I've just finished reading an excellent biography of Harry Hawker, the famous Australian aviator who flew the Atlantic in 1919 and was also the co-founder of the Hawker Aircraft company. He had moved to England in 1911 and ended up working for the Sopwith Aviation Company who were based at Brooklands. Inevitably, with some spare time on his hands he also raced cars and motorcycles around the legendary banked track.
Like so many people obsessed with machines and speed, Harry also had a love of motorcycles and built two of his own in a small workshop in Melbourne. His favourite project was a high-powered motorcycle which used a v-twin engine that Harry built himself in 1909. The design was based on the British J.A.P v-twin engine with a few Hawker modifications. I was interested to read that Harry raced this bike on a board track in Australia, just like the great board tracks of America at the time. The biography says that...
"Harry raced against his friends Harry Busteed and Cecil De Faga who also built their own machines. Busteed's machine had enormous cyclinders but used a simpler side valve design. They raced on a steeply banked wooden track which was built for racing pedal cycles... The track was only an eighth of a mile and the high powered motorcycles soon started to shake the wooden structure to pieces"
They were eventually barred from using this track and took to racing on the country roads around Melbourne instead. Here's a few photographs of Harry Hawker and his friends with their homemade racing motorcycles at the Princes Park track, Melbourne, Australia.
|Harry Hawker and Cecil De Fraga racing on the Princes Park board track in 1910 (Bob Chamerlain)|
|Cecil de Fraga with his v-twin Bouchet at Princes Park in 1909 (Bob Chamberlain)|
|Harry Busteed with his home made racing motorcycle. The engine was so large that Harry had to sit over the rear wheel and use long handlebars (Bob Chamberlain)|
Click the link for more information about the fascinating life and times of Harry Hawker.