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DJ Run: 2013 is the Centenary

2013-03-06 09:19

BLOOD, SWEAT AND GEARS: David Pitchford (BSA-mounted) was obviously very pleased to reach the finish line of the 2012 Durban-Johannesburg motorcycle trial. The 2013 event will be run in the opposite direction for its centenary event!

DAVE FALL

Every year since 1970, about this time of the year, many intrepid riders take part in the international Johannesburg-Durban Rally (the DJ run, originally called the Durban-Rand Race) – one of the toughest motorcycle events in the world.

This year, 2013, it will also be a tribute to a race first held 100 years ago.

Tomorrow (March 7, 2013) will see the race run rather differently this time around as it’s held over three days - and in the other direction (Johannesburg-Durban). It will start at 6am at Carnival City, Brakpan, on Johannesburg’s East Rand and finish in Hillcrest, Durban on March 9.

Also planned is a mass ride into Durban that afternoon.

HONOURS FOR HESKETH

For the record, back in 1913 when the first event was run, it took A W McKeag nearly 15 hours to complete the event and cross the line first. How many times he dug his Bradbury machine out of the mud I can only imagine – remember, no tarred roads back then and farm gates to open/close every so often.

Annually, up until 1936, huge interest across the globe focused on South Africa and who would win the toughest motorcycle race in the world. In 1935 Pietermaritzburg rider R O Hesketh took the honours on his celebrated 250cc Excelsior in a then amazing seven hours.

The mostly dirt roads hadn’t noticeably improved and riders still had to stop, dismount and close the countless gates behind them!

A halt was called to racing in 1936 after a young Durban competitor was killed. Jock Leishman perished while crossing the Biggarsberg range near Ladysmith; the event had become too fast for the marshals to control.

The modern DJ was created in 1970 by the Rand Motor Club and the SA Vintage and Veteran Club in Johannesburg but as a far-safer regularity/commemorative event. For 43 years the event has drawn competitors from Europe — and this year is no exception.

17 FOREIGN ENTRIES

About 200 motorcycles are expected to take part, making this one of the largest single events on the 2013 SA motorsport calendar. Every machine must have been assembled in or before 1936 – the year when the authorities stopped the annual racing event for being too darn dangerous!

Staged under the auspices of the SA Vintage and Veteran Association, the three-day "run" has attracted extensive international interest with 17 foreign riders, including competitors from New Zealand, Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, the US, Zimbabwe and Ireland.

More than 50 motorcycle brands will start the event – most of them British and many of them brand names that have long since faded into the mist of time.

The most popular seems to be BSA with 27 entries; this was once the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world but went out of business in the early 1970’s.

Brands still on the market that will compete include BMW, Harley-Davidson, Husqvarna, Indian, Moto Guzzi, Triumph and Royal Enfield.

Read the history of the DJ Run from the very start
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