Garry Thomas’ Kawasaki H2 750
Also known as the Mach 4, this model was the fastest accelerating bike produced in 1972 with a ¼ mile standing start drag time of 12 seconds, a top speed of 203 kph with its 74 hp engine. With an original purchase price of $1445 it was a huge ‘bang for your buck’.
The thousands who attended the 2011 Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza witnessed the sight of one of the real legends of Australian motorcycle racing, Garry Thomas, back on track aboard the motorcycle that took him to victory in the 1974 Chesterfield Superbike Series. The series was organised by Willoughby Dustrict Motorcycle Club and held over five rounds at Amaroo Park. Each round consisted of four back-to-back sprint races and the cut-and-thrust racing was immensely popular with spectators.
The term ‘Superbike Racing’ was coined originally by the organising NSW Willoughby Club for their series in 1972. Bikes had to be externally standard except for exhaust pipes, shocks, lights, carbys, aircleaners and footrests but any internal mods were OK.
In 1976 the American Motorcycle Association Superbike series began which used the same concept and developed into the FIM World Superbike Championship and then abbreviated into the current WSBK which has seen Australian riders take many titles.
Garry was the first person in the world to win on the new water-cooled Yamaha TZ350 in 1973. Spectators at Bathurst in 1979 will never forget the sight of Garry wrestling the six cylinder Kawasaki Z1300 to a close second place behind Tony Hatton in the Unlimited production Race. In addition to his road racing prowess, Thomas was also an A grade rider in motocross, short circuit (dirt track) and in Reliability Trials.
Since Easter, the famous Kawasaki H2 Superbike owned by Leo Pretti, has been on display in the collection of historic racing motorcycles owned by Motorcycling Australia at the head office in South Melbourne. Garry recently restored the machine for Pretti to the exact condition it was when it captured the richest prize in Australian motorcycle racing.
Since his retirement from racing, Thomas has maintained close ties with the sport in the role of an official, and regularly conducts training seminars, and as a director of Motorcycling NSW. He also acts as a senior official for Moto GP and World Superbike events at Phillip Island.