The Classic Motorcycle Rally


Report by Mike Milner-Smyth

The modern "Durban-Joburg" reliability and time trial, which commemorates the "DJ" road races of the 1913-1936 era, began in 1970, and  there have now been 31 of these events, organised by the Vintage and Veteran Club.

For commemorative reasons, the event is limited to machines of 1936 and earlier. With 150 riders and a course distance of 600km, this is  indeed a major motorcycle event.

A large part of the entry comes from the Gauteng and Durban areas, but this year there were again six entries from the Western Cape and  five from Zimbabwe.

Held in March each year, the event usually experiences a very hot first day. When the heat is excessive, as was the case this year, the first  day's dropout can be high as a result of overheating of the elderly magnetos, or engines tightening up in the hilly conditions.
The first rider was flagged off at the starting point in Pinetown at 6am on Friday 16 March and the rest followed at one-minute intervals. At  the overnight stop at Newcastle, Tony Lyons-Lewis (1926 Norton Model 18) led from Alan Birch (1930 Norton).

The second day's lunch stop was at the Heidelberg Motor Museum, where curator Judy Legrange had arranged a DJ display which included  the AJS on which Cranley Jarman won the last race in 1936.

The event ended at the James Hall Museum of Transport in La Rochelle, Johannesburg, where Nedbank officials presented finisher's medals to  competitors. There were 106 classified finishers, somewhat lower than in recent years, which was no doubt due to the heat on the first day and some competitors not completing the full distance. On the second day, Birch lost only 17 points at the eight controls and so drew away  from Lyons-Lewis to win by 21 seconds. Thirty seconds behind was Adrian Hollis (who had the best score last year), piloting a 1935  Sunbeam combination.
Peter and Laura Dahl of Zimbabwe on their 1922 Royal En field combination.
The Dahls received the Harley-Davidson Trophy for winning class.
E. Picture: Basil Chassoulas
Whatever it is that Simon Fourie finds amusing has rider Dave Petersen worried!
The intrepid pair prepare to leave the start in Pinetown  aboard their 1928 BSA Sloper.
Picture: Liz Addison
The dominant makes in recent years have been Sunbeam, Ariel and Velocette, so it was good to see Nortons in the first two places. The  only other time this make has headed the DJ was way back in 1934 when Don Hall won the race on a 350 ohc Norton at record speed.

The trophy for the oldest machine to finish went to Hans Coertse, who rode a 1909 beltdriven Humber into 79th place. This was his second  successful ride in the event.

Steve Lange rode the 1931 AJS combination that had earlier been campaigned by his late father, Arthur Lange. With his mother, Theresa,  navigating, it was a trip down memory lane, and they achieved a very creditable sixth place overall.

Much of the credit for the successful event must go to the Clerk of the Course, Kevin Robertson. This was Kevin's second "triple" in that he  has run three of these events, following his earlier three winning rides.

The success of the event reflects also on the backing of Nedbank, which is well-known for its interest in heritage matters.
Hans Coertse reaches the finish on the oldest machine on the run,
a 1909 Humber. Picture: Basil Chassoulas
Overall winner Alan Birch shown with the Schlesinger Trophy.
Picture: Liz Addison
Dick Osborne Trophy (1st overall): Alan Birch (1930 500cc Norton)
WC Chairman's Award (2nd overall): Tony Lyons-Lewis (1926 500cc Norton)
VMC Chairman's Award (3rd overall): Stuart Fergusson (1936 350 Velocette)

Best Performance by a Lady Rider: Dorian Radue (1935 250cc Rudge)
Best Performance by a First-time Rider: Mick Oosthuizen (1936 Velocette)
Oldest Motorcycle to finish: 1909 Humber (Hans Coertse)
Oldest Rider to finish: Jimmy Crichton (1933 AJS)
Youngest Rider to finish: Trevallyn Hall (1933 MotoGuzzi)
Club Team Award: VMC Neil Smith Memorial Plate (longest distance covered, on motorcycle, to participate): Bill Speight (1928 BMW)
Cliff McArthur Memorial Trophy (best performance by an ohc motorcycle): Sean Crookes (Excelsior Manxman)
The article and photographs above appeared in the Classic Car Africa magazine Volume 6 No. 3, April 2001, page 32