GLENN FLACK | Where are they now?
Glenn Flack was a fast Sydney rider and GP ‘journalist’ extraordinaire
“I got into bikes in the late ’60s, early ’70s on my Suzuki 250, riding with a group of guys in the North Ryde area,” said Glenn Flack. “We had a lot of fun, and a lot of great parties. I didn’t get into off-road riding and never gave racing a thought, but my flatmate Mick O’Brien, Rick Perry and other mates were racing and I began to take an interest. I was already in Willoughby (DMCC) for the touring club runs on my BMW 600.”
It wasn’t such a big step to take it to the track so Glenn began racing in 1974 on a modified Yamaha RD350, securing the Improved Touring Senior (500cc) lap record at Oran Park as a rookie C-Grader just months into his career. Fast from the get-go, he had a preference for fast tracks like Bathurst, Surfers Paradise and Phillip Island.
Rather than continue his climb up the local ladder, Glenn ventured to Europe in 1975 via the USA, not to race, but to follow the GP tour. Friends of friends’ connections saw him staying at Hurley Wilvert’s place on the west coast together with Warren Willing, and Glenn ended up driving Hurley’s race van over to Daytona. Glenn parked in the infield to watch the 200-mile classic, meeting Dutch photographer Jan Burgers nearby. Hitting it off, the pair planned to hang out together in the GP paddocks across Europe.
To do that, Glenn passed himself off as an Australian journalist. Using his skills as a printer, he gained accreditation with letterheads and logos made up for a bogus Australian bike magazine ‘Cycle Action’ with a letter of recommendation from the so-called editor Greg O’Grady. It worked a treat. The only grand prix organisers that got suspicious were the Germans.
“They kept asking awkward questions, I could sense they were onto me so I did a runner. I actually did get a story published in Dutch magazine Moto 73. The editor translated the story for me.” Glenn also shot Super 8 footage at Daytona, GPs and Formula 750 events, and did a bit of pit work for Wilvert.
Season ’75 saw Giacomo Agostini take a historic win on his works Yamaha YZR500, the first time that a two-stroke had won the premier class. GP rookie Johnny Ceccotto stunned the paddock with victory in the 350cc world championship, and Walter Villa and Michel Rougerie made it a Harley-Davidson 1-2 in the 250s. But the performance that really blew Glenn away was Barry Sheene’s sensational win in the Dutch TT from Agostini, both riders recording the same race time.
“I was at Daytona when Barry had that terrible crash,” says Glenn. “He came back at the second round at Salzburgring, but he only regained full fitness at Assen. Watching him edge Ago was easily the best race I saw that season, in front of that incredible Dutch crowd.”
Breathing in one of the most historic seasons in GP history, Glenn dreamed of returning to Europe in 1976 to work and maybe race. Realising he was way too inexperienced to chase that dream he stayed in Australia, determined to get serious about his race career.
“I bought a TZ350, I didn’t know a lot about mechanics but I had mates to help. I heard that matching the tightest fitting piston with each barrel would produce a quick bike; I spent a bit of time doing that. I had a very fast bike at Bathurst in ’77.”
Before that Glenn won the Unlimited C-Grade race at Bathurst in 1976, then the Junior B-grade in ’77. He finished second in the Unlimited B Grade that year on his TZ350, seventh in the 350 Grand Prix and ninth in the 500 GP. “That was a pretty good weekend. I think I made around $500, which wasn’t bad for a B-Grader.”
Glenn’s red-hot form saw him promoted to A-Grade. “That was a big step up, it was a lot more serious.”
Despite not having the fastest bike, Glenn was third for most of the race in the wet 1978 Australian 350cc Grand Prix at Bathurst. “My bike was slow and three of ’em passed me down Conrod on the penultimate lap. They kept on passing me on the straights then running wide, and I kept on hanging in there to finish fifth, which was nice.”
Glenn’s last-ever meeting was Bathurst ’79. “I was in the same race that Ron Toombs was killed,” he said, striking a sombre tone. “That wasn’t the reason why I stopped.”
Glenn continued his work as a printer, culminating with a great job based in Singapore, servicing the South-East Asia region. Now back in Sydney, Glenn, 68, plays a lot of golf, still does a lot of touring with his wife Jenny, and has even re-connected with Jan and Hetty Burgers after all these years. Darryl Flack