Why is the Mill Farm Scramble so special? This article was written in 2017 by Des Lewis and captures what is the Mill Farm Scramble and the significance behind the Dan Ferguson memorial handicap. This weekend 27/8/23 will be the 21st Mill Farm Scramble.
The Mill Farm Scramble – A Short History – Written in 2017 by Des Lewis
The Vintage Motocross Club of W.A. has utilised a number of natural terrain circuits since its inception. No track has firmed as a club favourite more so than the natural terrain circuit on the Ferguson family property located on the outskirts of the township of Wandering.
The event this year (2017) celebrates the 15th anniversary of the Mill Farm Scramble. Having reached this milestone it was considered timely to present a short history on the origins of the event, and to underpin the significance of the feature race of the day, the Dan Ferguson Handicap.
For those who didn’t have the privilege of knowing him, Danny Ferguson was no stranger to motorsport. He raced TQ’s (Three Quarter Midgets) in the 1960’s and his car “Mighty Mouse” was a familiar sight at various circuits including the Claremont Speedway at the time. Through the sport he met his future wife Terrill whose father, Brookton farmer Frank Yeo, also raced TQ’s.
Off the track Danny was involved with his father’s earth moving business in Pingelly and farming in Wandering. In the 1960’s as the Narrogin Motorcycle Club became custodians of the Dandaloo Park Scramble Track, so next door materialised the Narrogin Speedway. The considerable earthworks involved in the speedway project were provided by the Ferguson family earthmoving business at no charge. Danny’s interests shifted to motocross in the late 1960’s whereby he became an active member of the Narrogin Motorcycle Club. The relationship between these two neighbouring clubs was very solid in those years. Speedway events would also involve the Narrogin Motorcycle Club with their own brand of flat track racing alternating with a mini scramble around the outside perimeter of the main track. This participation provided variety to the speedway meetings and was always popular with spectators who patronised those events in great numbers. Danny supported son Bayden in later years when Bayden ventured into stock car racing and then modifieds at this same venue.
The Mill Farm Scramble, history records, is not the only motocross event to have ever been held at Wandering. Through Danny, the Narrogin Motorcycle Club held club runs in the early 70’s on a track he prepared in a paddock to the east of the Wandering Hotel, and later, on shire land behind the little church. In this area he carved out an interesting track with a Caterpillar D4D bulldozer. That same machine has been overhauled and is still owned by the family today. Other club runs were held on the Lazy B property at North Bannister where today the Trail and Enduro Motorcycle Club of W.A. conduct an annual event through the generosity of Bayden Ferguson.
With the advent of the Vintage Motocross Club of W.A., Danny’s interest in moto cross was revived. This saw him swing a leg over his former favourite marque, a trusty CZ. Years of mustering sheep on motorbikes wasn’t wasted on son Chad who jumped on board with his Dad and took to motocross like a duck to water. Soon the Mill Farm workshop was a hive of activity with CZ bits and pieces being assembled left right and centre. Nothing was ever done by half measures with the Fergusons as the family immersed itself into VMX with bikes and toolboxes, trailers and fuel cans, grandkids and picnic lunches, old faces and new friendships. They mixed it once again with the familiar same old dirt, same old bikes and same old fun of earlier years. It should be noted that Danny was the second most senior member of the VMX Club to have also been a member of the original Narrogin Motorcycle Club. He was eclipsed only by the ever effervescent and “one and only” Bertie Sykes.
During 2001 the club was looking further afield for a natural terrain circuit reasonably close to Perth. When a suggestion was put to Danny that the front paddock at Mill Farm looked like a pretty good spot, his response was….” The family are all together tonight. We’ll discuss it over the dinner table.” A phone call early the following morning heralded a “thumbs up” to the idea. Committee member Wayne Clarke’s ensuing visit was met with the customary Ferguson hospitality. A chauffeur driven Wayne Clarke was treated to a cook’s tour of the front paddock along with Danny’s thoughts on a likely track design. Evidently nothing too much changed from Danny’s original ideas. Excitement abounded within the club as the committee feverishly set to work putting together the framework to present “The Mill Farm Scramble.” The circuit was subsequently licensed and the Mill Farm natural terrain circuit was born. The inaugural event was scheduled for August 2002.
Then an earth shattering blow that devastated the Ferguson family and shook the VMX Club to the core. Tragedy struck after what had been a bitterly cold and rainy Sunday in September 2001 with Danny’s untimely passing following a VMXWA event at Bindoon. In the blink of an eye our world had changed. The Twin Towers went down in New York on the Tuesday. The world had surely changed, and nothing would ever be quite the same again. Many club members attended Danny’s funeral as he was laid to rest in the cemetery at Wandering. Befittingly he was described by the priest at the graveside as “… love with its sleeves rolled up…” illustrating his generous and compassionate “can do” nature.
With Danny’s passing, out of respect for his family, the idea of the Wandering event was abruptly shelved. In the course of time, in true Ferguson family style, Terrill and adult children, Bayden, Jenene and Chad, decided that they would like the idea to proceed, as this is what Danny would have wanted. Discussions took place within the club, dust was blown off past plans, and in line with the family’s wishes, proceed it did.
The Mill Farm Scramble was a success right from the outset and today holds the position of premier event on the VMXWA calendar. In the ensuing years since Danny’s passing, no fewer than six family members have followed him into the Vintage Motocross Club of WA. Sons Bayden and Chad, and grandsons Warrick, Shaun, Lyall and Mathew.
So, as we celebrate Mill Farm, 15 years on (2017), it is with gratitude and thanks to Terrill Ferguson for allowing us the use of this land, and to Chad Ferguson for his cooperation and efforts year in year out leading up to and post this annual event.
Probably the greatest compliment bestowed upon the Mill Farm circuit came from a guest of the club, international motocross legend Vic Allan. Vic Allan announced that this track, from the Britain of the period, would be considered a World Grand Prix standard circuit. What more needs to be said!
International motocross stars have entertained us, our local champions have justified their standing, new champions have come of age, sidecars have roosted from one corner to the next… Broken bones, broken engines, bon fires, firewalkers, dust, mud, hot coffee, cold beers, sheep on spits, Bradys’ hamburgers…. you name it, it’s all happened at the Mill Farm Scramble.
So every year the pilgrimage is made, and every year one hundred hero’s line up to take on what is simply known as “Wandering”…culminating in the final event of the day, in honour of a great man, the all in Dan Ferguson Handicap.