WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Denny Megalos | Columns | Gassit Garage
The 125 GP racer turned bank teller turned factory wrench worked with ASBK’s greats
How did you get into bikes?
My brother John ‘Wal’ Megalos had a Bridgestone 90 road bike that he started to race in the early 70s. I was still in high school and helped him out. In 1976 I started racing with the Hartwell MCC on a Yamaha AS1 motor fitted with a factory GYT kit housed in a Hodaka frame! I later bought a brand new TA125 Yamaha from Peter Stevens Motorcycles’ first shop in Moorabbin with the money I saved working as a bank teller. After Bathurst I converted the bike to alcohol, and that made a huge difference in performance.
Tell us about your first trip to Bathurst.
There was a petrol strike in NSW and we almost ran out at 2.00 am on the way up from Melbourne. We arrived at 9.00am and my first practise was at 10. It was incredibly daunting, Armco everywhere. My TA was clocked at 181km/h down Con-rod and Barry Smith and Geoff Sim the gun 125 guys were doing 200km/h so that shows you the speed difference. I went back to Bathurst in ‘79 on Smithie’s 250E. I bumped into George Huse and he said “you’re racing my 125” and I said “what?” and before you know it I was out on the grid for the 125GP on his heavily modified Kawasaki single. It required a unique starting technique and lo and behold I got a ripper getaway and was in about tenth when it just died up Mountain Straight ̶ couldn’t believe it!
Tell us about your foray on the Yamaha 250 Proddies/Improved Production bikes
The Yamaha Australia LC series started in 1982 and my good mate Rex Dell gave me his just run-in LC250 and said start racing. I used it in standard trim for the first few meetings then gradually built it up to Improved Production specs gaining a third place at Winton and winning the last round at Sandown, smashing the lap record by 6.5 seconds. Ron Scholes Component Yamaha offered me a new RZ250 in the 1983 series and I repaid his faith by winning the championship. I couldn’t race in the Yamaha RZ Cup because I was a Yamaha employee. The original LC250 is back with Rex Dell and he’s still winning races in Post-Classic Championships. My dream was to buy a new TZ250 but the $20K price tag was out of reach so I gave racing away.
This led to a shift to working with the local Yamaha Racing team.
I started when Warren Willing took over the Marlboro Yamaha Dealer Team in mid ’86. I remember they sent over the 750 Superbikes from Perth to Yamaha in Melbourne with a list of things to do in preparation for the Swann series round at Calder. I started working with the team on a volunteer basis at various national rounds. In ’87 I went to Suzuka 8 hour with the Yamaha Nescafe Americana Racing team with Michael Doohan and Rod Cox as the riders. It was the first time in Japan for all of us and it was a real eye opener. Kevin Magee and Martin Wimmer were on the official factory team overseen by Warren and they ended up winning. It was great working with Mick and Rod, both top riders and good blokes. Mick was a little bit quicker, and we were going well ‘til the third hour when Rod had a big one at the end of the front straight because of a problem with the clutch.
You ended up working with some of the greatest Superbike riders of that era ̶ what is your take on them?
There are the naturally talented riders like Magee, Doohan and Mladin who could ride around problems, then the workers who were always trying to find that last tenth in the bike. I was lucky enough to work with Magee, the Doohan brothers, Dowson, Peter Goddard, Wally Campbell, Michael O’Connor, and Roy Leslie. I was blown away by what they could all do on a Superbike.
What are you doing these days?
I’ve been working for Yamaha Motor Australia as a technical service & sales consultant golf cars for 13 years. I still follow racing but I’m a bit saddened by the state of Australian road racing. Back in my day the factories were signing Magee, Doohan and Mladin to GP contracts based on their ability. Now it’s the size of your wallet that seems to count.
By Darryl Flack