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Denis Minett
( 1916 - 25/05/1989)  

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Denis Minett ca. 1937 [pg.40 - 'Francis Beart - A single purpose' by Jeff Clews]

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The Argus, Melbourne - 9 Dec 1938

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The West Australian - 20 Mar 1939, pg.10

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Adelaide Advertiser - 22 Aug 1940, pg.8

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Denis returned to the UK in 1940 returning to Australia permanently in 1951 to develop a 125cc rotary valve motor for Rex Tilbrook of Adelaide. He had his last race in 1953 at Victoria Park, Ballarat, finishing 6th on a GP Triumph.

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Melbourne Sun - 28 May 1989

Emigrating to Australia Denis broke the lap record at Lobethal, South Australia, on Boxing day 1938 and finished 2nd in the Senior event to George Hannaford, riding the ex Stanley Woods 500 Velocette.

Then in March 1939, at the Coorong Desert, South Australia, Denis set up six Australian records on Bruce Rehn’s 604cc Norton. The following shall stand to his credit –

750cc 1 mile standing start at 95.23 m.p.h. (153.26 k.p.h.)
750cc 1 mile flying 124.14 m.p.h. (199.78 k.p.h.)
750 & 1000cc  5 mile flying start 121.13 m.p.h. (194.94 k.p.h.)

[Notes at the Brooklands Museum - "Brooklands fans are not likely to forget the name of Denis Minett"]



Coorong Speedsters: Motorcycle Speed Record Attempts

[Letter dated 30 Nov 2006 from Peter Strawhan to Tess Minett.]

A little-known activity that took place in the Coorong during the 1930s was the attempt to better various motorcycle speed records. A small band of dedicated enthusiasts risked life and limb on machines tuned in backyard sheds, or in the workshops of small dealers, usually outside of normal working hours. According to the record book the first such attempt took place in January 1931, when Lou Borgelt averaged 63.90 miles per hour over a distance of 50 miles on a 248cc New Imperial, to set a new class record. He also took the 100 mile record in 1 hour 37 minutes and 14.68 seconds, averaging 61.70 mph. Borgelt went on to become Adelaide's leading Velocette dealer.

The venue for the attempts became known as `The Pipeclay Track' and was located south of Salt Creek. For most of the year the track was under water, but dried out in the summer months, presenting an ideal surface for distance attempts' according to one report.1 Members of the Motor Cycle Club of South Australia officiated and also acted as timekeepers. By the late 1930s their hand-held stopwatches of the early years had been replace by a more sophisticated `electric' timing system.

Small capacity records were the province of Wally Woollatt on his much-modified 173 cc Villiers. In 1934 Wally covered the half-mile from a flying start at the then respectable speed of 67.66 mph and managed to keep his small two-stroke on the track for a remarkable 2 hours 7 minutes and 59.08 seconds, to set a new 100 mile record. A year later W (Bill) Barker, 248cc and 498cc Levis and Phil James, 488cc Royal Enfield also set new records during the otherwise bleak years of the Great Depression.

The grand finale of the Pipe Clay Track came in 1939, that momentous year in which the Depression gave way to World War II. English rider, Denis Minett, set new solo records on a 596cc Norton and Bruce Rehn used the same machine with a sidecar attached to establish new three-wheeler records. To complete the hat trick, local rider Les Fredericks on a Triumph Tiger 100 `broke the previous Australian 24 hours record by almost 200 miles [on] March 10-11, [covering] 1508 miles [and 1406 yards]. 2

Minett achieved an astonishing fastest solo speed of 123.28 mph and broke records in the up to 750cc and 1000cc classes. He averaged 121.13 mph over the five mile flying start and 95.23 mph for the one mile standing start. Bruce Rehn set new bench marks by breaking the existing half and one mile, up to 600cc, sidecar records and the mile record for up to 1000cc outfits. His fastest sidecar speed was 100.5 mph. The war brought an end to record runs on the Pipe Clay Track. Today, nothing remains to show where that small band of motor-cycling enthusiasts wrote their names into the record book.3

Peter Strawhan
Goolwa 30 November 2006



The Advertiser (Adelaide) - Thursday 2nd Mar 1939

Interstate motorcycle traders are applying for permits to conduct Australian record attempts on the pipeclay track in the Coorong next week. The moon will be suitable for driving, and, if the weather is satisfactory attempts will be made to establish a 12-hour record and break the existing 24-hour record. It is expected that the South Australian rider, Les Fredericks, will be selected to ride the machine. Further sprint record attempts will be made towards the end of the week. The speed machines are being brought over from Melbourne, and the English record-breaker, Dennis [sic] Minett, who performed so brilliantly in the Australian T. T. meeting at Lobethal, is expected to pilot them.

The M. C. C. of S. A. has conducted similar attempts under electric timing at the pipeclay track for many years, and, although many speedmen claim that the surface is not as fast as Sellick's Beach for high speed short distances, it is accepted as the ideal surface for distance attempts. Under favourable conditions, a seven-mile straight can be prepared motor cyclists. If the weather is suitable officials will leave early next week to select the best available sections and measure the course on the pipeclay.

16th March 1939

Lenrocs Advertisements:

Les Fredericks Triumph Tiger 100 broke previous Australian 24 hours record by almost 200 miles March 10-11. 1508 miles.
On the Coorong Track 11 March 1939
Bruce Rehn and Den. Minett on privately owned Norton [596cc] broke the following Australian records
Two-Way Solo Flying Start 1 Mile (D. Minett) mean Speed 124.14 mph Breaking Half and One Mile Record s up to 750 and 1000cc. 
Fastest solo Speed 128.2 mph. 
Two-Way Solo Standing Start 1 Mile 95.23 mph, 
New Records Up To 750 and 1000 cc. 
Five Mile Solo Flying Start 121.13 mph (D. Minett).
Two-Way Sidecar Flying Start 1 Mile (B. Rehn) Mean Speed 96.25 mph Breaking Half and One Mile For Sidecars Up To 600 cc and 
mile Record For Sidecars up to 1000 cc Fastest sidecar Speed 100.5 mph.

P 7. Note
Denis Minett who is claiming several Australian records as a result of his attempts on the Coorong last week, is at present living in Victoria. After Easter he will accept a position with a motor cycle firm in Adelaide.



Australian Motor Cyclist' - 1939

Fine Achievements by Den Minett, Bruce Rehn, and Les. Fredericks

During March successful attempts on several Australian motor cycle records were made on the pipeclay track in the Coorong, a 90 mile stretch of desserty country between Adelaide and Mount Gambier.
Tire track was in excellent condition and a twelve and a half mile curcuit was selected. Extremely flat and smooth as a billiard table the track enabled the threes riders to put up some very fast time. Conducted under the auspices of of the Motor Cycle Club of South Australia, attempts ranging from quarter mile records to a 24 hour test were made. 

Les Fredericks, the South Australian speedman (who partnered Ewald Kluge of the D.K.W. factory) piloted a 500 c.c. Triumph in an attempt on the 24-hour record which was held by Ted Holyoak (S.A.) with 1,312 1/2 miles. In the first few laps Fredericks was lapping at 70 m.p.h. but was instructed to reduce his speed in order to conserve his motor. Pitt calls were made every six laps, and the necessary refuelling and adjustments were quickly made.

The 12 hour record went by the board in the early hours of the morning, and the new record stands at 771 miles 1,278 yards. Soon after establishing this time, a slight attack of sickness was suffered by Fredericks, but he gamely showed determination by maintaining his schedule. At the 21 hour mark the old record for 24 hours was passed. When the attempt was completed n distance of 1,508 miles 1,406 yards had been covered. The last lap was registered at 76.14m.p.h.

On the following day the finest section of the clay-pipe was chosen for the attempts by Denis Minett on the two-way flying start mile. He was astride a 596 c.c. Norton and registered an average speed of 124.14 mph. This entitles him to the half and one mile records for machines up to 1,000 c.c. In the mile two-way standing start attempts Minett's speed was 95.23 m.p.h., which also created new records for machines up to 1,000 c.c. capacity.

Minett's achievements as road-racer and record breaker have earned him very high regard throughout Australia. It is note learned that he has accepted a position with
motor cycle firm in Adelaide which he will take up after Easter.


After Minett's successful rides Bruce Rehn the Victorian sidecar expert, fitted sidecar to the same machine and made a successful attempt on the flying start two-way mile. His average speed was 96.25 m.p.h. He also broke the halt and one mile records for sidecar outfits up to 1,000 c.c. His attempt on his own mile standing start record was successful in that it bettered his previous time, but as he was unable to increase his speed by more than two miles per hour the record could not be officially claimed.

The sidecar was then removed and Minett in an attempt on the five mile flying start put up the outstanding figures of 121.13 mph. Rain late that evening made the track unsuitable for further attempts.




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