JW du Toit. Photograph: Delport Onvlee.

74 E C Murray, A.J.S. 498cc, 33 J G Lind, A.J.S. 348cc, 79 J A Thorn, McEvoy 998cc, 2 I H R Scott, Francis Barnett 174cc

DJ RALLY from The Motor Cycle June 30, 1927

Sydney Flook (“E.W.” Douglas) Wins World’s Longest Handicap Road Race, C. H. Young (Triumph) Makes Best Time. Thirty-nine Finish out of Seventy Starters.

When entries closed for the eleventh 403-mile race between Durban and Johannesburg, the list showed seventy-four riders, of whom seventy started for the longest motor cycle road race in the world. The months of preparation involved a new feature this year, whereby telephone messages on the second day were so quickly dealt with that all towns in the Transvaal and Natal were kept in touch with proceedings.

Inside a large tent, a few feet from the finish line at Johannesburg, three operators were in direct communication with places through which the drivers passed. Messages received at the central tent were transmitted to the larger towns, and these in turn distributed to the smaller places. All post offices being closed for normal business, the day being a bank holiday, the use of trunk lines was thus facilitated; the postal authorities lent great assistance.

In the early races no fewer than fifty-two road gates had to be negotiated in the Transvaal section, necessitating heavy expenditure for a guard at every gate. This hindrance has been reduced year by year and now only nine remain. For the 1927 race, on May 30th and 31st, the road surfaces were of the usual patchy description; mostly good – as understood in South Africa – but very bad over one section of eight miles up a nearly continuous climb.

Five months ago a new road, three miles longer, was opened on this section, and thus the gradient was much easier. Less than three weeks after opening a heavy storm washed a bridge away, and so the drivers had to negotiate the old and steeper route, which had not been kept in order.

The first fifty miles from Durban is over macadam surfaces; is gradually improving but is still in very poor condition in parts.

The first day’s run was from Durban to Newcastle, a distance of 211 miles. The limit man was due to leave at 6.33 a.m., barely daylight, yet the early hour brought a big crowd to witness the departure. Thousands were in attendance when the scratch man was sent off at 9.43 a.m. J. A. Thorn (996 McEvoy was on the post of honour, and when he left spectators gave him the heartiest applause and cheers of the morning in recognition of his enthusiasm in travelling from England to compete.

B. E. Scott, whilst changing gear at the top of a hill two miles from start, developed speed wobble, somersaulted, and remounted unhurt. Going all out, he suddenly discovered, as he encountered riders coming in the other direction, that he was returning to Durban! Inside 30 miles S. Jansen (497 Ariel) retired with a broken frame; F. Blazeby (248 Sun) had trouble with broken fork shackles and retired.

At Maritzburg, 53 miles from the start, all riders were stopped, times marked on control cards, and each man had to occupy four minutes in passing through the main street to the exit control. The same procedure was adopted at two or three other smaller towns, the police aiding these regulations to prevent accidents. Percy Flook (348 Douglas) reported that he had had partial engine seizure ten miles from the start, as oil would not flow from the pump, and the latter was not functioning properly.

Followed the five-mile ascent of the notorious Town Hill, Maritzburg, which begins abruptly where the houses end, is very rough and inches deep in dry sand. The next 30 miles was an absolute nightmare, dust being the outstanding feature. Over this section few men escaped falling. C. W. Scott (172 Francis Barnett) came off, damaged his controls, and spent a long time over the repair. Powell (300 New Imperial) fell four times, putting his rear wheel out of truth, breaking the steering damper and one handle-bar. D. Kew (300 O.K.) was another unfortunate, breaking both air and ignition control levers. J. Nicholl (548 Indian) had one fall and also stopped twice with plug trouble. J. Riddell (300 New Henley) stopped several times to adjust carburetter slides; F. Impey (243 O.K.) had exactly the same trouble and also fouled plugs; and C. W. Rudd (247 Levis) broke one font-rest due to a spill, and rode to Johannesburg thus handicapped.

Through no fault of his own C. du Plooz (300 O.K.) met with a bad accident. A car was stationed on the near side, facing the same direction as the competitors; the driver being worried by clouds of dust blowing from the other side, suddenly swerved to get to the other side, without looking round or giving any signal. With the car broadside on to the road, du Plooz, coming quickly round an acute curve, crashed dead into the side of it, breaking his leg in three places and badly injuring his face and hands.

The Levis Catching Up.

C. W. Rudd (247 Levis) appeared in a new role of likely winner: while the back markers had moved up, he had gained a healthy lead of thirty-two minutes over his nearest opponent. Iggulden (248 O.K.) was still well up, but Sydney Flook (348 Douglas) had still further increased the hope of the Douglas enthusiasts by going up one position, from 12th at Maritzburg to 11th at Estcourt.

Bower (348 Douglas) was doing still better; starting at 43 he was now at 13 – his lucky number, as he selected 13 when he won the race in 1925 – and was one of the few to escape dry skidding. C. H. Young (498 Triumph) was by this time moving faster, his time for the 113½ miles being 2 hr. 30 min.

Beyond Estcourt the road was better, and the conditions became somewhat easier. E. Gibson collided with a cow; machine and man were undamaged, but the cow was not so fortunate. Earlier Gibson had skidded off the road, charged through some wooden railings, careered along the verandah of a hotel, missing the columns by inches, and decided to scatter the railings at the other end, before the hotel proprietor came on the scene to claim damages.

E. G. Murray (493 A.J.S.) was away at the rear, and although battling gamely was continuously hampered by lubrication trouble. Several men complained of the same trouble between Durban and Newcastle, and entry of dust via the carburetter was suggested by some of the riders as the probable cause.

Ladysmith inhabitants, as in all towns along the route, had a table with refreshments out in the street, many ladies standing ready with tea, coffee, sandwiches, etc. This hospitality is one of the annual features of the race, and was initiated at Volksrust in 1913.

Rudd (247 Levis) was still leading at Ladysmith, Iggulden (248 O.K.) had reached second place, and Sydney Flook (348 Douglas) was third. Scott (172 Francis-Barnett) had crashed and bent his frame too badly for him to continue. A. Long (248 Indian) was falling back, his rear wheel indicating signs of collapse.

Young (493 Triumph), still travelling magnificently, was improving his position gradually, although the surprising speeds of the first eight men into Ladysmith did not give much hope, for him to overhaul them.

A Machine-smashing Section.

The 55½ miles between Ladysmith and Newcastle is good for 12 miles, and then the 27-mile climb over the foothills of the Drakensburg Mountains had to be tackled. The ascent is strewn with stones of the rock variety, several boulder-strewn watercourses hide traps for the unwary, and the competitors usually consider that if they survive this stretch without machine breakage they can travel the second day without fear of frames and wheels collapsing.

Two miles beyond the summit of the range of hills there is a sudden change for the better, mile after mile permitting all-out speed.

Of the 70 starters, 44 were timed into Newcastle with Rudd still leading with the respectable margin of 23 minutes 6 seconds over Iggulden.

There was promise of a fine struggle the next day. Sydney Flook was third with 38 min. 21 sec. behind the leader, and Lind (348 A.J.S.), now fifth, had a large time interval of 52 min. 6 sec.

Powell (300 New Imperial), a new man at long-distance racing, although fourth, was not fancied because his rear wheel was untrue – eventually traced to a cracked wheel spindle – and G. Long (348 Raleigh), with more experience, was reckoned the better stayer.

C. W. Power (348 Douglas) had to stop near Newcastle to put a gaiter in his rear tyre, for it had been damaged by a long cut across the tread: this had cut a gash into the tube, and Bovver made the repair rather too hastily.

As each man reached the control he was allowed to detach any personal belongings, but was prohibited from otherwise touching the machine, it being then locked up all night under police guard. The Motor Cycle Union of South Africa had its own officials at Durban, Newcastle, and Johannesburg to ensure the rules being strictly complied with.

Times of Arrival at Newcastle, 211 Miles.

Numbers in brackets are starting numbers.

Rudd (247 Levis)
Iggulden (248 O.K.)
S. Flook (343 Douglas)
Powell (300 New Imperial)
Lind (348 A.J.S.)
Long (348 Raleigh)
Bower (348 Douglas)
Kew (300 O. K.)
Nicholl (348 Indian)
Riddell (300 New Henley)
Impey (248 O.K.)
Brink (349 Humber)
Badenhorst (348 Raleigh)
McGrath (348 Douglas)
P. Flook (348 Douglas)
E. Gibson (348 Chater-Lea)
Allison (348 Allison)
Jackson (300 Sun)
Long (347 Sunbeam)
Long (348 Indian)
Urcher (348 Douglas)
Blyth (348 Raleigh)
Young (498 Triumph)
Van der Walt (490 O.K.)
Griebenouw (493 Sunbeam)
Sarkis (348 Velocette)
Crewe (348 A.J.S.)
D. Scott (348 Rex-Acme)
Felgate (349 B.S.A.)
B. E. Scott (348 Chater-Lea)
Fouche (499 Rudge)
Stuart (349 Humber)
Harris (344 Royal Enfield)
Mills (349 Sun)
C. Scott (172 Francis-Barnett)
Ressell (493 B.S.A.)
Hall (493 B.S.A.)
MacDonald (348 Velocette)
Murray (498 A.J.S.)
Paton (497 Arid)
Van Wyngaard (490 Norton)
Christie (490 Norton)
Carlisle (596 Indian)
Berry (490 New Hudson)

On the second day 192 miles had to be covered. The first man was due to leave Newcastle at 7.30 a.m., and as nothing was to be gained by being early at the control the men stopped in bed until the last possible moment. Two minutes before leaving time each rider was allowed to wheel out his” machine and there wait until the time-keeper sent him off on the long 192-mile journey.

Watching the men was an education in method (or otherwise); as the “go” was shouted some hustled, scrambled, barked their shins against stands, slopped oil everywhere but into the tanks, wasted petrol, and generally lost valuable seconds. The minority first replenished, then went over the weak points revealed by the previous day’s troubles, and were quickly away. The weaker men and their machines eliminated on the previous day left the stage clear for the stayers, and all the 44 overnight arrivals were timed away.

J. R. Berry (496 New Hudson), who had been expected to put up a good performance, had been dogged by punctures, and, to add to his joy, one tyre was flat and the other rim was nearly on the ground.

His remark, “I’ve had enough punctures to serve for the whole list of drivers” was emphasised a few hours later. Knowing it impossible to be anyway near winning he took matters philosophically; he had five more and then managed to be officially checked at the finish, last but one.

Sydney Flook was a little more lucky: he discovered a tiny nail embedded in the cover, left it there, pumped up, and had only to pump once more.

Rudd was the most unfortunate as he found several defects in his Levis engine; he looked a winner on the first day, but bad luck dogged him during the whole of the second day.

The order of leaving Newcastle for the first few men was as follows:

1. C. W. Rudd (247 Levis) 7 30 0
2. L, H. Igguldon (248 O.K.) 7 53 6 23 6
3. S. Flook {348 Douglas) 8 8 21 38 21
4. E. U. Powell (300 New Imperial) 8 10 20 40 20
5. J. O. Lind (348 A.J.S.) 8 22 6 52 6
6. O. Long (348 Raleigh) 8 24 16 54 16
7. C. W. Bower (348 Douglas) 8 25 33 55 33

At Volksrust, 44 miles from Newcastle, Rudd (Levis) had dropped down the list and Iggulden became No. 1. S. Flook was 13 minutes behind, Powell 23 minutes, Lind 23 minutes, Bower 24 minutes, Rudd 27 minutes, and G. Long 28 minutes to the rear. Over the 52£ miles separating Volksrust from Standerton, S. Flook had gained 7 minutes on Iggulden and Bower gained 18 minutes on Iggulden and 11 minutes on Flook. But there was still 95½ miles to travel. Accidents excepted, the telephone messages made Bower’s second victory almost a certainty. From Greylingstad came messages that Iggulden was still maintaining his position, but that Flook was rapidly eating up the two minutes separating them; Powell was still lying fourth in spite of the failure of his rear wheel.

At Balfour, 10 miles farther on, Iggulden was still in front, as Flook had only gained a mere 30 seconds, while Bower had secured another minute on Flook.

Flook Draws Ahead.

Heidelberg, 12 miles beyond Balfour, at last showed the inevitable change; Flook moved into first place for he had passed Iggulden two miles out.

Sydney Flook very nearly lost the lead six miles from the finish. After Heidelberg he speeded up, and all of a sudden came to a stop. One aluminium valve cap had blown out of the cylinder; Flook never carries such a spare, but his brother, Percy, had persuaded him to be prepared for any contingency. His advice proved invaluable, for Flook quickly fitted the spare and managed to cross the finishing line 4m. 29s. ahead of Iggulden. (248 O.K.).

Bower ran into third place on a flat tyre, 6m. 19s. after Flook and only 1m. 50s. after Iggulden. Thus ended one of the most sensational finishes in the history of the race since 1913.

Unfortunate Powell (300 New Imperial) was lying fourth when only 300 yards from the finish. Cars were lined each side of the narrow road, leaving bare room for three machines abreast. One of the Johannesburg traffic police motor cyclists had volunteered his assistance to pilot the men by keeping well ahead as each man was sighted arid so maintain a clear run home. But instead of so doing he kept nearly level with Powell – who was racing G. Long and had beaten him for the lead – and as Powell passed, the policeman swerved out, touched one of Powell’s handle-bars and brought the latter over.

G. Long, but a few yards behind, could not avoid Powell arid he also fell. Powell’s already weak rear wheel was smashed hopelessly, and Long’s rear wheel was so badly buckled that the machine could not be ridden.

A short hill with grade of 1 in 10 rises 200 yards from this point towards the finishing line. Long, of course unaided, clothed in thick leather with his crash helmet on, pushed his heavy mount the whole of the 800 yards; he tried to run the last 400 yards, passed the finishing line and then collapsed.

While sorting himself out from the smash he was passed by Lind and Sarkis, his official placing being sixth, instead of fourth.

The following are the results:

1. S. Flook (348 s.v. Douglas) 9 34 40-41.50
2. L. H. Iggulden (248 s.v, O.K.) 10 30 9=37.82
3. C. W. Bower {348, s.v. Douglas) 9 22 59=42.40
4. J G. Lind (348 s.v. A.J.S) 9 58 55 = 39.85
5. J. Sarkis (348 o.h.v. Velocette) 9 26 11 = 42.09
6. G. Long (348 s.v. Raleigh) 10 16 48 = 38.70
7. C. H. Young (498 o.h.v. Triumph) 9 12 53=43.17
8. 35. H. Gibson (348 o.h.v. Chater-Lea) 9 40 48=41.30
9. P. Flook (348 s.v. Douglas) 10 8 4 = 39.18
10. P. van DC Walt {490 s.v. O.K.) 94611=40.66
11. T. H. Nicholl (348 s.v. Indian) 10 26 46 = 38.07
12. W. J. Blyth (348 o.h.v. Raleigh) 10 16 12=38.68
13. B. E. Scott (348 o.h.v. Chater-Lea), 9h. 54m. 37s.
14. D. A. Scott (348 o.h.v. Rex-Acme), 10h. 9m. 29s.
15. J. Badenhorst (348 o.h.v. Raleigh), 10h. 23m. 35s.
16. II. S. Long (347 s.v. Sunbeam), 10h. 43m. 5s.
17. D. Brink (349 s.v. Humber), 10h. 53m. 54s.
18. W. D. Griebenouw (493 s.v. Sunbeam), 10h. 27m. 17s.
19. E. P. Fouche (499 o.h.v Rudge), 10h. 20m. 54s.
20. W. R. Harris (344 o.h.v. Royal Enfield), 10h. 17m 4s.
21. D. H. Kew (300 s.v. O.K.), 11h. 29m. 44s.
22. W M. Allison (348 s.v. Allison), 11h. 1m. 22s.
23. A. Long (348 o.h.v. Indian).10h. 19m. 26s.
24. J. L. Jackson (300 s.v. Sun), 11h. 21m. 2s.
25. L. H. Impey (248 o.h.v. O.K.), 11h. 25m. 44s.
26. 13. G. Murray (498 o.h.v. A.J.S.), 10h. 13m. 31s.
27. L. A. Crewe (348 s.v. A.J.S.). 11h. 50m. 32s.
28. D. H. Hall (493 o.h.v. B.S.A.). 10h. 39m. 58s.
29. V. R. Ressell (493 o.h.v. B.S.A.), 10h. 45m. 6s.
30. W. Paton (497 o.h.v. Ariel), 10h. 57m. 53s.
31. C. W. Rudd (247 2-stroke Levis), 13h. 47m. 14s.
32. L. Mills (348 o.h.v. Sun). 11h 35m. 14s.
33. F. Zurcher (348 s.v. Douglas), 12h. 5m. 54s.
34. B. Carlisle (596 s.v. Indian), 12h. 13m. 29s.
35. D. Macdonald (348 o.h.v. Velocette), 12h. 15m. 58s.
36. P. Christie (490 s.v. Norton), 12h. 3m. 49s.
37. D. P. McGrath (348 s.v. Douglas),
38. J. Berry (490 o.h.v. New Hudson).
39. C. W. Scott (172 2-stroke Francis-Barnett).

The best time was made by C. H. Young (498 Triumph) in 9h. 12m. 53s.

Team Prize. Douglas (S. Flook, Bower and F. Flook).

Inter-club Trophy. Rand M.C.C. “A” Team.

Adler Cup (for best unplaced novice). G. Long (Raleigh).

S. Flook passing the post at Johannesburg.

L.H. Iggulden (O.K.) second

C. W. Bower (Douglas) third

C.H. Young (498 Triumph), who made best time, with his mother and father.

Sydney Flook, the winner.
348cc s.v. “E.W.” Douglas

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)

A British rider, J. A. Thorne, arrived in South Africa with a 998cc McEvoy which was reputedly capable of a speed of 120 m/h with the sole intention of breaking the Deejay distance records. Bernardi had imported a special 500cc Moto Guzzi from Italy for the same purpose. They attracted considerable interest at the start.

Clarrie Scott (175cc Francis Barnett) was the first away at 6.33 a.m. with brother Ian on a similar machine following two minutes later. Thorne’s record hopes almost ended on Black Hill and he lost five minutes at Cowie’s Hill.

Rudd led the Scott brothers at Pietermaritzburg but Bernardi crashed and broke a thumb just outside the town where he retired. Joe Sarkis clocked one hour 50 minutes to Mooi River and du Plooy broke a leg and his nose in a crash and continued the journey by train.

Rudd led at Ladysmith in spite of having only one footrest, from Iggulden, with China Scott retiring with leaking petrol pipe while in third place. Sarkis was fractionally outside the record to the town but Thorne crashed twice on either side of it and retired. Rudd still led at Newcastle from Iggulden with Sid Flook, younger brother of Percy, in third place.

Flook awoke the following morning to find a punctured tyre and instead of wasting time repairing it, continued, stopping to pump it with a hand pump. But Bower lost 20 seconds repairing a puncture and probably the race in the process.

Iggulden took the lead at Charlestown where Rudd lost a lot of time and he led Flook by two minutes at Greylingstad, and 20 seconds at Balfour. Flook passed him to lead by two minutes at Heidelberg and 4 minutes 30 seconds at the finish in spite of a flat tyre. E. Powell and George Long were brought off by a speed constable just before the finish, who for no apparent reason simply torpedoed them. Long remounted but Powell retired.


1. S. S. Flook (Rand, 350cc Douglas) 9 hours 40 seconds, average speed 41,5 m/h
2. L. H. Iggulden (250cc O.K. Supreme Jap)
3. C. W. Bower (350cc Douglas)

33 J G Lind, A.J.S. 348cc, 2 I H R Scott, Francis Barnett 174cc and 74 E C Murray, A.J.S. 498cc
Photograph: Mark Freeman, Grandson of J G Lind.