The ISDT 1960 ended in much controversy after extremely hard ground conditions created a controversial result which then changed on appeal to become even more controversial. The going was considered hard for many with many hills so steep they were full of stranded riders. On the other hand it was the event which saw the introduction of the daily special test based on off road going which now is a main feature in the event to decide who the daily winners will be.
“ISDT Seen from the Saddle”
In an article for Motor Cycling 6 October 1960 Ken Heanes provided a insight into the event from a British Trophy team riders point of view that is of great interest to anyone with a deep interest into the event and politics of racing.
From the pen of Ken Heanes…
PLENTY of printers’ ink has already flowed through the presses, fed by on the- spot reporters from the I.S.D.T., and plenty more will probably be needed to cope with the criticisms of spectators and armchair strategists. But how did the-man-in-the-saddle see it? Last week Norman Sharpe went down to Fleet, Hants., to talk to Ken Heanes, the most experienced of all this year’s British teamsters, who has amassed three “golds” and a near-miss .. sliver” since he took part in his first International exactly 10 years ago when he was just 16. This is his report:
Naturally, we’d have liked to bring the Trophy or Vase back to Britain this year. but all things considered. I reckon fourth place in the Trophy table was none too bad. Of course. there never was an International without ifs and buts, and if it hadn’t then
for Colin Moram’s, seemingly standard plug being one thread overlong so that the points closed when he screwed it home we’d probably “have got the message” and made an all-out effort on the special tests in the last four days. As it was, the two marks which the plug cost us made it pointless to indulge in heroics. And nerve – or sheer lack of imagination was certainly needed on those gruesome tests. Most of them were just plain dangerous: long tortuous blinds along mountain tracks, often with a vertical rock face on one side and a sheer drop on the other and no parachute provided.
The idea of deciding the trial on special test instead of on the speed test is first-rate and the section chosen have got to be difficult if they’re to do their job. but there was quite enough roughery in Austria to make tests which would have done that without being plain stupid. Admittedly we put up a pretty poor show on the brake test, but it was almost impossible to distinguish the finishing line. For one thing it was painted in yellow on concrete, which made it difficult to see, and there were so many people milling around the area that it needed X-ray eye to spot exactly where it was when you were
travelling at about 5 m.p.h. The going on the trial itself was almost the worst any of us had experienced in a Six Day. It would have been bad enough in good weather but in ice, snow and fog. . . ! Particularly unpleasant were the mountain tunnels on road like the Grossglockner: pitch darkness with the faintest glimmer of foggy light to aim for at the other end-provided the road didn’t bend too much. It’s no wonder that there were so many accidents particularly a the whole area was choc-a-bloc with tourist traffic. Some of them were pretty serious, too, like West German Trophy team captain Volker von Zitzewitz’s head-on collision with a Volkswagen Microbus. Long after it, the whole front of his Maico was still firmly embedded in the driving cab–lucky the VW’s engine
was at the back! Yet, oddly enough. the Austrian police didn’t seem unduly upset, though they were after Triss Sharp’s accident. They called at the hotel that night. got him out of bed, asked to see his passport and promptly confiscated it! and when Jack Stocker and Cliff King answered Triss’ yells for help they asked Jack to stay in Austria till after Triss had been prosecuted.
Throughout the trial. as before it, Jack was a tower of strength: There seemed to be nothing he didn’t know about the I.S.D.T. The same goes for H. P. Baughan and Jack Sutton. But some of the other A.-C.U. officials seemed scarcely interested. and it didn’t do a rider’s morale a great deal of good to be asked by one of the Union’s hierarchy whether he was a team member! Generally speaking the organization of the trial was none too bright and the route marking could have been a lot better. There was no dye, only arrows. to show the way, and some of these were spaced three or four miles apart. Even if there were no side turning, the long trek from one to the next could become pretty anxious, which doesn’t help when you’re riding against the clock.
It’s doubtful whether the argument about the ridiculous sections on Thursday and Saturday will ever end. Whatever the result of the Czech’ protest to the C.S.I. about the deletion of the mark lost on Saturday’s silly hill, “Trial by Jury,” as Bernal Osborne
called it, is no way to decide an I.S.D.T. But there was something distinctly odd about the business. On the way to the hill – an impossible 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 horror – l passed several Czech and Russian runners. Yet I didn’t see a single one among the mob of rider waiting to tackle the section. Certainly there was no lack of outside assistance there – I needed plenty myself when the Triumph was balanced on a huge rock step with neither wheel touching the ground – but it would have taken more than that to get to the next control on time, and the fact that only some of the Czech and Russians managed to do so makes one wonder whether they might not have found a convenient way round the hill…. Thursday’s affair was almost equally unsatisfactory. There was so much chaos on the offending hill that you could only join the queue at the bottom and wait your turn to have a go. While waiting I was told I’d been allowed 30 min. delay. When I eventually reached the top, this was increased to an hour. Yet at the same time, A.-C.U. juryman Cliff King told me not to rush to the next check because the section was going to be washed out completely.
As it happened, I pressed on reasonably quickly and made up about 4 min. en route. But, thinking they had ample time in hand, one or two other British riders decided to do a few odd job on their machines. Among them were Lambretta riders Alan Kimber and Roy King who reached the next check about 62 min. outside the original schedule-in other words 2 min. late taking the hour’s delay into account. You can imagine their disgust when they were herded off the starting line next morning and told they’d been excluded for exceeding the 6O-min.-late limit. And unfortunalely there was no British official around to assist them. I’m told the jury meeting had gone on till 3.30 a.m.. but you’d have thought that at least one A.-C.U. man would have been there. I reckon the scooter riders were the real heroes of the trial. conditions were bad enough for comp. bikes; for small wheels and footboards they were heartbreaking. Most of the British contingent tried hard and my fellow teamsters were absolutely first-class , but the effort I admired most of all was Lt. T. E. Owens’. He started the trial with a useless rear brake and a split tank: had to remove the rear brake shoes on the first day; wiped his front brake off four day later: borrowed the shoes from Sammy Miller’s Greeves for the speed test; and won a “bronze.”
Luckily Lt. Owens’ model was far from typical. Most British machines were beautifully prepared and I don’t think team mounts have ever started in better trim – even though most of the work had been done by the riders themselves. Thanks to our our combined experience and the advice of Messrs Stocker. Baughan and Sutton we knew exactly what was wanted. Certainly the 659 c.c. Triumph which Eric Chilton lent and prepared for me was a beauty. It gave absolutely no trouble all week and at the speed test it was reaching 102 m.p.h. despite being two teeth down on standard gearing!
The reason for the failure of the long alloy head nuts which put several Greeves out of the hunt, including Vaseman Sammy Miller’s was a mystery. but it at least gave one Dutchman a real chance to show his determination and initiative. He arrived at Monday’s lunch check wi!h a hunk of wood wedged between tank and cylinder-head and the head lashed on by yards of assorted wire – including the barbed variety – wound round and round the entire engine. Luckily there was a spare nut waiting for him there.
Ace performer among the big ‘uns was undoubtedly Germany’s Sebastian Nachtmann (600 B.M.W.). Apart from putting up F.T.D. on all but one of the special tests, his performance in the speed test was incredible as he banked the “B.M.” on to its valve cover on corners – trusting only to knobblies for adhesion.
But even he was outdone by Sweden’s Rolf Tibblin’ (Husqvarna) who would rush up to the tightish right-hander flat in top, drop down a cog, round the bend in a two-wheeled drift. and change into top again and accelerate away while he was still banked right over – no wonder he was European Moto-cross Champion last year! .
For many reason, the 1960 I.S.D.T. won’t go down in history as a howling success, but it did at least vindicate !he A.-C.U.’ decision to “have a go” whatever the manufacturers decided. I hope that special tests are here to stay as a mean of deciding ties and individual awards even though those devised by the Austrians were far too hazardous. And I also hope that the elimination of the speed test a decider will incline the Industries’ Association to renew their support in 1961 and that the Italian – if they stage it – will do a better job than the Oc.A.M.T.C. who were clearly working on a shoetring.
If the evidence of their effort this year is anything to go by the Italians should at least have enough money to put on a good show. Their equipment included a spare practice bike, track suit, trials suit and skin-tight leathers for each rider and they took their
own cooks. doctor and nurses along, too! They were said to have spent £3,400 on their entry!
As for us, the A.-C.U. grant wasn’t, of course enough to cover expenses ,but it helped a lot and we had fun. So thanks to all the clubmen and enthusiasts who made our efforts possible. I hope you don’t think we let you down.