The 13th Rand Daily Mail – Castrol DJ RALLY

From the Automobilist.
DJ Commentary By Peter Theobald (VVC)

Before the early history of the DJ Commemorative Motor Cycle Trial (now called a RUN?) is lost in the mists of time, I thought it would be a good idea to place on record some facts that I thought would be of general interest today, thirteen years after the first event, and form a basis for entrants and historians of the future.


Only 3 chaps have started all 13 events and there were only 7 riders in this year’s event (83) that finished the first event in 1970. No rider has entered and finished all thirteen DJs on a solo machine, but Ralph Lange is the only rider to have entered and finished all thirteen events, albeit the first three with a combination. A first class effort, particularly as he claimed two outright wins and three seconds overall. An outstanding performance.

Here then, is what I would call the DJ Veterans log table, i.e. 11 starts or more.

A tabulation of average placings for 11 to 13 entries shows:

It will be appreciated from the aforegoing how difficult it is to be consistently “up front” or even middle-for-diddle!


It is generally considered that the first day’s run to Newcastle is the most testing due to the many hills and winding roads to be negotiated, the long haul out of Durban, Town Hill, and Old Howick Road to mention some. These hazards take their toll of machines that have not been properly prepared and thoroughly proved before the event. It is certainly the worst part of the route for the “Belt-Drive Brigade”.


I don’t think it is generally recognised that some of the early events like 1972 had 32 controls. Doug Brodie won that year with a total error of 649. 1978 only had 16 controls and was won by R van Rensburg with an error of 196. This year there were 21 and Steve Lange won with 103. It appears that Clerks of the Course each year have their own preferences!

Would it not be possible to standardise the number of controls for each event so direct comparison of performances can be made?


The first event in 1970 saw 7 bikes fail to start out of 60 entries and only 39 finished within the time allowed, so 35% fell by the wayside for a variety of reasons. 1971 saw 31% fail to finish. A look at all 13 events shows an average Did-Not-Finish (DNF) rate of 19,3%. This year’s failure rate was below the average at 15,8% in spite of various comments by officials on the general preparation of bikes, which I understand was downright bad in several cases. Intending entrants for 1984 should note this, because I am sure we can expect a crack-down on standards required and possibly exclusion for badly prepared machines.

Taking a year at random, i.e. 1981, we find for example: (DNF = Did Not Finish)

15 Velocettes were entered – 3 DNF = 20%
15 BSA were entered – 2 DNF = 13%
14 Sunbeams were entered – 2 DNF = 14%
11 Nortons were entered – 1 DNF = 9%
10 Triumphs were entered – 5 DNF = 50%

It would have been interesting to know why half the Triumphs entered failed. Maybe they were too fragile for the event.

I have recently requested the organisers to appoint an Incident Officer to record the actual reason for mechanical or any other failure.

Over the period 1970-1983 there have been a total of 1481 individual entries for the 13 events of which 286 failed to finish, most of these I would judge resulted from mechanical failure. How many of these, I wonder, were magneto failure? The fact that the accident rate is negligible reflects credit on all entrants and organisers.


Under this heading I would like to pay tribute to VVC member Peter Blackwell, who as far as I can ascertain, must hold the record for the largest number of entries for bikes owned by one member. How about a few more owners of collections emulating this commendable attitude? Out of 13 events his bikes featured 22 times enjoying 18 finishes. One DNF was an accident and three were mechanical. Can anyone beat this record?

The next item of interest is that only one competitor has entered the same bike in 12 events, that is Oliver Bassett (Snr.). He was unfortunate not to finish in 1981, due to a mag failure, but this is no reflection on the mechanical reliability of his Scott or the manner in which he prepared and maintained it.

1983 DJ CAMEOS by Coen Deetlefs

This year instead of flying down to Durban on the Thursday morning, I arranged to get a lift on the Wednesday with the officials in the two combis that were to be used as baggage vans on the trip back to Johannesburg.

Larry Collins from Vereeniging picked me up on the N1 highway near to where I live at 5 o’clock in the morning, on the way to the Meldrums where we left at 5.30 to join up with the rest of the party at Len Bassett’s house, after picking Reg Loney up at his flat. At Len’s, Ken Lacey and Harold Freeman joined us.

We set off at about 6 o’clock at a fairly brisk pace. Being a man who breakfasts early each day I enquired of Jock who was driving our van, when we would be stopping for breakfast, the time being 7.30 a.m., he replied “in a little while”, this little while lasted until after 9.30 when we stopped at the top of Van Reenen Pass at a picnic spot. I then heard that this was their regular breakfast stop, but that as we had left Johannesburg much later than they usually did we were now going to have “brunch”.

I had wondered why Joan had been asking Jock to stop so that she could by some orange juice which we eventually found at Swinburne where we refuelled.

The orange juice was for the “Champagne Breakfast” they usually had at this spot on the way down. The stoves were soon going, warming the pre-cooked bacon and sausages the ladies had brought along, while Reg Loney displayed hitherto unsuspected talent as a short-order cook, frying eggs “sunny side up” at a great rate. I thoroughly enjoyed my belated breakfast, washed down with orange juice laced with champagne.

We arrived in Durban at mid-afternoon and found the usual hustle and bustle of the Holiday Inn where the motorcycles were just being off-loaded from the pantechnicon that had brought them from Johannesburg. There is nothing, in my opinion, that surpasses the atmosphere at the D-J when everyone busies themselves with their bikes or just wanders around meeting friends they had not seen for a year, or having a look at machines not seen before on the DJ.

As usual Derek du Toit managed to produce a machine that was the centre of attraction, not only for its rarity but for its pristine condition Derek relates the story of his Pierce elsewhere in this issue.

The VCC of Durban had organised a reception for the DJ competitors at their magnificent clubhouse for that evening and a large number of people, the best ever for this annual event, attended. Plenty of delicious snacks were provided by the ladies of the VCC and a merry time was enjoyed by all, punctuated halfway through the evening by a song and dance routine provided by the “VVC Dancing Girls” from Johannesburg. Joan Meldrum had composed a song specially for the DJ, copies having been provided to all present, everyone joined in merrily. Our thanks go to the VCC for a most enjoyable evening.

Most of the scrutineering having been done on the Wednesday afternoon there was more time on the Thursday morning for talking and looking and having a trial run on the bike to make sure everything was right.

Scrutiny of the entry list brought the following interesting facts to light. The largest entry of a single make was BSA, with 19 machines entered, followed by 14 Velocettes, 13 each of Triumph and Sunbeam, 12 Nortons, 7 each of BMW and AJS, 6 Rudges, 5 each of Harley, Indian and Douglas and 4 Ariels, the balance being made up of ones and twos of such exotic machinery as Pierce, Nimbus, Adler, Gnome Rhone, Scott, etc. This seems to reflect fairly the popularity of the various makes, pre-war, in this country, except perhaps for Indians and Harleys which were very popular here in the thirties.

The route schedules having been issued early more time could be spent on calculations of which quite a number were required as there were numerous speed changes, but otherwise a very straight-forward route schedule, with no gimmicks to confuse the novices. This is the type of route schedule I like, it keeps you busy concentrating, without trying to get you lost.

The competition was fierce amongst the top ten and only 4 seconds separated first and second at Newcastle with Ralph Lange being in first place which in the end he had to relinquish to his nephew, Steve Lange.

The prize-giving at Meggawatt Park was most enjoyable and our thanks go to our major sponsors the Rand Daily Mail and Castrol as well as to Computer Sciences and all the officials who work so hard so that we can enjoy this event.


1, S Lange, 1935 Velocette, 103 secs. error.
2, R Lange, 1935 Velocette, 138 secs.
3, P Aneck-Hahn, 1936 Ariel, 147.
4, P Woodley, 1936 Triumph, 186.
5, J Pitchford, 1936 BSA, 200.
6, G Heinze, 1927 Sunbeam, 231.
7, T Woodley, 1920 Triumph, 238.
8, R Lewis, 1936 BSA, 243.
9, G Corlett, 1931 BSA, 272.
10, A Woodley, 1935 Douglas, 274.

Pre-1926 Bikes:
Class A, no award.
Class B, G Vermaak, 1925 Cotton-Blackburne.
Class C, J Fletterman, 1920 ABC.
Class D, T Woodley, 1920 Triumph.
Class E, F Aulfes, Miss H Aulfes, 1920 Matchless combination.

1926-1930 Bikes: Up to 350cc:
G Heinze, 1927 Sunbeam.

Over 350cc
A Murray, 1930 Rudge.

1926-1936 Bikes:
Class A, J Pitchford, 1936 BSA.
Class B, P Woodley, 1936 Triumph.
Class C, R Lewis, 1936 BSA.
Class D, R Eliovson, 1928 Scott.
Class E, Mr and Mrs N Kruger, 1935 BMW combination.

Most Sporting Rider (Rand Daily Mail award):
O Read, 1935 Norton.

Best Performance by a first-time rider (Francis Blake award):
R Lewis, 1936 BSA.

Best Woman Rider:
Miss L Meldrum, 1934 Triumph.

Best Belt Driven Bike:
T Woodley, 1920 Triumph.

Oldest Bike to finish:
H Shutler, 1904 Adler.

Oldest Rider to finish:
F Aulfes, 1920 Matchless.

Youngest Rider to finish:
D MacDougall, 1928 AJS.

Nominated Team Award:
P Woodley, T Woodley, A Woodley.

Club Team Award:
VVC, S Lange, P Aneck-Hahn, R Lewis.

Steve Lange receiving his trophies from Mrs Spence wife of Derek Spence of Castrol

2nd Overall: Ralph Lange.

An armful of trophies for Scott rider, Robin Eliovson.