Tuesday, January 27, 2009


By Dennis Quinlan

Allan Burt was a motorcyclist all his life, and never married; some say he was wed to Velocette and AMC motorcycles.
A 'racer's racer' is an apt description. Following are some photographs from his years as dedicated racing man, from Australia and the Isle of Man; on dirt, road, and track.

The first photo shows Allan dicing with the late Les Diener in 1948 at Mildura, Victoria. [These are both very special Velocettes; if you click on the photo, you will note that both have been modified with double-overhead-camboxes! Diener's bike has what appear to be ex-WD AMC telescopic forks, and both machines appear to use magnesium hubs. I will speculate that these are both 250cc 'specials', based on the pushrod MOV Velo, modified into very effective short-circuit 'tools' - pd'o.]

The next with great mate Bobby Brown unloading bikes around 1950, also at the Mildura races of that year. [A tempting collection of race hardware! I spot Norton, Velocette, and AMC hardware.]

The next is Allan aboard a pre-war Velocette 350cc rigid MAC in a trial near Parramatta, Sydney [note stripped-down yet basically standard motorcycle - a 'bob job'].

Team photo of the P.& R. Williams 1954 Castrol 5-Day Trial entrants, L to R...B.Lemon, Doug Williams and Allan Burt, with the mix of machines P&R imported.

Bob Brown on a P. & R. Williams ex-works KTT Velocette [note extra-large cylinder barrel], with Allan on a P. & R. AJS 7R, at Mt. Druitt race track, west of Sydney, 1953. In between is Les Slaughter and Eric McPherson, both dealer-supported riders.

Following is Allan at the IOM TT races, June 1955 outside the favourite guest house for Commonwealth riders in Douglas..."Rose Villa"...L to R- Allan Burt, Richie Thomset, Bobby Brown, Maurie Quincey's wife, Maurie Quincey. Both Allan and Bob are mounted on loaned AMC machines from the factory to assist in learning the course...

Allen suffered a terrific crash in practice for the 1955 TT that resulted in his spending 8 months recuperating in the Isle of Man, cared for by the proprietors of "Rose Villa", Glad and Roy Gilbert, with whom Allan retained a lifelong correspondence.

Bob Brown came back to the IOM in Feb.1956, collected Allan who was on crutches, and Allan accompanied him as a mechanic all through the 1956 European season, then returned to Australia and worked in three jobs during 1957 to save to go to Europe again.
1958 saw Allan and Bob return by boat to the UK and embark on a full continental racing season.
Returning to Australia late in 1958, Allan remained a force in Australian title road racing up until his late 60s.... Unfortunately, Bob Brown was killed riding a Works Honda on the Isle of Man in 1960.
Above, Allan's smashed 7R sits forlornly outside the AMC raceshop in Plustead outside London, awaiting repair....
Following that is Allan aboard his AJS 7R for the 1958 IOM TT races, awaiting practice to start.

Then some motorcycling memorabilia...AB's Western Suburbs MCC Cromwell "pudding basin" crash helmet.

The other is one of the bronze replicas Allan won for his 44th place in the 1958 Junior IOM TT on his 350 AJS 7R, the other for 41st in the 1958 Senior IOM TT, riding Bob Brown's Junior TT AJS 7R (Allans' Senior mount, a G50 Matchless broke a crankpin in practice).

Allan loved working on bikes...here he is using "Big Bertha", my really large old lathe to machine up a sprocket blank in my shed.

Allan's last G50, a 1961 model seen at Amaroo Park circuit, July 1977.
Then for Allan tragedy struck....while in hospital in May 1998 for unsuccessful surgery to his leg, his shed was broken into and a 1960 7R AJS, a 1961 G50 Matchless and a 1954 G45 Matchless were stolen.
Allan was devastated...to him the theft must have been perpetrated by an associate or even a friend.... He found it difficult to look friends in the eye. Were they the thief? He never actively went into his shed again to work on motorcycles and as time passed his old "war wound" the badly smashed leg from the 1955 IOM crash affected his mobility and eventually he had to go into a nursing home. His three racing motorcycles are still missing.

I assisted in clearing his shed, some bikes and all parts were sold, but four racers were put on display in the National Motor Racing Museum at Bathurst, NSW...pictured are three of them. A Mk.8 KTT replica, another 7R AJS and his 125cc Yahama racer.

The final photo is of Allan at his nursing home, taken shortly before his death last week by old friend Jan Grainger... a bachelor he may have been, but he always had an eye for "good lookin' sheilas..." ( a "sheila" is Australian parlance for a gal..).

Late last year, 2008, two brother were charged with receiving stolen goods involved in the theft of Allan's bikes...some 10 years later. There is hope the bikes may be recovered and justice be done to the perpetrators of this crime...to steal from a friend is a low act....
Sadly Allan will not see the result of the impending judicial trial or if his bikes will ever be recovered. Rest assured there are many of us who have worked to bring the thieves to justice and will continue until justice is done.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to read of Allan Burt's death. Interesting to see that the 7R he contributed to the NMRM is wearing Matchless transfers on the tank. The G45 that was stolen in
1998, conversely, carried an AJS-badged tank, going by the police notice that
was posted. These eccentricities point up the difficulty in
identifying AMC racers, beyond the
sleight-of-hand by the factory shop. You might recall our previous
exchange regarding the elusive AJS 10Rs (re-badged G45s) that were shipped to South America in 1954. Still trying to get the full story on those, fifty years later.

Cheers to Allan Burt, and let's hope the culprits get their just


Anonymous said...

I love your blogs and have added as a favourite. Such a sad story re allan. keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

In the small world department. The article that you posted recently as a tribute to Allan Burt featured a photo of Allan with a dear friend of mine, Jan Grainger. Her posting on TTfan's website tells an interesting story about Mike.


Elizabeth McCarthy

Peter said...

Hi its stephanie young (nee gilbert) daughter of the late Glad and Roy Gilbert from the isle of man. All the riders from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa were so special to my parents when they stayed at Rose Villa - I know Mum and Dad would be delighted to see this blog - well done Regards Steph

Anonymous said...

I knew both Alan Burt and Bobbie Brown. While it is true Bob was killed riding a factory Honda I believe he was not at the IOM TT but at Imola in Italy in practice for the Italian GP