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Don Tryhorn


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Hi Graham,

Yes sad news about Don. He was quite an identity around the PCV comp' days and although I never met him, I've only heard fond (and more often than not, humorous) recountings of him since he passed.

There was a good "Vale" article in the club's Porsche Parade magazine last year, and although I have had a look to scan it for you, alas however, without success.

Welcome aboard the forum,


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Hi Graham,

Yes sad news about Don. He was quite an identity around the PCV comp' days and although I never met him, I've only heard fond (and more often than not, humorous) recountings of him since he passed.

There was a good "Vale" article in the club's Porsche Parade magazine last year, and although I have had a look to scan it for you, alas however, without success.

Welcome aboard the forum,


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Hi Graham,

I didn't ever hear what Don's health issue was, but following are a copy of the letter that went out to members from the then club president, and then a copy of the text from the Porsche Parade article...

"Don Tryhorn. A life too short.

It is with deep regret that we are informing members of the death of a member of the Club. Well known competitor and friend Don Tryhorn unexpectedly passed away last Friday after a short illness.

On behalf of myself and all members of the Club I wish send our condolences to Don's family and friends.

A funeral will be held at Heyfield cemetery (3 hours from Melbourne) at 11am this Friday with a gathering at the Heyfield Bowling Club following.

For those who cannot get to Heyfield there is another gathering at 3 Cloverleaf Drive Kilsyth on Saturday 5th Jan from 4pm.

If you would like to celebrate Don's life and achievements with some fun memories then bring yourself and any memorabilia you may have to Kilsyth on Saturday.

I will look forward to some tall tales and some true ones as well about Don.

Jeff Thomas


"Porsche Parade -

Some fun times recalled

Peter White

Golly, where do I start? I first met Don when I attended my first Porsche club event in Ballarat. It was 1984 and we were to assemble in a farmer’s paddock on what was to be a cold and wet winter’s day.

I asked my wife to drive there in the Porsche, as I had decided to fly up. She asked a blonde and attractive friend of hers to join her for the drive. They had arrived before me, and when I arrived, I noticed a group of male Porsche club members chatting to my wife and her friend. I later realised that one of this group was the celebrated Don, otherwise known as ‘Don Tryhard’.

We had arranged to stay overnight in a motel with other club members. The ladies of course, received due attention from Don, Fergus McPherson and others. I had no idea of what I was doing at this my first event, but I remember being impressed by the ability of Don, Graham Stockley and Bruce Harris. I guess like many new members, I felt the urge to be able to do what the others were doing, but how do you find a way to learn such things?

Somewhat intimidated, I found myself talking to Don and was very surprised to find that he was happy to tell me about some of the processes involved. What a pleasant surprise!

He was one of those people that you could talk to and ask questions of about cars, driving techniques etc. without being embarrassed or scoffed at; no ego here!

It was also during these early days that I met his friend Dennis O'Keefe. We all seemed to share the love of our Porsches and had a basic desire to improve and do well.

At this stage Dennis and Don were both already doing well and Don had won a class A championship, which was the class that I was in (as I had just bought a 1973 RS Carrera for the princely sum of $32,000).

I had set myself a target of trying to beat Don in the class championship, he realised this, but was only too happy to share information about what to do with the car and tips about how to drive the car. None of which I had a clue about. I kept asking myself why does Don want to help me? Over time I came to understand that Don always wanted to win, but only if it was fair and equitable.

My work situation at the time allowed me a bit of mid week time and I quickly discovered that it was possible to drive up to Winton mid-week to practice (on the old circuit). My intention of course, was to get some private practice in. When I got there, I saw other Porsches already on the track, driving round at great haste and shortly thereafter realised that both Dennis O'Keeffe and ‘Don Tryhard’ were both also practising. Private practice it was not going to be.

The Edge.

In the mid 1980s, when we were looking for any sort of advantage, we thought it was fairly revolutionary to use low-profile tyres, to use lightweight seats, to take out the spare tyre, jack & tools, to put spacers inside the wheels, to lower the car and stiffen up the suspension. Don even told me about taking the air filter out, so that the car would ‘breathe easier’ and as for bringing your car to a club event on a trailer, you would have to ask Bruce Harris about that.

“Well” I thought, “so much to do so, so much technology”. It was even suggested to change the brake fluid so that it would not boil so easily. Some time later Don even spoke about using avgas and changing the timing to suit (remember, it was okay then).

I didn't always understand what Don was telling me, but I sure learnt it was best to listen.

Over the many weekends we spent away over many years and at national meetings interstate, Don was always a source of inspiration. Never short of a word, I remember one of his often quoted lines was, “Peter, you have to be very careful listening to anybody's point of view when they have a vested interest”. I'm sure that is still true today. I am able to say that Don never spoke with a vested interest. We were both on the club committee and this was one of his most used phrases. It wasn't until some years later, when I became Competition Secretary that I realised the truth of Don's words.

A moderate at club meetings, he always retained his courtesy and good manners. He never gave in on something he thought was unfair or unjust, but stayed true to his own beliefs and thoughts. Not once did he put his own interests ahead of the overall good of the club.

I also got to know his lovely two daughters, who were only teenagers then. He was very proud of them. Don was one of those rare people you find, who happily combined both ends of the spectrum, being very competitive and always wanting to win, yet happy and willing to share information with those that he was trying to beat, which he was of course always trying to do.

Don was able to think outside the square and do things a little differently. I remember with fondness, in 1986, there was one final sprint event to go at Winton to decide the winner of the Porsche Club Championship that year. The point scores showed that Don and I were the two contenders. In the usual spirit of competition, we had been at it all year and then I heard through hidden sources, that Don had lashed out, and bought a lightweight RS Carrera and had been doing some work on it.

Well, what do you do? Bruno Hess, suggested I should go and get a special exhaust system made to increase my power (remember at that stage, it was still legal to do this). This cost me more than I could afford at the time, but I went ahead and ordered it anyway. Later on the way up to Winton, I earned a yellow canary from the police, because I had no muffler and the noise was huge.

It was only some days later, I heard that Don's car was in fact left-hand drive. Bearing in mind, that Winton runs clockwise and that he was not used to changing gears with his right-hand, I figured this may not be the advantage that he was hoping for, as he would be driving on the wrong side and the extra weight in the driver's seat would be on the outside of the normal right-hand turns at the track.

Looking back, we had probably both wasted our money, but we were both desperadoes.

After this final round at Winton we chatted and laughed about all this and acknowledged what a great fun year we had just had.

I have great and fond memories of Don as a friend and competitor.

We had some mighty duels over the years but always in an atmosphere of friendly rivalry. He even taught me how to do handbrake turns.

I remember at one of the Winton events, Don’s car was unavailable, so Dennis offered his car (which was in class B) to his mate Don (class A). Here’s how it worked.

Don would come in after his run in class A (the car with slicks was a class A car) then Dennis O’Keefe and Don would jack the car up, change all four wheels with road tyres on (Class B) - which was quite legal - and off Dennis would go five or six minutes later.

This happened eight times on the day. Other members would sit back watching and thinking, “these guys must be pretty keen or crazy”.

I remember too, in my role as Competition Secretary, Don was always the first person I went to when I felt I had to make a decision or ruling about something that may affect a competitor I could always trust Don's advice.

There comes a time in your life when you look back and if you're lucky, you can remember three or four episodes with great fondness. For me, these moments seem to encompass fun times, good friends and some sort of mutual admiration. Such are my memories of those days.

Once a petrol head, always a petrol head.

I bet Don is up there doing 180° handbrake turns around those pearly gates.

On reflecting on Don’s passing I find myself smiling and at the same time feeling a deep sense of sadness. Perhaps that is how we would all like to be remembered.

Peter White."

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