The Classic Motorcycle Rally
THE DJ RUN - YEAR BY YEAR
DJ Run 1929 The Motor Cycle 4 July 1929
G. Lind (348 A.J.S.) Wins South Africa's Big Handicap Race in Record Time.
Records of all sorts went by the board in the 1929 Durban-Johannesburg race, recently decided. With cash prize of £150 to the winner and other cash prizes, down to twelfth man, totalling £365., in addition to medals, trophies and cups, it is not surprising that 140 entries were received. Of these, 127 started and 46 finished within three hours of the winner. J. G. Lind. of Johannesburg, on a 348 c.c. overhead-camshaft A.J.S., with a handicap of 9 minutes, won in the extraordinary time of 8h. 8m. 19s., beating the record of J. W. du Toit (1,203 Harley-Davidson), made in the 1926 race by 38m. 38s.
The Majority of the finishers with previous experience of the route all agreed that in the past year enormous improvements had been effected from end to end. The earlier type of veld trackway is non-existent, previously steep hills have had gradients eased by slight detours, so that there is nothing steeper. anywhere than 1 in 10, and rough places have been smoothed. As an example, the first 27 miles out of Durban is now macadamised, and most of it tarred. The end of the rainy season - two weeks before the race - had helped to fill up otherwise bad spots, and on the two race days there was little wind, brilliant sunshine and general conditions helping towards fast times.
It was the very speed possibilities which proved the undoing of so many men, mainly in the "C" and "D" classes on the first day. Tempted by a fast stretch, they would go all out and suddenly strike a less improved section, to suffer buckled wheels, twisted frames and broken fork-springs. Such mishaps were so many that they cannot be individually tabulated. Their number was indicated by the fact that 78 men only were timed in to Newcastle, the -first day's finishing point.
This year there was no readjustment of starting times at Newcastle, because all left the Durban mark on their correct handicap times, so enabling those spectators on the road to know the exact positions as each man went past. Some of the interesting placings on arrival at Newcastle were:
1 L. Taylor (225 Royal Enfield)
2. A. Strachan (172 D.K.W.)
3. T, Owen (247 Levis)
4. F. Cooke (300 O.K.)
5. S.S. Flook (247 Levis)
6. J. J. Uys (348 A.J.S.)
7. A. Stuart (247 Levis)
8. L. R. Cohen (348 A.J.S.)
11. J. G. Lind (348 A.J.S.)
31. C. H. Young (596 Douglas)
In the distance of 221 miles L. R. Cohen made a new record by beating the old time by 4m. 22s.; Lind's time being 7m. slower than that of Cohen. The rise of the positions of these men is really worth noting; Cohen started No. 131 and arrived at Newcastle 8th, while Lind started No. 134 and was 11th at Newcastle. Barring mishaps, it was evident that the race rested between these two men.
Lind had a narrow escape at a railway level crossing as he approached the crossing an electric train came in sight and Lind took a chance, for if he had stopped he might have been held tip for some minutes. He actually scraped the engine's cowcatcher with a footrest as the engine driver simultaneously applied all his brakes and brought the train to a standstill.
With one exception, all the men got away smartly on the second morning. At Volksrust 36 miles out, Strachan had disappeared, Owen had secured the lead, followed 16-minutes later by Uys, with Taylor third close behind, Cooke fourth, Cohen fifth, and Lind sixth some four minutes behind Cohen.
At Standerton, 52 miles, Owen was leading Uys by 9 minutes, with Lind third another 5 minutes in the rear; Lind had passed Cohen, who had stopped just outside Standerton with machine trouble. In the succeeding 36 miles to Greylingstad Owen was still leading Uys by 6 minutes, with Lind a minute behind.
On the next 12-mile stretch, to Balfour, Lind had passed Uys and was now exactly 2m. 50s. behind Owen. Two miles farther on Lind passed Owen and seemed to be taking matters easily, because in the next 18 miles he had increased his lead on Owen by three minutes only. At Heidelberg Owen was still in second place, and Uys, after another three minutes, in third position. In the last fifteen miles Uys passed Owen, and the final placings were:
1. J. G. Lind (348 A.J.S.) 8 8 19
2. J. J. Uys (348 A.J.S.) 8 44 19
3. T. Owen (247 Levis) 9 11 41
4. C. Coetzee (349 B.S.A.) 8 52 1
5. A. Long (493 Indian) 8 35 9
6. D. A. Scott (348 Chater-Lea) 8 52 32
7. C. H. Young (596 Douglas) 8 36 54
Winner J. G. Lind arriving at City Deep on his 348cc A.J.S.
WINNER'S ENTHUSIATIC RECEPTION
Lind is one of the most popular riders on the Rand, and this fact was evidenced by his reception at the City Deep.
J. J. Uys, also riding an AJS, was second man home.
Article from The Star, Johannesburg, Transvaal, Thursday, June 6, 1929.
HOW I WON THE WORLD’S GREATEST MOTOR CYCLE RACE
400 MILES OF THRILLING INCIDENT: ESCAPING FROM THE WHEELS OF AN ELECTRIC TRAIN
BY J. G. LIND
Now that I have achieved the distinction of winning the Durban-Johannesburg motor Marathon, a win which has been my greatest wish for a good many years my friends will doubtless be supposing that it is my intention to try to enter for the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races, in which this year three South Africans will be riding.
It has been .suggested that next year I should go to England to compete in the T.T. Races, but up to the present the matter is only under discussion, and nothing definite has been decided. For some time there was a likelihood that the loss of an eye in babyhood might debar me from entering for the T.T. Races, but now it has been ascertained that if my physical condition is perfect there should be nothing to hinder me entering.
When I was a baby six months old an electric light globe burst above me and cut the pupil of one eye, rendering it sightless. And seeing I was so small at the time and would not be aware of the loss of the sight of the one eye, the doctor advised the removal of the damaged eye in case it might impair the sight of the other. This was done, so that since the age of six months I have seen with only one eye, but it has never affected me in any manner whatever that I can think of, and has never been a drawback to my riding.
Certainly I never thought of it for one moment in the race from Durban to the Rand last week.
EFFECT OF DIRT TRACK.
One lesson has been learnt from the race after a season's dirt track racing, and that is, that dirt track racing does not help one in slightest in strenuous road racing. Conditions are so entirely different, and although many riders have stated that they were inclined to put their left foot down on negotiating very sharp corners, I cannot say that the memory of the dirt track at all affected my riding last week. Much greater judgment is required in taking corners in a road race at speed than is the case on the dirt track, for once you have got into a slide on the cinders nothing else really matters at the moment. Different by far is the case in the road race where the surface of the road is perhaps very uneven and has not the uniform substance and surface of the dirt track. A race such as the Durban-Johannesburg, I have been thinking, teaches one to ride a hundred per cent, better than a season on the dirt track, in so far road conditions are concerned, and I do not think that the dirt track, with its level surface, would contribute in any measure whatever towards the winning of an extremely arduous road race such as the one which took place last Thursday and Friday.
I must say that the controls in the various towns through which we passed were well organised, and the R.M.C.C. have every reason to congratulate themselves on the arrangements. At the controls there was no waiting and no time lost. The check which was established at the towns and which made riders pass through from one end to the other at a steady 20 miles an hour was very popular with everyone as far as I can gather.
The check means that if a rider dashes through the town he is simply stopped at the other end until the five minutes allowed has passed and he is then able to go on. This means that there is no speeding whatever through the towns en route. The check also means that there is little or no risk of riders being caught by the police for speeding, and therefore being disqualified from taking any further part in the race. For my part, I know that the towns enabled me to have a glance over my machine at each place and to see that everything was in order. The checks also gave me much needed breathers. In one case, however, I think there is room for improvement and that is at Ladysmith, where, because of refuelling, the rider does not have quite the necessary time to make the other end of the town at a moderate pace. In my opinion the check at Ladysmith should be at least six minutes’ duration.
A GRUELLING RIDE.
Half the people who see the race do not realise what the riders go through when they enter for the Durban-Johannesburg Marathon. Although I won there were many riders in the race who deserve more praise, for they had to go through a much worse time than was the case with me. Some of them had an extremely hard time on account of breakdowns and mishaps. The gruelling race from the Natal coast takes almost a year of preparation, so that now that the annual event has just finished riders will turn to the problem of how to win next year's race, which may well be faster, more gruelling, more nerve racking than this last. It is probably very well known how I came to win this year's race; but the story behind it all is, I suppose, much of a closed book to the general public.
Let it at once be said that I had luck on my side, quite a good deal of luck, but the record was not broken without a good deal of very hard work as well. In all I have ridden in the Durban-Johannesburg road race three times and on the two previous occasions I learnt a lesson which, I think, gave me the chance of winning this time.
On the two other occasions I rode in the race, once when I finished fourth, and the other when I had to give up at Mooi River, I found that my normally good physical condition was not good enough to stand up to the gruelling, the telling pace, the frightful jars and bumps, the fearful strain upon arms and back muscles. And so this time, a full three months before the men were due to be started off from Mayville Hill at Durban upon the world's hardest road race, I got into training as seriously as any boxer. In truth it was boxing training which I took up, for I went into training with two boxing enthusiasts named Maguire and Wiltshire at Malvern and slammed away night after night. Boxing develops the muscles you really need for motor cycle riding of a strenuous kind more than any other sport I know of, unless you take Rugby as an exception. But then, a motor cyclist generally has little time to devote to Rugby or other outdoor games owing to the time taken up by his cycling.
E. G. Murray of Johannesburg, trained with me, and when the race came off we both found the advantageous effects of it. Physically we were as good after the event as before.
FIRST DAY NOT SEVERE.
Most riders in the Durban-Johannesburg road race do not find the first day very severe, but generally the second day, that in which the stretch from Newcastle to the finish at the City Deep has to be covered, demands every ounce of their stamina and, endurance. Then they must keep going with a full realisation of what is happening on the road. Given a perfect machine, a perfect run and a perfect luck, there is, of course, no reason why the present record of 8 hours, 8 minutes 19 seconds for the 400 miles should not be beaten very easily next year. But a perfect machine, a perfect run and perfect luck rarely go hand in hand. With me this year nearly everything was almost perfect. The machine I rode was certainly perfect, the best that I have ever handled in my life, the run was almost perfect for I was free of trouble, and my luck was all but perfect. Had my luck been otherwise, as I shall explain later, I should be frightfully maimed or perhaps dead today for a foolish risk I took the first day, a risk which I do not now in sober moment think was warranted.
"CRACKING" MACHINES UP.
It has always been my contention that the majority of riders are inclined to take almost everything out of their mounts the first day, and to ride the second day of the Durban-Johannesburg race on machines which have been all but cracked up on the burst from Durban to Newcastle. I know I certainly behaved unfairly to my machine the first two occasions of riding, so that this time I endeavoured to strike a happy medium, not letting my machine out to the fullest capacity of speed, but at the same time not allowing other riders to obtain too great a lead on me. The first day I kept up an average speed of 47 miles an hour, this including a burst of some 65 miles an hour along the Pinetown flats, just a few miles out of Durban. I could have gone faster, but was fearfully afraid of knocking up my machine at the start, and so was content to be left behind by those three Natal riders, L. R. Cohen, Gibson, and R. Donaldson. I knew that all three had travelled over the stretch between Maritzburg and Durban often and knew it much better than I did, and I knew it would be practically impossible to keep up with them at this stage without using my machine to the utmost. I had well in mind the troubles to be encountered the second day, and so I was content to get to Maritzburg from Durban in 55 minutes, some time after those riders I have just mentioned.
RIDING AGAINST SCHEDULE.
Another point which I had to bear in mind was that I had determined on riding my own race and not to be put off by other men. I had had drawn up for me a schedule which, if followed, would allow me to break the old record by quite a good margin. I followed this schedule to the best of my ability, never falling behind at any spot and gaining on it when this gain was not attended by any strain on the machine and myself. Thus I know that at some stretches I was only travelling at perhaps 10 or 12 miles an hour, and yet at others I touched well over 60. I have been told, but I cannot vouch for it as absolute fact, that persons timing the race over a measured stretch outside Volksrust recorded that I reached 81 miles an hour there. The road there was beautifully straight and level, and it is possible that the machine did that pace. I know it is more than capable of it.
HIT TRAIN'S FENDER.
This was at a time when I knew I had to go all out and to make faster time than the previous day, and perhaps risk some such mishap as I had avoided by a miracle the first half of the race. The incident to which I refer came about in the following manner. Just a few miles outside of Ladysmith there is a level crossing and as I came towards it I noticed an electric train to which were attached two engines, one at either end. But because it was an electric train and because I did not know which way it was travelling I was not inclined to take much notice of it at first. But just as I was about to make the crossing I saw the electric train was very close and knew that if I stopped at the last minute it would perhaps have cost me 10 or perhaps 15 minutes. I saw that there was just the slightest chance of getting through, and so I took it. The driver must have been watching me, for he put on his brakes and stopped just as I dashed across the metals. I had swerved my machine sideways to clear the train, but as I passed my one footrest caught the cow catcher of the engine, and it was all I could do to retain my balance. The last I saw of that kindly engine driver he was leaning out of his cab and shaking his fist at me.
A STROKE OP LUCK.
If that train had not stopped I should never have got past, and would almost certainly have been pushed right along the crossing, probably to death. The escape was due more to a matter of good luck than good judgment.
At Newcastle the same day I arrived into the control eleventh, and it was only after I had got out of the saddle and was studying my position and checking up my schedule that I thought I had a fairly good chance of winning. Not until then had I really thought that I could have an opportunity of gaining up on the leaders during the second day. On the Friday, then, I decided to nurse my machine no longer, but to give it as big a gruelling as it could stand, and was determined to push it from the start. That morning many of the riders seemed to come back to me, but I was sorry to see that Cohen had experienced trouble between Volksrust and Standerton. I called out to him in passing, but he shouted he was O.K., and so I left him. He had a broken valve spring I think. Had this mishap not occurred I think the race would have been an excellent one between the two of us at the finish.
At Standerton I was lying third, then only having Uys and Owen in front of me. At the control I got the information. "Uys is five minutes ahead, and Owen 15. You have a good chance of catching them.” It then appeared that the possibility of a second in the race was still mine and I pushed on at a tearing, rending pace, overtaking Uys a mile after Greylingstad was passed. I shouted to him too, drawing up for the moment, and he told me that Owen was no very great distance ahead, but I did not know how much I had to make up. But as I came to the top of the hill Just before Heidelberg was reached I saw some dust before me, and as I came up I thought it was an ordinary cyclist out to watch the race. A minute later, however, I got a surprise when a rider appeared out of the dust. From that moment, barring accidents, the race was mine and yet the fear of something happening to wrench the race from my grasp at the last minute was perhaps the most worrying part of the whole of the two days. That such a mishap can intervene was well proved in the case of C. H. Wyman, who should have got fourth, but who only got in eighth through having to push his machine in the last quarter of a mile. Alf Long, that hero of so many races, broke his forks two miles after leaving Durban, and I can well imagine his anxiety as to whether he would ever get in to Johannesburg on his machine, let alone arrive fifth, as he actually did.
During the last few miles I must say I rode extremely carefully. I had no wish to be knocked down by any of the many motor cars passing up and down before the finishing post, and so I thought a little bit of caution would probably well repay the few seconds or minutes I might lose in those last few miles.
I had to thank the extra large capacity of my tank that it was only needful to fill up at Estcourt, Ladvsmith, Newcastle and Standerton, as although I was getting so much speed out of my machine it still returned me over 50 miles to the gallon petrol consumption. Another thing which helped me to an enormous extent was the new dry sump lubrication of my small 2¾ h.p. machine, surely the most efficient oiling system that has ever been incorporated on a motor cycle. A fact that the rider has not to use a hand pump of any description, but simply to ride his machine and fill up with oil at definite intervals when refilling the petrol tank, naturally makes for better performance and better speed. It certainly did with me.
VERY PROUD OF HIM
At the finish of the Durban-Johannesburg race Lind was welcomed with delight by his mother and father and sister.