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patto65
07-10-2008, 12:05 AM
Was talking to an older bloke on the weekend and he mentioned the name of a local bloke who could ride the pants off most and i had never heard of him. He was a 500cc world championship rider before it became popular outside of the sport and raced at the isle of man TT. Took a long time to get the big factory backing but still succeeded coming 2nd to Hailwood in the 1964 world championship. He was inducted a few years ago into the Lithgow Sportingn Hall of Fame where i read some of his bio tonight.

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Jack Ahearn, one of the top privateers in Europe in the 50s. Matchless works development rider, raced the 500 G50 Matchless prototype at the Isle of Man in 1958. Second to Hailwood in the 500 World Championship 1964 winning outright the GP of Finland on a Manx Norton.

did a bit of googling and found a few interesting items and this first bit blew me away. As they said it wouldnt happen these days


Kel Carruthers had utterly dominated the local scene for five years until he left for Europe in 1966. The man who assumed the role of top resident rider was Ron Toombs, who had begun his career 14 years earlier and progressed steadily if not spectacularly through the ranks on his own 350 BSA and later a 1961-model 350 7R AJS.

But it was a meeting at the Arcadia dirt track north of Sydney that forged the relationship between Toombs and Tony Henderson, a railway engineer who owned a 500 BSA Gold Star that changed the face of local racing. Toombs took over the 500 BSA to score his first win at Bathurst in 1961, but crashed later in the program, severely damaging the bike. With the BSA frame a write-off, Henderson acquired a Norton Dominator 99 frame and forks, into which he built AJS 7R wheels and an AMC close-ratio gearbox. But the pushrod BSA motor was clearly outgunned, so Henderson depleted his finances by £150 ($300) to purchase a 1961 Matchless G50 engine from Geoff Monty in England to replace the BSA unit. The motor was delivered with cracked crankcases, and a replacement set from UK arrived with a hole in the front where the cod rod had departed. These were welded at the de Havilland aircraft factory at Bankstown and re-machined. At the same time Henderson produced his own flywheels with a differentially-threaded crankpin – the system used on Moto Guzzi singles with 20-tpi on one side of the crankpin and 18 tpi on the other. “ I did them up with a three-pronged spanner and they never moved,” recalls Tony. Meanwhile, Ray Corlett, who worked at chemical giant ICI, got his hands on a billet of titanium, which Charlie Ogden machined to produce a connecting rod 5/8 inch shorter, and considerably lighter than the original. To complete the plot, the G50 head was fitted with twin spark plugs.

With a battered lime-green fairing in place, the Henderson hybrid was no raving beauty, but an early outing in December 1964 resulted in Toombs equalling the Oran Park lap record. Results were scarce in 1965, with Toombs badly tearing a shoulder muscle early in the season, but at the Australian TT at Bathurst at Easter 1966, Toombs convincingly won the Senior TT, as well as the Unlimited title which was run concurrently. At the opening meeting of the new Surfers Paradise track in August, Ron and the Matchless were untouchable, taking the honours in all three major races.

The Victorian Grand Prix at Winton ushered in the 1967 season, and Toombs again took the G50 to the Senior title, repeating the feat one month later in the Victorian TT at Calder. Then at Bathurst’s Easter meet he scored his second-consecutive 500cc victory with veteran GP campaigner Jack Ahearn second. The 1968 Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst is an event still talked about. Toombs disappeared into the distance to make it three Senior Bathurst wins in a row, and had the Unlimited GP shot to pieces as well until he fell on an oil patch on the final lap. As he struggled to right the G50, second placed Bill Horsman stopped and waited for Ron to remount, still holding the lead! Bill reckons the race was morally Ron’s, but his sportsmanship almost backfired when his own Norton ran out of fuel on the last corner. To complete a remarkable series of events, Jack Ahearn, in third place, idled along behind Horsman until he had pushed over the line to claim the runner up spot! It wouldn’t happen today.

In a bid to remain competitive against the 350 Yamahas, Henderson embarked on a new project to build a four-valve 500 from scratch in 1969. The old warrior, stripped of a few bits and with the 2-valve engine blown up, was shoved under a sheet of corrugated iron in Henderson’s back yard and forgotten. Thankfully, it was rescued by former sidecar champion Peter Campbell, who “hassled Hendo every week for 25 years until he finally fixed the (2-valve) engine.” Campbell rebuilt the historic motorcycle in the form of its 1967 Bathurst win, when it wore a full ‘dustbin’ front fairing and a fully-faired rear end.

In 2004, a quarter of a century since it last raced, the original Henderson Matchless was delivered to the National Motor Racing Museum, where it is now on permanent display with its later 4-valve brother.

wazza
07-10-2008, 02:12 AM
Some real legendary names there. Toombs was killed in a crash at Mt Panorama in the late 70's during the annaul easter Race meeting, I don't know if the others are still alive or not, Henderson, Ahearn etc.

wayne ferris
07-10-2008, 10:38 AM
bloody great find and great sportsmanship

nic123
02-11-2009, 11:20 PM
Hey Guys,

I know this is probably a little old to be posting but Jack Ahearn is still alive I'm sitting right next to his grand daughter. There's an even down in sydney on November 21st and he'll be riding in that at 84!

Hivisibility
03-11-2009, 10:12 AM
Never too late for threads like this as far as I'm concerned nic, good to hear, he's doing well, and still enjoying life.

Nutty
03-11-2009, 10:19 AM
For a moment I worried that the post might have been on Jacks passing....good to see he's still going strong.

The tough competition provided here by Jack and others was the reason why Kel was our first World Champ.

Great to see some recognition of a fine man and good racer.

wazza
03-11-2009, 10:23 AM
Glad to hear he's still around, I reckon he'd have some great yarns to share over a beer or three.

patto65
03-11-2009, 12:04 PM
Hey Guys,

I know this is probably a little old to be posting but Jack Ahearn is still alive I'm sitting right next to his grand daughter. There's an even down in sydney on November 21st and he'll be riding in that at 84!


thanks for that info nic123, good to hear that he's going strong and amazing that he can still throw a leg over a bike at 84. Truly an inspiration. Any idea on where the event on the 21st is. Wish jack all the best though his grand daughter for all of us here at dbw and also for us lithgowites

TooFastTim
03-11-2009, 12:19 PM
Read an article a while ago about why the colonials (Aussies, Kiwis, Saffies, Canucks and Rhodesians. Kel and Jack Findley, Rod Coleman, Paddy Driver, Jim Redman and Mike Duff) were so popular with the Jap factories. Firstly they were skilled technicians. Coming from the distant corners of the planet they didn't have access to the resources that the euros did so they HAD to be good at understanding what a bike was doing and why it was doing it. They weren't prima donnas. and they were used to roughing it. In a word the colonials were a bargain.

I've had the honour of shaking Jim Redmans hand and I've even had a beer with Peter Williams. What a great bloke he is. No bullshit or bitterness. Just loves the people. Sadly not a colonial though :(

ozberg
03-11-2009, 02:00 PM
thanks for that info nic123, good to hear that he's going strong and amazing that he can still throw a leg over a bike at 84. Truly an inspiration. Any idea on where the event on the 21st is. Wish jack all the best though his grand daughter for all of us here at dbw and also for us lithgowites

+1

Would love to see a stat re sports champions per capita, because I reckon lithgow would take it easily. Thanks patto, good on you Jack.

I only heard about jack a couple of years ago. A bloke fixing my mower taold me the story - he used to race with him.

You have to love that old Aussie attitude. No cockiness, none of the drama, just good old fashioned getting down to business.

nic123
17-11-2009, 10:28 PM
Oran Park Raceway I think it was at not exactly sure theres some moto event going on and they are flying down to it. Hope it helps

EdgyAl
17-11-2009, 10:54 PM
Do you think Stoner would build his own engine or Rossi would pull over and wait? Not these days.

Hivisibility
17-11-2009, 11:40 PM
In Kevin Shwantzs' champoinship year, he said at the presentation that it was actually Wayne Raineys' unfortunately his great sparring partner had been confined to a wheelchair earlier that season after an uncustomary accident when horribly wrong.

I think that was the last gasp of an era of these gentlemen riders, we will never see the likes of them again.

I've seen footage of F1 drivers in the 60s, like Mclaren and Surtees etc stopping and helping injured competitors.