Doug Robson, one of Australia's all time great Sidecar riders and Speedway personalities tells us on "VintageSpeedway" his story, in his own words.
He has also supplied us with some great photos.
Doug, it's an honour and great pleasure to present your story..........Brian.
I started riding at Parramatta Speedway
( Cumberland Oval ) in 1956 on an ex Jack Crowhurst Norton outfit owned by the late Tony Harrison.
On the first night I was going to ride, Jack Crowhurst took me across to the starting line to see the Stewards to assure them that my parents had given me permission to ride.
While I was there, a Sidecar race was about to start. There were four riders at the tapes and one was Bill Bingham. The tapes shot up and Bill was first out like a shot.
I thought that was really something and it inspired me to one day be as good.
We only had a couple of races on the Norton because Tony sacked me when I missed a gear one night, dropped a valve and destroyed an engine. Arthur Butterworth then offered me a ride on an ex "Bluey" Barnes Ariel outfit which he had just purchased. That only lasted a couple of meetings as I wasn't happy with the deal I had with Arthur.
Not long after that, Les Stacey bought me a Triumph to ride. Les was going to ride passenger for me but one day when we were trying it out in my street we crashed into a fence at the end of the street, Les broke his wrist and arm and he retired before we had even hit the race track.
I used to go to school with Arthur Lincoln, he was very good at sports and I thought he would make a good passenger. I asked him if he would like to ride with me and he accepted. Our first outing together was at Westmead Speedway and in one of our heats there was a bad smash, we ran up to see if we could help.
It was "Bluey" Barnes and passenger Tony Harrison. They looked to be in a bad way and unfortunately both passed away as result of the accident.
From that day on I never looked at a crash again, unless of course I was involved in it.
When my brother Alan was discharged from the Navy, he bought us the ex Jack Crowhurst Vincent Twin outfit and said he would ride with me. After we made A grade at Westmead Speedway, we were invited to ride at the Sydney Showground Speedway, The Royale. The invitation came from Reg Mulligan and to our surprise when we arrived we were only on the programme as reserve.
Luckily , for us, Bert Martin's Harley broke down and we got a ride, won both of our races and from then on we were on the programme. That was the 1957 - 1958 season. We made A grade at the Royale.
Sadly, on the Sunday after the final meeting for the season we had a road accident in a utility, brother Alan was in the back with Bobby Garner. Alan was killed. That was March 2nd 1958. Bobby was injured in the accident but survived only to lose his life in a road motorcycle accident not long after. Bobby rode with me after Arthur Lincoln and at the time of the accident was riding passenger for Roy Stephens.
When I started again the next season, I wore a breast plate with a red cross on it in memory of my brother Alan and put his initials on my bike, which were A.G.R.
in the Pits at The Royale in Sydney.
Doug is seen here with passenger Rob Lewis, the famous "Rock Legend" himself, Johnny O'Keefe ( J.O.K.) and Johnny's young son between Doug and Rob.
Doug had the red cross on the breast plate and Alan's initials, A.G.R. on the bike.
During my career I rode on most of the Speedway tracks in Australia including Tasmania, I also rode in New Zealand.
When I rode Interstate or overseas I don't think I rode my best, as subconsciously I did not want to be injured and finish up in a hospital too far from home. Most states made you feel very welcome, but when you got on the track it was a different story. They were all very hard riders and would try most things to win.
Those South Aussie riders, well history shows how tough they were, great guys, but the spectators ??????.
As a matter of fact my brother Jack and I won the 1970 South Australian Sidecar Championship and on the victory lap the spectators threw empty beer cans and anything else they could at us. They accused us of holding up the start in a heat causing another rider to melt his clutch. We received a very hostile reception from the crowd.
I raced with different passengers from 1956 until 1979 and they were all good. In the 1979 NSW Championship at the Royale, Warren Sullivan and Keith Sewell crashed in front of us, we ran over the top of them. I broke six ribs, Sully hurt his back and my passenger, Dennis Potts hurt one of his knees. Sewell was OK but sadly Bill Dudenhoeffer who rode with Warren broke his back and finished up in a wheel chair.
Bob Levy lent us his bike and we went on to win the NSW title that night. When the time comes to quit, one knows. This was the time.
I had over 28 accidents, broke many bones, and from those days to now and every day in the future my body has and always will remind me that I raced motorcycles for a sport. I'm sure all ex riders suffer from the same aches and pains.
We raced against some fabulous riders during my career, too many to mention.
the 1967, 1974 and 1975 Australian Championships.
the 1967 Australasian Championship
the 1967 Queensland Championship
the 1970 South Australian Championship
the 1978 Australian Best Pairs
the 1963, 64, 66, 72, 77 and 1979 New South Wales Championship
My passengers over those years were:
Tony Harrison, Arthur Lincoln, Bob Garner, Alan Robson, Snowy Ware, Des Howell, Rob Lewis, Jack Robson, Phil McCurtayne, Col Denny, Ray Rose, Greg Griffiths, Dennis Potts and Geoff Grocott. Warren Sullivan also had a swing for me, so did Ray Murray and Peter White for just one meeting
each. I'd like to offer my thanks to them all.
On to page 2 to view a collection of Doug's personal photo collection.