Suzuki Snapshots

Peter Jones

I'd be happy to send you some reminisces about Suzuki's. I was thinking of doing it model by model rather than year by year and even if I didn't actually race it there might be something of interest. I do have some photos, but not as many as I wished I had, bet that is not unusual. I did not even own a camera during my racing days so I guess I'm lucky to have any! 
To get things started I thought that I should tell you how I got started: I did not own a M/C until I was about 19, at which time I was working as a Turner and Fitter/ Tool Maker. My first M/C was a second hand Yamaha YDS1, which, as you may know, was one fantastic M/C for the time. After a year or so I traded it in on a new Yamaha YDS2, by which time I had joined the local M/C club, the Sandringham M/C club. By one of those "being in the right place at the right time" situations I began to do "Course Marshalling" at various circuits in Victoria on my YDS2, which led me to think about racing and being around a lot of other club members who were racing at the time pushed me along a bit. In 1964 I entered my first race meeting, the Easter Bathurst meeting, where I finished 3rd in the 250cc production event on the YDS2. That was it and I competed until 1976 when I called it a day! After Bathurst I decided that I should purchase a purpose built racing M/C and it came down to either a second hand TD1 (an A I think) that was being raced by Ken Rumble, or a second hand Aermacchi 250 that was being raced by Alan Osborne. I chose the Aermacchi, which in hindsight was perhaps the incorrect choice, anyway after a year or so I purchased a second hand TD1B on which I began to have success. About this time (late 1965, early 1966) I joined Melbourne Motorcycle Company and my association with Suzuki began which carried onto my retirement from racing in 1976 and finally in early 1983 I left Suzuki Australia (which had taken over Melbourne M/C Company during 1982) to join Milledge Bros ( the Victorian Agent for Yamaha) with whom I had connections going back to the YDS1 days, they in turn were taken over by Yamaha Motor Australia in Sept 1983. I continued working with Yamaha Motor Australia on a full time basis until a couple of years ago when I was made redundant.I now work part time for them assisting in their warehouse etc. 
My full time position at Melbourne Motorcycle Company/Suzuki Australia/Milledge Bros and Yamaha Motor Australia was as their Service Manager.

Peter Jones took an Australian triple at the Australian TT at Surfers paradise Raceway in May 1969. Peter rode a rare TR250 to victory in the 250 class. He also won the 350 and 500 classes on the same TR250 Suzuki , coming 3rd in the Unlimited class.

It was VERY REMISS of me not to include Graeme Laing's name in my first email to you.
I first met Graeme when I joined the Sandringham Motorcycle Club back in early 1960's and became friends. He lives locally and I am happy to say that we still keep in contact.
Graeme became the General Manager for Melbourne Motorcycles during 1965 and employed me initially to help him assemble the first shipment of Suzuki's over the Christmas period in 1965/6. Obviously I managed to assemble a few bikes without causing too much damage?, so he offered me a full time job as the assembler/ mechanic. I do not think it took me too long to take him up on it! and so become the second employee of Melbourne Motorcycle Company.
This was the start of a business association that lasted through the entire life of Melbourne Motorcycle Company (1965~1982) and continued onto Milledge Yamaha in 1983 (where Graeme was their General Manager) and then finally to Yamaha Motor Australia where he was their Victorian General Manager until he retired in the late 1990's.
I mention all this because I and a number of other staff members, were fortunate enough to work at Melbourne Motorcycle Company in an atmosphere where racing motorcycles were actually enjoyed, not tolerated! This was due to Graeme competing himself, which he continued to do until very recently, and I will not be surprised to see him out there again!
In my case I was supporting my own racing with the Yamaha TD1B when I joined Melbourne Motorcycle Company, but as soon as the TR250 became available, and our subsequent efforts with a converted T500, the 1970 TR500, the water-cooled TR500 and finally the RG500, all expenses were taken care of. To say that I believe that I was in a fortunate position would be an understatement!
Just for the record....I won the 250/350/500 and came 3rd in the Unlimited TT in 1969...... all on the TR250.   I THINK I may have won the 250 far and square from Ron Toombs, then again... I never thought I was his equal, very few were!     
I believe that I only won the 350 due to Ron Toombs having a shocking start on his 350. I think he just failed to get to me on the last lap.
In the 500 I felt sorry for Ron as just as he passed me on his way to what would have been a very easy win,  the needle in the carburettor broke off I believe, on the Tony Henderson 500 (which they called a Matchless, but it was a Tony Henderson 500 as far as I was concerned). Tony was a good guy and that 500 was one fantastic M/C.
Cannot remember anything about the unlimited race at all, only that the results lists me as finishing 3rd.
The only thing I can remember is that I only entered at the insistence of the then President of the Sandringham M/C Club, Gerry O'Brien (later of Lazer Helmet fame),who had confidence in me doing well after my success at Bathurst.

Next instalment - the mighty A100 racer

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Muzza - 2003