Laurie Zeeman

    By way of acknowledgement to the source of a number of the early photographs within the Collection of Henry Long, this piece gives a brief outline of the racing career of Laurie Zeeman, in turn to serve as a repository for the other non-speedway motorcycle photos that can now be seen in the accompanying slideshow.
    A rider of many motorcycle disciplines of which dirt track was only one, Laurie raced speedway for but a brief time, at Old Barn and Wembley, where he was a member of the first League championship-winning team, Johannesburg Tigers, in the initial 1947/48 season before moving on to even greater successes on tarmac in rallies, circuit and road racing, including the S.African National 350cc Championship.
    Born in 1919, he first raced in 1938 on a 250cc James, (slide #2) winning the Diamond Shield in '39, (#28.) After wartime service he resumed racing at Old Barn on his stripped down Triumph Tiger 90 (slide #9, with wife Jean on board in 1942; in track action, slides #4 to #10,) and was runner-up in the 1948 S.African 250cc Championship at the Nigel circuit, - this as well as competing in scrambles and trials alongside his Wembley speedway outings. In '49 he and colleague Clarrie Hurst acquired a 350 Velocette each which gave both their most rewarding time. The “Heavenly Twins” as they became known, with their near-identical style, (slides #18 to #22,) took the SA 350 Championship in 1950 (CH), '51 (LZ) and '52 (CH), and they were regularly first & second in many events.
    Together they established the 'Zeeman Hurst Motorcycles' business in 1954, which has today, under son and grandson Keith and Bradley, morphed into 'Zeeman Suzuki', (#30.) Slide #24 shows young Keith on dad's new AJS alongside mom, circa 1955, a machine Laurie competed on until his retirement in '61: seen with and without fairing, #25, #27.
    After quitting active competitive racing Laurie Zeeman was, with others, instrumental in establishing Formula M (micro-midget ) racing in the Transvaal, a class of motorcycle-engine-powered cars that set many a young racer on the road to bigger things, and with son Keith built the minicross circuit near Alberton. He subsequently entered many Rallies, including the famous DJ Commemorative as late as 1990 when in his seventies, (#44,) albeit as a sidecar passenger, and so 'winning' his last competition, as the Oldest Finisher in the Rally!
The accompanying slideshow spans 50 years in the life of Laurie Zeeman.
   CCJ,   May 2014