Monday, March 12, 2012

I recently finished reading 'Road Racing History of the Triumph 500 Unit Twin' by Claudio Sintich. I was initially a little skeptical when given this book as I'm not a 'Triumph Guy', but I was drawn in. I never met a motorcycle I didn't like (or a Road Race motorcycle, anyway) and who isn't a fan of Gary Nixon or Percy Tait, for that matter. It's a quirky book and not without it's flaws. But, if you are a 'Triumph Guy', it's probably essential and, if your not, there's plenty of fascinating info and photos to keep your interest. Part of the quirkiness is no doubt due to the fact the author is Italian. Sintich grew up in Kenya, then went to school in England where he developed his love of the marque and the 500 twin in particular. The book is a little amateurish as the author is clearly not a professional writer. But, he's obviously extremely passionate and well versed on the subject. The book goes in a nominally chronological manor, but does jump around a bit, which makes it a little hard to follow. It covers the race history and development in both Britain and the U.S. There are plenty of reprints of factory tech bulletins, MCN articles and Tricor ads for race parts and touting race success, but sometimes they aren't cropped properly and an edge is cut off. There are many great photos from both the U.S. and Europe. There's plenty of coverage of Triumph's big successes: the '67 & '68 wins of the Daytona 200 and Percy Tait's amazing performance at the '69 Belgian GP at Spa, where he finish 2nd to Ago's MV. But, when someone I showed the book to, mentioned Triumph winning the 500 Production TT at the I.O.M, I thought he was mistaken. I had read about their mostly poor record at the I.O.M and went to the data base and, sure enough, Ray Knight won the '68 500 Production TT on a Triumph. I went back through the book to see if I had missed this (which is difficult as there is no index), but didn't find it. Curious.
Despite it's title, there is some coverage of off road racing both Grand National flat track and TT and Bill Baird amazing Enduro career. And, despite it's title, there's a little coverage of the 650 twins and 750 triples.
Sintich has many interviews with the original players, including Nixon. And he profiles many private and semi-private specials.
If you're interested in or racing a 500 Triumph, the book is essential. If you're just a road race junkie it's definitely worth having. From Panther Publishing and available through

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