Grey Flash 2751

The history and restoration of a Vincent HRD Grey Flash

Amongst several of the period shots that I have of 2751 racing in-period is one set of 4 images. The photos have been marked differently but were obviously taken at the same event. Recently I was looking closely at them and noticed a road sign was visible.

This is plainly visible…
…but quite illegible.

One of the captions mentioned the Matarawa GP. I started researching old NZ road racing circuits and the enormity of the task soon became apparent; there were scores of courses and many of even the larger ones were re-located several times… I may be accused of being many things and being persistent is one of my more annoying characteristics! I became obsessed with this side project and spent any free time on the computer poring over any leads and trying to find corresponding terrain on Google Maps. About one week in I started trying to track down another annotation that read ‘Senior Taranaki GP’. Then I had a stroke of luck: I found the image of an old programme from the inaugural race held on November 25th 1950 – the course layout was depicted in an aerial shot. This corresponded with the date written on the photo and Weston Webb would have taken delivery of the bike then as it was despatched from The Works on 11th November 1949. I started studying the Waitara/Tikorangi area and environs to see whether I could find a road layout that matched that depicted on the programme cover.

Ngatimaru Road – boom!!

I’d nailed it! Then it was a case of carefully searching likely spots for a match at Street View level. This took longer but I managed to find the exact spot where the photographs had been taken over 70 years previously!! I was so engrossed in this work that I didn’t get to bed that night until 3am… So, here are the photos with corresponding shots grabbed from Google Maps:

The Norton mounted rider is possibly Pete Stone. They look as if they have just come in off the course as they are pointed away from it.
The next shot shows Len helmeted though this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s preparing to ride – the bike has no stand fitted and would have been leaning against Len. I think he was about to roll it forward and put his helmet on rather than risk dropping it.
The helmet is not done up and all three riders look dusty as if they have just come off the track. Note the straw tied to the electricity pole to act as a cushion in the case of a collision.

The location I’ve pinpointed seems to have been used as an off-course assembly point. There is one more shot from this race:

Len is riding 2751.

The following year, 1951, saw Len travel to Europe to ride in the Isle of Man TT (and other races) where he came 9th in the Senior riding a Norton.

The Taranaki GP was held from 1950 – 1956 on the above course.

This is a very satisfying result which has added considerably to the provenance of 2751. šŸ˜Ž

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