustion syndrome". Rightly or wrongly, I accused her of the basest form of sarcasm and disloyalty.

Where matters would have ended, had Harry Chapman not telephoned out of the blue one week end and informed me that he was bringing his 1928 A. J. S. across for me to put some practice in for the D-J, I am appalled to think.

Harry arrived on a Sunday morning when the heavens seemed to be rent asunder with the sound of toiling lawnmowers and as I eagerly watched him take the A. J. S. off the tender, Hilary swears I had a rich glint of lunacy in my eyes.

Something snapped when Harry got the bike started. I scrambled aboard like a drowning man grasping the last straw and took off like a demented dervish. The thunder of the A. J. S's exhaust rose above the maddening cacophony of the demons that had tortured me. My breath came in gasping sobs of relief. I was ecstatic and stormed past Ted's house trailing a wake of blue-smoked glory, a mechanized charge of the Light Brigade with the martial strains of the "Ride of the Valkyries" ringing in my ears.

I have hung up my crutches now and been declared roadworthy for the D-J, but lawnmowers have earned my everlasting hatred.


By Dick Osborne.

Many people have asked what prompted me to dream up the D. J. Motorcycle Trial, well it happened this. way.

In 1968 I was participating in the Loskop Rally organised by the Pretoria Old Motor Club and little does Benno Lunt know that he is indirectly responsible for what was to become A Dream Come True.

I was the only motorcycle entrant on this event mounted on a 1928 O.H.C. Chater-Lea. This Chater is no ordinary bike, the engine was that of the famous Baby Scott who raced it with great success at the Auckland Park Motordrome, the rest of the machine, frame, wheels, etc. are also Chater-Lea, the rebuild of this motorcycle took me twelve months.

I have Mr. Bernard Chater-Lea of the Chater-Lea Manufacturing Co. to thank for assisting me in finding and supplying engine components that I needed for the restoration.

The cylinder barrel incidentally was not available in England and was cast and machined locally.

So there I was out on the open road being thoroughly oxygenated with a well-tuned motor beating between my knees emitting a most delightful exhaust note.

I lost concentration of the route schedule when a rabbit darted from the side of the road right in front of me running for all he was worth with an occasional backward glance to see if I was still following him, eventually he tired and made off into the bush.

With concentration still lost I was then accompanied by a strange bird that seemed to take a peculiar interest in the Chater and myself, he would swoop down behind me and on one of his sorties had the audacity to shriek HA HA.

The loan Hawk perched on a telephone pole would rise into the air as I approached.

This was motorcycling enjoyment "par excellence" and my mind wandered to pre-war motorcycling experiences, it was then that I thought how nice it would be to have a Durban-Johannesburg run.

I shared these thoughts with fellow motorcycle enthusiasts Eddie Moss, Ian Brodie, Ernie Exner and Billy Bell, to name a few and all agreed that it would be a fabulous event. The idea was put forward at a Vintage & Veteran Club committee meeting and Chairman Oliver Barrett, events organisers Denis Galbraith and Stan Wesselink gave me the encouragement and support that I needed.

An event of this nature required a sponsor and as MOBIL had been so closely associated with the Vintage movement in sponsoring not only the Vintage NATIONAL Rally but smaller events too, it was decided that MOBIL be given the opportunity.

Good news travels fast, the word got around that the D. J. was going to take place and instantly Motorcycle Madness besieged Johannesburg and parts of Rhodesia, people not normally associated with motorcycles were clambering for a suitable mount.

A Pretoria Vintage Motorcycle enthusiast and Veteran of the original D. J. Races offered to pay for the petrol and oil if this could ensure that the event would take place, we did, however, not have to take up Angelo Bernardi's generous offer as MOBIL agreed to give the D. J. full sponsorship.

A glitter of trophies valued at some R 1,400. is indicative of the enthusiasm of people for the event.

The excitement and tension building up to and during the event must be experienced to be understood. Comradery on the trial is indescribable; competitors stop to help one another forgetting the penalties for arriving late at the controls.

The organisers made up of V. V. C. and R. M. C. members put in many hours of hard work to ensure that all goes well.

To the sponsor MOBIL, competitors and everyone associated with the D. J. I say a big thank you for making my dream come true.
1972 DJ Run winner Doug Brodie receiving the Schlesinger Vase from Elaine Buys.
Photograph: Bill Buys