Speedway Workshop

Today in Motorcycle History

The Duggan Speedway Machine

Australian Vic Duggan (b. 1910 Maitland NSW*) became World Champion in 1948, and was to build a frame of his own design. The story behind the Duggan is still unclear, it is hoped that more details will be made available soon. So far, we do know that Vic's first attempt was known as the "Black Swan" and was recognisable by the emblem of a black swan on the rear mudguard.

However, this early attempt was virtually outdated before it was finished and was quickly replaced by a design, which, as the story goes was a copy of the "Martin".

Spotted at the 1999 BMF Rally, and photographed by Richard Snodin, is the later design, believed to be around the 1948-49 era.

It is hoped that a contact will soon be made with the owner of this restored machine and that a better story of the background of the Vic Duggan machine can be discovered.

Not visible on this particular shot, but viewable in another picture obtained (Below) is a characteristic of the Duggan - namely a length of frame running under the Fuel tank.

Note on the Inset. The elaborate dirt proofing of the Magneto and its Plug lead.

Steve Magro from Australia, was recently fortunate enough to have had a lengthy interview with Vic, and kindly sent me the following extract from Vic's recollection of those early days.

  • As I spoke with Duggan, he seemed hesitant to rekindle these racing days. He was, however, proud to recall that he had developed his own equipment. He said: "I always built my own bikes, even before the war. I used to work for De Havilland, which gave me a lot of experience working with air frames."

    Like many others, the War put a hold on Duggan's career for seven long years. At the age 24, the out-of-work speedster returned home. In Sydney Duggan put his skills to good use working for the De Havilland Aircraft Company. At their Bankstown workshops he played an active role in building the Mosquito, the famous twin-engined fighter-bomber which, throughout the war, was the fastest aircraft its type.

    Enter the Australian summer of 1946-47: Vic Duggan was ready to take on the world. Duggan had slotted his best JAP engine into a custom built, diamond shaped frame made from T-45 aircraft tube. Although relatively basic in design the streamlined frame had numerous innovations. Gone were the old heavy support bars and other outdated bits. Duggan also recalled that the lightweight tubing he used "was stronger, being larger in diameter. I also sat the engine further back, for better grip".

    The results were astounding: - the new bike handled superbly and was super fast from the gate. The opposition could only wonder how the bike held together and it didn't take long before tape measures began to appear in the pits. In January 1947, Duggan regained his NSW Championship when he swept past Van Praag with a lap to go. In February the Australian Championship would be decided, again at the Sportsground.

Notes. 1. speedwaymuseumonline.co.uk indicates that Duggan's D.O.B. is not clear, but concludes that it's probably 1910. Steve Magro says that he was 24 when he returned to Australia, presumably in 1939, which would make his DOB ca 1915.

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