The Classic Motorcycle Rally
BERNARD EDWARD “BABY” SCOTT
1, 2, 3, and Baby Makes 4 - the Scott Brothers.
by Jock Leyden.
Though only 16½ years old, Baby Scott wanted to ride in 'The Jo'burg' so a family council of war was held, and it was decided that he should enter a 350 side-valve Chater, Clarrie a 250 ohv and Doug a 350 ohv. When the handicaps came out, the limit man was Jacobie (Francis Barnett 147 cc) and Lance Walsh (Ray) with a 4 hr 30 mins start from scratch men, Wally Wilson (Indian) of East London and Ted Murray the Harley rider from the Transvaal.
Baby found himself on the same mark (3 hrs 5 mins) as another novice, two years older, called Sarkis, on a Raleigh. Clarrie had 2 hrs 25 mins, Doug 1 hr 1 min.
Apart from IHR Scott, Young and Loader who were in the Isle of Man for the TT, all the big name riders - and lots of small-time riders - were entered. No 42, Tommy Nicholl on a 500 cc single cylinder Indian was the holder of the straight-through one-day record (10 hrs 31 mins). The two-day race record of course (9 hrs 46 mins 23 secs) was put up by Alf Long (987 cc American X) in 1922.
No. 48 was J Parks, the Ladysmith man on a white, not red, 998 cc Indian. Parks was well fancied, having finished 16th the previous year, and had won the Durban-Ladysmith race (sidecar class) in 1920, putting up fastest time of the day (only two solos finished). He had also taken first place in the Pietermaritzburg-Estcourt 125 mile sidecar shindig. As a car Trial was being run on the same road (laugh that one off) riders were warned to look out!
By now the Jo'burg race was big news in all the newspapers, being promoted to main news pages, with photographs and pen-pictures of the star riders. On Berea Road, Durban police were also taking an interest, stopping competitors whose machines were not adequately silenced!
Baby broke away from Sarkis at the start, but from Maritzburg on they rode together for miles. Here was the first duel between these two. Little did they, or we, know they were to have many such races in the years to come, and that these two novices were destined to be dominant figures in S.A. racing for the next decade. Near Colenso, Baby hit a rock-strewn drift at speed, and buckled his back wheel. As the Chater had quickly interchangeable wheels (one of the few to have this) he swopped back to front, after doing a bit of repairs with a handy rock.
On the Biggarsberg Baby must have forgotten what his big brothers had told him about being careful, for he overdid things on one of the swerves, used up all the road and clouted a rock which swiped off his brake and footrests. All this he found out after turning tail over helmet for three complete loops. Clarrie arrived to find him trying to sort things out and was happy to find the kid was unharmed, so he set to, helping make the side valve race-shape. The rocks which marked the road verge were requisitioned for a second time bashing things straight. Then, telling Baby to be doubly careful and take things easier still, Clarrie pressed on, and was surprised to find he was second man into Newcastle. Only Evans on the 350 s/v Sunbeam being ahead. But behind them there were many exciting duels and some great rides.
Hitting the high spots was Alf Long on a s/v Sunbeam this year. He made Pietermaritzburg in 1 hr 5 mins and those who saw him at Curries Post on the rough stuff there swore they'd never seen anything so frightening. Alf never was one for sight-seeing. Another great show was the Cohen-D Scott battle. These two were together all the way from Estcourt to Newcastle, though Len (strangely mounted on a Chater-Lea this year) had picked up 16 mins on Doug from Durban. On his 500 s/v Long had broken Gill's 1000 cc record to Newcastle by 21 mins! Alf was in a hurry.
At this stage it looked as if the race must be one between Alf, with 1 hr start, Evans on the 350 s/v Sunbeam off the 2 hrs 55 mins mark, and Eddie Bagley of Durban (1 hr 50 mins start) on a 500 s/v Norton. Eddie had finished the first day in 11th position, one behind Alf. But all three Scotts were still in, and trying.
Between Standerton and Balfour, Clarrie struck trouble and dropped five places, giving Baby immense satisfaction when he caught big brother - and passed him, grinning through his facial mud-pack. Evans had the misfortune to break both fork springs - one outside Newcastle, and the other near Heidelberg, and Alf collected him 20 miles from Greylingstad, going on to win in an all-comers record time of 9 hrs 2 min 6 secs. A phenomenal performance, breaking his own 1922 race time on a machine of twice the capacity. Bagley, Evans and Harris came next, then the baby of the race - BE, to finish 5th - one in front of Clarrie.
The Press was loud in its praise of Baby's run - and no wonder - for a lad who had not yet reached his 17th birthday this was an exceptional performance. The RMCC (Rand Motor Cycling Club) also gave him a trophy for the most meritorious performance in the race. It certainly was an auspicious DJ initiation.
Fastest 250 was Clarrie. Fastest 350, Doug. It was a great day for the Scotts. As well as Long, three others broke the old record and all were on Harleys. They were Ted Murray (9 hrs 3 mins 6 secs!, Norman Taylor, a Durban novice (9 hrs 5 mins 17 secs), and Eric Gibson (9 hrs 45 mins 26 secs.).
A new award by an anonymous donor, that for the machine finishing in the best condition, went to Ted Murray. This was an award which Ted made special efforts to win each year. In later years it was said that he would stop near the finish, polish his machine, strip off his white boiler suit revealing nice shiny leathers underneath, and ride over the line as if he had just been for a ride around the block. I don't believe that tale but the superb condition in which his mounts usually finished - not a sign of an oil-leak anywhere - no doubt accounted for the legend.
With the dropping of the Durban-Ladysmith race, the Port Elizabeth-East London 192½ mile event became next to the Jo'burg in importance.
Entries for the 300-mile Ladysmith race had dropped over the years, and several reasons had been advanced. One was that the 300 miles in one day was just too much for man or machine. Certainly the retirements were always heavy, and it was freely admitted that it was much tougher than the Jo'burg. Riders complained too of the cost of competing, bearing in mind that participation in the DJ might knock them back anything up to £100 - more, if they had a major breakdown or pile-up. This race, plus the DJ was more than most amateurs could afford in one year.
There was a great deal of interest in the Eastern Province race, for on scratch were Big Bill du Toit's 989 cc Harley-Davidson, and, just back from the Isle of Man TT, Bunny Loader, mounted on a 588 cc Norton, plus Baby Scott, fresh (?) from the Jo'burg race, and Gill.
When it came to the turn of the back markers to go there was tremendous excitement for here was a pair, both well-known for their strength and fearlessness, and acknowledged masters on the rough stuff. But at the fall of the flag the Norton oiled a plug and Bill went off like a rocket. So intent was he to make a break from Bunny that he overdid things within three miles, hitting an ox-wagon head on, and finishing up inside beside the Tante! That ended the Loader-du Toit duel.
The roads to Kenkelbosch were atrocious but the Norton, which was fitted with Harley forks, by the way, caught all the big stuff except Gill's Harley. The Bloemfontein rider had started 2 mins ahead of the Durban man. At Grahamstown a policeman stopped Gill and reprimanded him for having an ineffective silencer, but he still got away without being caught. (By Loader, anyway!)
Trying desperately to overhaul Gill, and delayed once more by plug trouble near Pluto's Vale, Loader wound things up, and outside Kingwilliamstown he hit a hole in the badly cut up trail that sent the Norton into orbit, and for some considerable distance Bunny was doing a handstand and space-walk combined. How he managed to stay with it is something which re-telling the story today (44 years later) makes his eyes bulge meaningly. But Gill was not to be caught, and, despite stops for a broken chain and choked petrol pipe, the Harley got to East London 50 yards ahead of the Norton.
Du Plooy of the Scott camp was the winner on a 250 ohv Chater-Lea in 5 hrs 11 mins. Grant (350 ohv BSA) was second in a time which shook everybody - 4 hrs 57 mins - only 5 mins less than Loader's 1923 time on a Harley. Third was Steward (350 ohv AJS) then came Gill and Loader, the latter with a new record of 4 hrs 32 mins 30 secs. Next home was the little boy racer, Baby Scott, game as ever and wearing on his begrimed face a grin from ear to ear. A sixteen-year-old doing a man's job, and doing it well. Yes, 1924 was a year for the Scott brothers to remember.
On 1st January the following year C W, I H R and B E entered the SA TT races - the first massed start TT. Ian was best placed with a third in the Senior behind Young and Loader. After the races Baby moved to PE to work, and, within a few months, he was back on the Kragga Kamma Circuit, this time to win on a 175 Francis Barnett. The race was over 5 laps (100 miles). Baby won from Griffiths on another Barnett, Bill Kerr third and fastest with a big Harley, and Clarrie Scott (AJS), fastest 350.
This was Baby's first big win, and already it was obvious that he was showing a skill and judgment well beyond his years. Remarkable was his polish and restraint - not for him the bull-at-a-gate methods so common in youngsters. Admittedly, he had the advice of his elder brothers to guide him, and his pre-race briefings always emphasised riding with a margin of safety. For all that, it says much for the youngster that, even in the heat of a race, he always did so, and that characteristic was one which he retained right through his career. Not that he couldn't provide the fireworks when necessary, but he was one of the few who knew that the best racing men are those who know when to shut off!
At one time it looked as if there would be no Jo'burg race for the Transvaal Provincial Council refused to give permission for a race on open roads. It was only when the RMCC promised to stop speeding through towns that the ban was lifted.
Riders doing their pre-race runs up the road brought back lurid tales of the disastrous effect of abnormally heavy storms on the Natal section of the road. At many places Natives were hired to carry the bikes across drifts which had become raging torrents. If the riders thought things were bad, the Natives didn't - they'd never had it so good! Fortunately for all - but the Natives - the sun made a welcome re-appearance and the roads rapidly dried. For once the road to Maritzburg was reported to be 'good'. (Note - by today's standards that means appalling.)
All the Scott brothers were in again, Baby this time electing to ride his PE winning 172 cc Francis Barnett off the 4 hrs 42 mins mark, with W Reeve (Sun) and Klassen (225 Enfield). After this trio came Allison the Ladysmith rider, on a JAP-engined machine of his own construction. The main feature of the Allison was the frame which was composed of tubes all the same length. By Carrying a supply of spares the ever-present danger of retirement through breakage of any one or more members was eliminated. This little bunch left in the dark followed by the pack which comprised all the big names in the rough-riding world except Charlie Young, who was making a return trip to the IOM.
Scratch man was Big Bill du Toit. Bill had the reputation of being the strongest man in the business, guaranteed to strangle any speed wobble at birth. Many were the tales of Bill's strength. One story had it that he assisted his sliding 1000 cc twin round the Camperdown bridge with a boot on the wall! Young and old gazed in admiration at the fearless Capetonian with the happy grin, and then at the “sausage” tied across the Harley tank. This latter was his own peculiar form of “knee grip” for staying aboard the khaki monster. Whereas other riders used the usual rubber or leather knee-grip attached to the tank, Bill's arrangement was a huge bolster, for all the world like a colossal polony sausage attached to the machine in the centre and lying across his knees, it must have worked, for when Bill was aboard he usually stayed put.
On the way to the start Nissen (Diamond) was hauled up by the police for making excessive noise. There was a flap too when a rider arrived with a machine bearing the same number (68) as Zurcher, so he was asked to reverse his plates and rode as 89. Not that it made much difference to the public, for, once again, the starting numbers were 'scrambled', e.g. Baby Scott's Barnett, the first to go, bore No. 86 and Du Toit the back marker, No 85!
As the Transvaal police had been busy the previous year and fined several riders for speeding through towns en route, it was decided to enforce the double-control system, whereby each rider was given a slip of paper on which his time of arrival was noted, and he was not allowed to leave the northern limit of the town till a specified time had elapsed. This did have the desired effect of cutting down speeding, but timing was somewhat haphazard and caused much discontent in many races right up till 1936.
Baby's Francis Barnett led through Maritzburg, and, despite a spill in the mist and rain, into Estcourt, and he had almost reached Ladysmith before Du Toit's big Harley roared off from the foot of Mayville Hill! Some start!
The Biggarsberg was in shocking condition and all the drifts were deep in water. To make matters worse, the Barnett's forks were bent from the spill and the machine was taking a most unusual line on the corners. But the 17 year-old plugged along manfully and no-one was happier than he to see the Newcastle control loom up. Here the machines were locked up in the official garage till the start on the Monday morning. (This was Saturday, and there was no racing on Sunday.) At once he phoned Jo'burg, asking the agents to send down a new pair of forks to fit before starting his second day's run.
Meanwhile, behind him the others were coming in to complete the first leg. Klassen was second, though he had dropped almost 25 mins behind. Ginger Bower on a 350 s/v Douglas was up to third, fourth the Indian Prince of Bert Kirkland, the stunt star. (Bert was holder of the world's motorcycle long jump record with a leap of 67 ft. on Durban's beach. He was also the first motorcyclist to have gone riding in the Valley of the 1000 Hills near Drummond. In later years he added the further distinction of being the first civilian to qualify as a pilot with the Durban Light Plane Club and to break the monotony in the air did some wing-walking and other aerial stunts. They never came gamer than our Bert.)
Bower who had given Baby 1 hr 52 mins start from Durban, was only 33½ mins behind at Newcastle. Kirkland a further 11 mins behind, despite a crankcase broken by a stone at Mooi River. Here he lost 20 mins while he plugged it and telephoned on arrival at Newcastle for a spare chain to be rushed to him.
When the starter dropped his flag at 7 am on Monday morning Baby immediately set about changing his forks. 10 mins later the job was done, but he was still the first away. At Volksrust he was 20 mins ahead, but the 350 side valve jobs were eating up the deficit and Bower, Long, Sarkis and Kirkland were belting it out for all they were worth. The Douglas went off colour before Standerton, and Ginger stopped to check his tappet adjustment which had slacked off. The Douggie got its second wind and outside Heidelberg the flat twin caught the two-stroke to take the lead. The pack closed in tightly, fighting for the places. Then Kirkland who was making a desperate effort to catch Long and Sarkis, crashed heavily at the drift outside the town, sustaining severe facial injuries. At first it was feared these would be fatal, and a gloom was cast over the race, but the redoubtable Bert made a wonderful recovery and is still very much alive today to tell the tale of this, and many subsequent DJs.
Bower won a well-merited victory from Long's Prince, Baby's Francis Barnett in 3rd place being the only machine to split the 350 side valves which took the rest of the places up to 7th, Ian Scott's AJS being 6th, and Clarrie on an ohv of the same stable finished 19th. Bill du Toit's Harley made fastest time and was 11th, in 8 hrs 46 mins 57 secs, but it was generally conceded that BE's effort in finishing third with a time of 12 hrs 38 mins 10 secs, on the little 172 cc Villiers-engined job was really something to crow about. After the race an objection was lodged because Bower's Douglas had aluminium pistons, but this was over-ruled, the officials stating that 'since the compression ratio had not been altered, all was well!'
Before the year was out Baby added the Triumph Cup to the silverware on the Scott sideboard. This was for a 100-mile race at Alberton, and down in the Cape Ian rode his FB second to Alf Long in a 176-mile race run by the Cape MCC on the Malmesbury course. The Francis Barnett shares were rising.
Then came the SA TT at PE where the face-cam Chater-Leas made their debut in big competition. Doug was the best placed of the brothers, being second in the Junior. Clarrie was fourth. Baby had been lying second to Charlie Young, the winner on an Enfield, at the half-way stage, but he packed up with engine trouble. There were six entries in the tiddler class (175 cc) and here Baby on his two-stroke Francis Barnett led the field till a broken petrol pipe dropped him two places. Biggs on a 175 ohv Cotton-Blackburne then led from Percy Flook on a two-stroke Sun. By dint of hard riding, Baby got in front again, but when he stopped to refuel the Cotton nipped in front and stayed there to the finish.
All four Brothers were starters in the 1926 Coast-Rand race which was won by young Jack Gibson on a 300 s/v OK. Little did they know then, that this rider was later to become their Durban Chater-Lea distributor and to put up many fine performances on the camshaft-engined machines over the following years. Clarrie rode a 350 ohv AJS and Doug an ohv Rex Acme, finishing 7th, and 15th, respectively. Baby did not finish.
The P.E.-East London race drew 32 entries. Clarrie had entered a 172 Francis Barnett on which he got 2 hrs 34 mins start from Gill's 989 cc Harley. Harold Leon the Barnett rep. in the Union, started 1 min behind C W. Jo'burg winner Jack Gibson was also here, as were Alf Long and Bill Kerr.
There was a big crowd to see the start at 6.30 am when two 147 cc Barnetts buzzed off, followed at intervals till 10.05 am, when Gill's Harley rushed away in pursuit. But although the Bloemfontein big twin rider broke records all the way, it was soon obvious that the little 172s of Scott and Leon were going to take some catching. Leon pulled up on Clarrie at King where the former was delayed by a leaking tank. From that point these two had a fierce battle, being within sight of each other for nearly the whole distance. At Grahamstown and Kingwilliamstown they had gone through much earlier than expected, and it was obvious that they had caught the handicapper napping.
Gill's Harley, nick-named “Mutt II” (Bunny Loader's HD was “Mutt I”), fortified no doubt by the “muti” placed under its saddle by a Free State Native well-wisher, was hitting 85 mph on the loose-surfaced road, and did the 37.2 miles between King and the finish in under 40 mins but it was Clarrie who was signalled coming round Stoneydrift in the lead by the look-out stationed two miles out, and a bell was rung at the finish heralding his arrival. In his dust was Leon, a mere 45 secs, behind. It had been a great race between these two. Third was Alf Long, fourth P Seale on a 1914 550 s/v Triumph. Gill's record-breaking 4 hrs 1 min 30 secs, (average 47.75 mph) could bring him home no higher than 12th. Clarrie had averaged 36 mph for the 193 miles, to give him his only big inter-town win. This might be said to be Clarrie's year, for he was placed again in a 60-mile race at PE won by Bill Kerr (Douglas).
Not that the others were inactive, for Baby had cleaned up all the opposition on Benoni race-course. At this same meeting Johnny Mynott first came to light, riding a Norton in the novice class, and R “Scotty” Osborne became airborne and nearly disappeared from sight when he crashed heavily completely writing off his lovely Scott Squirrel. Enthusiasts in those days used to rave about the exhaust note of his 500 cc twin when on full song, it sang no more. Later on the Babe rung the changes, appearing on Pretoria race course astride a 175 cc Rex Acme instead of a Chater, and won there too.
Not to be left out of it, Doug came 2nd to Sarkis, and Ian 4th in the Bloemfontein Blue Riband. This race was notable for the atrocious road surface, Sarkis stated that because of the deep sand he had had to use second gear for half the race of 123 miles - and all riders capable of speaking when it was over declared that by comparison Alberton was like a billiard table.
Doug, Clarrie and Baby were all Chater-Lea mounted for the 1927 SA TT. Len Cohen flew off into the lead on his AJS and only lost it on lap 4, when Baby took over, when the AJS was at the pits being refuelled. But before he had completed a lap the raucous roar of the engine died. The Chater's tank was empty and as Baby pushed his bike the mile up the avenue from Frame's Drift Cohen, Loader, Hall, Doug Scott, Hammerton and Seale passed, raising great yellow dust clouds in their wake. Refuelled, he rushed off in pursuit, going from 6th on lap 7 to 5th on lap 9, and that was how he finished. Doug retrieved the Scott honour somewhat by being runner-up. If only Baby had not run out of fuel… but racing is full of “ifs”. He did have the consolation however of receiving the Reynolds Trophy, awarded for the most plucky performance during the races.
In the Senior race he had the added satisfaction of breaking Len Cohen's day-old Junior lap record on his opening circuit, when he lay third behind Percy Flook (Norton) and Len Cohen (AJS), but retired after an oil pipe fractured. The same year Baby was 13th and Doug 14th in the DJ and, the former got second place in the Bloemfontein Blue Riband, Sarkis and Cohen being first and third.
1928 will be remembered by many as the year that great pair of British riders Jimmy Simpson and Wal Handley came to this country to ride in the SA TT. The former started in the Junior, but retired after a lap with a buckled wheel. Handley did not start because of a thumb damaged at Brooklands before leaving Britain, and Bunny Loader rode his Rex Acme. Baby crashed at the railway crossing after Greenbushes when his mudguard came adrift and locked his wheel. Len Cohen (AJS) won in a canter from Joe Sarkis (Velo), and Doug Scott (Chater-Lea).
The Senior race was to prove a most memorable one for several riders. Simpson crashed at Frame's when leading. Bill du Toit broke the lap record from a standing start, as did Cohen, on a 350. Baby Scott was delayed early on by clutch trouble and appeared to be out of the hunt by lap 2. Du Toit crashed. Cohen led, and Baby came through to third place, and, by lap 7 was 2nd, and only 7 of the 17 starters were left in the race.
Cohen was away out ahead, the Chater was still suffering from clutch slip, Loader was slowing. The A.J.S. went into the last lap, and in to the pits came the Chater and the BSA riders to tinker at their sick machines. Only four were still in the race. The BSA's dip stick in the crankcase oil sump had blown out, together with nearly all the lubricant. Bunny filled up with oil and sought something to fill the dipstick orifice, eventually plugging it with a piece of wood. At the same time a few yards away Baby was stopped with a clutch that was white hot, and he was using a bottle of mineral water to cool it off.
Everybody waited for Cohen to appear, and, as the minutes ticked away, Scott and Loader's mounts still stood at the pits, the riders sweating in the broiling sun as they worked to get going again. It looked as if there would be only one finisher. Five minutes went past, ten... fifteen and the Chater bellowed into life. Loader followed soon after. But where was Cohen? Now he was overdue! Would there be any finisher? Then came the news that the AJS flier had crashed on the back stretch, wrecking his machine. Now who would win? Meanwhile the blue 350 and the green 500 were racing within sight of one another past Greenbushes, down to Cow Corner (Bunny nearly bought it there), through the Willows and along the tricky back stretch, chopping wheels dancing on the “ball bearings” surface through the drop down to Frame's. Closer and closer Bunny edged up on Baby, and away they raced to the finish a mile away, the BSA now right on the Chater's tail.
Baby braked for the sharp left hander at the Deviation, 150 yds. away was an official holding the checkered flag and the crowd craning their necks to see who the leader might be. Baby looked back. The Chater over-slid in the loose stuff, and Bunny nipped through on the inside to win by one second*. So the race that looked like petering out altogether ended up by providing the closest finish in SA TT history! The time was slow, nearly 25 minutes longer than the Junior race, when Cohen had had a straight through run. Gardner (AJS) was the only other finisher and he completed the course 1 hr 10 mins after the leading pair!
Before the Jo'burg race Baby bought a 175 cc ohv Blackburne engine from Norman Grossman, the well-known rider of P and M Panthers. It had cost £50 landed here, but as Norman couldn't find a particular use for it he accepted a fiver cash. Installed in a 350 frame, Baby decided to have a crack at the Jo'burg on it, if the handicap was right. The big difficulty was finding the right gearing for this little engine with its bore of 50 and stroke of 88. The piston diameter was not much bigger than half a crown, and the stroke the same as its big 250 and 350 cc brothers.
He solved his problem as best he could by riding it up a 1 in 3 slope behind his garage, dropping a tooth on each run till he could surmount the rise without difficulty. The handicap looked nice on paper - 2 hrs 35 mins from Bill du Toit, again scratch man on the Big Harley. Clarrie, who had 3 hrs 10 mins on his 172 t/s James, was No 3. Ted Murray, 172 Francis Barnett, off 2 hrs 41 mins being No I. Tommy Owen that astute rider of a two-stroke Levis of 225 cc, No 11. Baby was No. 13 - not 113. The excited group of spectators that gathered around him when he arrived at the foot of Mayville Hill saw, on closer inspection, that, what they mistook for the first numeral was a lady's fancy garter stretched round the front number plate. It was a good luck token.
He'd need all the luck in the world this time, some wagered gaping at the massive 4 gallon tank atop the skinny Blackburne engine. Four gallons? The biggest tank ever seen on any race machine - and on a 175 housed in a 350 frame! Get to Jo'burg? This thing would be lucky if it could lug all that weight to Maritzburg, said the wise guys. But Baby caught Clarrie on the rough stuff by Currie's Post, and won a private bet.
At Ladysmith, Murray was leading from Owen, with Baby, third. Young Norman Brockwell on a 300 s/v OK was 7th. Also well in the running were Bower (Douglas), Nobby Clark (Velo) in his first road race, confounding everyone by lying well up despite several crashes due to pre-ignition, Bert Kirkland (Sunbeam), Joe Sarkis (OK), Chick Harris (Royal Enfield) and Du Toit (HD).
At the half-way house Owen led with a new record for his class - 5 hrs 29 mins 27 secs - only 38 mins 27 secs outside the all-comers record, and that, after a crash en route. Baby arrived 23 mins later. He had been 8 mins behind the Levis at Maritzburg, 12 at Mooi River and 5 behind at Ladysmith. No wonder Baby was worried. Clarrie was 3rd here, only 1½ mins behind. Then came Murray who had been delayed with a loose carburettor. No 90, Bower, who was lying 12th, reported having had an argument with an ox on the way. Then came Du Toit who had climbed from 120th place to 19th in 200 miles! Baby's baby Chater was going well, and he hoped to do better when he got on the Transvaal flats. Owen and Du Toit were his chief dangers.
Owen started the proceedings at 7.30 am for the second day's run, and gained 2 mins on Baby over the mountains to Volksrust. Clarrie lost some ground here, Murray's Bamett was now on full song again, and had picked up 3 mins Brockwell who had never seen the road before, was riding as if on familiar ground, and had taken 3 riders before entering the Transvaal. All were going as if they thought the devil, and Bill du Toit was at their back wheels. Little did they know the scratch man had found his back tyre flat when he wheeled his bike out of the overnight control, and he lost 45 minutes, before he left Newcastle, in a fruitless chase after the leaders.
The crowd standing in Smith Street outside British Motors where the race progress board was erected this year was on edge waiting for the telephoned results to be posted up. Then, from Standerton, came the news that Baby Scott was leading. The Chater had done 53 miles in 77 mins But Murray was now No. 2, and had gained a little on the ohv. The unlucky Owen was posted as retired, after a great run.
At Greylingstad Murray was 8 mins behind, and Clarrie Scott was doggedly tailing him some 2 mins astern. Brockwell now seemed set for a place. The Durban apprentice was riding a great race, and there was great jubilation among Natal race followers as his times were posted up from Greylingstad, Balfour and Heidelberg. Then Standerton control reported Du Toit out there. All his hopes punctured too.
From Heidelberg came the news that Murray, who had been doing so well was also side-lined with a stone in the carb When the sign-writer wrote “retired” alongside Brockwell's name there was a moan from the crowd. Within sight of the mine dumps the little O.K.'s engine had expired when a valve broke. So ended a very gallant ride Baby was not to be denied, however, and his engine never missed a beat as it headed for City Deep. But behind him Clarrie was dropping back for he was now riding on a flat rear tyre.
Meanwhile the 350 ohv’s were roaring up and it was Jack Gibson who pushed his 350 cam Chater-Lea into third place with fastest race time of 9 hrs 2 mins 11 secs, fourth was the Durban novice, J M “Nobby” Clark, who showed great spirit and determination having ridden all the way from Maritzburg without a clutch, and suffered six spills on the way. Bower's s/v Douglas followed. He too had broken the old ohv record. Sarkis, without a saddle for half the race, was 8th, and Bert Kirkland showed indomitable pluck in coming in 11th after a crash at Colenso on the first day, that broke a bone in his wrist. This was the same Bert everybody thought would never ride again after his frightful pile-up in 1925. The £5 engine paid Baby handsome dividends, and the rather primitive form of assessing the gear ratios didn't seem quite so crazy afterwards.
Another race Baby never forgot was the opening one at the then new 1 mile banked track at Auckland Park, when there was a pile-up, and Van der Dool, the rider of an AJS was killed. There was a rerun, and Ginger Bower came down at the same spot. Baby was on edge, and could hardly bear the tension as they lined up for the third start. But he got away at the head of the field and wasn't caught.
Incidentally, Baby thereafter made the Motordrome, as the track was called, his happy hunting ground for a couple of years. Here he and Joe Sarkis had many great duels, winning many races and putting up records in 350 and unlimited classes on his 350 fired by the famous “Scott Bros, dope fuel”. This mighty potent concoction, made up by a Jo'burg chemist, consisted of 75 per cent alcohol, 20 Benzol, 2 ether and 3 acetone. It was in great demand by riders all over the country who paid £3. 5s. od. (R6.50) per gallon for it.
There was not much in the kitty for the brothers at PE in 1929. Clarrie got the best returns at the TT there with a 2nd place in the 175 race, Unwin on another James being the winner, and was 6th in the 100-mile handicap event.
Soon afterwards Baby was nominated to represent South Africa in the Isle of Man TT with Joe Sarkis and Don Hall. Chater-Leas supplied him with a machine on which he spent some three weeks at Brooklands, Surrey, where track star Hopkins hotted it up till it was doing 96 mph which was some going on petrol benzol in 1929. But its handling qualities were not of the feather-bed variety, and especially on the terrifying drop down Bray Hill, where it used both sides of the road, and then some, it was more akin to an old iron bedstead. Baby has not forgotten to this day his descents of that declivity, where the Chater (it should have been called Chatter!) all but plastered itself and rider on the high stone wall after the dive from Glencrutchery Road. When a valve dropped in he wasn't sorry.
Meanwhile Jimmy Lind, the one-eyed Rand rider had won the DJ and Doug Scott kept the home fires burning by running to Jo'burg in 6th place. Clarrie remembers this race for two reasons. He rode a twin James and near Maritzburg he hit a turkey, putting the James out of the race and the turkey in the pot.
Baby did his New Year's “first footing” when his Royal Enfield ran out of petrol on the last lap of the 1930 SA Junior TT at PE. Clarrie recalls the 175 TT as a memorable one too. His was one of 10 James machines in the field of 14, and his was the first to rush through the Deviation at the end of the opening lap with Paton, Browne (DKW), Biggs (Cotton) tailing him on to the Cape Road, where the fast German two-strokes of Durban's A B (Archie) Browne and Paton whistled past. The latter was riding in the place of Teddy Bell, a practice casualty.
On lap 3 the 'Dekes' were pitted for fuel, and Clarence Walter Scott headed the procession once more. But next time round AB had nosed ahead again, only to stop to feed his twin with plugs, for which it had a voracious appetite. Laps 5 and 6 saw a new race leader, Biggs' ohv, a Blackburne-engined Cotton, heading the two-strokes, but Browne had set a new lap record of 21 mins 40 secs for the 20 miles and was recovering lost ground fast - between plug changes.
Another surprise when the whistle signalled the arrival of the first man to start the last lap - it was the indomitable Clarrie, going through well ahead of Biggs, followed by Browne. Then all settled down to wait Clarrie's return. A two-stroke was heard screaming up from Frame's. The whistle blew. The chequered flag was unfurled and into the deviation came - Brown on the water-cooled two-stroke! The James appearing 48 secs later. Clarrie had been pipped on the post. Ian in 7th place was the last of the Scotts in at the finish of the DJ which Boet Griebenow won on the Model 90 Sunbeam, after Archie Browne had been disqualified when his TT winning DKW's silencers failed to satisfy the machine examiners. He rode under protest from Durban, but was ruled out at the finish.
For the next SA lightweight TT Baby had got himself a rather fancy cam AJS reputed to be the one on which that great Scot, Jimmy Guthrie, had won the Isle of Man race the previous year. Great things were expected of this and an exciting duel between the AJS and Sarkis' cam OK was predicted.
But the AJ suffered from pre-ignition, and the stop to change plugs dropped him back a couple of minutes. Then, although he was faster than Joe on the third and fifth laps, and put up the fastest lap of the race, he could not overhaul the OK. It is interesting to note that the distance was curtailed from 140 to 100 miles by the officials, while the race was in progress! Clarrie was third in the 175 class which was won by E Davis (Excelsior) with J Riddell (James), second.
For the big Durban-Rand race, Baby had a twin James, and had two minutes start from Charlie Young, scratch on the howling 596 Douglas. Clarrie and Doug were on 172 two-strokes with 2 hrs 30 mins start to play with No 1 being 'Yank' Davis on another James. Baby was second fastest to Pietermaritzburg (48 mins), Charlie Young doing the FTD with a 46 mins 45 secs run.
First into Newcastle was Len Taylor on a lovely sounding 225 cc Enfield, the two older Scotts next, and fastest time for the first stage went to strong man Dick Donaldson (OK), who had jumped from 79th to 15th position in the process. The likeable Dick just loved the rough stuff and as long as he kept going he showed the bike who was the boss. Clarrie rode in on a flat tyre, and Doug reported an argument with a dog near Estcourt. Fourth was E Hughes on the AJS which Baby had ridden in the SA lightweight TT.
Baby arrived looking a bit battle-weary, reporting a most uncomfortable ride after a crash, when his James got out of hand on a corner and clouted the bank. Among the damages were two broken saddle springs. What else he can't recall (speaking 34 years later) but he'll never forget the seating trouble, for he couldn't sit for weeks afterwards!
Clarrie went out on the second day, as did Dick Donaldson who all Durban thought was going to win, and it was Taylor who beat everybody to City Deep, with the novice Hughes second and G Browne on a Sunbeam third. Doug was 19th with a record time for the 172 two-stroke category.
Although Baby didn't win any big races this year, he did well in every event in which he competed. In the “100” at Germiston he made fastest time but he couldn't beat the handicap, and Ted Murray (BSA), D Graham (Rudge), Doug (James) and Eddie Hayward (Gillet) took the flag before he did.
Alan Herschell led the field a pretty dance in the Germiston Guineas. His mount was an FMS (A James with a 172 Villiers, tuned by roly-poly Fred May, the wily Rand engineer). Alan broke the lap record and was well ahead when the FMS broke its frame. Joe Carpenter, another jockey-sized rider on a 350 cam AJS won from F Niebuhr (250 Guzzi) and Ted Murray, this time on a 350 BSA Baby again had the honour of making fastest time for the distance.
It was the same story in the Kimberley '100' another FTD, but he got closer this time - second to Wegner (Guzzi). It might have been closer too, for he had to stop several times to fill with oil, which the James was swallowing more rapidly than petrol, and disappeared almost as soon as it was put into the tank Strangely enough the name Scott did not appear in any of the TT finishing lists for '32, so they made a determined effort to do something in the DJ - all three of them, for a change, being on 172 two-strokes, Baby off 2 hrs 30 mins giving big brothers 5 mins start.
No 1 to leave was E “Piggy” Hayward also on a James with 2 hrs 40 mins. Young (600 cc P & M) was again scratch. Cohen (BSA), Harris (Enfield) and Long (Ariel) having been treated to 60 secs start over the 400-mile journey. Kind handicappers they had in those days!
The times to be posted up from Maritzburg control brought gasps from the crowds watching the progress boards in the streets in Durban and Jo'burg. Long lean Harry Adams, the Durban rider of a 500 Rudge had shattered all records, doing the 54-mile trip in a breath-taking 41 mins 45 secs - the fastest ever. Cohen and Long were on 44 mins Harris 46, Horsfield 47¾, Carpenter 48. But if these boys on the big stuff stole the limelight the little lads on the wee bikes weren't wasting time either. Baby was through in 62 mins and he wasn't trying to blow things up.
It took some time to see the race pattern evolve, but the names underlined when the Newcastle times were posted were -Baby, who led the field thus far, knocking over one hour off the class record for the 221-mile stage, Dick Wolfe who was 5th here (21st at Durban), Eric Gibson 250 (DKW) 23rd to 7th, Zurcher (Douglas) 22nd to 8th, Kinsey (250 BSA) 34th to 9th, Horsfield (AJS) 44th to 14th, Carpenter 54th to 20th, Johnny Hansen on the ex-Don Hall TT Rudge from 55th to 22nd, and Harris 65th to 24th.
And there were tales to tell. Joe Carpenter took the wrong road, and, in coming back, collided with another competitor. Collaras, the genial dirt track star on a 175 DKW, had hit a goat. Jack Thomas, enjoying himself immensely on the Velocette Don Hall had "breathed upon" had his dreams rudely shattered when the motor gasped to a standstill on a long downhill near Willowgrange. Off he hopped, whipped out the plug. It could only be plug trouble, couldn't it? Disgustedly (it cost him R5) he heaved it into the veld, popped in a new one, and pushed off. But there was no response. Another push. Nothing doing. Could it be? Flicking the quick-filler tank cap open, he peered inside. The cupboard was bare! Not a drop! Too much third gear work had upset previous calculations. There was nothing for it but to push to the nearest available petrol supply, and hope it wouldn't be too far.
Never had ,9 of a mile seemed so long, but he had plenty time to think of other things. - If not of the riders who whistled past him at speed, certainly of the perfectly good R5 plug he had heaved so far into the bush! Horsfield's second gear was gone. Adams pushed the last quarter mile into the control with a dead engine. Young came in with a shoulder injury after a crash.
Fastest here was Chick Harris on the 500 Enfield, Carpenter beat Horsfield for fastest 350 by one minute. (This was the same Noel Horsfield later to represent South Africa as a yachtsman at the Olympic Games.) Murray led a trio of 350s, a mere 2 mins separating him from Wolfe and Kinsey.
Going like the hammers on the second day, Baby's fork spring broke at Volksrust, and he stopped to thread the fractured ends together and dashed off, hoping against hope that this make-shift repair wouldn't part. Maybe it was a forlorn hope, but while there was life in the spring, there was hope. At Greylingstad it still held, and he was 12 miles ahead of “Piggy” Hayward who was at this stage having a most uncomfortable ride. His back tyre had punctured near Standerton, and having no repair outfit he had to continue, or retire. This little Piggy had to go to Jo'burg on the rim. It was Hayward's, not Hobson's choice. Dicky Wolfe was showing his class on a fast 250 Ariel, and was challenging for a place. Baby was going strong, the fork spring still doing its job miraculously, despite the clattering on the bumpy road. The heroic Hayward piled up the miles, though his lead over the Ariel was disappearing fast as they neared Jo'burg.
Baby couldn't be caught. He romped home to break the class record by over 2 hrs and right well did he deserve the great ovation his home town gave him at the City Deep. Plucked off his machine, he was chaired and carried away to say a few words over the radio.
Wolfe made up 12 mins on Hayward over the final 30 miles, and finished just 57 secs behind him. 100 miles on a flat tyre on a solid-framed machine on those corrugated roads? Lift your hat to Hayward! Baby got on his bike after the race, and, when he leaned it over the bottom fork shackle fell out. The shackle bolt had broken. How many miles he had ridden like this he didn't know. From Volksrust? He didn't dare think. Some people are born lucky.
Another to suffer fork spring breakage was Kinsey, who was 19 mins ahead of sixth finisher Graham at Standerton, but, after the breakage, had to nurse his BSA and was 6 mins behind the Rudge man at the finish. Horsfield's AJS broke a rocker at Greylingstad when it looked as if he'd run into a place, and little Ernie Brickhill of the big grin, jeopardised his own chances of finishing higher when he stopped to lend a hand. Jack Thomas got fastest 350 award, a great show after his 'long walk'. Chick Harris - some chick! - took the all-comers record. (7 hrs 6 mins 4 secs). Clarrie brought his little James into 13th berth.
Baby was back on the big banger for a race on the Brooklands track on the Pretoria Road some weeks later. For two reasons that race was memorable. It was the last meeting held on a Sunday in the Transvaal, after a test case in Court. For more personal reasons the youngest Scott remembers it as nearly the last race he ever ran. After doing 3 laps at record speed, going down the back stretch at about 100 mph in a “go” with Sarkis, the James careered off the loose-surfaced road and hit a ditch 2 feet wide, then turned end over end, whereupon Baby abandoned ship. When picked up it was found that his shoulder had been broken, and he was carried to the official tent where he lay from 11 am till 5 pm before the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital. That was a sad day for racing in the Transvaal for the driver of a new £3,000 Bentley also ran off the track and was killed.
The schemers guessed right when they thought the handicapper would put the screws on the tiddlers entered in the 1933 DJ, and so it turned out. Kinsey and Cohen (500 BSA's) were first and second in the big race, and Baby on a Python-engined James (Python, was the name given to the 4-valve Rudge engines supplied to outside manufacturers by the makers) was 5th.
After lying second to Sarkis for eight of the ten laps in the SA Junior TT, Baby's engine went sick, and he renewed his challenge in the Senior race which he led on lap 1, then fell back to third on lap 3 before going out. He had no luck in the Jo'burg either, but Clarrie's 250 AJS was tenth.
1935 saw him strangely mounted on a Triumph, with Cohen on a Norton and Sarkis (Sunbeam) on the back mark giving Charlie Young (Sunbeam) 5 mins. Magnanimously the handicapper had given Galway (Norton) and Harris 15 whole seconds!
After a great dice with Cohen to Estcourt, where the Norton had gear-box trouble, Baby went ahead of the Durban rider, but at Newcastle it was Young who had made the handicapper look silly in classifying him as a “B” class rider. “Old man” Charlie showed the boys, and the handicapper, a thing or two by doing a 3 hrs 38 mins 9 secs record run. Then came Leishman, Harris, Hesketh and Horsfield, with next fastest times. The latter two fought it out the next day. Chick Harris (8th) getting the record, his time of 6 hrs 31 mins 29 secs being 2 mins 39 secs quicker than Baby (10th) who had also broken the old record.
Instead of being a boring procession, the Kimberley 100 of this year was notable for some hectic scraps. Hesketh and Sarkis on 250s, Galway and Baby, 350s, Aitken and Ferguson, and Allam and Leishman on 500s, all fought desperate two-men battles that kept the spectators on edge, and at the finish Galway beat Baby by 5 secs for 5th place.
The riders who lined up at Mayville on 31st May, 1936 didn't know that they were about to start in the last DJ ever run. No 1 was little Herschell (James), and last to leave were Kinsey, B Scott and Sarkis. This trio gave the thousands who lined the route a thrill, for they stayed together all the way to Newcastle, where only 3 mins separated them when they handed their machines over to be locked up in the overnight control. Next day all three kept going to finish, Sarkis (5th), Scott (7th) and Kinsey (10th). Baby's last section being enlivened by a scrap with Daryl Allam (Triumph) and the Babe just kept his nose ahead to the flag.
On a spring-frame Norton, Baby put up fastest 350 time for the Kimberley 100, which Ramsay won from Claassen and Bridge. Vic Proctor (490 Norton) was 4th, with race record, and Baby, 5th.
The SA TT had been replaced on the Kragga Kamma circuit by the PE 200 handicap race in 1938. Clarrie, always at home on his home circuit, rode his BSA into 5th position, Ian was 6th, Hall (172 James) being the winner.
Then came the race which Baby likes to remember as the last race in which the Scott brothers were represented in force - a beach race, also at PE. The result - first B E, second, C W, third, I H R. That's a nice way to finish your racing career as a family.
Yet that wasn't the end of B E's racing that year, for he turned to midget cars at the Malvern Speedway in Jo'burg. He was no stranger to the dirt, for he had been one of the star performers on Douglas, Rudge, and Rex Acme machines on the Ellis Park track, and was the first to be matched with the likeable British master, Wally Lloyd from Wembley Lions.
The 4-wheel set-up was a different proposition. Star performers were the Americans, Hank Roberts and Joe Allen, whose handling of the diminutive racers with 3-cylinder engines (Pontiac sixes cut in half) went like bombs in anyone's hands, and like guided missiles in the Yankees! Allen had a habit of putting his front wheel over the front axle of Baby's car when in a full lock slide. This was something B E didn't like particularly, as he leapt the fence twice after this sort of nonsense. For all that, Baby lifted his crash hat to Allen, who he recollects, spent most of his time driving one-handed while carrying out some running repairs with the other. Joe must have been the original guy who could beat everybody with one hand tied behind his back. Among the locals to tangle with Uncle Sam's boys were Joe Sarkis, Stan Collins, J Broderick, Dennis Woodhead and Sonny du Toit.
When the war came, Baby joined the SAAF and was transferred to Cape Town. A W/O 2, as inspector of aircraft, he helped to assemble the first nine Hurricanes supplied to the SAAF for service up north.
He still lives in Cape Town, where he is in the motor engine re-conditioning business. Clarrie has a garage in PE, and Doug is in the second-hand car business in Johannesburg. Ian died in 1961. When last I saw B E in Cape Town he talked about his racing days as if he was speaking about a bus ride to town, but he did get excited when he spoke about the toll of the roads these days. Most of this he attributes to rank bad driving, lack of consideration for other road users, and a general lack of common-sense. It shocks him especially to see cars being driven on wet roads at speeds that invite disaster. Sheer lunacy, he calls it. He has been driving for 42 years; he should know.
Copyright J M Leyden 1966