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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gary Hocking: World Motorcycle Champion- In Memoriam, Feedback; Australian Grand Prix 2011; Sebastian Vettel wins F1 Australian Grand Prix; Bullfinch Visuals; Michael Schumacher out of coma and communicating!

Gary Stuart Hocking

30 Sept 1937 - 21 Dec 1962

In 2005 I decided to make a webpage for my hero in the motorcycle and Formula 1 motor racing world, Gary Hocking.

At the time of his death Gary Hocking was driving for
Rob Walker after Stirling Moss had had a major accident which ended his career. 

As a result I received quite a good amount of feedback which I posted on a special 'feedback' webpage.

I am very happy to report that both webpages have received many visitors and for a long time
"Remembering Gary Hocking" was at the top of the first search page for information about him in Google's search engine.

Since his 70th birthday in September 2007 I haven't posted any new information but today I'm reminding other fans that 1958 was the official year in which he started his racing career and so, in 2008 and 50 years on, we still remember him with fondness.

Feedback 2008

On Sunday, 19th Oct 2008, I heard from a fan who lives in Singapore who wrote the following:

"Dear Annez,

In about 1961, I was 11 years old living with my Dad in Durban. (He was the well loved Hammond organist , Dennis van Rooyen).

One weekend during school holidays, a relative wih a mechanical background attended a braai at our house. With him, was a really nice looking and shy young man (Gary Hocking). I just couldnt believe it when the relative told us that this guy was the world champion motorcyclist.! Imagine Valentino Rossi pitching up unexpectedly at a private home. Needless to say, myself and a few friends were in total awe and I do remember him being such a fabulous unasuming person. We got autographs and had brief chats. I told every kid I knew that Gary Hocking was my buddy!

I was heartbroken to hear of his fatal accident in 1962. The relative told us that Gary would have been world champ at F1.
I also remember him saying that Gary had run off and hit a tree.
So sad. What a nice guy he was. All those years ago. So young.

Thanks for your reply


Lynton van Rooyen


Thanks for dropping by, Lynton, and, as I told you, my Mom was a big fan of your Dad's music!


I have other older messages which I will also share with whoever is paying this blog entry a visit..

"Hi Ann,

You don’t know me from a crow - I too lived in ZA for many years, but like so many of that sad country’s citizens, I decided that the escalating crime and corruption did not make the place beautiful enough to die for.
I came across your Gary Hocking site and may be able to help in some small way - for a start, I was the motoring editor of The Star, but many years after my predecessor put you in touch with Socks; my own tenure stretched from 1988 - 1994.

I’m also a rabid motorcyclist and am glad to say that everyone in my family rides too - my wife has several road and off-road bikes, despite breaking her back racing a Ducati at Zwartkops (near Pretoria) in 1986, our daughter(10) has three off-road bikes and is a polished rider, both my brothers, my sister, both sisters-in-law, brother-in-law and even my 66-year-old step-mother all have motorcycles of varying size.
Furthermore, my wife is from Rhodesia - and although we met later in CapeTown, I volunteered for, and served in, the Rhodesian army during the bush-war; sadly, we soldiers won all the battles but politicians lost us the war, and the then-terrorist leader Mugabe continues to terrorise innocent civilians to this day.
While at The Star, I met a man called Alan Harris, a former Rhodesian motorcycle racer, who was then the newspaper’s Works Manager; he was a friend and colleague of Socks Hocking, as they went to Europe at about the same time.
Alan took his home-tuned Velocette with him to England and beat the factory’s works riders; he was signed up on the spot and a replica of his bike was produced for sale - it became the Velocette Thruxton - but of course, he received no recognition - or royalties!
Alan raced at the Isle of Man several times but crashed into trees while racing a Greeves, breaking his back and ending his racing career.
However,he kept his old Velocette and I have had the pleasure of riding with him, on race-tracks and on much bigger, more modern bikes - and watching Alan ride away from me!
Alan often mentioned his friend Gary.
Another contact may be harder to trace, but Doug Pearson worked with Gary at Rhodesia Railways; Doug had many interesting anecdotes from their time as apprentices together.

Finally, I read that it was possible that Gary had blacked out as a result of an illness that he acquired from swimming in African rivers; I’m inclined not to believe that, as the most likely water-borne disease, Bilharzia,makes you very ill before it causes you to black out - and had Gary been that ill, no-one would have let him come within 50 feet of a racing car….
Having said that, it occurs to me that I raced a 9-hour Endurance event inCape Town in 1992 with two other guys, while I was suffering from tick-bitefever…

I hope that you are able to get in touch with both Alan and Doug - Alan is still riding, as I recently saw a picture of him in Bike SA magazine.

Good Luck!

Steve Kealy
Writer & Producer"

"I used to work as a press cadet at the various race-tracks in Natal (KwaZulu-Natal) in the early 60's and had aces to these motorcycle greats of yesteryear.: Gary Hocking, Jim Redman, Phil Read, Mike "The Bike" Hailwood, Jo Bonnier and others.

I recall one race day at the famed Roy Hesketh Circuit (Pietermaritzburg) where Jim Redman had just won his 250cc on a Four Cylinder Honda in the rain.
Similarly, Gary won his 350cc race on an AJS in similar conditions. Phil Read too won his 500cc class on an Matchless.
Then, the race to overshadow all races took place the following day - where 1st, 2nd, 3rd were all taken by Gary Hocking, Jim Redman & Phil Read on their respective machines.(They really need to reintroduce a shoot-out between the various classes of motorcycles - for both the MotoGP and superbike categories)

I, as a mere 13 year old kid tore off home on my BSA bicycle - imagining myself to be my hero - Gary Hocking - speeding past the line line of cars creeping down the hill towards the Pietermaritzburg Durban intersection.

I had my head down, my arms bent in true motorcycle fashion - the rain pelting me in my face - sans helmet, when a Ford Fairlane suddenly broke away from it's lane and forced me off the road. I awoke two days later in Greys Hospital with a fractured skull - half my face - one bloody grit/mud-caked mess.

Needless to say, I survived to not only venture to many subsequent motorcycle events in the Natal region, but myself taking up motorcycle racing - albeit only on a 50cc Suzuki - which I set several lap-records on, as I had perfected two distinctive styles of cornering - still in use today.

I preceeded SA "Springbok" Superbike Champion - Richard Borain (my neighbour) whom I used to ride circles around and fellow hometown hero - Kork Ballington, but could not continue, due to financial constraints. My coach and mechanic was none other than former SA Champion Jack Gray. His son too went on to become SA"Springbok" Superbike Champion.

And yes, I was on hand at Westmead when I saw Gary Hocking's Lotus fly upwards - before striking the tree stumps. Being of the press-corps, I found out about his death early on.
Even now, do my eyes mist with tears, as I trul;y admired and loved this man - for I knew - had that gut feeling that he was destined to become World Formula 1 Champion as he had become World MotoGP Champion before.

owen 'mshengu' greenland

Washington, DC

(Struggling in The Diaspora)"


"Thanks for placing that story of Gary Hocking on the web site.
I had no idea of the history behind that racing driver.
My dad was a 1935 ww II racing champ on 500 cc and I was born in Durban and then moved to Johannesburg in 1961 and I watched all the international races at Kyalami.
My epic race to remember for ever was Jim Clark's last race - 1968 - will never forget.
Gary Hocking sounds evocative. I think about him.
Luciano Pontiggia
The Hague - Netherlands"


"Hi there,

What a wonderful site you have on Gary Hocking.

My Dad - Bill James (William John James) was one of his mechanics and best friends back in Bulaway in the late 50's early 60's, he was not at the event at which Gary was killed, he did however drive from Bulawayo to the track to collect the car.

Dave "Squack" Harris, called my Dad yesterday regarding a get together down in Natal mid June '08, they have had a plaque made in memory of Gary and have invited my Dad to attend and say a few words.
Apparently, there will be some big names there ie. Jim Redman.

If you would like any other info, please let me know and I'll get my Dad involved.

Ashleigh James"

Well that's all I have for this time around!

It's been a pleasure hearing from everyone and I hope the get-together in June went well.

Feel free to send any more info or memories and I will post them on my Blog.

Feedback 2009

I was just reading your article on the late,great Gary Hocking.

My name is David Alan Gary Holmes, son of W Alan Holmes, the first Manxman to win the IOM MGP Junior/Senior 'Double' aboard Reg Deardens works 350/500 Manx Nortons.

My third name is after Gary who won the Senior TT on 8th June 1962, I was born at 15 minutes past midnight on the 9th June 62, and my parents had decided that if I was born on race day I would be named after the Senior winner, so 15 minutes earlier and I would have been Gary!!.

After my fathers success at the Manx he moved to the TT in 58 and was looking good for second place behind John Surtees on the mighty MV when engine probs dropped him down the field.

He had success at the NW 200 and raced Assen, Oulton, Scarboro to name but a few, however in the last race of the year in October 1958, whilst leading, ironically, Gary Hocking he had a bad spill at Island Bend resulting in a fractured skull and double vision, so that was that.

My dads friend was George (sparrow) Costain and I met George and others at the 2007 MGP where my father was guest of honour to commemorate 50 years since the 'double'
I myself went to school on the island, and my 2 best mates were Mike Duke, son of Geoff, and Bob Dowty Jnr, son of Bob Snr. who was in my dads team along with Eddie Crooks, who incidentally is this years guest of honour at the Manx.

My dad will be 80 this year and still going strong and lives with me in Spain, he rides his 50cc scooter EVERYDAY without fail!!

I myself ride a 2008 Yamaha FZ1-S and am race prepping my CBR600 at the moment, hopefully to enter the 2010 MGP.I hope this of some interest to you and look forward to your response



Thanks, David!

I checked out some links and found a good video on YouTube.

Many sun-starved Swedes visit Spain so p'raps I'll look you up someday.

My best to your Dad


In July I heard from Morag whose picture of Gary I used on the web pages.
Thanx Morag!

Well, I finally came across your wonderful web site.

What a super story - and so true.

Gary was a wonderful person and, like you, he is often in my thoughts.

So glad you used that photo.
A very good friend of Gary's, Len Carcree, has some wonderful photos on Webshots - please look at them.

When Gary was racing in Rhodesia he rode a bike called the Ridgeback - it was built by John Love in Bulawayo and when Gary left for England my brother got the bike.

We loved that bike as if it was part of the family.

There are good pictures of it on


Pics and Info from Westmead

A Formula One Grand Prix in Pinetown, with some of the greatest drivers of all time lining up for the start on a brand- new track built specially for the event. Motor sport enthusiasts in our province would be ecstatic if this was on the cards, but it’s not – it already happened, nearly half a century ago.  GAVIN FOSTER looks at the Westmead circuit.

Charlie Young, a great South African motorcycle racer and the first importer of Yamaha motorcycles into South Africa, was deeply involved in the building of the circuit, so it was fitting that he should drop the flag for Natal’s first international Grand Prix on December 17, 1961.  The race was the second leg of the new Springbok Series that pitted the cream of South Africa’s Formula One drivers against some of the best the world had to offer, and an estimated 67 000 spectators lined the roadside that Sunday.  Overseas competitors included Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor in works Lotus-Climaxes, Stirling Moss in another, and American Masten Gregory in an older Lotus.  Jo Bonnier, the Porsche works driver, was there in one of the German cars.  Local favourites included Bruce Johnstone and Tony Maggs in yet another two Lotuses, with Syd van der Vyfer in a Lotus-Alfa, Doug Serrurier in a Cooper-Maserati, and Tony Maggs in a Cooper-Climax all considered candidates for good placings.

The motorcycle race that preceded the Grand Prix was also a star studded affair, with Phil Read, Jim Redman, Gary Hocking, Stan Setaro, Paddy Driver, Ophie Howard, and the Marriner brothers, Tiny and Bernie, all mounted on Nortons.  Hocking, the reigning SA 500 champion, was   
destined to win the world 350 and 500cc world championships that year.

The Westmead circuit was brand new, having been built specially for the event, but it came with a problem that led to its demise just two short years later.  The 3,5 km long track was built in a rush for the Springbok series, and wet weather during the construction period meant that the tarmac was laid on a mud foundation.  The base remained spongy, and the tarmac started breaking up during practice.  This was partly remedied by cementing the problem areas, but the quick fix was not expected to last for the duration of the 89 lap GP.

In those days motor racing was a very different sport to the highly professional business it is today.  Jim Clark’s Lotus and that of his team-mate were prepared at Grosvenor Motors in Pinetown, and towed to the track by a piece of rope attached to their roll-bars.  There were no fancy pantechnicons to be seen –the towing vehicles were Ford Zephyrs. 

Jim Clark grabbed pole position for the race, and went on to win it ahead of Stirling Moss, with Jo Bonnier in third place.  Bruce Johnstone led the South African contingent in fourth place, but dropped out when he hit the bank at Devil’s Leap.  Syd van der Vyfer finished the race as top local racer, with fifth place.

The 1962 race on 22 December saw new world champion Jim Clark, Trevor Taylor, Richie Ginther, and Graham Hill line up alongside the South African and Rhodesian contingent.  Also in the field was reigning 350cc and 500cc motorcycle world champion Gary Hocking, driving a Lotus.  This provided the setting for a tragedy that reverberated around the motor racing world.  Hocking, a Rhodesian, had started his campaign to retain his motorcycle world championships at the opening GP of the season, the Isle of Man TT.  He won the 500cc race on his works MV Agusta, but was immensely disturbed by the death of his close friend, Tom Phyllis, in the 350cc race.  Hocking, just 25 years old, retired from motorcycle racing after the TT, while leading the championship, saying the sport was too dangerous, and set off to pursue a new career racing cars.  Six months later he died at Westmead during the final practice for the ’62 Natal Grand Prix, when his Lotus-Climax left the road and somersaulted into a ditch at the same Devil’s Leap that had ended Johnstone’s race the year before.  There’s no doubt that Hocking would have been a top F1 performer – two months previously he’d broken Jim Clark’s lap record at Kyalami, and won his first two races in South Africa.  The section of track where he died still exists as a public road, and is now named Hocking Place in his honour.

Still, the show had to go on, and the Natal Grand Prix that year was won by Trevor Taylor, with Jim Clark finishing second and local driver Neville Lederle taking third.  The track lasted another year or so, and then closed because the cost of repairing the crumbling tarmac would have been too high.  

Much of the old circuit still remains today, as public roads servicing the busy Westmead industrial area in Pinetown, The old control tower is now used as an office for Rentokill, and about 60% of the circuit is still in use. 

There’s another link to Gary Hocking in the Highway area.  When KZN teenage motorcycle champion Hayden St John-Ward died in a tragic racing accident in 2005, his parents decided to instigate a trophy in his honour, for the most outstanding motorcycle racer in the province each year.  This year young James Egan, who won the KZN 50cc and 125cc championships, as well as the Northern Regions 125cc GP championship, now holds the trophy, which was given to the club by a fellow member, Alan Taylor.  Engraved on the back is “Trophy History - Awarded to Gary Hocking – Isle of Man Senior TT - 1962.”  If this is indeed the trophy that Hocking received after winning his last motorcycle race, it’s fitting that it should now stand proudly near the place where he died doing what he loved best.

Anybody with further info on the Hocking trophy can contact Gavin Foster on 031-7082410.


Gavin Foster29 January 2007



- The Summer Of 1962
Contributed by Paul Jackson in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Remembering Gary Hocking

Gary Hocking Feedback

- Gary Hocking/Facebook

Ogri artwork at auction

- F1 legend Sir Stirling Moss breaks ankles in lift fall

- Australian Grand Prix 2011:
 Jensen Button fastest in practice as McLarens hit the front ahead of Red Bull

- Sebastian Vettel wins F1 Australian Grand Prix

Malaysian GP 2011

- Sebastian Vettel storms to second win of season

16th June 2014
Michael Schumacher wakes out of coma

Passing Of A Legend: John Surtees Dies, Aged 83 


  1. Today I had a message from Heidi Hocking who lives in the USA.
    She is Gary H's niece but they never met.

    Duncan Hocking is her dad and he used to do bike drag racing. He lives in Wales.
    Now, it appears, he builds motorcycles.

    Anyway, Heidi reminded me that yesterday, 30th Sept, was Gary's 72nd b'day.

    Well hopefully we'll both be able to meet Gary in the 'next phase'..

    Thanks Heidi for sharing.

  2. 21st Nov 2010:
    Some new info:

    "Thank you for all the hard effort you have put into your site which commemorates my boyhood hero.

    A little item you might like to know about is “the Grey Street dips” in Bulawayo which, so rumour has it, taught Jim Redman and Gary Hocking how to handle motorcycles at speed in difficult conditions.

    As with all your contributors, I well remember my shock at hearing of the events in Natal so shortly after his victory in the Rhodesian Grand Prix at the Kumalo circuit. And, too, the television pictures of the funeral in (what was stated to be) Monmouthshire. The photos of his grave are poignant.


    John Fisher"


    Thanks for the info John 8)

    Soon 50 yrs will have passed since our hero died.

    I have had great pleasure from reading all the feedback and I know lots of other fans have too.

  3. A get-together in Westmead on June 23rd 2012

    'Good day to you

    We're having a get-together in memory of Gary in Westmead, Durban on Sat 23 June, where we'll be displaying some of his trophies and medals, as well as some other memorabilia. We'll have a number of the old guys who raced with him and will read out tributes from Jim Redman, Kork Ballington and various other people who knew gary. I don't know where you are but drop me a line about this if you like.'


    Gavin Foster

  4. Happy 75th Birthday Gary on this 30th day of Sept 2012!

  5. 21st Dec 2012:

    Today, 50 years ago on 21st Dec 1962, Gary Hocking died in a tragic accident while practicing at the Westmead Circuit in Natal, South Africa.

  6. Gary Hocking on Facebook:

  7. Anonymous1:43 PM

    l have been an admirer of Gary since the early 60s & remember his great TT victory in '62 in the shadow of Tom Phillis' tragedy.

    l can't add a lot to the above great tributes except to repeat the following anecdote:
    Gary was asked if he was worried about Mike Hailwood.
    He answered: "No, he's just a man on a motorbike. lf he can do
    it, so can I!"

    And he could.

    Clive Davies

  8. Sad they never got to compete more but I did read in an article sent to me that Gary was later told that there was only one bike to ride and Hailwood ( prob'ly because of his dad's fame and fortune and the 'better' opportunity to sell the Count's Augustas in England )got to ride it! Money 'swore' it seems.. if this article is telling the truth.

  9. On 30th September 2017 Gary Hocking would have turned 80!
    Long gone but never forgotten ☆☆☆