(The Motor Cycle Nov 1934, via Charlie Lawson)
FIRST ROAD RACE IN WA WON BY G.BEST (496 Ariel)
Motor cycle racing in the Antipodes received a distinct fillip recently, for as a result of great efforts on the part of the WA Motor Cycling association, the first W.A T.T. was held.
The race was over the North Beach circuit near Perth, the course roughly rectangular in shape, picturesquely situated overlooking the Indian Ocean, with just over two miles per lap for the twenty laps race. In spite of the small circuit there were many difficult corners, with most of the roads in very poor condition.
Eighteen riders came to the line, and from a spectacular mass start the race resolved into a great duel between Berryman (Ariel) and Wilkinson (Harley Davidson). Best the ultimate winner, (Ariel Red Hunter) lost time after a slight collision at the first corner, and at the end of the first lap was last.
Wilkinson took the lead, and hard on the heels of Berryman came Teske (Harley Davidson). Meanwhile Best riding as one possessed, meteorically tore his way through the field. Hot favourite Charman (BSA) coasted in and retired, as did Schiller (Indian). Clementson (Velocette) pulled into his pit, adjusted his clutch and departed at speed. Arthur (AJS) skidded and crashed almost in front of the judge’s box with minor injuries, while Reid (FN) broke down at the back of the course and did not make a further appearance.
The Harleys then lying first and second lapping together, with Berryman lapping consistently, but Best eventually caught up and passed him by lap ten leaving only the Harleys to challenge the Ariel.
Wilkinson on his fourteenth lap had Best on his tail, looking like justifying his name, Berryman again moving to third afterTeske had skidded on a bend on the ocean promenade and fallen, uninjured but had retired.
Now only yards separated the leaders as with a lap to go and Wilkinson leading by a length, they passed the official stand and rocketed towards the rising right hand bend when tragedy struck.
Best with tyres screaming laid over for the corner, broadsided violently and got away, but Wilkinson without attempting to slow for the corner, sailed straight on down the slip road, having mistaken the “last lap flag”, wretched luck after a splendidly ridden race.
Quickly told of his mistake he furiously set off again, to cover that all important lap, but he had let Berryman through too, and eventually finished third.
Soon Best appeared in the distance and in a mighty crescendo of sound he dived down to the finishing line arriving fifty eight seconds ahead of Berryman, and almost three and a half minutes of the unlucky Wilkinson. A surprise result, if ever there was one but nevertheless a very well deserved and popular victory for George Best and his machine.
In a handicap event run concurrently with the main race, Best and Berryman were first and second again respectively, with L Whelan (AJS) third.
Winners equipment included KLG plugs, Lucas magneto, Amal carby., Lycett saddle, Goodyear tyres, Shell fuel and Castrol oil.
I was talking to Ted Scott in Albany when he told me this bit of W.A. motorcycling history:
“George Best! He’s a tough old bugger. In 1938 he hung a water bag on his handle bars – shoved a loaf of bread down his overcoat, then rode his Ariel (1934 TT Winner on the North Beach Circuit) over to Nurioopta in South Australia. We had gone on by boat taking George’s 1935 Manx Norton with us. From memory George had to finish taking his crop off. George arrived just as practice was about to start. His face was burnt black from his ride across the Nullarbor. He ‘tickled’ the carb on the Manx, gave it a bump start and away he went. In the race all fell at some stage or blew up – George ran 4th”.
Two months later on the “Best Farm” at Koorda I was talking to George –
“Ted Scott tells me you rode your Ariel to S.A. to the Australian Championships?” George replied “That’s right. I still had over 1000 acres of crop to take off., so I sent my bike with them on the boat. The minute the last ton of wheat was off I got going. I did take a water bag (a disaster!). Reg Gurney at Balladonia sold me a six pint billycan which I hung around my neck on a strap. The bitumen cut out at Merredin and the gravel was rough to terrible. I had three punctures and a couple of ‘get offs’. One ‘get off’ bent the footrest into the clutch. So I made a primitive forge using snake wood, a tube spanner and a syphon hose to get enough heat to bend it straight. I averaged about 500 miles (800km) a day. Coming home was quicker – I made up over half a day. The old Ariel never missed a beat. Allan Tomlinson won the Aust. Car TT for W.A. in an O.H.C. MG, it was timed at 90 mph., Clem Dwyer was his mechanic”.
NOTE – All this took place over 60 years ago. At that time George on his farm had a 500cc long stroke Manx, a 350cc short stroke Manx, a Mark 7 KTT Velocette and a Cooper 1000cc Jap alloy race car. The round trip was a long 300miles.