Historic motorcycle racing; A form of motorcycle competition where the competitors compete on machines from another period in time, and usually refers to the "golden era" of motorcycle racing which dates from the early 1950s through the mid 1960s; machines such as the Manx Norton, Matchless G50, AJS 7R, plus the mighty Honda and MV multis being thought of immediately. Like most things here in the United States, few things are very old, Europe having been around for what seems forever. The racing of "vintage" motorcycles lands in the same category, as in England they have been racing "vintage" machines since prior to World War II, while we in America have barely twenty-two years of involvement. The first known event on the west coast, for what we call "vintage" or "historic" racing motorcycles, was held at Sears Point Raceway in northern California in the summer of 1975 under the guise of the CSRG (California Sports Racing Group, a historic sportscar club). Though the number of machines was sparse, both historic and valuable machines did attend and run, one of which was a 1929 Sunbeam 500cc Model 90 TT machine ridden by my father Richard Green, not to mention Manx Norton’s, Velo s and even a Ducati single.
As with any project you'll have to start at the beginning, with that thought in mind, we'll assume you've either already purchased a Ducati single, or are searching for one. I won't go in to the history of the Ducati single as Mick Walker has already done a fine job on such, but I will say these little OHC singles have been quite successful in road racing for many years, then and now.
My association with these little singles goes back to 1973 when I worked at a small motorcycle shop in Dublin, California (located 40 miles east of San Francisco), as it was here I met one Chris Quinn, a Ducati single fanatic of some years already, and it was he who gave me the opportunity to ride, then later race a Ducati in both motocross and road racing competition.
Some of you may be asking... "Why should I race a Ducati? Why not an Aermacchi or a Manx Norton?" Simple really, the little Duc singles are somewhat inexpensive when compared to either the Aermacchi or the Manx, though at one time that wasn't true, as an FIII Ducati in the late 50's cost more to buy than a 500cc Manx! For competition use in historic racing the Ducati singles can be more than just competitive, but almost a dominate force to reckoned with. The Aermacchi can be expensive and temperamental, though highly competitive when dialed in, whereas the Manx, which at one time was "the” 500cc single to have, and still is, takes a lot of tuning, which means $$, in order to run one up front... only to have Team Obsoletes Matchless G50 out running all comers. Thus, for the cost, the durability and competitiveness, one can't beat a Ducati single for historic racing, few have beaten ours. The question of cost is always a subject of concern for any racer. Since the Ducati singles were a mass produced motorcycle in varying models and imported into the United States in what Berliner thought was vast numbers, they are normally cheap to purchase. At the other end of the scale we have the Aermacchi CRTT and the Manx Norton, both of which are pure bread racers, both were expensive when new (when compared to the standard road going machines of the day), and both are extremely expensive today in most cases, Manx’s fetching sometimes as high as $45K, with Matchless G50's cresting $50K, and Aermacchi s exceeding $12 to $15K on average for a machine with little or no history.
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