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The GM-H Motoring Clubs

Motoring Clubs were setup at most GM-H sites during the 1950's, but perhaps the most active were at Fishermens Bend and Woodville.

GM-H Motoring Club at Fishermens Bend

The GMH Motoring Club at Fishermens Bend was one of a variety of social organisations which evolved at Holdens during the post-war period. Clubs ranged from a very active RSL branch, sporting interests such as bowls, football, cricket, golf, basketball, skiing, recreational activities, angling, photography, theatre group, and many others.

A quick scan through the early People magazine reveals an amazing diversity of social activity. Regular dinner dances were held in the Fishermens Bend Social Centre under the umbrella of the company sponsored Sports and Social Club and catered for by the company canteen. 

The GMH Motoring Club commenced life at Fishermens Bend in 1951. 

Engineering and manufacturing engineering people were prominent in early club activities.

People records the first President of the Motoring Club was Gordon Eastwood, Engineering Technical specifications, followed by Bob Archer. Bob was the product engineer in charge of Frigidaire product based at the Bend until 1956 when the Frigidaire operations were consolidated at Dandenong. He features in the December 1953 issue of People introducing a group of famous Redex rally drivers at a motoring club meeting.

Club activities included 8 or 9 navigation rallies, treasure hunts and Motorkhanas, Concourse D’Elegance, a variety of social meetings and annual interstate economy runs between South Australia and Victoria.

The Dandenong Motoring club evolved as a separate group but we seemed to do most things together. South Australia and Sydney were completely independent clubs but we did get together at Easters, the first visit to Woodville may have been as early as 1955.

Stuart Dobbyn was FB President in the middle fifties with John Bey as Secretary. They were also club rally champion driver and navigator.

Easter 1957 two young couples from Engineering participated in the Mobil sponsored Economy Run from the Bend to Adelaide hosted by the very active GMH SA motoring club.

Marc and group on car

L to R, Noel Dight, Julie Grenfell (Dight), Jill Saddington (McInnes), Marc McInnes. 

Noel Dight left Holden to become a very successful Holden Dealer, Noel Dight Motors in Lilydale.

In early 1958 Marc McInnes became the next president, John Bey remained secretary with Jim McAuliffe Treasurer. The club membership grew to over 500 with the incentive of discount fuel from Mobil leading to the introduction of durable membership cards:

Membership card 1

Membership card 4

Membership card 2

Membership card 3

Membership numbers were also boosted by Motoring Club members being given complimentary RACV road assistance coverage. At its peak, the club membership was near to 1000.

The June long weekend was reserved for the annual GMH Alpine Trial, first recorded in People August 1957. Photos have come to light indicating 1956 was the first of what in those days was a trial of drivers and cars as well as navigators. From 1958 years the event was renamed the Mountain Trial to distinguish it from the venerable Light Car Club of Australia's annual Alpine Rally.

Marc McInnes and secretary Jim McAuliffe were club rally champions in 1958/9.

Competition became more serious and the club became affiliated with CAMS and the One Make Car Clubs and engaged in combined activities with other clubs such as Volkswagen and MG.

In the early sixties with Tony Roberts as president with enthusiastic support from Bob Watson, Jim McAuliffe and Peter Haas, the club members became more engaged in open rally events and were assigned a Holden Dealer EH S4 rally car for the last 3 events in 1963 and the 1964 season. With Marc McInnes, they alternated in the HDT car and their own for all the state championship events. Roberts, Watson and McInnes were all classified in the top 8 rally driver for the next season.

The rest is automotive sports history, Tony and Peter were State Champions in 1966, Bob and Jim went on to win three successive Victorian Rally Championships and become National rally champions in 1970; and Tony and Bob scored the new Holden Monaro’s first race win at Sandown in 1968 in Tony’s privately owned car and finished third outright in the Bathurst 500 in the same year. 

Gary Hawkins and John Rosengrave continued Engineering’s leadership of the club during the sixties.  Bob Watson and Jim McAuliffe were made Life Members of the club in September 1976.

(Contributed by Marcus McInnes and Bob Watson)



The GM-H Woodville Motoring Club.


People extract


The GM-H Woodville Motoring Club was instigated in November 1954. 

The following notes are recollections from S.A. members, mainly Graham Gibbs and Glen Virgin.

A wide range of events was held, mostly non-competitive, as even back in those days members were conscious of probable effect on insurance policies if there were any damage claims as a result of participating in motoring club events. 

Some of the events were: Treasure/Scavenger hunts (find how much a block of ice weighs, collect a pine cone & other unusual items).  Also, Navigation runs involving travelling from point to point using given six digit locations on Army Ordinance survey maps, and Fuel economy runs with a few driving skill tests on ovals or beaches. 

In one of the regular Easter Motoring Club events, (around 1963), members of the South Australian Motoring Club travelled to Melbourne to join the Victorian Club for the long weekend.  The SA participants used the trip over as an economy run, which Ashleigh Ford is believed to have won.  On Saturday night, a cabaret was held in the GMH Dandenong canteen in conjunction with other sports groups from both states.  On Sunday, a Motorkhana was held on an oval somewhere in Melbourne, with the group travelling back to Adelaide on the Easter Monday. 

In the mid 50’s, Woodville Motoring Club members included - Bob Stephenson, Johnny Oye, Don Cook, Bill Kemke, Fred Kerr, Rex Nicks, Ira Phillips, Ted Beerworth, Ken Virgin, Neil Cruishank, Merv Coad, Ken Davey, Mick Adams, Dick Simpson, and many others. 

In the early-mid 60’s members also included: Trevor Beythien, Des Trowbridge, Terry Simon, Trevor Hicks, Ashleigh Ford, Graham Gibbs and others.  Also said that Ted Beerworth’s son Pat, also participated in some events.  Membership numbers had grown significantly to this time. 

Ken Virgin was a South Australian Volkswagen Racing identity, racing regularly at Mallala, competing against the likes of Norm Beachy, Bob Jane, Clem Smith, & Harry Firth.  Ken also competed in car trials, gymkhanas and drags.  Ken’s son Glen, also was very competitive in drag racing, clocking impressive times during the 1970’s.  Ken was a keen member of the GM-H Woodville Motoring Club in the 1950’s.


GMH MotClb Ken Virgin 1955 (3) named (Custom)


GMH Motoring Club 1955 mtg w FB (3)Named


GMH Motoring Club 1955 mtg w FB (2)


GMH Motoring Club 1955 mtg w FB (1)


GMH MotClb Ken Virgin 1955 (3a) named


GMH MotClb Ken Virgin 1955 Card joined (Custom)


GMH Mot Club 1955 Easter Prog (1b) (Custom)


GMH Mot Club 1955 Easter Prog (2) (Custom)

(Contributed by Darrell Thomas)

 Contributor Year Content Link
 Alan Bridges  c.1952  GMH Motoring Club car badge JPG
 Neil Pogson c1961  Alternate Motoring Club Badge, probably from Woodville Motoring Club  JPG
 People 1951  December mention of Club formation (October 1951)  PDF
 Peeople 1952  March report - Motoring Club now has 40 members  PDF
 People 1953  Nov 1953 People Magazine report - Election of Officers and some history  PDF
 People 1953 Sept 1953 People Magazine report: Victorious Holden teams in Redex Trial  PDF
 Bob Watson  1953   Holden Rally Team pockets and Dec 1953 People Magazine report - "Redex Trial Stars at the Club"  PDF
 People 1954  Second Annual FB Gymkhana at Dandenong  JPG
 People 1954  Birkenhead Club established with FB help  JPG
 People 1955  Rapid growth of Woodville's Motoring Club  JPG
 People 1955  Three clubs Get Together after Melb to Adelaide Economy Run  JPG
 People 1956  Pagewood Motoring Club conducts novel trial  JPG
 People 1956  Jul 1956 People Magazine report: Easter Gymkhana winner  PDF
John Bey c1956  Richard Brett, wife Joan Brett (back seat) and Fred Cumberland, others unknown JPG
John Bey 1956 1956 Alpine Trial, outside the  Walhalla hotel.   JPG
 John Bey 1956 1956 Alpine Trial, outside the  Walhalla hotel.  JPG
 John Bey 1956  1956 Alpine Trial  JPG
 John Bey 1956  1956 Alpine Trial  JPG
 John Bey 1956  1956 Alpine Trial  JPG
 People 1957  May 1957 report of FB Motoring Club trial  JPG
 People 1957  Aug 1957 People Magazine report: 1957 Alpine Trial  PDF
Marcus McInnes 1957   Holden Car Club Mountain Trial 1957  PDF
 People 1957   Mar 1957 People Magazine report: Club Trial report  PDF
 John Bey  c 1957  Rally control point  JPG
 John Bey  1957  Dick Brett, Jill Saddington (McInnes), Fred Cumberland   JPG
 John Bey   c1957  Theo Twyerould's FJ, Dick Brett’s FE,  Marcus McInnes' FE with Jim McAuliffe leaning the door. Years 57/8. event unknown.  JPG
 John Bey  c1957 1957 Easter run  JPG
 John Bey  1957 Dick Brett, Jim McAuliffe, Fred Cumberland.   JPG
 John Bey  1957  Rally Checkpoint.  JPG
 John Bey  1957 1957 Mountain Trial Walhalla: Control official Brian Adams, car behind Kevin Cox and Ken Jacoby (editor of people and photographer). Dan Frazer's car with a broken windshield.  JPG
 John Bey  1957 Alpine Trial, plotting course - Richard Brett and Fred Cumberland.   JPG
 John Bey  1957 1957 Alpine Trial Walhalla group at start of day. 3rd from left Theo Twyerould, 5th Dick Brett in bear suit, John Bey and Fred Cumberland at back of next group, further right, in black is Keith Conyers, then John Fenner, Margaret and Jim McAuliffe, 4th from right Brian Adams, far right Charlie Highett  JPG
 John Bey  1957 Somewhere in Gippsland (1957 Alpine Trial)  JPG
 John Bey  1957  Checking the map at Neerim South before heading to Wantirna: Fred Cumberland, Charlie Highett, Richard Brett, John Bey.  JPG
 John Bey  1957 Easter 1957 in South Australia, standing 3rd from left Leo Mathieson,  on his left Dick Brett, further on in cream jumper, Don Cook SA club, behind him, George Stafford FB, left of Don, Charlie Highett and last is Norm Jacka. Squatting from left Marc McInnes in blue, far right Theo Twyerould and Bob Archer.  JPG
 John Bey  1957 Refuelling on the way to Adelaide, Easter 1957  JPG
 John Bey  1957 Easter 1957: Outside the Del Monte Guesthouse, Henley Beach SA.    JPG
 John Bey  1957 Easter 1957 Motorkhana SA.  JPG
 John Bey  1958 1958 Mountain Trial: Control point (Dick Brett's FE) JPG
 Mark McInnes  1958  1958 Mountain Trial presentation night: Marcus McInnes and Gary Barker receive trophy   JPG
 John Bey  1958 30 August 1958 Mountain Trial presentation night: Gary Barker (Herald motoring editor) presenting; others from some one-make car club who also participated in the event.  JPG
 John Bey  1958  30 August 1958 Motoring Club presentation night: Stewart Dobbyn, Gary Barker, John Bey.  JPG
 John Bey  c1958   GMH Motoring Club Committee Reefer jacket, worn by John Bey  PDF
 John Bey  1958  John Bey and Richard Brett, International Motor Show Invitational Trial  JPG
 John Bey   1958
  1958 Mountain Trial Presentations  JPG
 John Bey  1958 30 August 1958 Mountain Trial presentation night: Fred Cumberland, Gary B and ?  JPG
 John Bey  1958 30 August 1958 Mountain Trial presentation night: Gary B and?  JPG
 John Bey  1958  1958 Mountain trial at Marysville  JPG
 John Bey  1958  RallyControl Point  JPG
 John Bey  1958  1958 Mountain trial: Fred Cumberland, Joan Brett, Dick Brett at Marysville  JPG
 John Bey  1958  1958 Mountain Trial  JPG
 John Bey  1958  1958 Mountain trial: Dick Brett and friends clearing logs  JPG
 Marc McInnes  1959   Holden Car Club Economy Run Melbourne to Sydney, etc  PDF
 John Bey  1959  Marcus McInnes and John Bey study route map, Mobil Economy run  JPG
 People  1959  May 1959 People Magazine report of the Melbourne to Sydney Economy run  PDF
 People  1959  Sept 1959 People Magazine report of 1959 Mountain Trial  PDF
 John Bey  1959  Outside Marysville Hotel, 1959 Mountain Trial  JPG
 John Bey  1959  Geoff Grieve, John Bey, Dick Brett, Fred Cumberland.   JPG
 John Bey  1959  John Bey, Dick Brett drinking from their trophy Pewter mugs.  JPG
 John Bey  1959  Mobil Economy run 1959  JPG
 John Bey  1959  John Bey's FE on the road  JPG
 John Bey  1960  John Bey and Richard Brett, International Motor Show Invitational Trial  JPG
 People  1960  May 1960 People Magazine report of the 1960 Easter Motorkhana  PDF
 Marcus McInnes  c1960  Part of Marcus McInnes' trophy collection 1958 - 1960  PDF
 People  1961  March 1961 Easter Motorkhana   JPG
 People  1961  May 1961 South Australia wins Motorkhana  JPG
 People  1960  August 1960 report:1960 Mountain Trial  PDF
 People  1961  August 1961 report: 1961 Mountain Trial  PDF
 John Bey  1958  Unknown group? anyone help??  JPG
 John Bey   ?  Back: ?, John Bey, ? Front: Charlie Highett, Fred Cumberland, Stewart Dobbyn (event unknown)  JPG
 People  1964  Report of the Mobil Economy Run, Marcus McInnes and Chas Knight winners of Class G  PDF
  People  1966  BP Rally of South Eastern Australia  won by Club Members Tony Roberts and Peter Haas  PDF