BMW Racing Past Honored

BMW Racing Past Honored

The S1000RR has made a most impressive start to 2010 with three consecutive wins for BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini in the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup, as well as factory rider Troy Corser achieving his best result of fourth place in Valencia and qualifying on the front row at Assen, not to mention leading both Superbike World Championship races at the historic Dutch circuit.

With wins in national and regional superbike races in France, Spain and the USA, the S1000RR’s on-track success is for many a new experience but BMW Motorrad has a past that was forged on the racetracks of the world. Some of this impressive history was recently on show ‘Down Under’ at Motorcycling Australia’s Broadford Bike Bonanza.

The Ecco Engineering R75 that featured in Australia’s first Superbike race in 1978

Held at the State Motorcycling Sports Complex at Broadford (an hour’s ride north of Melbourne) the weekend was a salute to the past in both road racing and off-road forms of the sport. Hundreds of motorcycles from the very beginning of two-wheeled motorsport up to the 1980s were there, and their enthusiastic owners – having restored these treasured machines – were delighted to be able to show the thousands of spectators how their motorcycles could perform.

On the road racing circuit BMWs were one of the highlights of the weekend of historic activity. Ken Blake was one of Australia’s best and most loved motorcycle racers of the 1970s, and although he raced in many classes riding different motorcycles, he always had a passion for BMW. He won the 1977 Castrol 6 Hour production race with Joe Eastmure on an R100S after finishing on the podium in the previous years on the legendary R90S. He was unfortunately killed in July 1981 at the Isle of Man.

Rider Greg Johnson had the cylinder heads kissing the tarmac as he took the R 75 around the tight and undulating track

This year Motorcycling Australia honored Ken’s heroic racing efforts with a collection of memorabilia and importantly many of the motorcycles he rode at his time at the top of Australian motorcycling. One of these was the Ecco Engineering R75 that featured in what is now regarded as Australia’s first Superbike race in 1978.

The bike is the work of Australian engineer Graeme ‘Gyro’ Carless, a man with a passion for BMW. He developed the bike from a 1969 R75/5 into a motorcycle that was competitive with the Japanese motorcycles of the era. Since Ken Blake’s death the bike has not been raced and only rarely taken out on demonstration laps.

This was a special event and ‘Gyro’ prepared this important motorcycle so that spectators could see and hear the methanol-fuelled BMW at its best. On track it bellowed with a distinctive note as rider Greg Johnson worked it up to full pace. It was a non-competitive event but Greg had the cylinder heads kissing the tarmac as he took the R75 around the tight and undulating track, with the polished aluminium fairing glistening in the sunlight. He was taking spectators back to another era and reviving strong memories of the late Ken Blake and the last time BMW was competitive on track in Australia.

When not on track the R75 was on display with other machines that were part of Ken Blake’s life and Australian motorcycling history. They attracted a large crowd all weekend, but the stunning BMW R75 was the one that they wanted to both see and hear. It did not disappoint.

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