On my second trip to Stafford Show Ground this year I was fortunate enough to find 3 very special machines to sketch. The October show is mainly classic Japanese machines, there is a scattering of classic clubs and displays within the show and this is where I found the following machines:
c.1959 Ariel 645cc Grass-Track Racing Outfit
This Ariel outfit was in the Bonhams auction, it was previously raced and developed by Don Wright of St. Michael's Motors Stamford. The outfit's first incarnation appeared in 1957 but it soon became outclassed by the parallel twins that stared racing at the same time. At the end of 1959 Don decided it was time to improve upon the machine in order to make it more competitive. Sticking with the Ariel engine Don took advice from well known Ariel tuner of the day Laurence Hartley. Using a 1934 Red Hunter barrel, Hartley tuned and bored the barrel up to 645cc. The head used a 1936 factory bronze item intended for a 499cc engine. The piston crown was machined to suit, and Hartley 2 inch Jessops inlet valves installed. The frame itself was developed by Don using a 1950's Red Hunter frame.
The outfit made it's first race appearance in August 1961. Ridden by Don's friends Ken Fisher (rider) and Bill Smith (passenger) the outfit soon began to win at multiple events, most notably at Sleaford where the team achieved six wins in six starts. The 'St. Michael's Motors Special' was later retired after a successful carrier and laid dormant until the 1980's when Don entered it in the Vintage Class. Don died over a decade ago and so the machine has not been raced since. Unfortunately the outfit didn't sell at the auction, I for one hope that it does find it's new owner soon and is used as intended.
Whilst passing the Classic 50cc Racing Club this racer with an unusual frame construction caught my eye. Built by Alan Leeson in 2010 with permission from Tony Dawson to see whether it would produce a lighter frame, the result was that the frame weighed about the same as a tubular example. This machine is currently raced in the Classic 50 cc class. Alan plans to build another bike with this frame to take to Bonneville in 2016, and the idea makes a lot of sense as the majority of the bike can be dismantled and packed into hand luggage, I look forward to hearing how he gets on.
Tony Dawson raced sidecars in the 60s and is most famous for inventing the Astralite wheel, a lightweight pressed aluminium wheel which started production in 1977 and by the end of the 1980s over 1500 wheels were being sold globally per year. As well as designing wheels Tony Dawson also formed a company called S.C.I.T.S.U. (Selfish Conduct Inhibits True Sporting Union) in 1978. The company was founded to produce components for road race bikes. This aluminium frame design was used on a number of Road Racing bikes back in the 1970's mostly using larger engines than this 50cc example. A bike with this frame design appeared on Tomorrow's World in the Mid. 1970s. Tony patented the design and some think that if he hadn't the Japanese may well have taken it on, as it is a design that could be easily automated due to it being a series of aluminium plates bolted together. The ride hight can be adjusted by changing the vertical plates, and the tank is sandwiched between the top two plates. The construction is surprisingly strong, but still enables a certain amount of twist that is needed to maintain grip on a road racing machine.
1928 Zenith Grass-Track
Found on the Vintage Motrocycle Club stand this Zenith was once ridden by Adrian Kessell and is now run as a sprint machine by Ron Pates who purchased the machine in 2007.
Adrian Kessell (1926 - 2010) is a Cornish motorcycling legend, son of Tommy Kessel, who was a pre-war motorcycle champion, Adrian started racing in September 1945 when he rode his fathers 1926 Zenith coming third. Adrian is famed as being the most consistent 250cc champion of all time winning over 20 Cornwall Grass-Track Championships, the Southern Centre Championship and also won in Wessex, Midlands and Western Centres. Not only did he ride Grass-Track he also rode in Scrambles, Trials, Hillclimbing and sprinting. One event of not is when Adrian beat English speedway stars Norman Parker and Bill Kitchen at Bodmin Racecourse at a grass-track meeting in 1949. Adrian's career continued into the 1980's when he took 5th place in the International Grass-Track meeting in Holland in front of 7000 spectators.
Adrian continued to race and develop racing machines until he fell ill in 2009, when he was unable to attend a meeting at Wiscombe Park which was the first meeting there that he'd missed in many years. Adrian passed away peacefully at home on 8th February 2010. His funeral was attended by many people from the motorcycle community, to mark the passing of a local motorcycling legend.
c.1913 Matchless 3.5hp TT Model
1925 Zenith JAP 6-80
1903 Avondale 239cc Lightweight
1968 Derbi Gran Sport
1973 Suzuki GT750s,
Factory Special 1 of 84 made.
1959 D.M.W. Prototype
On the Jumble
1929 Peugeot P108 250cc racer
1930 Koehler-Escoffier 175 Super Sport,
with TT Villiers Engine.
1979 Honda TL 250
1965/67 JAWA Banana 350cc Production Racer