There were vast stretches of open land where houses now stand in Port Pirie.
Farther out, expanses of salt flats were ideal for a teenager without a licence to try out his Kawasaki KX-125 motorcycle.
Little did 15-year-old Mark Greig know at the time, but he was destined to ride the same bike to a national classic championship title in Port Pirie almost 40 years later.
“I have had a few offers for the bike, but it will never ever leave the family,” Mr Greig said.
Although its origins are mixed, the bike came to Mr Greig through his father Peter Greig, a former Balaklava farmer who helped to run a taxi company here. “I can’t discuss everything,” Mr Greig said mysteriously of the bike’s background while standing in his shed beside the six-speed racer.
“I have spent $2500 on it through parts only. I have been a mechanic for 38 years and am now a glazier-builder.”
His house off The Terrace is a “labour of love”, but in the old days that and many other dwellings were yet to be built. “I used to ride through this block of land to go out to the salt flats,” he said.
“None of these houses were here then.
“I never raced until I was 36 years old. I was a late-starter. I used to ride on the flats. I got into trouble with the police a couple of times.
“I was 14 or 15 years old – just a slap on the wrist from the local police was enough. It was a lot different in those days.”
With the six-speed gearbox, rare for its era, and carburettor with crankcase induction, the bike took two years to be rebuilt before hitting the track. “When you become older, you seem to take more pride in it,” Mr Greig said.
“I have never laid a spanner on this motorcycle during the four years since I rebuilt it.”
At the Australian Classic Motocross Championships in Port Pirie on August 19 and 20, he took the pre-1975 125cc 50-59-years-old title.
Mr Greig works for Andrew Fergusson who encouraged him to compete.
Mr Fergusson was second and third in Australian titles with Port Pirie “doing pretty well out of the championships”, he said. Mr Greig prefers to ride his old bike than his later-model machines.
“I can actually touch the ground flat-footed,” he said.
Does he have a hankering for the salt flats again?
“Not any more,” he said, now saving his furious riding for the racetrack.
Mr Greig’s success follows that of David Footner who won a classic title at the same meeting while riding a bike which he bought, sold and bought again.
Both motorcycle enthusiasts agree that the experience is all about the nostalgia of an old ride.