Gus Kuhn 1928
Page updated 20-Jul-2015

January 13th: The London to Exeter Trial: which had been cancelled in December due to heavy snow "The official results of the London-Exeter-London trial show that of the 279 starters 253 completed the course." Gus Kuhn finished in Class 2B on a Calthorpe. [Times 27/1/28] More details in Part 13 of the Gus Kuhn Story by Cyril May.

February 11th (Sat). The Colmore Trial Read More click here

February 19th (Sun): The Birth of Speedway. The first Dirt Track Racing meeting in UK at High Beech (King's Oak, Epping Forest) [Click here for pictures of the event] The organisers had expected a couple of hundred spectators, and thousands turned up! Though Cyril May says that Gus Kuhn's name did not appear in the programme for this initial meeting, in May 1936 Speedway News said "That historic first meeting at High Beech has been written about time and time again, and everyone is agreed that the high spot of the afternoon was the wildly spectacular riding of Alf Medcalf on an antiquated Douglas. Very few people remember that Gus Kuhn also shone in that meeting, however, though in a less spectacular fashion. But he went home with enough prize money to convince him that he had a future in the game!" By 1936 memories of 8 years earlier might have been hazy. [see for more information] Click here for a short film of the event.

Gus on the Calthorpe he also took dirt track racing
A study of G Kuhn ploughing along
on his 348cc Calthorpe

[The Motor Cycle, March 8th, 1928]

March 3rd (Sat): The Victory Cup Trial. Gus is entered on his Calthorpe. 180 out of 185 entrants started in dense fog. Gus is not listed in Silver or Gold medals, so presumably he didn't have a very good result, though looking at the picture on the right, you can understand why! [The Motor Cycle 1/3/28 & 8/3/28]

  • On the 15th March Motor Cycle comments on the sudden rise of motorcycle events, especially dirt track racing.

Gus took part on his three-speed, 348cc Popular Calthorpe in the National Southern Trial, held in the South Eastern Centre's area when, in perfect weather, 120 starters had a thoroughly enjoyable day's fun. The competitors included Eric Spencer (Douglas), Triss Sharp (Zenith), Arthur Warwick (P&M), A H Willimott (HRD), Gordon Norchi (Coventry-Eagle) and Harold Taylor (McEvoy). Gus won a Gold Medal as also did Eric Spencer, the trial being won by Vic King on a Douglas. [Cyril May]

March 17th (Sat): Gus Kuhn is entered on one of his Calthorpe's for the Maidstone Cup Race (176-350cc) in the opening meeting at Crystal Palace. He finished 2nd to Barrow. "Glorious Sunny weather favoured the meeting and nearly 19,000 people turned out. For two laps Kuhn led, while Barrow and Dixon kept just behind. Then on the last lap Barrow showed that he had been keeping a bit up his sleeve. Blakebrough, whose riding was superb, covered one of his laps in 2m 59.2s, thus making the fastest solo lap of the afternoon." In the Birmingham Cup Race, Grade A (500cc Solo 3 laps): "When at the start of the event Gus Kuhn (498 Calthorpe) took the lead, it was assumed that he had the race in his pocket. At the end of lap 1, however, Kuhn was being led by several yards by a beautiful little spring Sunbeam ridden by H G Lewis - a rider who had seen the track for the first time when practising on the previous Saturday. Kuhn shed his rear chain on his second lap, so Lewis then took matters comparatively easily." [Motor Cycle 22/3/28]

March 19th (Mon): Start of the ACU Stock Machine Six Day Trial at Birmingham. There are 59 entries (51 solo & 6 sidecars), including Gus. The last day will feature high speed tests at Brooklands. [Motor Cycle 15/3/28]

March 24th (Sat): "The Stock Machine six-day trial concluded at Brooklands on Saturday, when the competitors were subjected to speed and brake tests and their machines were examined by scrutineers. The percentage of gold medallists, 52, to starters, 59, constituted a record." Medallists included Gus Kuhn (Calthorpe) and Fay Taylour (Rudge). [Times 26/3/28]

  • March 25th: The Motor Cycle reported that a dirt track at the Crystal Palace will be egg shaped, giving a perpetual curve.

April 9th (Easter Monday): Dirt Track Racing at King's Oak. "Two separate events, one in the morning (7,000 crowd) and one in the afternoon (10,000). Medcalf won the event held in the morning after a wonderful tussle with Gus Kuhn (Calthrope). The fastest riders in the [350cc heats] were Watson, Phillips (Raleigh), Gus Kuhn (Calthorpe) and G Seiffort (BSA), and this quartet did pretty much as they liked when they were not drawn against each other. They all figured again in the 500cc classes." In the morning Gus won the 350cc Grand Prix and was 2nd in the 500cc GP. In the afternoon he was 2nd in the 350cc Championship event. [Motor Cycle 12/4/28]

Gus Kuhn on his 350 Calthorpe
Gus Kuhn and the 350cc ohv Calthorpe on which
he has had many recent speed wins.
[Motor Cycling, June 6,1928]

April 14th (Sat): "The final of the 350 class was an exciting event. Gus Kuhn (Calthorpe), who is now a popular figure at the King's Oak, at once established his usual big lead. A W Day (AJS) gradually crept up on him, however, but on the last lap F T Law (Cotton) passed Day, and nearly succeeded in passing Kuhn as well. Kuhn went on to win at 35.32 mph (over 5 laps). The last event was the one which had been most eagerly awaited - the final of the 500cc class. R Frogley again figured on Will's Rudge, and as one of the other competitors was Gus Kuhn (348 Calthorpe) a titanic struggle was expected. Nor was anyone disappointed. Kuhn took the lead, J W Stevens (Norton) was second, and Frogley 3rd. This order continued for 3 laps, and then Frogley passed Stevens and began to overhaul Kuhn. The excitement was intense, one lap to go, and Kuhn about 20 yards ahead! Slowly Frogley drew up and amid a roar of applause, he passed the Calthorpe rider just before the winning post. A wonderful race indeed." [Motor Cycle 19/4/28]

  • The Dirt Track Riders Association was formed at a riders meeting after the race at Kings Oak. [Motor Cycle 19/4/28]
Heavy thunder shower and drizzle fail to move 14,000 specators at the Second Road Race Meeting of the Year.

Usually the organisers of the Crystal Palace road races are most furtunate with the weather..... Last Saturday, however, it rained at Crystal Palace. Thirty minutes before zero hour a dense bank of black clouds rolled up to blot out the sun, and shortly before the start of the first race there was a loud peal of thunder and the rain came down in torrents.

What should have been one of the chief attractions of the day - a special 3 lap match race between Gus Kuhn (348 Calthorpe ) and C S Barrow (344 Royal Enfield) - fell rather flat. Kuhn won the toss for inside position and was quicker off the mark than his rival, and it was at once obvious that he had managed to cram some more horses into his Calthorpe since the previous meeting.

The first lap was fast and furious, with Kuhn a few yards ahead of Barrow, although everyone thought the Royal Enfield rider was playing his usual game of sitting on the leader's tail until the last lap. Apparently, however, Barrow was doing all he knew, for on lap 2 he fell off at Three Tree Corner, toured the remainder of the lap, and turned into the paddock with his left footrest missing. Unaware that his rival had retired, Kuhn completed his third lap very quickly, and romped home amid cheers......

Gus Kuhn, who had stopped just after starting in Heat 1 [of the 500cc race], got going again and came tearing down the stand stretch after the second heaters. Then Kuhn went completely mad, and, crashing on his way up to the Maze hairpin, he did a war dance round his prone and screaming Calthorpe. Eventually he found the throttle, remounted, and dashed off again, only to go mountaineering up the bank a few yards farther on.
[Extracts from an article in 'The Motor Cycle' April 26th 1928.]

April 21st (Sat): "Gus's 350cc Calthorpe proves a bit too quick for C S Barrow's 350cc Royal Enfield at Maze Hairpin at Crystal Palace". See left.

May 5th (Sat): "There were 10,000 spectators at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, when the first dirt track race meeting under artificial light was held in the country." [Times 7/5/28] "The Senior final, bringing Kuhn (Calthorpe), Frogley, and J Martin (Ariel) together, was the race of the day. Frogley being on the outside was at a disadvantage, and for two laps the trio hurtled round with not a dozen yards between Kuhn, the leader, and Frogley, who was at the rear. Right rom the start it was a heart-in-the-mouth struggle; there seemed to be only one possible ending; the mad, snarling, snaking machines must collide as they slithered and skated round the bends. Frogley now made a desperate effort to get past Kuhn, but there was no room between him and the fence and to cut inside meant slowing down. Frogley hit the fence a glancing blow, kept his saddle, and shot into the final bend with his front wheel alongside the Calthorpe's rear wheel. A hundred yards to go, and then almost by sheer power of will Frogley forced his mount ahead, winning by inches at 38.79mph. Cheer after cheer he received as he rode round to the paddock, and a minute later he was chaired round the track. After an exhibition by Kuhn who, except on one occasion, took the bends in skids rather than proper broadsides, Malcolm Campbell presented the awards." [The Motor Cycle10/5/28] Gus Kuhn (Calthorpe) won the Jnr Race (350) at 38.5mph.

May 9th (Weds): Gus won the Senior race at Stamford Bridge

May 12th (Sat):"A very dull overcast sky did not help to liven the proceedings at Greenford. Two heats were run off for the Southall Cup race, and the first included G Kuhn and L Blakebrough - names which mean fast motoring." [Motor Cycling 16/5/28] (Gus finished 3rd)

May 12th (Sat): At Stamford Bridge Gus Kuhn was 2nd in both the Senior and Junior races on his Calthorpe. [Times 14/5/28] In the 350cc heats H Hudspith (AJS) indicated that he meant to have a first before he was much older, and in the final he confirmed this fact by defeating none other than Gus Kuhn. The two riders who mattered in the 500cc final were Kuhn and Frogley, and the latter won in convincing style. Both he and Kuhn did an extra lap for no apparent reason, and though Gus had done no broadsiding in the race, he demonstrated on this extra lap that he possessed the ability to do so. [The Motor Cycle 17/5/28]

  • There is Dirt Track Racing at Stamford Bridge every Wednesday & Saturday at 8.15 pm, so Gus has a very busy schedule.

May 16th (Weds): “Although cheerless conditions prevailed at Stamford Bridge the riders were apparently not affected, for they gave of their best. The 3,000 spectators were aroused to enthusiasm by the match race between Sprouts Elder (USA) and R Frogley and Gus Kuhn, the English riders. The American conceded 15 yards to Kuhn and Frogley, and this made the race one of the most exciting ever seen in this country.” [The Motor Cycle 24/5/28] 1st Elder, 2nd Frogley, 3rd Kuhn. Gus won the Junior race.

May 26th (Sat): At Stamford Bridge Gus Kuhn beat B Bragg in the senior scratch race "but in a special match Bragg reversed the previous decision, and won at a speed of 38.63mph". [Times 28/5/28]

June 16th (Sat): “Art Pecher made his first appearance in this country at two meetings” In the afternoon he was at Greenford and in the evening at Stamford Bridge.[Times 18/06/28] “Art Pecher, an American who arrived in this country last week, turned out at Stamford Bridge, and after a heavy fall while getting accustomed to the small and narrow track, pluckily broke the mile record at 42.86mph. Pecher rode a 350cc ohv Indian with an amazing compression ratio. Dog Wilson (Coventry-Eagle) crashed badly at the finish of a 500cc handicap heat, and Gus Kuhn, the winner, was booed to such purpose that he was disqualified, on the grounds of unfair overtaking. Kuhn won the 350cc handicap at 39.30 mph (a new record) and rode brilliantly all the evening. Bragg, Norchi, Pellat and Wal Phillips all rode splendidly [The Motor Cycle 21/6/28]

June 23rd (Sat):"One of the best contests yet seen at Stamford Bridge dirt track - when L Blakebrough, the young English rider, won the Senior Handicap from A Pecher, the USA champion" [Times 24/6/28]

June 27th (Weds) at Stamford Bridge Australian Irving Jones on his Douglas only made a brief appearance, but showed the spectators some real he-man sliding and broadsiding. Matched in a handicap against Gus Kuhn, he was rapidly overhauling Kuhn when one cylinder of the Douglas ceased fire for a lap; Kuhn went ahead; the erring cylinder chipped in, but just too late, and Jones lost by a couple of yards. [Motor Cycle 5/7/28]

June 30th (Sat): "The outstanding feature of Saturday's dirt track races was the international match at Stamford Bridge " [Times 2/7/28] “The big stands were packed to capacity to see the redoubtable Billy Lamont (AJS) accept Art Pechar's challenge to a series of match races.” [Motor Cycle 5/7/28]

July 7th (Sat): “Kuhn, who has now fitted bracing members and a new pair of handle-bars to his Calthorpe, was in great form, and sliding really well. He won the Senior handicap and a match race against L J Ralph.” [The Motor Cycle 12/7/28]

July 14th (Sat): At Stamford Bridge, Gus Kuhn won the Senior and Junior solo handicaps. [Times 16/7/28]

July 28th (Sat): At Stamford Bridge "Gus Kuhn beat Les Blakebrough in another match and also secured the Junior Handicap." [Times 30/7/28].

July 28th (Sat): WEST HAM STADIUM OPENED Activities at the new West Ham Stadium at Custom House commenced on Saturday by holding a Dirt-Track Motor Cycle meeting. A large and enthusiastic crowd were treated to an excellent display of racing by some of the leading British, Australian and American Speedway riders. Part of the stadium was still under construction and when completed, it will undoubtedly be one of the finest in the country. It is estimated that there will be accommodation for over 100,000 spectators and nearly half of this number can be housed in the main double-deck stand. There is a second stand on the opposite side of the ground, which can accommodate 20,000 people.

Most of the riders in the events which were decided had no opportunity for a practice spin, and for the first lap or so had to ride carefully, but once they had tried out the track, some thrilling racing was witnessed.

All the Star riders present included Paddy Dean (Australia), Lloyd "Sprouts" Elder (USA), Irvine Jones (Australia), Billy Galloway (Australia), Ivor Creek (England), Art Pechar (USA), Geoffrey "Buzz" Hibbard (Australia) and Gus Kuhn (England) took part in the West Ham Invitation Handicap, which followed the parade of riders.
There were some close finishes in the Heats and Semi-final before Paddy Dean beat Buzz Hibbard in the Final, completing the mile and a half in 2.30 min, equalising 36 Miles Per Hour. The West Ham Golden Gauntlet mile event however produced the most exciting racing as all riders started from Scratch.

Unfortunately Pechar and Kuhn had to retire from this after winning their heats owing to Machine Trouble, and the event was finally won by Elder in 1.31 min at 39.56 MPH, which was the fastest time of the day.

In a special match race, Ivor Creek won from Billy Galloway, his time being 1.38 min at 36.44 MPH over a mile.

The results were;

West Ham Golden Gauntlet (1 Mile) Final:
1st Elder, 2nd Dean, 3rd Creek, time 1.31.

West Ham Invitation Handicap (1.5 Miles):
1st Dean, 2nd Hibbard, 3rd Creek, time 2.30.

One Mile Match Race: Ivor Creek beat Billy Galloway by four lengths, time 1.38min.

[Stratford Express, 1st August 1928]

August 4th (Sat): "The big feature of the day was the challenge match between A Pechar and F Arthur and 40,000 spectators gathered at Stamford Bridge to witness it." [Times 6/8/28]

August 11th (Sat): At Stamford Bridge "During a match race between Gus Kuhn and Hilary Buchanan ... Buchanan fell and Kuhn turned his machine into the safety fence - a plucky action which was greeted with roars of applause. Buchanan won the re-run" [The Motor Cycle 16/8/28]

August 18th (Sat): At Greenford "Pechar won a special match against H Matthews and G Kuhn as he liked at 49mph" [Times 20/8/28]

August 25th (Sat): At Crystal Palace - G Kuhn beat T Sharp.

Gus Kuhn leads the way!
Gus Kuhn leads Bert Bolt, Wal Phillips and
Art Pechar at Stamford Bridge

August 25th (Sat): At Stamford Bridge "Some fast riding by the Frogley brothers and Gus Kuhn were features. The evening ended with Kuhn winning the final of the Stamford Bridge Handicap from R Frogley" [Times 27/8/28]

August 29th (Weds): at Stamford Bridge: Gus Kuhn won one of the handicap races on his Calthorpe. [Motor Cycling 5/9/28]

September 1st (Sat): "At the Stamford Bridge meeting the Frogley brothers were at the top of their form. Roger was also second in the All-English Challenge match, which was won by Gus Kuhn, who attained the fastest speed of the evening." [Times 3/9/28]. "Roger Frogley had previously won the Fulham handicap at 40 mph, with Gus Kuhn, in receipt of 3 secs, dividing him and Buster, who enjoyed twice that amount of start. Kuhn's turn came in the Stamford Bridge handicap, which he won from the same mark at 38.79 mph. Finally, to prove that handicap allowances are illusory, Gus beat Roger Frogley in a level match at the best speed of the evening, 41.76 mph. An exchange of machines between the brothers Frogley, owing to one or the other being temporarily sick, may have accounted for the slight decline in Roger's form, but Gus had laboured six days on his Calthorpe engine and the resultant horses would have taken some catching." [Motor Cycling 5/9/28]

September 5th (Weds): "In view of the gradual deterioration of the surface at the Stamford Bridge track it has been decided to give the contractors responsible for its upkeep a whole week in which to work on it, and to this end today will be a no-race day. It appears that the lower foundation of the track has suffered, and no amount of attention to the top layer can rectify this fault." [Motor Cycling 5/9/28]

Programme for Stamford Bridge 15 Sept 1928
September 15th (Sat): At Stamford Bridge "Gus Kuhn won the Stamford Bridge Handicap and a Trophy race" [Times 17/9/28]

Gus Kuhn, who returned to the Dirt Track after a most successful week in the International Six Days' Trial, was indeed fortunate to receive three seconds from Roger Frogley in the final of the Stamford Bridge Handicap.

In fact, with all his opponents at the top of their form, Roger found the handicaps rather too much for him, and only managed to pick up a single place. Gus, on the other hand, was a winner all the way, took the lead in the third lap, and won easily from Buster Frogley, who also rode splendidly.

Gus Kuhn took the lead early in his heat, and was then too fast to be troubled by anyone. The rest had varying fortunes, and ended up with Roger May following Gus home, ahead of Ray Ralph.

Gus Kuhn experienced a somewhat unexpected reverse in the final of the Fulham Handicap. As usual he was soon up among the leaders, and a win for him was all but certain, when Wal Philips, who was in the lead, realised that Gus was dangerously near, and, to everyone's surprise, began to draw away again. Continuing to display excellent form, he kept Gus at a safe distance until the finish, and won by several lengths.

Gus Kuhn was both too fast and too clever for his two opponents in the "News of the World" Trophy Handicap, and won an uneventful race as he liked from Ken Dixon. [Speedway News, Sept 1928]

September: "England won the international six day motorcycle trial, which concluded on Saturday at Helmsley in Yorkshire. After six days strenuous riding on rough tracks over the Yorkshire moors." Gus Kuhn (Calthorpe) lost 8 marks and won a Gold medal. [Times 17/9/28]

September 22nd (Sat) at Stamford Bridge. The second semi-final of the Trophy Race was fought out between Wal Phillips (4 secs), Gus Kuhn (3 secs) and Roger Frogley (scratch). Roger took the lead at the end of the second lap and temporarily stopped Gus, who caught a full dose of Roger's cinders, which allowed Wal Phillips to take second place. When, however, Gus has partically decoked [sic] himself, he overhauled Phillips to get second place." [The Auto 27/9/28]

September 29th (Sat): A splendid programme had been prepared for the last meeting of the season at Stamford Bridge, and a big crowd witnessed some very fine riding... Later on, Gus Kuhn beat the winner (Les Blakebrough) in another very fast match race. He was always too fast for Les, and in addition the latter was not riding quite so well as before. Buster Frogley did very well to win the last heat. Taking the lead when Bob Bedwin made a bad lapse in the first lap, he won decisively from Gus Kuhn who gained ground near the end but much too slowly to be of any use. Gus derived some consolation from the first heat of the Stamford Bridge Handicap, in which Les Ralph, after a most determined bid for victory, was caught in the last lap, and beaten by about four lengths. [Extract from an article in 'Speedway News' October 1928.]

October 1st (Mon): What a wonderful race Gus Kuhn and Reg Pointer supplied in the final of the Wimbledon Handicap. Gus eventually won but only by the narrowest of margins. Read more >>>

October 19th (Fri) at Birmingham: "Harold Stevens also found the track too slippery and he fell before he had completed the first lap. The remaining riders, with the exception of Gus Kuhn, were very unsteady. Gus secured the lead at the beginning of the third lap and riding a cool and steady race he gradually forged ahead to win by approx five yards from Jack Lloyd. Both Jimmy Stevens and Jack Parker fell during the second semi-final, leaving the race to Gus Kuhn and Cyril Lord. These two put up a fine race, but Gus had very little difficulty in accounting for his opponent and at the end of four interesting laps was fully ten yards in the lead. The sodden state of the track played havoc with the riders' machines in the fifth heat. Gus Kuhn, Reynolds and Butler all retired with machine trouble in the first two laps, leaving Jennings and Westwood to fight for first place."[Speedway News]

November 3rd (Sat): "A large gathering of spectators was present at Saturday's resumption of the miniature T.T. races held over a 'road' course laid out in the Crystal Palace grounds." Gus Kuhn (352 Calthorpe) was 2nd in the Anerley Cup (351-500cc) and 3rd in the Crystal Palace Solo Championship. [Times 5/11/28]

  • A new track was opened in Egypt, near the famous Pyramids at Zamalek. Nearly twenty riders, including Les Blakebrough, Ivor Creek and Billy Galloway were involved. Read more >>>

  • "In September there were discussions about extending the dirt track racing season, but it was felt that weather conditions would not permit it. However, special arrangements have been made to continue racing at Wimbledon, which is under cover and some Australians, including Vic Huxley and Dicky Smythe, will stay on." [The Auto 27/11/28]

  • Fifty speedway venues opened in the UK in 1928. It indicates the promoter's confidence in the public's demand for the thrills and spills of speedway. They were probably quite cheap and easy to set up bearing in mind that the surface was only cinders or shale and Health & Safety Regulations were not what they are today. Most did not survive beyond a few years and World War II finished off nearly all the rest.

Copied from a sports column in a newspaper, date unknown, probably late in 1928.
Dirt Track Pioneers. I was reminded by a member of the Ilford Motor Cycle Club that they were the pioneers of dirt track racing in this country, having run it at the King's Oak Speedway, High Beech, since last February. Such a huge success was registered that the track and accommodation have been greatly improved since, though better still will be done before long. R Frogley gained his first experience here, and has ridden at all the meetings. He was taking part on Saturday and again this morning. He is only one of the many members of the club who are expected to make great names for themselves at the sport. "We shall always be able to put up excellent shows by our club boys, who are more keen on the sport than the money." My correspondent adds.
Gus Kuhn and His Cups. Gus Kuhn, who is one of Britain's leading dirt track riders, took to the new sport like a duck to water. He is a wonderful rider, and, although he may be considered to have passed the age of recklessness, he is absolutely fearless on the track. Gus, who is 31, married and has three youngsters, won his first speed trial at the age of 15. When the war started he joined the Royal Naval Air Service, and did good work in the Experimental Department. On his return to civilian life he won the Victory Cup, and shortly afterwards rode from Land's End to John o'Groats in a snowstorm. Since that time hardly a week has gone without Kuhn winning a prize of some sort. He has so many cups and medals he hardly knows where to put them all.