Where are they now? Brian Martin | Gassit Garage
Brian Martin was a Kiwi road racer, MXer, desert racer who made Oz his home
What got you interested in bikes?
In the mid-60s I thought a motorbike would be a good idea. In New Zealand you could get a licence when you were 15, so I saved $105 in my job delivering milk before school and bought a Yamaha YGS1 80 from Craig Brown, who had moved to the big league when he bought a YL1 100 cc twin! Ross King, who grew up with me in Lower Hutt, also bought a Yamaha YGS1 -80. A little later Ross bought a 650 Bonneville then decided to get a T20 Suzuki and started racing, and we followed him around the summer series in early 69. The racing thing was starting to happen then Craig said,why don’t we go to Sydney? and we did on July 6, 1969, to be precise.
There were quite a few reasons to cross the ditch, but tell us the main one.
New Zealand had very tight import restrictions in the 60s, a bit like Cuba I suspect, and the cost of new bikes was astronomical. Sydney was another planet in model choice and cost. On arrival, Craig and Ross each bought a Kawasaki H1 500 and I got a Suzuki T500 Cobra. It didn’t take us long to find the Putty Road and the old road up to Gosford.
It’ quite amazing that your race career started in Australia with the Willoughby club. How?
On my way to work a guy in a car purposely cut me off taking out my left-side handlebar, forcing me to use the clutch hanging by the cable. I made my way to Barry Ryan’s dealership and during the repair-quote process I decided to get away from cars and traded the T500 on the just-released TS250 street-scrambler. Through other riders we met, we joined Willoughby and started doing club days –road racing, short circuit and motocross. I actually started working for Barry Ryan where I met Laurie Alderton, who got me into motocross.
It wasn’t long before the TS250 was traded in on a Montesa Capra 250 and after quite a bit of success I bought a Maico 400 and stayed with Maico for most of my MX career – great bikes! Most guys were specialising in one discipline but I loved the variety. Ross King, Craig Brown and I all started in the first Castrol Six-Hour but that ended in disaster when Ross got caught up in that big pile-up up the hill on the second lap and dislocated his knee, finishing his career. Craig almost won it! In 72I started working for Hondaland at Chatswood and they supplied me with a new CB750K2, and I finished second behind Tony Hatton in the Production race at Bathurst. I won the 72 Nepean Six-Hour with Brian Clarkson and Carl Askew, and in MX I won a few NSW State Titles, and in what would have been the genesis of the Mr MX series, I came up against the Flood brothers, Per Klitland and Jack Pengally. In 1974 I managed to win the Australian 125 MX title. Across club, state and national racing and some NZ meetings, I was doing over 40 events a year.
You were still going strong in road racing right up until your retirement.
By 1977 my MX career was drawing to an end so I shared Graeme Crosby’s Kawasaki Superbike at Bathurst, which was quite an experience lifting the front wheel over the humps down Con-Rod at 275km/h. I moved back to production racing and finished second in the Calder-Two Hour and qualified equal fastest for the six-hour that year on my Kawasaki Z1-B. I teamed with Greg Pretty and to finish second in the Surfers Paradise Three-Hour. You now consider yourself an Aussie, and after a long break, you’re now back on bikes I moved to Adelaide in 1978 to manage the Eurotred SA branch. It was a great place to bring up the kids and I got into squash, triathlons, and cycling, winning a state title. For the past 27 years I’ve been working as a car fleet management consultant, and after a long absence I now do weekend rides on my Honda VFR800, which I love, although the level of policing is a lot different to the old days! I’m looking forward to my now annual ride to Phillip Island.
By Darryl Flack