ISDT 1957 – Czechoslovakia

Page under construction always…


32nd ISDT, Špindlerův Mlýn, Czechoslovakia

The event was held in the North of Czech near the Polish Border, based in the mountain town of Špindlerův Mlýn.

Image - Scanned cover of Official Programme ISDT 1957

Image – Scanned cover of Official Programme 32nd ISDT 1957

This programme with a few pages scanned at reasonable resolution were found in an eBay auction. View a selection of the programme here.

If anyone out there can afford to scan or to lend us to scan a full copy of this programme to share via this page, I would be very grateful.

Motorsport in Österreich

Internationale Sechstagefahrt 1957

We now have found a worthwhile collection of images of this event at the web site of the Technisches Museum Wien who have gathered a collection of ISDT records and images, mostly of Austrian competitors and team, from the best resources available – professional motorsports photographers.

View the gallery of images for ISDT 1957 here

Photo of souvenir event pin badge ISDT 1957

Nothing need be printed, I saw this for sale on ebay! & nabbed the image for all to enjoy, this year was Spindleruv Mlyn not the 1855 shoemaking location of Gottwaldow..
First day run measured 266.5 Miles, twice along a 133 miles course.  Tuesday to be a repetition of Monday’s 240 Miles & Thursday 238.7 miles.

Three Australian Teams entered, including Les Fisher from Sydney on a 125 MZ, Jon Rock & Tim Gibbes both had 250 Jawas, Roy East was the team manager. John and Tim both finished with Bronze whilst Les did not finish. Tim Gibbes recalls.

this was the first year that Australians entered teams in the event. At the time the British Commonwealth Countries did not have national motorcycle federations directly affiliated to the FIM so used to race under licenses issued by the ACU in Britain. There was to be no official British presence at the ISDT that year as the British factories boycotted the event as they sold no bikes in Eastern Europe, so that year the British had decided not to support the event. But the Brits really did not like me being there, as I was already on of their ISDT team riders. I had been riding Jawas for the South Australian importer a few years before, so had a bit of an idea what the bikes were like, & with the local support as more than just helpers, it all looked good. The bikes were really just standard production street bikes with upturned exhaust pipes, cross bar on the handlebar, & knobbly tyres. The tyres were locally made by Barum, which were not of high quality, as most Iron Curtain goods were in thos days, almost like cardboard, they wore so quickly. Certainly the bikes were nothing like the factory units the Czech & other friendly Communist State riders had, which were very impressive.


Photo of the Australian team from left Roy East, John Rock, Les Fisherwith transport at ISDT 1957 (image Tim Gibbes)

Before we arrived at the event, we had slight transport problems. All 4 of us travelled all the way from England in my 1949 Austin A40 pickup, a distance of nearly 2,000 Kms. As the front seat was really only wide enough to fit 2 people, the 4 across was a bit of a squeeze, necessitating a revised driving format, driver #1 pushing the accelerator & foot brake, plus some of the time steering, driver # 2 the clutch operation & shared steering duties, driver #3 or #4 who sat on #3s knees, the gear change & general observation.


Photo 1949 Austin A40 pickup, one of many race transporters of the famous old days! Try fitting 4 big guys into one of these & driving 2,000 kms each way (photo Tim Gibbes)

Eventually we got to the ISDT HQ of the event at Spindleruv Mlyn, put the A40 up on blocks, so we could strip it as we got time. We will get back to that story 6 days later after the ISDT. The ISDT itself was very, very wet, stormy & plenty of fog, possibly one of the toughest of all ISDT events. Spindleruv Mlyn, in the Krkonose (Giant) Mountains, is in the north of what is now the Czech Republic, almost on the Polish border, and well known as a winter snow ski resort & recreational area. In those days the chalets were all Trade Union run, so people from each area of an industrial town would holiday together, also an ideal way of having ‘Big Brother’ keep watch!


Photo of the event village. The weather was not exactly the best! The crates of bikes in the middle were ours ready for us to assemble & prepare for 6 days (photo Tim Gibbes)

We were told by some friendly locals, that the normal population of the then Czechoslavakia was 16 million Czechs & Slovakians, & 48 million Russian soldiers, KGB police etc. That’s 3 Big Brothers to every local, not very comforting when Big Brother keeps order with an AK47 machine gun slung over his shoulder. We hardly saw any views as the cloud & rain blotted out any chance of that for the whole 6 days. Many of the marquees & tents had been blown down by the wind & rain, so conditions were unpleasant.

Our local Czech support group, Mr. Plachta, Stan Cerney & Dr. Zimmer, were particularly helpful to us. Any problem they would talk us through the repair routine, as well as set-up pickup points out in the bush, when our bikes needed more than just maintenance. In those days all parts of the bikes were marked so officially it was not permitted to change any thing, even though illegal running repairs had been going for years. They also taught us how to shake hands frequently, so we could be passed so called illegal unmarked parts from hand to hand during the handshake. We realised quickly why so many Europeans shake hands frequently, especially during a major sporting event!

John Rock was a trials rider mainly, but relished the muddy conditions. The metal these bikes were made of was very low quality. His front mudguard brackets broke off, but as it was a marked part, had to carry it over his shoulder for 3 days, see the photo below of  the mud & slush that spat off the front wheel in his eyes & face. A tribute to the tenacity of the man, & he was rewarded with a well earned Bronze Medal.

Photo (photo Tim Gibbes)

Photo of Aussie rider John Rock and the front mudguard he carried for the last 3 days (photo Tim Gibbes)

Les Fishers CZ was not to get too far. The rear chain adjuster on the rear sprocket side broke, allowing the rear wheel to pull forward on that side, throwing off the chain. Regrettably a rare DNF for Les. My 250 Jawa also suffered electrical problems & metal fatigue. But we sorted our way through those, the electrics with good advice from our support crew.The ignition switch & main wiring loom were housed in a nacelle type compartment screwed into the top of the petrol tank, so some of the replaced wires from the generator & ignition system ran up the outside of the petrol tank. As well, the battery & tool box bolted to the rear left side of the bikes frame, broke off from metal fatigue, another case of very poor metal quality. Another marked part, as also was the battery. The battery was a very necessary piece of equipment, as the bike was coil ignition. So I wrapped the battery in a plastic bag, put it down the front of my jacket, took leads from there to the aforementioned switch & wiring loom on the petrol tank, & carried on, with varying degrees of pain from a big bust & an occasional acid burn from the battery, till I was able to repair the box with help from behind the bushes!


Photo of #181 Tim Gibbes & his 250cc Jawa used in the 1957 ISDT which had a few problems described in this story (photo Tim Gibbes)

One of the several rubber bands to hold the battery box in place can be seen above the #181 riding number! The flowers were possibly a fitting memorial to a long suffering bike that had much attention! Thanks to my very clever support crew & their helpers I got to the end & achieved a Bronze Medal, which possibly should have been more of a bravery award for the crew!

Tim Gibbes went on to be a British Trophy Teamster, Raced around the world before finally settling down in New Zealand to become the Husqvarna importer

Birmingham MCC represented by A W Glassbrook (BSA), J S Oliver (BSA) & E D Chilton from Bicester mounted on a 650 Triumph.  My old late friend Roger Maughling doubled as Competitor & Journalist riding plus reporting on a 250 Villiers powered DMW.  First away into a wet dawn after a 5.30 assmbly to the start time went Italy’s No1 Trophy Teamster Flavio Montesi

Photo of a sea of canvas covered workshops immediately dubbed Tent Town ISDT 1957

Spindleruv Mlyn, a sea of canvas covered workshops immediately dubbed Tent Town in 1957 ISDT Saturday was the start Day & here we see Saturdays preps. where all admin, logistics plus fuels oils & supporting concerns operated behind the Iron Curtain!, the 32nd in the series of events under the Aegis Of Ustredni Automotoklub C.S.R. this was Cold War time when no actual Official British Teams took Part

Photo of Busy day Saturday, Paddock activity sees JAWA Mechanics ensure Romanian machines are in tip top fettle.

Photo of #159 Les Archer and #160 David Miles at the start ISDT 1957

Location, Tent Town?, Arthur Williams believes left is Les Archer & 160 is David Miles before he started riding BSA Gold Stars. well spotted Arthur (darn site better than me at it).


Photo on the last day of the rather empty Parc Ferme caused by the number of retirements from the harsh conditions. ISDT 1957 (photo Tim Gibbes)

photo - member of the Czech Trophy team Alois Roucka (123cc CZ) keeps his boots dry on the muddy track by-passing Misecky ISDT 1957 (Speedtracktales archive)

photo – member of the Czech Trophy team #8 Alois Roucka (123cc CZ) keeps his boots dry on the muddy track by-passing Misecky ISDT 1957 (Speedtracktales archive)

What the Papers Said!

Still looking thin here , anybody able and willing to donate scanned copies of magazines articles would be most welcome such as this issue of Das Motorrad  part covering the event. A translated copy would be even better

image - cover of Das Motorrad #20 5 Oct 1957 with report on ISDT 1957

image – cover of Das Motorrad #20 5 Oct 1957 with report on ISDT 1957

The Final Score: Results

Speedtracktales wishes to thank Marc Pétrier of FIM Information Resources who has facilitated the scanning of the FIM archive of ISDT results material and is allowing us to make it available here as a public service. Download a copy of the original Results and Stewards Report at the link below.

Download this file as a pdf

Download Stewards Report for the 1957 ISDT here

Artefacts and Collectibles

image - scanned postcard ISDT 1957

image – scanned postcard ISDT 1957

picture postcard

Image – Postcard – ISDT 1957

Where are they now?

Tim Gibbes part of the original Australian team, these days can be found settled in New Zealand where he runs a Motorsport timing company which at hsi website he has been able to pull together and article with some of his recollections of the ISDT and the years since.

We are currently creating content for this year. In order to be able to keep up with our high standards of service, we need a little more time. Please stop by again. Thank you for your interest!


2 thoughts on “ISDT 1957 – Czechoslovakia”

  1. Email me, I can provide you a full scan of Oficial program.

  2. Mark Hill said:

    Does anyone know frame and engine numbers for the 1957 CZ isdt model bikes (not the official team bikes) that have the extra sheet metal on the side panels for number plates

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