Where are they now? Geoff Crocott | Columns | Gassit Garage
Teddy Preston’s death at the Sydney Royale Speedway towards the end of the 1965/66 season was the final straw for Geoff Grocott. His beloved Vincent outfit was put on the block, his speedway days at an end. Besides, he needed more time with his family. And to keep a closer eye on his fledgling business which had just lost the Jawa-CZ distributorship due to cold war politics.
He was now left with his small bike shop in Sydney’s outer west selling the new brand in town – Kawasaki – which later proved propitious in a way Geoff never envisioned.
“During this time I’d kept my hand in, racing motocross, trials and short circuit,” Geoff recalls. “I loved the camaraderie. But deep down nothing could take the place of Speedway Sidecars.”
Geoff’s business held its own and, three years on, when Kawasaki released the H1 – a three cylinder 500cc two-stroke – Geoff returned to Speedway, installing H1 power in an outfit. The fact that he knew bugger all about tuning two-strokes was no deterrent and, by the end of the 1969 season, despite the jokes and the sarcasm, Geoff and his new swinger Warren Sullivan had scored a few handicap victories at the Royale.
Larger carburettors and a switch to methanol weren’t the most significant developments in the off season.
“At the first meeting of the 1970 season, when Warren and I exited the change room, our new Kawasaki Green leathers created a chorus of catcalls and whistles. We’d become the girly riders on the girly bike.” Yet as the season concluded the shrieking H1 was running wheel to wheel with perennial Sidecar Champion Doug Robson’s Vincent HRD.
On their first outing of the 1971/72 season, they turned up with the new Kawasaki 750cc H2 powerplant installed – which, in appearance, was little different than the H1. Geoff expected to smoke the competition – only to run stone motherless in every start. The following week, fuel problems sorted, Geoff and Warren commenced a winning streak of 28 successive events culminating in the 1972 Australian Sidecar Championship, along with both the 750cc and Unlimited Long Track Championships. The girlymen in green were the vanguard of the Japanese revolution that changed the face of speedway for all time.
Nothing is forever. Geoff and Warren called time out the following year. Kawasaki – a marque which Geoff’s success had done so much to promote – introduced the 900cc Z1 and appointed a new Australian Distributor. Men in suits selling motorcycles didn’t gel with Geoff’s style and he walked. Only to join ‘the enemy’ a few years later over in Western Australia; attired in a suit and selling Kawasaki for LNC Industries. And (against company policy) taking the occasional spin around Claremont Speedway with new swinger Tony Ecclestone.
It was during this time that Geoff took on a couple of fun seasons in the novel sport of SidecarCross – naturally using Kawasaki power. However the transition to West Australia never really jelled and soon Geoff was back in motorcycle sales for Ryans at Parramatta and later as a representative for Metzler Australia; his last involvement with the two wheel trade.
Meantime a move to the shores of Pittwater – and with wife Rosemary – a lease on the Waterfront Store at Church Point sparked an interest in boats – which was bound to happen with a new home that could only be accessed by water; though Geoff kept a Harley 1200 Sportster for the occasional run up to Palm Beach. It was an idyllic time in their lives.
“We do miss the Peninsula at times,” says Geoff. “But Sydney is just too bloody busy for me now.”
For family reasons Geoff and Rosemary eventually moved to Mackay from where Geoff has published a memoir of his speedway days and contributes a regular column to Peter White’s Speedway World.
By Peter Whitaker