Monday 17th December: Tracks Closed.

TMCC is 60 continued...

Tauranga Motorcycle Club 1949 - 2009

maddix park mx

2009 was the 60th anniversary of the Tauranga Motorcycle Club. Prior to the December prize-giving, a brief history of the club was given and then life member Margaret Dean cut a cake in honour of the occasion. 

The club began in 1949 as a direct result of a problem - boy racers. Same problem as today you will be thinking.  Yes, except that in 1949 they were on motorbikes and they weren’t called boy racers, they were called hoons and they did their hooning on the gravel roads around the district and, in particular, Joyce Road in Pyes Pa. The Club wanted to attract them into organized and legitimate activities. 

The subscription was fixed at 10 shillings and events were organized regularly with considerable success.  One of the early events required buses to take spectators to Papamoa to see beach and dune scrambles on tracks that had been cut through the lupins that same morning.

Reliability trials took riders and their pillions as far afield as Waitomo and Auckland.  You had to know your bike to travel the timed sections (seven mph from Pyes Pa through the gorge to the Oropi Quarry) without the aid of a speedo.  Too fast lost you points but so did too slow.

Farms in the area hosted grass track events and miniature TTs as well as obstacle bending and slow races and push bike races for boys.

Some races were sweepstakes.  The winner received 60 per cent of the entry fees for the race, 30 per cent went to the second rider and 10 per cent to the third.

Through the 1950s and into the mid 60s one bike and one set of tyres did everything.  You could see a guy riding his bike to work during the week and then out on the tracks on the same bike on the weekend.

(Check out this link to see what I mean. Harley Extreme at AdvRider The link is for the USA but the same thing was happening in NZ but mostly with British bikes)

On the sand dunes, the road trials, the scrambles and grass tracks at Hasting’s Paddock, the trial riding through streams and mud at Oropi, the hill climbs at McLeod’s Farm or the road circuit races, club members just attached a racing number and put on a cap or helmet to suit the event and  they were off.

It was serious fun but not professional or specialized.  In fact, in 1951, it was proposed and the motion carried that “bikes fitted with competition tyres be penalised 20 points” in a mud trial and the octane rating of the petrol used in road races was not to be greater than 80.

Safety was an issue, however, and, when in 1951 the Transport Department indicated it would be enforcing the compulsory use of helmets outside of built up areas, the club recommended that its members adhere to the law  and encouraged them to wear helmets when riding on the open road. (Please be assured that the club was much less pro-active  this year regarding the issue of increased ACC levies for motorcycles).

Safety of the spectators was also a priority; 30 hay bales were acquired and strategically placed for Tauranga’s first street circuit racing.

Yes, Tauranga staged its own “Battle of the Streets events during the 1950s and 1960s with urban circuits at the Mount Aerodrome, Totara Street, Otumoetai and Dive Crescent plus the famous four mile country circuit over seal and dusty gravel at Te Puna.  Races were up to 50 miles long for the senior championships.

The opening of Baypark in 1967 focused the road racing scene onto a purpose-made site. By the 1970s grass track and scrambling had developed into motocross.  Improved suspension made the jumps more spectacular but, for the ordinary man on a bike,  the development of specialised motorcycles for motocross, trials and road racing took a lot of the “fun participation” aspect out of the sport.

The club, however, continued to prosper.  Riders focused on their particular interest or discipline and the club’s history reflects the tremendous diversity of motorcycling that has developed.

The abundance and variety of events organised by the Tauranga Motorcycle Club has seen the beginnings and evolution of many members into national and international champions.  The names on the trophies are a “who’s who” of New Zealand motorcycling.

From titles in road racing, sidecars, motocross, trials, endure and hill climb, to overseas representation at the Isle of Man and Grand Prix events, Tauranga has a truly proud history in motorcycle sport.

Notable champions and title holders include Dixie Dean, Ken Mudford, Peter Pawson, Alan Collison, Cliff Kingston, Peter Ploen, Kevin Wendt, Murray Martin, John Lovell, Warwick Merriman, Ross Saunders,  Andrew Scrivener,  Dean Fulton,  Andrew Poad,  Andrew McCready,  Craig Hill, Stefan Merriman, Robert Poad and Robbie Dean.

Currently the Tauranga Motorcycle Club runs regular motocross, trail and cross country events at its home track, Maddix Park , in Ohauiti.  The main motocross track, separate mini track plus the 2km and 15km bush trail loops cater for off road riders of all ages.  Maize paddock fun days are held around the area and the trials section of the club is particularly strong and active.

Please note:  This article was written for the 2003 centenary of the arrival of the first motor car in Tauranga.

 
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