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  • 07/19/13--02:28: 1982 Croz and King Kenny

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    There are a tiny handful of builders who consistently hit the mark with every bike they create. In Italy, one of those builders is Venier Customs, which took home a trophy last month from the Biker Fest for this beautiful Moto Guzzi V75.

    The bike is called ‘Corsaiola,’ which loosely translates to mean ‘speedy’. It’s based on a small block 1989 V75, which was the forerunner of the Guzzi’s current V7 range. Ironically, the V75 has more power than the current bike—58 as opposed to 48 hp. That’s emissions regulations for you.

    Stefano Venier is a thoroughly modern craftsman, working out the initial design in Photoshop and then using CAD to machine the parts he needs. For this bike, the frame was reworked at the back and a new tank and seat unit installed. (The original V75 was somewhat blighted by the 1980s fetish for plastic, with an especially ungainly tank.) Other custom parts include the rear fender and side panels, and custom brackets were fabricated to attach everything neatly to the frame.

    The lines of the bike are simply immaculate now. They’re helped by the elegant Mistral exhaust system, hooked up to the huge cylinders jutting out to the sides. The engine has been overhauled and painted light grey; the wheels are original, albeit restored. They now run Avon Roadrider tires. (“The bike is quite fast and you need some real grip,” Stefano comments.)

    The finishing touch is a simple but effective black-and-white paint job. It’s a great example of the old becoming new again—Venier’s V75 wouldn’t look out of place in a showroom next to Moto Guzzi’s current range of V7s.

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    The first Type 550s built utilized the Volkswagen-based Super 1500 opposed four-cylinder engine producing a scant 70 horsepower in street trim. The Type 528 1500 S engine wasn’t going to be a threat to the Jaguars, Ferraris or Maseratis, but in their original prototype, Type 550-01 won its first race on the famed Nurburgring, and then it, along with the second example, Type 550-02, scored a one-two finish in its class in the grueling 24 hours at LeMans, the world’s most prestigious sports car race. Those same two cars went on to triumph in the Carrera Panamericana, the fabled Mexican Road Race, whose name continues to be emblazoned on Porsches today.

    Proceeding their initial success, Porsche engineers set about refining and finessing the 550, and a logical place to look for improvement was in the engine compartment. The pushrod 1500S engine was just a tweaked VW powerplant, so Porsche commissioned Ernst Fuhrman to draw up a sophisticated engine more befitting a Le Mans winner. The result was the Type 547 engine, an incredibly complicated roller-bearing-equipped quad-cam. These first four-cam engines took a skilled man 120 hours to assemble a complete engine, and the timing alone could take eight hours – sometimes fifteen if tolerances weren’t just right.

    Engine: Air-cooled flat-four engine
    Valves: Two-valve engine, two overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, vertical shaft drive
    Displacement: 1,498 cc Bore x stroke: 85 x 66 mm
    Max. power: 110 bhp (81 kW) at 6200 rpm
    Mixture formation: Two Solex 40 PJJ double-downdraft carburettors.

    The substantial percentage increase in horsepower led to a similar increase in performance, and the Fuhrman-designed engine, though complex, proved very reliable even in long-distance events. Only 96 of the type 547 engines were produced for the 550 Spyder. The 550A and the 356 Carrera GT and GS shared the updated model Type 547/1 as a powerplant.

    A number of 550s raced in the 1100 cc class at Grand Prix events. Some ran the Porsche 356 engine, but two 550s in the 1954 and two in the 1955 LeMans races used modified Type 547 engines. These 550s left the factory with a normal four cams 1500 cc Type 547 engine but were modified with a bore of 73 mm for the 1098 cc engine instead of 85 mm for the 1498 cc engine. The 1098 cc engine was being used as a prototype with 93 ps by 5500 U/min. There are no records how many of these engines were built.

    Before the 550 series was retired, the engine would be revamped to produce 135 horsepower at a slightly less frenetic 7200 rpm.

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  • 07/20/13--09:00: Team S Equipé

  • In 1967, two brothers, John and Norman Ronald together with Nev Frost, an employee of Arthur Francis, the well known Scooter dealer based in Watford, decided to enter a team of 'S' type Lambretta's into the IOM scooter race, regulations stated that "Works" teams weren't allowed, so the guys formed their own team christened "Team 'S' Equipé", unknown at the time was the fact that 'Equipe' in French means Team, according to Nev Frost, when this was realised, they just laughed and agreed that it was indeed, "a bloody stupid name!"

    They went on to achieve great success at this event, and besides getting 1st, 2nd and 3rd; they also attained the coveted Premier Team award! Quite an achievement on the Team's first official outing! They continued to achieve great things at several more events, and won just about everything they entered! Everyone naturally now wanted an Arthur Francis 'S' Type Lambretta! Not much is known about what happened to the team during the 1970s. Neville Frost worked for Supertune before he worked for Arthur Francis and left Arthur Francis and the scooter trade in 1969.

    Nev continued to compete in scooter events until 1974 when he started to race Motor Cycles, winning several races including the Lord of Lydden title on a Yamaha TZ350 in 1976. He stopped motor cycle racing in 1977.

    You can see more wonderful pics like these in this fantastic site:
    Congratulations Team S Team S Equipé!!

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    Pic by Janice Engle

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  • 07/21/13--09:00: Alfa Romeo TZ 1

  • Alfa Romeo introduced their 105 Series Giula range at Monza in 1962. The chassis was based on the previous Giulietta and 101 series, plus a major suspension upgrade and disc brakes.

    At the 1963 FISA Monza Cup, a competition version of the Giulia was introduced. It was named the Giulia TZ after its Tubolare spaceframe chassis and lightweight Zagato coachwork. It is believed that between 1963 and 1967, fewer than 100 examples were built. The TZ, often called the TZ-1, was a purpose-built GT car developed with the assistance of Autodelta. The engine was the same basic 1570cc unit found in the Sprint Speciale and Spider Veloce. The gearbox had heavy duty, close ratio gears and a short-throw lever.

    The body was formed to be aerodynamic. The height was reduced by tilting the engine in the frame, allowing for a lower bonnet. Research performed by Dr. Wunibald Kamm gave the TZ a 'coda tronca', otherwise known as the Kamm tail, in the rear bodywork.

    The TZ would achieve success in rally competition, with a win at the Alpine Rally in 1964. It would earn class wins at Sebring, LeMans, the Targa Florio, and Nurburgring in the same year.

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    CPH STREET Nox Bike is just so unbelievably awesome and has a coolness beyond the usual! Anyone who wants an extravagant and unique street bike should definitely look at AURUMANIA’s amazing CPH STREET bikes.

    AURUMANIA’S CPH STREET Night Bike and Nox Bike are both single-speed street bikes that makes a dramatic, attention-grabbing statement whenever they appear and wherever they gets seen.

    The CPH STREET bikes is designed to be used and be the centre of attention! They have a distinct urban edge and loads of high-end street credibility. The consistently black design on both bikes draws light and attention like a black hole, and once in the saddle it sucks in the horizon like a matte black projectile with one gear.

    The bikes draws massive attention and is so easy on the eyes you’ll struggle to take them off it again – which is why the obvious solution is to bring the bike to the office or the living room when it’s not in use.

    The Danish company AURUMANIA will make these bikes in a limited and exclusive number! The CPH STREET Night Bike will be available in a limited-edition numbered series of 1079. The Nox Bike will only be made in 20 pieces.

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  • 07/22/13--11:00: Ducati NCR 1975

  • With riders Cannellas and Perugini, NCR wins the “1000 km del Mugello”, a 1,000 km long race which is part of the Endurance FIM cup. In 1976 Perugini teamed up with Ferrari, win the “Bol d’or di Misano”, confirming the winning potential of the NCR racing team.

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    There can be no doubt that when Ford sets their sights on a goal, they will do whatever is required to attain it. For 1966, Ford would assault Le Mans with no less than eight 7-liter Mk IIs!

    In the days leading up to Le Mans, the Ford team had to come to terms with the fact that Stewart, Ruby and Foyt had all suffered accidents, leaving them three good drivers short! Thankfully, the Kiwi duo of McLaren and Amon stood strong. Shelby American painted their car all black with a branch and the letters "NZ", resembling the uniform of the New Zealand national rugby team.

    Henry Ford himself dropped the flag that signaled the start of the 24 hour marathon. GT40 Mk IIs surged into the lead, dicing with various Ferrari 330s and Phil Hill's Chaparral. The #2 car driven by Bruce McLaren was not designated as a front runner and had been lapped after the first hour, his pace reflected by the fact that he was the last of the Fords to make a fuel stop.

    The afternoon turned to evening. Evening turned to night. The field thinned out, leaving the remains of broken race cars strewn around the circuit. Ford suffered its share of attrition, but several Mk IIs remained at the front of the field. Miles/Hulme held the lead most of the night, shared briefly by the Gurney/Grant and McLaren/Amon cars. By morning the last of Ford's competition crumbled. Even Gurney's #3 eventually retired.

    At the last pit stops, competition chief Leo Beebe directed his team to moderate their pace. The big Fords crept around the last lap to form a 1-2-3 photo finish. Though he rounded the last corner in the lead, a puzzling thing happened... Miles actually braked to let McLaren cross the finish line first! Some team members thought Miles was a lap ahead... perhaps even McLaren believed this. Race officials thought differently. In the blink of an eye, McLaren and Amon were handed victory at Le Mans!.

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  • 07/23/13--11:00: Ago, Daytona 74

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    The XF5U discoidal aircraft was an invention of Charles H. Zimmerman, who conceived the design in the early 1930s. He won a 1933 National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) design competition with a disc-shaped concept capable of flying at high speeds or hovering; NACA rejected further development because they thought the design was "too advanced".

    Zimmerman was not discouraged and in his spare time built a number of test models, including a rubber-band powered flying version. His original plan was an aircraft which carried three crew, in a prone position to allow maximum streamlining. The idea was subject to a 1938 patent he filed.

    Zimmerman joined Chance Vought Aircraft in 1937, and there was able to produce an electric powered model of his design, designated V-162, flown by remote control in test situations, tethered in a hangar. The rear fuselage was hinged to act as an elevator.

    Zimmerman provided an original blueprint to the US Navy (featuring no horizontal stabilisers) in March 1939. A month later, the Navy asked NACA (which later became NASA) to investigate the proposal. In October 1939 manufacture by Chance Vought of a small scale model for wind tunnel testing was approved. The design was referred to as V-173.

    This revealed problems with the trailing edge "ailevator" design, and horizontal "flying tail" stabilisers were introduced. After full-scale wind tunnel tests in September 1941 at Langley Field, Va., the Navy asked Vought to build two military versions of the aircraft, to be designated XF5U-1. One would be for flight testing and the other for static testing.

    The first flight took place of a V-173 on 23rd November, 1942. Soon after takeoff, Boone T. Guyton, Vought's chief test pilot, found the controls sluggish, and had to struggle to make a wide turn back to base. Otherwise the design was a promising one, and a wooden mockup XFU5-1 was completed the following June.

    Flight tests progressed slowly but satisfactorily. On July 15, 1944, a development contract consolidated the V-173 and XF5U-1 programs.
    By the end of the V-173 flight tests convinced Boone Guyton and designer Zimmerman that the design had potential. They had faced financial and technical problems but had persisted. One major problem was the propellors, initially the same as those used on the F4U-4 Corsair. These had to be replaced with flapping blades to avoid vibration; a four-bladed design was finally produced, each propellor having one pair of blades staggered agead of the other pair set at right angles.

    The twin 1,350 hp Pratt & Whitney engines gave the XF5U-1 an excellent speed range of 40 mph to 425 mph, much better than the usual 1 to 4 ratio of landing speed to top speed of other good designs. Water injected engines gave a 20-460 mph range, and gas turbines allowed 0-550 mph. The ship carried 261 gal. of internal fuel, and six 20 mm cannons, three stacked vertically in each "wing root".

    In June 1947, Boone T. Guyton flew the V-173 to Floyd Bennett NAS for a Navy Day display. As he neared the base, bathers on the Long Island Sound beaches saw a silver and yellow disc moving slowly overhead and rushed to report a "flying saucer". Guyton participated in the display then returned to the Vought factory at Stratford, Conn. This was the final performance of the Flying Flapjack.

    On March 17, 1947 the Navy had cancelled the XF5U-1 development, preferring to go with jet aircraft. The static test aircraft had already been demolished during laboratory tests, and the Navy ordered destruction of the flying version. Its engines, instruments and other salvageable items were removed and the airframe placed under the steel ball of a demolition crane. The first few drops failed to dent the aircraft.

    After careful measurements the ball was dropped between the main beams and spars, and the aircraft was eventually reduced to crumpled wreckage. The V-173 was approved for display at the Smithsonian.

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  • 07/24/13--11:00: Rungis Street Race 1972

  • Rungis is the fruit and vegetable market district, near Orly airport in Paris, frequented by youngsters on motorcycles, scooters and anything that moves. They would set up impromptu races over the weekend, often leading to fatalities, so the authorities decided to organise an official event. However, the multi-thousand-pound Grand Prix of Paris was a flop. Despite much effort by the organisers, it was outside influences that caused its downfall. Saturday practice was scheduled for 4.00 to 6.00 in the afternoon. The lorry drivers who use the market had promised to be finished in time but at four they had only just started to leave and so practice had to be cancelled. Even the practice scheduled for early on the following morning was late starting.

    It was not a suitable site. In the market area there were drainage ditches across the circuit, let alone the slime left by rotten produce.

    A crowd of 40,000 turned up but more than three times that had been expected. It rained most of the day and these hardy souls were reduced to boredom when only five of the 25 qualifiers for the Formula Libre race finished, which was won by Kent Andersson (350 Yamaha).

    That evening ex-125cc world champion Dave Simmons was killed by an explosion in Jack Findlay's caravan. Findlay and his wife were away when his mother smelled smoke. She raised the alarm. Simmonds and Billie Nelson had doused the flames when the explosion occurred.

    The Rungis experiment was never repeated.

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  • 07/25/13--03:21: Mike Hailwood 1967 Junior TT

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    In a time when rock and roll ruled supreme, the Rolling Stones sat at the pinnacle of the musical revolution. Keith Richards, guitar god and Rolling Stones superstar, was notorious for not only his phenomenal talents but also his impeccable taste in automobiles.

    In 1967 while in the midst of some legal troubles, Keith, along with founding member Brian Jones and his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, decided to get out of London and travel to Morocco. As Keith put it, “It was one of those sudden things, “Let’s jump in the Bentley and go to Morocco.” So in early March we did a runner. We’ve got free time and we’ve got the best car to do it in. This was Blue Lena, as it was christened, my dark blue Bentley, my S3 Continental Flying Spur – an automobile of some rarity, one of a limited edition of 87. It had a huge bonnet, and to turn it you really had to swing it about. Blue Lena required some art and knowledge of its contours in tight situations – it was six inches wider at the back than the front. You got to know your car, no doubt about that. Three tons of machinery. A car that was made to be driven fast at night.”

    Keith’s bodyguard and chauffeur, Tom Keylock, drove the three of them all the way to Tangier making a few stops along the way. While in Tangier, Brian, who had been fighting with Anita the entire trip, became ill and had to be hospitalized. Instead of waiting for him to recover, Keith and Anita decided to head back to London, leaving Brian behind. They utilized the spacious backseat of the motor car ‘effectively’ which created a massive rift between Keith and Brian that almost destroyed the band.

    This grand driving tour ultimately was the straw that broke the camel’s back as Brian had been sinking into a dark, depressive world. Shortly after this trip Brian was kicked out of the band he founded and replaced by, arguably, the best technical guitarist the Stones ever had: Mick Taylor. Following his joining of the band, the Rolling Stones acquired the title of “The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World”.

    One could wonder how things may have turned out differently for the Rolling Stone had Keith not owned that rare Bentley S63 Flying Spur.

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    The first Chevy powered motorcycle EJ built was a wonder, the frame was heavily modified Harley, square tube engine mounts, a Whizzer gas tank and a starter drive in the end of the crankshaft. A totally inadequate clutch was connected to a number 50 roller drive chain rated at 24 horsepower. Well, you have to start somewhere and it was a start.

    They tried various combinations of parts and eventually got to the point where it would run down the street, something the local police warned him had better not happen again. Someone suggested they take it to the drag strip and after convincing the promoter, yes, they really did have a Chevy drag bike, they were off. Art Arfons was there that weekend with his Allison powered "Green Monster," which impressed everyone, but when EJ was supposed to run, he gave it some throttle and twisted the sprocket right off. As EJ looked at his bike in the pits a fellow came up and told him if he worked the bugs out, he might be able to make some money with it. EJ didn't realize it until his friends told him later, that fellow was Art Arfons, which improved EJ's mood and gave him some confidence. The promoter came over and told EJ if he came back, he would pay him $1 for every mph over 100 he could manage. Imagine, making money with his Chevy bike! Thus began EJ Potter's "accidental career" in drag racing.

    One of the most memorable features of EJ's drag bikes was the launch. After trying all sorts of clutch setups and continually meeting with failure, they ditched the clutch altogether. Now, raising the rear wheel on the stand, they would fire up the engine, spin up the tire to about 100 mph and one of the crew would push him off the stand. EJ said, "Major leap of technology here."

    Though his drag bike years went on for some time and are what many remember him for, EJ liked engines of all sorts. He built a trike with Fairchild J-44 jet engine, interesting in its own right, but the story got REALLY interesting when EJ discovered the design feature that enabled you to start the engine with compressed air at 3000 psi instead of with an electric starter motor. Since EJ had lots of military surplus parts lying around, he rigged up some ball shaped high pressure tanks and connected an old refrigerator compressor to his lathe to spin the thing up. Pressure was building up really slow so he let it run and came back some time later only to find the 3000 psi meter pegged! In a panic, he shut off the compressor and stood there wondering how much pressure was actually in there. In the now silent room, he heard some weird creaking noises from the direction of the tanks.

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    In 1970 Honda Motorcycles’ marketing department had their eyes set on the United States. Although their newly released (1969) CB750 was celebrated as a technological and performance breakthrough, the Honda brand simply didn’t have the street cred it needed to generate enough US sales. Honda had already experienced success in European racing in 1969 including a win at the revered Bol d'Or 24 hour in France, but it wasn’t enough to make an impact on the Americans. Bob Hansen, the American service manager at the time, told Mr Honda himself that if you want to sell them (CB750s) you’ll have to race them. At the time a Motorcycle manufacturer could expect a “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” result due to the huge popularity of the racing events. This recommendation lead to the construction of 4 unique racing bikes, which were promptly packed and shipped to the USA for entry into the Daytona 200 mile.

    Honda had originally planned for all 4 bikes to be ridden by British riders but later assigned one to the 1969 AMA Grand National titleholder, Dick Mann, a decision they would never regret. The British/Irish constituent of the CR750 team included road circuit racer Bill Smith, future lightweight TT winner Tommy Robb and Honda 50cc world champion Ralph Bryans. Honda provided the racers with 4 bikes which each had slight differences in camshaft specifications and varying power figures of between 89 to 96 bhp.

    During testing Ralph Bryans bike stepped out on a bank, he jack-knifed, crashed and the bike burst into flames when its tank ruptured. Bill Smith subsequently gave up his bike so the more accomplished rider Bryans could compete. All of the bikes were experiencing mechanical problems and it was discovered that the magnesium crankcases were expanding under high temperatures which could have lead to serious engine failure. To tackle this problem, 3 stock CB750 engines were sourced from local dealers and promptly modified using parts from the original CR750 motors. During this time Brian Hensen’s team spotted a weakness in the bike’s cam chain tensioner and replaced it with one from a CB450, a modification that the British teams chose not to do. The remaining 3 CR750s then lined up on the 200 grid amongst new triples from Triumph and BSA, and the first XR750 Harley-Davidsons.

    When the starting flag dropped Mann shot ahead from his fourth place on the grid and had a 50m lead by the first turn. Early in the race the two other CRs experienced mechanical failures and dropped out but Mann maintained his lead. After 100 laps of the Dayton course Dick Mann crossed the finish line with up and coming champion Gene Romero hot on his heels, winning his first Daytona 200 after 15 attempts and giving Honda the boost in sales they were after. Ironically Dick’s bike broke down only seconds after crossing the line but this made no difference to the final result. This single win could be regarded as the one event that lead to Honda Motorcycles becoming the company it is today.

    Due to demand for CR750 racers Honda released a short run of ‘kit bike’ CR750s which they supplied to a select group of dealers. The kits could be used to convert a stock CB750K into a race ready bike using around 200 specially designed parts that were direct replacements for the factory components. Today very few of the original kit bikes remain so building an accurate replica can be a real challenge.

    This CR750 replica was built by Brian Browne, owner of TT Motorcycles in Mornington, located about an hour south of Melbourne. Brian’s CR750 replica has been a painstaking 18 months in the making. The decision to build the bike as accurate to original factory spec has meant acquiring parts that, as Brian puts it “are as rare as hens teeth”. Thankfully though Brian has 30 years of working for Honda behind him and he’s a walking data bank of CR750 facts.

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