DJ Run 1925 from The Motor Cycle June 6, 1925

Thrilling Derby Finished

The Great Durban-Rand Race

Record Time Put Up by the Scratch Man

At an early hour last Saturday morning Durban was rudely awakened by the sound of motor car and motor cycle engines. While it was still dark motorists, motor cyclists, cyclists and pedestrians were making their way to Mayville to see the start of the great motor cycle race from Durban to Johannesburg. The race seemed to rouse the enthusiasm of people, young and old.

Some minutes before 6 o’clock the ring of people round the starting line could be seen by the glare of the headlights of the cars and motor cyclists travelling down the road. When the limit men faced the starter, it was still quite dark, and even standing close to the line it was hard to distinguish the riders on their machines.

There was a crackling of two-stroke engines as the seconds were counted out, and then, at 6 o’clock, with roaring engines, riders shot off into the dark up the hill. Their engines could still be heard in the distance as the next two men wheeled their machines on to the line to start.

A minute later another rider got away at 6.2, and the last of the early batch was dispatched at 6.12. This last rider was M. F. A. Nissen on a Diamond machine. Coming up to the start he was unfortunate enough to be stopped in the police trap which was working on Berea Road, as usual.

Apparently his machine was making too much noise for the liking of the police. After his departure from the starting line, there was a long wait for the next men.

J. W. du Toit, the record-breaker, who starting from scratch, came near to overhauling the whole field.

Car drivers and motor cyclists made their way along the road to take up positions where a view of the competitors would be had taking difficult corners on hills, and people collected in groups at the foot of the hill discussing the chances of the various riders.

Gradually the road lighted up and the proportions of the crowd could be seen. A row of figures lining’ the bank of the hill stood out prominently against the skyline. There were spectators on both sides, two or three deep, for a distance of 50 yards or more, while more were gathered in clusters all the way up the hill. There was certainly a record crowd at the start. The Natal Motor Cycle Club carried out the arrangements excellently.

At the inspection depot much interest was taken in J. W. Morgan’s special A.J.S. with a three-gallon petrol tank, while the valve arrangement of the overhead valve Raleigh was examined.

News of a Mishap.

Just before W. J. Blyth got away news came of an accident down the road. Two non-competitors had had a head on collision and one of them was badly hurt and was taken to hospital.

W. J. Blyth on a Velocette and W. C. Daniels on a Raleigh got away together, followed a minute later by H. C. Kirkland, the first of the Indian Prince riders, in company with L. H. Impey and G. R. Wester man on Douglas machines. Two more riders followed and then came George Taylor, one of the Durban stars, on a B.S.A., and R. S. Long on a Raleigh. Taylor lost a little ground at the start, but had picked up his pace again by the time he reached the second corner of the hill. D. Brink, on a Cotton, made a good start and took the hill in fine style.

Number 13 was C. W. Bower, on a Douglas. He got away well at 7.52 in company with W. R. Harris, of the Natal Club, and R. L. Evans, on a Sunbeam.

Probably owing to the fact that the roads were supposed to be bad, many of the A class riders who had entered two machines chose to ride side-valve machines and get the long handicap.

The next pair away were F. A. R. Zurcher and I. H. R. Scott, the former riding a special Douglas with an extra-large petrol tank and the latter on an A.J.S. Scott got away well. Zurcher’s Douglas refused to start for a few yards, but he got away well once it started firing.

P. Flook had decided to ride a side valve, chain-drive Douglas, and he started five minutes later at 8.2 a.m. Zurcher and Scott had to face the camera men, who had come out in force, and Flook had to endure a cinema machine as well. Flook went off in excellent style, with his engine revolving at a tremendous speed for a standard model, but he missed his gear on changing up and slowed down the corner. After a second he got away well again and went out of sight travelling fast.

N. H. Williams (Sunbeam) arrived at the start with the same number as Zurcher, 68, and with great presence of mind, the officials decided to turn the number plate upside down and let him run under No. 89.


1. C. W. Bower (Douglas)
2. Alf. Long (Indian Prince)
3. B. E. Scott (Francis Barnett)
4. Sarkis (Raleigh)
5. H. R. Scott (A.J.S.)
6. W. R. Harris (Enfield)
7. R. S. Long (Raleigh)
8. T. H. Nichol (Indian Scout)
9. B. J. Klassen (Enfield)
10. W. J. Blyth (Velocette)
11. J. W. du Toit (Harley-Davidson)
12. L. R. Cohen (A.J.S.).
13. D. Brink (Cotton)
14. R. Evans (Sunbeam)
15. F. A. R. Zurcher (Douglas)
16. T. Owen (Cotton)
17. B. R. Commons (Indian Scout)
18. G. R. Westerman (Douglas)
19. C. W. Scott (A.J.S.)
20. W. A. F. Mills (New Imperial)
21. J. E. Gill (Harley-Davidson)
22. P. J. Lievaart (A.J.S.)
23. C. D. Bulman (Francis Barnett)
24. F. Uys (Indian Prince)
25. C. Turner (Raleigh)
26. P. v. d. Walt (Harley-Davidson).
27. R. C. Briggs (B.S.A.)
28. N. H. Williams (Sunbeam)
29. H. B. Loader (A.J.S.)
30. P. Flook (Douglas)
31. E. H. Gibson (Harley-Davidson)
32. J. L. Jackson (A.J.S.)

C. W. Bower, the winner

The Back Markers.

Then came the two Durban favourites, L. R. Cohen and H. B. Loader, both riding side-valve A.J.S. machines. When these two riders came up to the line, the crowd became almost unmanageable. They swarmed round the riders to give them a last handshake and wish them luck. Five seconds before they started, officials were still warning photographers to stand clear and asking the crowd to stand back, and give the riders a chance. At the word “Go” Cohen got away well, with Loader a yard or two behind, and in that order they went out of sight, Alf Long, the winner of last year’s race, joined D. A. Scott (Chater Lea), and W. A. F. Mills (New Imperial), starting at 8.27.

Long was riding a special Indian Prince. At the start he got left slightly by the overhead-valve machines. J. W. Morgan, with the special A.J.S., got away well, and at the top corner of the hill was travelling very fast.

When Morgan started the news came through to the start that B. E. Scott had reached Maritzburg at 7.31 a.m.

Before 7 a.m. crowds had collected at the Victoria Bridge, Maritzburg, to see the first riders come in. At 7.31 a dusty figure was discerned descending the Scottsville Hill, and an excited shout went up as B. E. Scott raced up the road and came to a sliding stop. He had done the journey from the coast in 1hr. 31min Within five minutes Klassen came in, and received the card which checked his speed through the town. Riders now began to arrive every few minutes, each one complaining of the thick mists encountered near Drummond. This mist handicapped the early starters, while giving a distinct advantage to the men who started later.


In spite of threatening weather and exceedingly bad roads, considerable public interest was shown at Mooi River in the running- of the race, and a large number, of spectators was present on the main road, in the vicinity of the Lake Hotel, Mooi River, 95 miles from the starting place.

Baby Scott, who was the first rider to pass at 9.3 a.m., created an excellent impression, his little machine travelling in fine style. Holmes brought in word that de Beer, No. 49, had crashed heavily five miles south of Mooi River, and a car was dispatched to give assistance, if necessary. It was learnt subsequently that de Beer’s clutch had burnt out and he had come down heavily on a greasy corner. He was brought in by car, rather badly shaken, and was taken for rest and refreshments by a local press representative. He left Mooi River later by’ train for his home at Germiston.

Bulman stopped for petrol at Mooi River, and Nissan arrived with a badly-bent frame. Kirkland, who had stopped for petrol, broke his chain after restarting, and lost 16 minutes. Daniels ran through a quarter, of a mile and then return for petrol while Mills lost 6 minutes by having to stop to repair a sheered fork bolt.

B. E. Scott arrived at Felgates control, Estcourt, having had one spill en route. The next was Klassen. Bulman had two spills and engine trouble at Maritzburg. Nissen announced that he had retired, as his engine was not running satisfactorily.

Kirkland lost 15 minutes at Mooi River through a breakdown. Reeve reported a spill, the front wheel coming off the forks. W. A. P. Mills was detained 30 minutes for repairs. H. B. Loader waited 15 minutes for a new tube.

Du Toit Speeding.

J. W. du Toit, the scratch man, arrived at Estcourt at 1.6, making the fastest time from Durban, which gave him an average of 32 ½ miles per hour for the 111 miles. J. A. Barry arrived at 12.52 with a broken handlebar.

Baby Scott was still leading at Ladysmith. He arrived bespattered with mud but looking particularly fresh. He timed in. at 10.54 and left three minutes later.

Klassen followed at 11.12, leaving at 11.18. He lost a few minutes in adjusting his saddle. Both these riders stated that the roads were fairly good, but there was a good deal of mud and the machines were inclined to skid occasionally.

Bulman also had to make saddle adjustments, and Bell stated that he had lost a good bit of time through losing the road near Illovo. Du Toit, the scratch man, received a splendid reception on coming into the control, making the run from Durban to Ladysmith in 3hr. 21min.

Into Newcastle.

People were early astir in Newcastle, the terminal for the first day’s run. Picnic parties in motor cars and ox wagons journeyed several miles out of town and spent the afternoon watching the competitors flash along the road on the last few miles of the dash to the town, which is the half-way house along the 3961 mile route.

In a sense the 210-mile dash from Durban to Newcastle, where the machines were put in control until the restart on the Monday morning, is a race in itself, the record riding time for which, established in sensational style last year by A. Long (Sunbeam), is 4hr. 51secs.

A large crowd gathered outside Armstrong Bros. garage, where the machines were clocked in by Mr. H. E. A. Smith.

Oil-smeared and dust-grimed, the riders wheeled their motor cycles into the big shed where they were parked under the watchful eyes of the officials.

Not the slightest adjustment or repair was permitted, except during riding time.

In spite of the rule that speed limits had to be observed in municipal areas, competitors were able to flash into Newcastle as fast as they pleased, an official on the boundary signalling the riders that they need not slow up, as they had to when passing through the other towns.

The first name on everybody’s lips was that of Baby Scott, who, starting first from Durban with Reeve and Klassen on light two-stroke machines, stayed in the lead.

The weather conditions were ideal, and there was 110 hint of winter in the mild air, while the clouds completely covering the sky saved the riders from an uncomfortably hot run.

At noon Mr. Smith set his watch at the power station, which received the flash of the correct time from Cape Town Observatory.

Baby Scott Sighted.

Excitement became more intense when the message came through at 12.45 that Baby Scott had just passed Alcock Spruit, 13 miles from Newcastle.

The 17-year-old rider, with his face mud-bespattered and his boots and gaiters caked, burst into view against the sky-line at 1.6 and came purring over the line, first home, after a steady journey of 7hr. 6min. 50secs.

After taking the lead soon after the start, he never saw any of his fellow competitors on the road again.

D. A. Scott was forced to retire at Ladysmith. A. Long considered the road in a worse state than it was last year, but he had no stoppages.

He was very satisfied with his run on his Indian Prince when at times he was speeding to its limit.

P. Flook experienced considerable gear trouble, which caused frequent short stoppages. His brother, S. S. Flook, retired at Maritzburg. Greig and Berry were forced to retire at Ladysmith.

The riders were not greatly fatigued and after washing the dust from their faces and enjoying refreshments and a smoke, they were perfectly fresh.

Reeve had a bad spill at Elandslaagte, sustaining facial injuries. After being treated by a nurse, he was conveyed to Newcastle by motor car.

The first men in Newcastle were:

B. E. Scott 1.6 ½
B. J. Klassen 1.31

Scott was 37 minutes ahead of the time expected, and Klassen was 12 minutes before time.

Alf. Long, the second man.

“Baby” Scott, the limit man, who lost his lead only at the last and secured third place.

The other arrivals were:

C. W. Bower 1.40
Kirkland 1.51
Sarkis 1.54
A. Long 2.0
Bulman 2.6
Harris 2.7
P. Flook 2.7
Blyth 2.7
Bell 2.11
Zurcher 2.13

L. H. R. Scott 2.15
Westerman 2.22
R. Cohen 2.26
R. S. Long 2.26
T. H. Nicholl 2.49
Commons 2.50
Evans 2.50
Turner 2.53
Brink 2.53
Loader 3.06

Lievaart 3.07
Holmes 3.11
Owen 3.14
Williams 3.24.20
Smith 3.24.25
Uys 3.26.0
C. W. Scott 3.27.29
Briggs 3.31.32
Du Toit 3.41.24
Gill 3.56.19

Suverkop 4.13.49
Van der Walt 4.15.57
Gibson 4.33.31
Jacobie 4.33.31
Morgan 4.36.49
Hintze 4.33.0
Impey 4.43.43
Jackson 4.44.9
Sutherland 4.45.22
Daniels 4.59.59

The following retired from the race at, or before, Newcastle:

F. A. Nissen, D. A. Scott, J. W. Greig, S. S. Flook, J. R. Berry, W. H. Reeve.


Seven thousand people gathered at or near the City Deep Gold Mine, Johannesburg, saw C. W. Bower win the great race on Monday.

The closing stages of the historic event have probably .never before been “battled out” as they were on this occasion.

Only seven minutes separated the first and second men. Just over four minutes more saw the arrival of the third rider, the third and fourth contestants being divided only by 19 seconds. The vast crowd which had assembled near the finishing point, or helped thickly to the line the road for a distance of about a mile and a half, certainly had their fill of thrills.

The story of this year’s Durban-Rand motor marathon, epitomised in C. W. Bower’s magnificent ride, is:

C. W. Bower. Left Durban 7.52 a.m. Reached Newcastle 1.40 p.m. Left Newcastle 7.43 a.m. Arrived Johannesburg 11.49 a.m. Distance 396½ miles. Riding Time 10hrs. 34min. 13secs.

The first four men to reach Johannesburg were:

Name/Arrived/Riding Time

C. W. Bower 11.49, 10 34 13
Alf. Long (Indian Prince) 11.56, 10 6 13
B. E. Scott (Francis Barnett) 12.01, 12 38 10
J. Sarkis (Raleigh) 12.01, 10 51 29

One further outstanding point was the wonderful run of the scratch man, J. W. du Toit, who, riding a Harley-Davidson and starting from scratch, covered the distance between Durban and the City Deep in 8hrs. 46mins. 57secs. This knocked no less than 15 minutes 9 seconds off last year’s record time. To do this du Toit had to maintain an average speed of about 45 miles an hour over the whole stretch, and his ride won its due meed of appreciation in a splendid ovation of the crowd on his arrival.

Add to the foregoing that the race has never before in its history excited such tremendous public interest, and the summary of the 1925 Durban-Rand race is complete.

In Johannesburg the earlier stages of the race on Saturday had been followed with the greatest keenness, thanks to a news service which kept the public well informed from the beginning. Johannesburg knew, almost as soon as Durban, that the field of riders had been got away promptly according to handicap times. B. E. Scott taking the road in swirling mist on his tiny Francis Barnett, being nearly at Ladysmith before the scratch man was despatched.

A Host of Mishaps.

Nearly every man crashed at some point or other on the route, it is recorded by the “Rand Daily Mail,” and the band of two-strokes who got away first found the mist troublesome on the climb to Maritzburg. Both Scott and Bulman skidded and crashed, Bulman recovering to find his machine balancing on the saddle and handlebars.

Among the first 21 side-valve machines to suffer mishaps was Kirkland, on an Indian Prince. At Mooi River a stone punctured his crankcase and broke his chain. He effected repairs and carried on. Then I. H. R. Scott (348 A.J.S.) crashed on the town hill at Maritzburg, and Owen (348 o.h.v. Cotton) and T. Nichol (596 Indian Scout) had spills soon after the start.

The youngest of the four Scott brothers riding was still in the lead, at Estcourt, and was pulling away from Klassen (225 Enfield), who had trouble with his carburetter. C. W. Bower on the Douglas then laying ninth, having overtaken 13 men who had started before him. Sarkis followed him, he, too, having- forged ahead in the field.

The Ladysmith order saw Bower in fifth place and Sarkis in seventh. Both were riding well, but Baby Scott was too far ahead. He had nearly an hour’s lead on them there. But Flook, Long, I. Scott and Zurcher were also creeping ahead. Long had passed Scott, who had crashed again and was suffering from ignition trouble. Flook had made a few minutes on him.

Bower on Heels of Limit Man

When B. E. Scott ran into Newcastle at 6½ minutes past one, du Toit, the limit man, had just clocked in at Estcourt. Scott’s average speed was over 29 miles an hour. He was followed by Klassen, who had ridden on steadily. Thirty minutes later Bower ran through with his engine as sound as a bell. He had had no trouble whatsoever. Then followed Kirkland and Sarkis, with the redoubtable A. Long a few minutes behind. Long’s riding to Newcastle picks him out as a very strong claimant for premier honours, his riding time, 5 hrs. 33 mins., being 15 minutes faster than Bower’s.

Those who had gone from Johannesburg to Newcastle to see the first half of the race finished had a surprise when du Toit rode in at 3.41: p.m. The record for this stretch of the journey is held by A. Long, and du Toit was only eight minutes behind Long’s figure. This promised great things for du Toit’s subsequent progress in the race, and those who saw him at Newcastle foretold that he would be pretty close up at the end.

The contestants had a Sunday breathing space at Newcastle before embarking on the second and final stage of the 396-mile ride. The order of arrival at this “half-way house” was also the order of starting on the Monday morning.

It was anticipated that the first rider would reach the City Deep, Johannesburg, somewhere about noon, but long before that time the crowd began to gather near the point where the great race would end, and to take up their positions in the most advantageous spots for witnessing the finish. The weather was that of a sunny bush-veld winter day, with just a “nip” in the air at times. But the folk didn’t mind that; they picnicked and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

The Western Electric public address system of loud speakers had been installed on the ground, and; gramophone records amplified by these did much to keep the crowd entertained during the waiting period.

The loud speakers also told the latest news of the progress of the men, it was not long before the crowd realised that over the last hundred miles or so, a little handful of men was engaged in a valiant battle for the first place.

Winner Takes Second Place.

At Volksrust Bower had come up into second place, Scott still leading. The arrivals at Volksrust were:


A. Long
I. H. R. Scott
Zurcher 8.42
R. S. Long
Westerman 8.55½
Cohen 8.56
Bulman 9.2
Nichol 9.8½
Evans 9.15
Brink 9.15
Commons 9.24
Lievaart 9.26
Turner 9.31
Owen 9.33
Mills 9.34
Loader 9.45
Smith 9.45½
Uys 9.50
Williams 9.52½
Du Toit 9 53½

When news came through from Standerton, it was seen that Alf Long was putting up a splendid fight, haying gained some minutes on Bower. “Will he do it?” was a query heard from all sides, and it was evident that the popular Alf had a lot of partisans in the crowd. He had pulled up into third place, and all the news was that he was going splendidly. Sarkis followed Long into Standerton, and Kirkland was not :far behind.

The order of passing through Standerton was:

B. E. Scott 9.20½
Bower 9.25
Alf. Long 9.39½
Sarkis 9.41
Kirkland 9.45
Klassen 9.48½
Harris 10.2½
I. H. R. Scott 10.4½
Blyth 10.11
R. S. Long 10.13½
Zurcher 10.20½
L. R. Cohen 10.26
T. H. Nichol 10.29½
Westerman 10.35½
Brink 10.43½
Evans 10.44
Commons 10.49
Owen 10.52½
Bulman 10.55
Mills 11.00
Lievaart 11.00½
Du Toil 11.3
C. W. Scott 11.8
Smith 11.9
Turner 11.17
Uys 11.20
Gill 11.27
P. Flook 11.30
Loader 11.31½
Briggs 11.38
Williams 11.38½

Bower Strongly Challenging.

At this stage Bower was strongly challenging “Baby” Scott, and there was interest and excitement when it was heard from Greylingstad that the plucky rider of the tiny machine had lost the lead for the first time and that Bower was in first position. Would Alf Long catch the Douglas? That was the main interest in the race now and the great demand of the assembled thousands was for news of Long. The next hour would show!

Heidelberg, the last town on the journey, reported soon afterwards. Bower was now well in front, and Alf Long had passed Baby Scott, who was riding third.

Heidelberg’s times were:

Bower 11.12.5
Alf. Long 11.19
B. E. Scott 11.20
Sarkis 11.25
Kirkland 11.35
W. R. Harris 11.49
Klassen 11.53
T. Nichol 12.0
Blyth 12.7
R. S. Long 12.3
L. R. Cohen 12.15
T. Owen 12.36
Westerman 12.37

All eyes were now glued to the road. The mounted police kept clear the track along which the men would come, and the people stared as if fascinated along the long white ribbon of road that leads all the way to Durban, and over which the riders had been striving so manfully for hours. Only a miracle could rob Bower of the victory.

Thrilling Finishes.

Away in the horizon the sudden flutter of a flag caused the excitement to express itself in a great roar of voice. The flag had been waved by the waiting Boy Scout to indicate that the first man was in sight.

“Bower” was on every lip. Almost at once, it seemed, something appeared on the road. It was the figure of a speedy motor cyclist and any sound of his coming was drowned in a terrific roar of welcome. A few seconds more and Bower had sped past the winning post, having won the great race. He was clocked in a few seconds after 11.49.

There were only a few minutes of waiting, and then Alf Long swept up the road. About five minutes more. and Baby Scott came along, getting a great ovation for his plucky ride. Only 19 seconds later Sarkis passed the post.

There was one other flaring up of excitement and that was when du Toit, the scratch man, finished in record time as recorded above. The rest continued to arrive at intervals.

Bower was surrounded with friends, anxious to congratulate him, as soon as he had dismounted from his machine. The “bike,” he declared proudly, had behaved splendidly and was going even better at the finish than at the start.

Each man who finishes in the Durban-Rand race under two hours receives a gold medal, and this year the record number of 22 riders qualified for this award.

The report below is copied verbatim from a small publication by Ken Macleod entitled Through the Dust Barrier, Part Two, 1924-1927 – The history of S.A. Motorcycle Sport. (Part Two was the final issue in the series)

Darkness enveloped the limit men, “Baby” Scott, B. J. Klaasen and W. H. Reeve as they left the Deejay start at 6.00 a.m. on May 30. All the riders of smaller capacity bikes left in the dark and they also encountered mist at Inchanga.

Scott, who at 16 years old had been the Union’s youngest rider when he took part in this event the previous year, led the field at Pietermaritzburg in one hour 31 minutes from Klaasen and Nissen. He still led at Newcastle in spite of losing time when he bent his forks in striking a boulder after sliding at high speed into a swollen river. Klaasen still lay second with Ginger Bower third. But Nissen had retired at Estcourt.

Scott was able to obtain a spare pair of forks from Johannesburg the following day, a Sunday, and spent nine minutes fitting them after leaving the Newcastle start the next day. But he still led at Volksrust with Bower up to second only 14 minutes behind Scott and Long fourth after pulling back 20 minutes on the leader.

Bower had closed the gap to five minutes at Standerton and Long held third place. Bower caught Scott on the road to Greylingstad but the latter held him off for some time and was still only 30 seconds behind the new leader at the town.

Long was just ten minutes behind but caught Scott who held him off as well all the way to Balfour. He got past and reduced the gap on Bower to eight minutes but was unable to close it further.

Behind them Kirkland crashed heavily when he hit a dip just outside Heidelberg and was thrown from his bike. He landed on his face, losing part of his lips.

Bill du Toil had been heavily handicapped but the Cape ace finished 11th, lowering the distance record by 17 minutes.

1. C. W. Bower (Rand, 350 cc Douglas) 10 hours 34 minutes, average speed 37,42 m/h;
2. A. Long (Rand, 500 cc Indian Prince);
3. B. E. Scott (Eastern Province, 175 cc Francis Barnett); 11. J. W. du Toit (Cape, 1 000 cm3 Harley Davidson) 8 hours 46 minutes, average speed 45,11 m/h.