Carruthers Goes Back To School
The following is from the Gladesville Public School…Gladesville-born world 250cc motorcycle champion Kel Carruthers recently returned to his alma mater at Gladesville Public School, where he was honoured by staff and students.Carruthers, who has lived in America since 1971, unveiled a plaque paying tribute to his achievements and spoke to grade five and six students about his racing career, as well as the importance of family and values.”It was quite an experience to visit the school after 60 years, it certainly brought back a lot of memories,” said Kel, his Australian accent as strong as ever. “It was wonderful to be recognised by the school, and meet the principal and talk to the students.”Kel attended the school between 1943 and 1949, and had some sound but simple advice for his young audience.”Looking back at my career, I think the key messages for the kids are stay true to yourself and your family, and work hard if you want to achieve your goals.”Kel’s father Jack Carruthers, an Australian sidecar champion who also went to Gladesville Public School, ran a motorcycle shop located on Victoria Road not far from the school. Jack Carruthers had a contract with the Australian army to service its fleet of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.After leaving Drummoyne Boys High School, Kel worked at his father’s shop and received a special dispensation from the army to test ride its motorcycles around Gladesville when he was 15.He later dominated Australian motorcycle racing before he and his young family left their Gladesville home for the world championships in 1966.Carruthers, who retired from full-time work six months ago, is Australia’s oldest surviving world motorcycle grand prix champion, of which there are four remaining out of a total of six; Keith Campbell (1957 world 350cc champion), Tom Phillis (1961 world 125cc champion), Kel Carruthers (1969 world 250cc champion), Wayne Gardner (1987 world 500cc champion), Mick Doohan (1994-95-96-97-98 world 500cc champion) and Casey Stoner (2007 world MotoGP champion).Victorian Keith Campbell and Marrickville’s Tom Phillis were both killed in race accidents the year after they won their respective world titles.Competing in motorcycle racing’s most dangerous era, Kel won a total of seven 250cc grands prix, two more than Casey Stoner, who just missed out on the winning the world 250cc championship in 2005. Carruthers also won two Isle of Man 250cc TT races, and is the only Australian to have won the 250cc world championship.After retiring from racing in 1973, Carruthers presided over six world 500cc championships as a team manager. In addition to mentoring the world’s best riders, Kel helped the Yamaha factory develop its race bikes in the 1970s and ‘80s.Married for 50 years, Kel and his wife Jan have lived in the San Diego area for 38 years.