1969 Ducati #WCBR9.DM89
Engine# WCBR9.350LS DM350 06746
Riders: Bret Morshead #29
Jon Thompson #755
|During the 1988 season Bret and Mike had come up with a new idea for the 1989 season... How to get even more power from a 350 Ducati engine. We were already making decent power, about 37/38 bhp, but like any other racer, we wanted more! Our idea? To build a short-stroke 350 engine. Since there isn't much room to bore a 350, we needed to look elsewhere, we soon found and bought a 450 engine. Now we had a problem, all the WCBR machines are "narrow-case" type, meaning the rear engine mount is the same width as the front one. The 450 is a "wide-case", thus won't fit into the frame. We soon put out the word that we wanted to buy a wide-case, and prefered it to be a 250 (since we wanted the crankshaft from it to build the Short-Stroke 350... see where we're going?). In the end we bought a 350WC, but not any 350, this one was once owned & raced by Paul Ritter, a local Ducati 750 AFM hotshot, who I might add, won an AMA National road race at Sears Point on a 750SS Ducati, beating all the factory machines!
The 350 was old and tired to say the least. Fitted with a Honda disc brake up front and slicks so old they weren't round anymore, we had our work cut out for us. Bret went and picked the bike up from Fred Mork in late 1988, and by February '89 we had it overhauled and ready for Daytona... but not as a short-storke, but a regular 350 (we didn't have time to build the SS engine and get it dialed in). At Daytona Bret had a few teething problems, and never did race it, in fact he didn't race it at all in 1989. In 1990 we had the 350 ready to go, Bret finished 7th in the 350GP race, but again didn't ride the rest of the season. So as you may have guessed, the Short-Stoke idea was shevled for the time being.
In 1991 it did get out on the track more than a few times. Bret finish 7th at Talladega, DNS (for reasons unknown) at Daytona, and was 8th in 350GP at Steamboat and 3rd in 500-Premier in the rain.
In '92 the 350 & Bret were 4th at Talladega (350GP), and 12th at Daytona (350GP). In the Premier race it was a DNF ("heard funny noises in the top-end so pulled off"). By November 1st, 1992 Bret had sold the 350 to Jens Jensen, and retired from road racing. By December '93 WCBR had traded a '69 BSA A75R Rocket-3 Cafe Racer for the 350, alas it was back in our hands.
In January 1994 we had a call from Jon Thompson of Cycle World Magazine... He was looking to do a story on AHRMA races at Daytona, and what better way to do a race story than to be in the race! So with that said, we went about overhauling WCBR9 for Daytona, and to suit Jon's 6'-4" frame. The bike tested well at Willow Springs, and once back to the shop we fitted the new tank and seat combo for Jon. At Daytona Jon was entered in both the 350 & 500cc Sportaman classes. Both grids were quite big, requiring a two-wave start. Jon was 7th in the 350 race and 10th in the 500 race (wearing #755), both times coming from the back!
Search around for the Cycle World artice from 1992, it's interesting. Jon was hooked on little Ducati's now, and he'd soon have his own (WCBR did the engine, and after a number of seasons, another customer of ours, Bruce Yoxmire bought it).
WCBR9 was later sold to a Washington state buyer, who soon sold it to Califonria racer. It since went back to the midwest (where the nice tank was painted black). It has since moved to south-west where it was overhauled and repainted (red/silver) , it has not been raced since..
Wondering about that 450WC & 250WC? The 450 engine was used as the basis on the "LS500GP" machine we built in 1994, and the 250 was pretty much given away. Neither have appeared on a race track as far as we know.... kinda sad.
|Above: WCBR9 being completed in 1989...
Below: Sears Point testing prior to Daytona 1989.