Scrutineering and Refreshment Area.
Road to the left goes to Start line and Mayville Hill. Road to the right is Bellair Road.
Note the milk churns and the Trojan van on the left.
Photograph: Errol Herbert collection

DJ RALLY from The Motor Cycle July 5th, 1928

Record Ride by Youngest of the Scott Brothers on a 174 c.c. Chater-Lea-Blackburne. Fastest Speed by J. R. Gibson (348 Chater-Lea), at 45,39 m.p.h., for the 404 Miles. Same make Wins Trade Team Prize.

The world’s longest straightaway road race, the classic “Durban-Johannesburg,” secured 120 entries this year, and was decided on May 30th and 31st. The actual starters numbered 110. In the past three years much improved road speeds of the small machines had an effect upon the handicap, and brought down the limit man from 4 hours start to 3h. 20m. for the 175 c.c. class. The scratch man was Du Toit (1,208 Harley-Davidson). The altered handicap permitted the first dozen men to get a way after dawn, at 6.40 a.m.; hitherto the early batch had to race off in that eerie half hour betwixt darkness and dawn.

The first section, to Maritzburg, is today akin to part of the Isle of Man circuit, for in spite of innumerable bends and short hills, there is nothing really steep, while the surfaces vary from good to excellent. Some of the confident novice class used too much speed and came to grief with buckled wheels or broken fork springs. Eight men disappeared in this section.

A Speedy “Two-fifty.”

In this short stretch of fifty-three miles, Sarkis (246 O.K.) had already picked himself out as the likely winner; he had passed no fewer than thirty-one men, averaging slightly under 60 m.p.h. on a 250 c.c. machine. Donaldson (344 O.K.) took 55min., Du Toit (scr.) 54m. (and best time for the stretch) and A. Long (498 Indian) 53min. Long had overtaken thirty-two men and Du Toit accounted for twenty-six.

The succeeding section of sixty miles to Estcourt has always been the worst for surface, there being miles of loose dust and sand, with plenty of steepish hills. Exactly eighty men were timed through, skids in the sand accounting for most of those who retired. Donaldson was one of the unfortunates; he broke a collar bone. At Estcourt the leading seven were:- Murray (172 Francis Barnett), Klassen (225 Royal Enfield), C. W. Scott (172 James), Rudd (247 Levis), Owen (247 Levis), B. E. Scott (174 Chater-Lea), and Bell (172 Zenith).

350cc Entrants with 52 minutes Handicap, starting at 09.08
No. 68 Nobby Clark (NMCC) o.h.c Velocette
No. 63 VR Ressell (RMCC) 350cc B.S.A. s.v. (side-valve)
No. 62 R.S. Long (RMCC) 350cc Sunbeam s.v.
Photograph: Errol Herbert collection

350cc Entrants with 47 minutes Handicap, starting at 09.18
Photograph: Errol Herbert collection

Davids and a Goliath

Sarkis with a 250 c.c. engine was but 14 minutes slower than Du Toit, with an engine of practically five times the size, over a distance of 113 miles. B. E. Scott on his tiny 174 c.c. Chater-Lea had taken only 2h. 57m. for the 113 miles.

The next section of 42 miles to Ladysmith, includes what, in normal years, is a fast stretch, taking in the almost level thirteen miles along Colenso Flats, where unlimited speed should be possible. Heavy rains, however, two months previously, had so badly cut up this piece, that dangerous pot-holes were numerous, and at one in particular six men wen put out of the race. B. Carlisle (348 A.J.S.) came off, breaking a rib, and was at first said to be dead; he was later reported to be doing well in hospital. P Flook, farther on, encountered a car on its wrong side when he was rounding a hidden bend, and collided with a bank, injuring his nose.

At Ladysmith (155 miles) the leaders were: – Murray (172 Francis-Barnett), Peters (172 Calthorpe), D. Scott (249 Dunelt), Klassen (225 Royal Enfield), and C. W. Scott (172 James).


Net time

1. T. Owen (247 Levis) 5 29
2. B. E. Scott (174 Chater-Lea) 5 47
3. C. W. Scott (172 James) 6 23
4. E. Murray (172 Francis-Barnett) 6 19
5. B. Klassen (225 Royal Enfield) 6 30
6. E. Powel (300 Excelsior) 5 57

C. W. Bower (348 Douglas) was 12th, J. Sarkis (246 O.K.) 13th, J. R. Gibson (348 Chater-Lea) 16th, and J. W. Du Toit (1,208 Harley) 20th.

Sarkis came in minus a saddle, and seated somehow on the tank; he was also minus a footrest, due to a mighty spill ten miles before reaching Newcastle. A. Long (Indian) was in trouble with a broken chain, and checked in very late.

On the second morning the men were despatched in the same order as they had arrived on the previous afternoon. Owen thus had a useful lead of 23 minutes from B. E. Scott, 24 minutes on C. W. Scott, 25 minutes on Murray, 1h. 28m. on Bower, and 1h. 48m. on Du Toit.

Scratch Man Delayed

At Volksrust, 255 miles, Owen had increased his lead on B. E. Scott by another three minutes. At this town sixty-four men still survived.

Between Volksrust and Standerton (307 miles) T. Owen retired with unreported trouble, letting B. E. Scott into the lead. Meanwhile, with ninety-seven miles to go, Murray had passed C. W. Scott and was second.

From Balfour came the phone message that B. E. Scott held an eight-minute lead on Murray, with C. W. Scott still third. Obviously Murray could not now catch B. E. Scott. The next surprise was a message that Murray had retired.

B. E. Scott finished without trouble, and won by twenty-five minutes from his brother.

No fewer than twenty-four finished within two hours of the winner, so gaining gold medals, and altogether fifty-four finishers were timed up to five hours after “Baby” Scott. Best time (and 350 c.c. record) went to J. R. Gibson in 9h. 2m. The trade team prize was one by Chater-Lea, and the club team prize by the Rand M.C.C. “A” team.

“Baby” Scott crossing the finishing line

B. E. Scott winner of the 1928 Durban-Johannesburg race ona 174cc Chater-Lea


1. B. E. “Baby” Scott (174 Chater-Lea-Blackburne) 39.29
2. C. W. Scott (172 James) 36.55
3. J. R. Gibson (348 Chater-Lea) 45.39
4. J. M. Clarke (348 Velocette) 43.62
5. C. W. Bower (348 s.v. Douglas) 43.93
6. E. R. Powell (300 s.v. Excelsior)
7. B. J. Klassen (225 Royal Enfield)
8. J. Sarkis (246 O.K.)

The 1928 Chater-Lea team which won the Sunbeam Team trophy.
Riders are (L to R) ERIC GIBSON (350 Chater-Lea) who came 18th, JACK GIBSON (350 Chater-Lea) who came 3rd and BERNARD “BABY” SCOTT (175 Chater-Lea) who was the Winner.
Note the Schlesinger Vase in front of the winning bike.
Photograph: Michael Milner-Smyth