I did a fair bit of motorcycle racing in Victoria and SA in the late 1970's and early 1980's. I first was a sidecar passenger for a friend on (believe it or not) a Ducati powered sidecar. It was an old front exit frame with torsion bar rear suspension. The engine was a Ducati 750 sport engine which had been converted to 900cc using Ducati 450 barrells heads etc. The engine was prepared by Bob Brown and ran on methanol. As a sidecar it was not a success. The characteristics of the engine did not suit sidecar racing. We did place second in one race at Winton to Geoff Taylor, he had his TZ700 sidecar and it was a handicap race. The owner of the sidecar sold the chasiss and put the engine in a Ducati 750 sports frameand used it registered as a road bike. It was a very fast bike the engine suited solo use well, unfortunately he was till running it on methanol and that destroyed the fibreglass fuel tank. He sold it to bloke in Darwin.
I then bought a slightly later model sidecar with a Honda 750 engine running an 810 Yoshimura Kit. It was a pretty fast good handling machine however the Honda kept destroying engine bearings and crankshafts. This was when most outfits were running Kawasaki 900's or TZ750's. So with the engine expenses and the difficulty of getting a good passenger becoming greater I sold the bike.
I still wanted to race so I bought a Yamaha TZ250 'B' Model. I bought it from Uncle Dons Cycles in Bell St Preston. I can't remember the same of the rider (maybe Brendan Otto) he had on it at the time. I think it cost me $1800 with a stack of spares. 'Uncle Don'had bought the new 'C' model with cantilever rear end and the 'B' had to go. I was told that it was Greg Hansfords last Yamaha before he went to Kawasaki however whether that was true or not I don't know. Here is a picture of me on the bike around 1978 at Calder. I had changed a few things and had taken it for practice to see how it was going, I forgot my boots and so was wearing runners. I was just feeling how the bike was and didn't push it.
It was a great bike, cheap to run and rebuild, reliable and quick. The only problem was the rider. I was consistent, I never won a race. I placed quite often but never could crack it for a win. I should never have sold it but I did in 1983 after it had sat in the garage for a few years. The bloke who bought it put the engine in supercart and I don't know what he did with the rest.
In 1979 I went to Mac Park in Mt Gambier, I took the TZ but a friend gave me a TA 125 to take with me for a race. I had never been on a 125 racebike before. I did my usual mid field finish in the 250 races. However I had a few practice laps on the 125 and took it out in the 125 race. Amazing I was suddenly competative. I finished 3rd in my 125 race, I should have won, I lead three times but ran wide on the same corner three times and couldn't get back to the lead on the last lap. I was invited to start in the A Grade 125 race and ran off on the same corner once but still finished 6th in a field of about 20 bikes. I had a ball and loved the bike. I wanted to ride it again however the owner sold it while I was over there and I never saw the bike again.
I did buy a TZ750 sidecar in the early 1990's, it was a short bike rear exit. Amazing machine and just so fast. I had a great passenger and loved racing it. I mainly did club racing and some historic. However after a messy expensive divorce I could no longer afford the bike so I sold it. A collector in Wagga bought it for $6500, there were a stack of spares. I delivered the bike to him. I found out then that all wanted was the engine for his TZ750, the sidecar engine had fairly new sand cast crankcases from the US and as most TZ owners know, if you don't look after your crankshafts they will vibtrate and damage the cases. So many engines damaged that way.
Anyway, I wanted to go racing again and I was looking for a TZ250 or 350 however they have become so expensive I just couldn't afford one at this time. Then I saw a TA 125 on ebay. I bid on it and now I own it. The seller couldn't give me any history and I have no idea when the bike was last raced or started. It's in pretty good condition, I hate the colour. I will strip it down and make sure everything is ok. Probably give it a coat of paint and then take it out for a practice session. If all goes good I'll have a crack at racing it.
This blog will follow the process and the racing. I won't be able to start for a month or two so posting will be light till then. If anybody recognises the bike can you please email me and let me know.