Eric Hinton’s Bathurst bitsa | Columns | Gassit Garage
What do you do when your brother’s bike doesn’t arrive for the Bathurst races? You build him a race winner from cobbled-together bits
Suppose there was a racing machine that did just 26 laps in one weekend under its intended rider, yet won two Australian Grand Prix races and set two lap records. As it happens, such a bike did exist, and now its former rider would like to find it.
The machine in question took Rob Hinton to a GP double at Bathurst on Easter Saturday in 1976, winning the 350 and 250 events, with a quick-fire engine top-end change in between.
Elder brother Eric Hinton built the bike up from a wreck and only finished it on the Friday afternoon, giving Rob just two practice laps as a 350. Yes, two.
Rob did 24 race laps, eight each in the 350, 250 and Sunday’s 500 GP. After Easter it was sold to Sydney racer Sedge Deste, who rode it for a year and reckons it was excellent, but can’t recall the next buyer.
The Hinton bike was one of a group of successful specials at the 1976 Easter meeting. There was also Warren Willing’s Chris Dowde/Peter Campbell cantilever-chassis Yamaha TZ750 that recorded the first 100mph lap, Ray Quincey’s Rod Tingate-built cantilever-chassis Yamaha that placed second to Hinton in the 350 GP, the Kevin Cass Kawasaki KH125-based racer on which Dave Burgess dead-heated the 125 GP with Geoff Sim’s Cass-prepared Yamaha TA125, the Peter Campbell-built Kawasaki sidecar that Geoff Taylor raced to his first Bathurst podium finish, and Barry Taylor’s Phase 4 Kawasaki that Neil Kelly rode to victory in the Superbike race.
“Ian Scattergood and I put in orders for 350 C-models at (NSW Yamaha distributor) McCulloch months in advance,” Rob Hinton said, taking up the story of his 26-lap special. “Ian put his money down, but only two 350s came into NSW and another dealer exerted some pressure to secure the second bike for his rider. I was promised the next bike to arrive, but it wasn’t due until after Easter, so I cancelled the order. Putting it politely, Eric became very upset and decided to build me a bike, so it was karma when I won.”
Eric had one month to complete the build, but he was uniquely skilled. A former international racer, and a toolmaker by trade, he’d been around racing machines his entire life. He had built specials before, too, including a three-cylinder Yamaha 500.
Read the full story in the current issue (Vol 68 No 04) of AMCN on sale now
Words Don Cox
Photography Phil Aynsley & Rob Lewis