Early Beach Racing in Southland.

These three photographs have lingered around in my files for quite a while with the hope that more may appear, but no. They came from a small private collection of photographs from Dunedin and with the registration numbers on two of the motorcycles being issued by the Dunedin Council the possibility that these are from the southern region is strengthened. They are from the early to mid 1920s and show that even though beach racing was still in its infancy there was no shortage of interest.

A very proud owner on his ABC. The ABC was a 398cc horizontally opposed 4 stroke twin cylinder machine that was years ahead of its design. It had a 4 speed gearbox and was capable of 70mph. 30 years would pass before another machine of similar design was to appear in the shape of the Velocette LE. Other visible motorcycles are the Indian to the left and the Harley Davidson just to the right. There are 3 other machines not clearly visible. Are you impressed with the young school lad still in uniform complete with cap. Who knows, this young person may have been inspired by such events and could have gone on to be a successful racer.

This Harley Davidson rider looks to have the determination to win. His motorcycle is a pre 1924 loop frame model once again with a Dunedin registration. It has been prepared for competition with the removal of chain guards and headlight for that extra advantage from weigh savings, and the handlebars appeared to have been bent down significantly for a low racing pose. Unsure of the motorcycle to the left, it may be a very early Norton, but whatever it is the entrant is definitely keen. The motorcycle has a fixed drive possibly with a variable speed engine pulley. Not really a great threat to the ABC, Indian or Harley but hey, he was out there doing it (and as Knob says “somebody has to come last”)

Motorcycles getting ready on the start line. Not of a great quality but it clearly shows 6 motorcycles surrounded by an eager public both young and old. Location is unknown, maybe Dunedin somewhere? And perhaps Burt Munro is hiding amongst the crowd (well there was an Indian racing). If anybody can identify the beach we would love to know. You can let us know through our contacts page.