Seconded Graham, a great place indeed....
The article mentions that for 1973 , John was "offered ( By Tommy Mc Cleary ) one of the Dickie Lawton - Steve Roberts built TR 500's , the NZ-built ones, with Mike Sinclair at the wrench ".....
Probably the machine pictured below, photo provided by a forum member from down under ( who wishes to remain anonymous since he doesn't remember the copyright owner of the picture ) and said to have been taken at Sydney's Amaroo Park, with Mike Sinclair standing at John's side.
What a great web site!
You fellas impress me with your knowledge of racing and obviously you have memory which works a lot better than mine does.
Still, browsing through this site does get the memory working again and that's gotta be good for an old fart!
This shot was sent to me last year also and it was at the Trans Tasman Challenge at Amaroo Park in early 73 (I think).
John is on my (well ok, Tommy's) TR500 and I reckon that is Mike Steele's front wheel poking in the edge of the pic (Mike had a Fontana brake whereas we used Ceriani brakes).
I built quite a few of these using Steve Roberts frames and motors which came from Suzuki via Colemans the NZ distributor.
Tommy McCleary (local Suzuki dealer and my employer) funded it all and the deal was that I built them and raced them until somebody bought the bike and I'd build another.
Hell of a deal for me as my racing was affordable that way, even if, from the looks of the photo I couldn't afford a haircut!
John first rode one of Tom's TR500s at the Shell Race of the Year at Wanganui on boxing day ('72 I think) and he won against all the kiwi hot shoes and also Ron Grant on his factory TR750.
He was a total unknown and certainly had everybody sit up and take notice after that.
He made my bike look pretty flash also!
John was at school with my brothers and I knew him through them.
He had been riding local club events on an H1 Kawasaki and I had been racing against him on a TR 250 and 500 of Tommy's that I was riding at the time.
I planned to concentrate mainly on the 250 championship that year and asked Tom if I could give this local lunatic a ride on the 500 at Ruapuna (local circuit) after work to see how he went.
The first time we went out he was fast and the second session out there he went under the existing lap record which Geoff Perry had set.
Off to Wanganui for his first ride on a racing bike and he puffed them all off.
Amazing performace, but he always was a very fast rider and I have always thought he was one who could have gone right to the top even on the world stage.
I guess he wasn't driven by the idea of becoming a professional racer and after he had done the F750 race in Assen and had gone so well there, he told me that he had seen what the top level was like and the whole life style with its living in caravans and scratching about to make a living didn't appeal to him at all.
Quite the opposite to me and I guess John just didn't have enough of the gypsy in him, which was necessary in the 70's for any colonial racing (or spannering) in Europe.
Mike S KZ71