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    The 1979 T297 was the latest in a long line of 2-litre sports cars that Lola had begun with the T210 in 1970, and which, over the years, had a great deal of success. In 1975 Lola were runners up to Chevron in the 2-litre Championship, they repeated this feat in 1976 only this time it was Osella that took the laurels and it was a similar story again in 1977 when Osella were champions by a handful of points. Over the decade of the seventies, in addition to Chevron and Osella, Lola's main rivals in 2-litre racing included March, Abarth, Alpine, Sauber and Cheetah.

    The T297 was the 1978 offering and was usually fitted with either a 2-litre Ford or BMW motors, these produced over 300bhp at something over 9500rpm, power was transmitted by a 5-speed Hewland gearbox. Front suspension was by double wishbones, outboard coils and dampers with an anti-roll bar at the front. The rear suspension was similar, a single top link with a lower wishbone and radius rods, again the coils and dampers were outboard. Ventilated discs were fitted front and rear.

    For the 1980 Le Mans 24 Hours the Dorset Racing entered an updated T297/8 in the 2-litre Group 6 category, they had the necessary experience of Le Mans having come second in the class in 1979. The driver lineup was Pete Clark, Pink Floyd's Nick Mason and Martin Birrane, all three men could be relied on to turn in the sort of driving necessary to bring a car home in this toughest of tests. Initially the car was fitted with a Swindon BDX engine but after Wednesday's practice a Richardson BDG was installed, 20bhp less powerful but more likely to be reliable. After qualifying the Lola lined up 46th of the 56 cars that started, it was 6th fastest of the 2-litre Group 6 cars.

    The race started in torrential rain and several cars suffered from water-logged electrics but the Dorset Racing Lola was running well and it had moved up to third in class on a drying track at the end of three hours. The T297/8 gained another place in its class but then lost time in the pits with a lighting problem and fell 5 laps behind the class leader, a Lola T298. After nine hours the T297/8 was still second in class and had pulled back two laps when the class leader had an extended pitstop.

    At 2:00 am with Peter Clark driving the Dorset Lola was suddenly leading the class when the leader was forced to make another pitstop to change a malfunctioning alternator. The class lead was short-lived as an hour later Nick Mason spun at the Ford Chicane, he couldn't restart as the clutch fluid had leaked away and he was unable to find a gear. Fortunately the pit s entrance was only 100 meters away and Mason was able to get the car back by using the starter moter, a slow process. A new new clutch pipe was fitted, hydraulic fluid added and the Lola was back in the race.

    The trials and tribulations of the Lola continued, this time with Martin Birrane at the helm, a rear puncture caused damage to the rear bodywork and he was forced to drive several laps with the body taped up and missing its rear wing whilst a new wing was prepared, not surprisingly he found the handling a little scary.

    The Lola survived the remaining hours of the race to finish, after all its problems, a gallant 22nd overall and third in class after completing 2226.36 miles.

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  • 07/12/13--04:49: Weekend mode!

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    1978 cx500d. 500cc watercooled v twin well ahead of it's time for 1978, shaft drive, electronic ignition, they were much more popular in Europe, used as police bikes, postal delivery bikes. Legend has it,there is a proud owner of one of these with 278,000 miles on it! The person responsible for 'putting Humpty back together again' is Greg Hageman. 
    Greg's been working on bikes for over 30 years, the last 11 spent at a HD dealership, He's a Master of Technology level 5 mechanic, I say MECHANIC because he works on everything, before the harley dealership he worked at an idependent Euro car shop. Greg is an Iowa farmboy and has a barn full of 25 or so classic bikes waiting for restoration for cafe building. He says he also digs scrambler type bikes and plan on some classic "scrambler" style builds.

    Check Greg Hageman works here:

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  • 07/13/13--09:00: Barcelona 24hr Bultaco

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    The picture above was taken after the Guzzi victory in the 1936 race: Tenni is far right, in braces, with his arm round Giordano Aldrighetti; Guido Corti, far left.

    Tenni celebrating 1937 TT victory

    Guzzi team at 1935 TT.

    Omobono Tenni’s 24-year racing career straddled the Second World War. He made his debut in 1924 at the age of 19 in a lightweight race at the Circuito del Piave. At first he raced only occasionally, but from 1926 a series of epic home victories and a third place in the 1928 Swiss GP established Tenni’s reputation as a wild and fearless crowd-pleaser and brought him to the attention of the big factories.

    Between 1930 and 1933 he rode for a number of marques, including Velocette and Norton. Then, in 1932, he beat Moto Guzzi ace Pietro Ghersi at Rapallo and the following year joined the still-youthful Moto Guzzi factory. With Guzzi he would galvanise his reputation as il diavolo nero and in so doing embarrass and delight we British in our own back yard – the Isle of Man.
    In 1934 Tenni became Italy’s national champion and won the Grand Prix of Nations aboard Carlo Guzzi’s brilliantly effective new 500 V twin, the bicilindrica; to all intents and purposes a pair of the immensely successful 250 singles mated at 120 degrees to a common crankcase. The following year Tenni won the Milano-Napoli race on a sprung version of the same bike, running at an average speed of 107kph.
    1935 was also the year Tenni tackled the Isle of Man TT for the first time. He took to it like a duck to water. Cornering his 500 with “mad abandon”, digging chunks out of the scenery as he clipped the hedgerows with his handlebars, and taking to the ditch at high speed down Bray Hill, he left many a hardened TT spectator quite speechless. It was a famously great year for Moto Guzzi on the Island, with Stanley Woods winning both the lightweight race and, in what has come to be thought of as perhaps the greatest TT duel of all time, the senior.

    After more than three hours of racing, over seven laps of the mountain course (that’s 244.11 miles), just four seconds separated bicilindrica-mounted Woods from Jimmy Guthrie’s Norton. This wasn’t in the script. By the time Woods crossed the line the papers already had their pictures of Guthrie as the smiling victor, and officials were leading the brilliant Scot to the winner’s microphone.

    Mussolini’s Abyssinian crisis kept the Guzzi factory too busy on war work to attend the 1936 TT, but in 1937 Tenni returned to make TT history in the lightweight race on his 250. Having slid off at Governors Bridge on the first lap, leaving part of his Guzzi’s exhaust by the roadside, he went on to win the three-and-a-half hour lightweight TT at an average speed of 74.72 mph.

    Tenni had become the first non-British rider to win a TT, and, to add insult to injury, he’d done it on board a non-British bike. Tenni became a father for the first time very soon after. Some measure of the significance of the win, both to Tenni and to the Guzzi team as a whole, must surely be evident in the name he chose for his shiny new son. Titino. Poor little chap.

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    Back in 1973 a motorcycle rolled out of a garage in England, it was to be just one of four ever built, and it was going to shake the world of professional motorcycle racing to its core. The bike in question was the John Player Norton Monocoque, it had been designed and built by Peter Williams – a man who was both a motorcycle engineer and a talented racer.

    Williams had been given access to the already outdated, pushrod Norton engine of the era. The 750cc parallel twin was woefully slow next to the modern two-stroke bikes that were rising to prominence. He knew that in order to compete at the 1973 Isle of Man he was going to need something genuinely remarkable, so he set out creating a monocoque chassis that held the oil and fuel, an advanced aero-fairing and a perfectly tuned set of suspension – he also made the first foray into cast wheels (rather than the traditional spokes).

    Peter Williams went on to win the Isle of Man TT, and he did it at an average speed of 107.27mph – a staggering feat even today. Skip forward in time 40 years and Williams is back at the drafting table preparing to create 25 John Player Norton Motorcycles, each of these bikes will use the classic Norton 750, the bullet-proof monocoque frame and each one will cost far less than the £250,000 originals.


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  • 07/15/13--04:08: Ago defying gravity

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    Track bikes or fixed gear bikes have reached a whole new level with these pieces from Aurumania. They specialise in producing products plated in 24 carat gold and in limited numbers for those who appreciate this type of products. The bicycle you see here is the Gold Bike Crystal Edition which is covered with over 600 crystallized Swarovski Elements. Equipped with Brooks brown leather saddle and matching brown leather grips on the drop bar and there are no further specs on the bike’s components, so this piece may look better on a wall, hung with a matching gold plated Bike Rack that is on offer. There are only 10 of these available pricing at 80,000 Euros and orders can be delivered anywhere in the world via: White Glove Service. The bike also comes with no questions asked 10 year guarantee.
    More on:

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  • 07/15/13--11:00: R.J.D. Burnie's Norton

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    The original winning car from the 3rd Carrera Panamericana Mexico in November 1952 is to return to the scene of its great triumph. The 300 SL racing sport car (W 194) was temporarily removed from the “Races and Records” display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, in order to join the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and set off once again along a part of the original route through Mexico.

    The 3rd annual Carrera Panamericana was one of the top international races of the 1952 season. The double victory achieved by Mercedes-Benz there ranks as one of the brand’s most spectacular successes. Karl Kling and co-driver Hans Klenk won the race, a long-distance event covering 3111 kilometres, against strong international competition at an average speed of 165.011 km/h. Second to cross the finishing line, also driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, were Hermann Lang and co-driver Erwin Grupp.

    Kling’s collision with a vulture at 250 km/h, which left his car with a smashed windscreen and Hans Klenk with head injuries, went into the annals of racing history. In addition to replacing the screen, the mechanics also immediately fitted eight thin vertical metal bars to protect vehicle and driver in the event of a similar collision – still the vehicle’s most distinguishing feature.

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  • 07/17/13--09:00: Messerschmitt ME 323 Giant

  • The genesis of the Me 323 Gigant (giant) transport was in a 1940 German requirement for a large assault glider. The DFS 230 light glider had already proven its worth in the famous attack on Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium (the first ever assault by gliderborne troops), and would later be used successfully in the Crete invasion in 1941. However, the prospective invasion of Great Britain focused minds on the need to be able to airlift vehicles and other heavy equipment as part of an initial assault wave. Although Operation Sealion was cancelled, the requirement was still a valid one with the focus now on the forthcoming invasion of the USSR.

    On October 18 1940, Junkers and Messerschmitt were given just 14 days to submit a proposal for a large transport glider. The emphasis was still very much on the assault role: the ambitious requirement was to be able to carry either an 88mm gun and half-track tractor, or a PzKpfw IV medium tank. The Junkers Ju 322 'Mammut' reached prototype form, but was completely unsatisfactory and was scrapped. The Messerschmitt was originally designated the Me 261w, was then changed to Me 263, eventually becoming the Me 321. Although the Me 321 saw considerable service, it was never used for a Maltese invasion, or for any other such undertakings.

    Early in 1941, the decision had been taken to produce a motorized variant of the Me 321. It was now realised that a serious heavy-lift requirement would exist outside the specialized assault role, and that a huge glider that needed specialised towing aircraft, rocket packs and other equipment was simply not the answer. After much study and testing with a converted Me 321 with four engines, it was decided to fit six French Gnome-Rhone GR14N engines. These were in production and readily available, and could easily be bolted on the wing, which consequently needed to be strengthened. A cabin for a flight engineer was added in each wing between the inboard and centre engines, although the pilot could override each engineer’s decision on engine and propeller control. A brand-new permanent landing gear was bolted on to the side of each fuselage, and gave the resulting Me 323 superb rough-field performance. Compared to the Me 321, the Me 323 had a much-reduced payload of between 10–12 tonnes, which was the price that had to be paid for an aircraft that could operate autonomously. Even with the engines, rocket assisted take off packs were still frequently used.

    Some ME-321 was converted to ME-323, but the majority was built as 6-engined from the beginning, the early ones had wooden 2-blade propellers which later was replaced by metal 3-blades one.

    Capable of carrying 100 combat-equipped troops or a similar freight load of about 15 tons, the Me 323 was used in 1943 to ferry supplies and reserve troops from Italy and Sicily to the German Afrika Korps in Tunis and the area of North Africa. However, from Ultra intelligence, the transport formations' flight schedules were known to the Allies who used this information to send fighter squadron to ambush the aerial convoys and shoot down the transports.

    For example, on 22 April 1943 near Cape Bon, several squadrons of Spitfires and P-40 Kittyhawks attacked a unit of 14 petrol-carrying Me 323s and their fighter escorts. All 14 were shot down with the loss of about 120 crew and 700 drums of fuel.

    213 Me 323's were built before production ceased in April 1944. There were several production versions, beginning with the D-1. Later D- and E- versions differed in the choice of power plant and in defensive armament, with improvements in structural strength, total cargo load and fuel capacity also being implemented. Nonetheless, the Me 323 remained significantly underpowered. There was a proposal to install six BMW 801 radials, but this never came to pass. The Me 323 was also a short-range aircraft, with a typical range (loaded) of 1,000–1,200 km. Despite this, the limited numbers of Me 323's in service were an invaluable asset to the Germans, and saw intensive use. The Me 323 was something of a 'sitting duck', being so slow and large an aircraft. In the final weeks of the North African campaign in April/May 1943, 43 Gigants were lost, along with much greater numbers of Ju 52's. In terms of aircraft design, the Me 323 was actually very resilient, and could absorb a huge amount of ene my fire, unless loaded with barrels with fuel - the Afrika Korps' nickname of Leukoplastbomber (Elastoplast Bomber) was somewhat unfair. However, no transport aircraft can ever be expected to survive without air superiority or at least, comprehensive local air cover, and it is believed that no Me 323s survived in service beyond the summer of 1944.

    (Via: Wikipedia)

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  • 07/17/13--11:00: New Zealand Flat Track

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  • 07/18/13--04:02: King Kenny,Baker and Ago

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    The Beatles had great taste in cars but the biggest petrolhead was George – his love of F1 and fast cars in general has been very well documented through the decades. Of all the cars George owned, his psychedelic Mini is probably the most famous (or infamous). It starred in The Beatles’ 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour film and also played a part in a particularly mind-bending Beatles trip when John, George and their respective wives, Cynthia and Patti had their drinks laced with acid by a dentist ‘friend’ of theirs. George ended up driving the four of them back home from London to Surrey at 10 mph while all sorts of crazy hallucinogenic shit was going on (see The Beatles Anthology for more details of that particular story!).

    All four of the Beatles owned Minis which were customised by Harold Radford Coachbuilders, who was based in London. George’s Mini started life as a 1966 Mini Cooper S (reg: LGF 695D), but once Radford had finished with it, it became a ‘Radford Mini De Ville GT’. Radford specialised in pimping up Minis with every conceivable extra (including full leather interior, rosewood veneered dash, electric windows, centre armrest and luxurious carpets) and added nice little touches like VW Beetle rear lights, hatchback style boot lids and full length Webasto suroofs.

    George’s Mini had rear VW Beetle lights fitted sideways, front fog lamps recessed into the bodywork, and a full length Webasto sunroof (George didn’t go for the fully opening boot lid as pictured in the brochure above, although Ringo did). The interior was trimmed in black leather. Apparently, George’s Mini’s original colour was metallic black, but it didn’t stay that way for long. As 1967 psychedelically ambled up, George decided to get his ride fixed up with a properly cosmic paint job which perfectly captured the zeitgeist.

    The car was sprayed bright red and was intricately painted with mystical eastern designs which were taken from the 1966 book ‘Tantra Art: its Philosophy and Physics’ by Ajit Mookerjee. The finished article was mindblowing.

    I was lucky enough to see the car up close when I visited Goodwood in July 2009. I didn’t know it was there, so imagine my drop-jawed surprise and outright glee when I walked into the ‘Cartier Style et Luxe’ exhibition area and saw George’s Mini right in front of my own eyeballs! I couldn’t believe my luck. The car has been carefully preserved by Olivia since George passed away and she had agreed for it to be exhibited at Goodwood. It’s nice to know that the car is still owned by the Harrisons. It has apparently been repainted since it was originally done, but it looked exactly the same.

    In 2009, as part of the Mini’s 50th birthday celebrations, BMW presented Olivia Harrison with a modern interpretation of George’s Mini. The car was auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the Harrison’s Material World charitable foundation. Here’s hoping this great piece of Beatle history is still going strong in another 40-odd years. Goodwood Festival of Speed 2051 anybody?


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  • 07/18/13--11:00: Canyon Sunset Ride 1975

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