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Extract from Circus Life: Hinton fixes spark plug with his teeth

Submitted by on January 27, 2013

Eric Hinton
Below is an extract from Circus Life – Australian Motorcycle Racers in Europe in the 1950s by Don Cox.

The truth is regularly held to account for being stranger than fiction. It can certainly be more colourful. Take two incidents from the rich Continental Circus career of Eric Hinton.

Sunday, May 4, 1958 in St Wendel, West Germany. The spark-plug lead of Hinton’s NSU Sportmax comes loose during the 250 race. He rolls to a stop, dismounts and uses the only available “tools” to strip the insulation material from the plug lead – his teeth.

Eric Hinton 250 NSU

He bites through the insulation and wraps the bare copper wire around the plug. Then he restarts, a lap behind race leader Dieter Falk’s works Adler. Hinton closes on Falk at five seconds per lap and betters the fastest lap set in the 350 race. But he runs out of laps, finishing one second behind the German rider.

Aussie ingenuity? “One of the advantages of being Australian is you can think from an outside position, looking in,” Hinton says.

One week later at the super-fast Hockenheim, Hinton has another, more dramatic adventure. He is flat on the tank at 190km/h, when the NSU snaps sideways. The sump plug has fallen out. “The bike just turned hard right and speared off into the pine forest, between the trees. I broke both ankles without falling off.”

Hinton broken ankles

Eric reckons people wouldn’t believe half the stuff that happened during his four years as part of the 1950s Continental Circus. Had he been a cricketer, he might have had a several books of amazing memories published. As it was, he had a great time and occasionally is asked to talk about it.

These are just two stories from Circus Life, Australian Motorcycle Racers in Europe in the 1950s, by Don Cox. Want more? Visit Autobookworld, Pitstop Bookshop or buy direct by sending a note to circuslifebook@gmail.com


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