Monday, November 11, 2013

My friend and occasional sponsor, Tom Marquardt, forwarded me some photos that were sent to him of me racing a Team Obsolete G-50/7R.
Me racing a Team Obsolete G-50/7R, but where and when?  photo by Gordon Kerr
 I didn't recognize the venue, but thought it had to be over seas because the number four on the bike is not one I've used in the states, to my recollection.  When Tom told me the fellow who sent him the photos, Gordon Brown, was Scottish, I wondered if it could be Knockhill.  I raced at this great little circuit in sight of the Firth of the Forth Bridge on 4-5 July, 1987, and remember having some great races with a bloke on Greeves Oulton while I raced a AJS 7R.  We had just come from Assen where they had a classic race as a preliminary to the Dutch TT.  I was to race Matchless G-50 1709, the ex-Al Gunter bike with which we had won the IOM TT in '84.  But, in the last practice at Assen, the crank pin broke.  We had a freshly rebuilt 7R motor with us.  (A G-50 is 500cc and a 7R is 350cc, but the motors are virtually identical except for the bore.)  This 7R motor had last run at Daytona earlier that year when it holed a piston on the cool off lap after I had just won the 350GP race.  We rebuilt the motor, put it in a box, and put it in a big Iveco truck along with a bunch of bikes and spares, and shipped it to Europe.  So, at Assen, I petitioned the organizers to let me change classes from 500 to 350.  They said OK, but that I would have to start from the back of the grid, as I had not qualified on that motor.  We set about swapping motors, which should have been quite straight forward, but this particular motor had never been in this chassis before and seemed to fight us the whole way.  While we were doing this, my mother and brother arrived.  They were on a holiday and had just come from Belgium.  My mother had never seen me race, in fact, had never been to a race.  They enjoyed the banter as Bard Donovan, Steve Griffiths, Alf Montford and I struggled with this motor swap.  As we finished up, my mother and brother went to the stands for the European Championship race that immediately preceded the Classic race so my brother could explain to my mother what was going on.
I started the 7R and tried to ride it around the paddock to get as much running time as possible on this freshly rebuilt motor.  The rings weren't seated and it was oiling and 8 stroking like crazy and then fouled a plug.  We put in a new plug, but it was still 8 stroking and smoking and running terribly.  And, It looked like rain was coming.  I thought that I had dragged my mother to Holland to watch me NOT start the race, in the rain.  Time to go and the motor is running poorly on the sighting lap and, when I come to the grid, the motor just about dies, but I managed to keep it running a little longer until we have to kill the motors for the push start.  They flag off the 500's in the first wave, then the 350's.  I pushed as hard and fast as I could and the motor a goes putt.........putt..........putt.......putt....All the other bikes are gone and the Safety Car passes me to follow the pack on the first lap, and I'm still going putt......putt........putt.......putt.  The motor finally picks up and I take off.  I've got a clear track and I find that when I'm beating on it hard, the motor runs great.  I start catching people.  I start catching a lot of people.  On the last lap, I pass the leader of the 350 class, and turn the fastest lap of the race, 500's included.  There was the traditional podium scene with the champagne (Alan Cathcart won the 500 class on his Paton) and later that evening there was a prize giving at a fancy venue downtown.  It turned out to be the perfect event for my mother to come to.
So, we load up and drive to Scotland for the Bob McIntyre Memorial Classic races at Knockhill, picking up Dick Mann, who's going to race a pre-'65 motocross race at the same meeting, on the way.
There were three races for each class each day.  The Greeves Oulton would get the lighting start while the 7R would be all oiled up and take a while to clear.  As each race went on, the Greeves would slow a bit as it got hot and the 7R would get faster.  Sometimes I caught the Greeves; sometimes I didn't.
But, I was troubled, because the bike in the photo had a 230mm Ceriani 4LS front brake and 1709 had a 210mm Fontana 4LS front brake.  When I checked our records at Team Obsolete, I found that I had totally forgotten that I had also raced another G-50 (4825) in the 500 class and this chassis did have a 230 Ceriani.  We had a lot of trouble with this bike because of what ultimately turned out to be a faulty magneto.  Saturday, I got a 5th, a DNF, and a DNS.  Sunday, a DNF, a 1st when we ran the bike without the fairing lowers, and a DNS.
Racing at Knockhill 5 July, 1987 with no fairing lowers trying to diagnose a running problem.  Gordon Kerr photo
When I related all this to Gordon Brown, he replied that he still sees the pilot of that
Greeves Oulton, Joey Mulholand, and he sent me a photo of him and Joey racing.
One can't see much, but that's Joey Mulholand on his Greeves Oulton, this time racing Gordon Brown.  Gordon Kerr photo
Also a pit scene of the AJS 7R3 with Dick Mann in the background.
A pit scene from Knockhill: the Team Obsolete '54 AJS 7R3 and behind it, from left to right, Dick Mann, Steve Griffiths, me, and Bard Donovan.  To the right is Dick's pre-'65 MX bike  in front of the Iveco van that we brought everything in.  Gordon Brown photo


  1. Thank you Dave. Thoroughly enjoyed the blog today. That Bob Mac was the first one we went to after moving from the Highlands. Enjoyed the racing and your 'Cat & Mouse' antics. Bob Mac now at East Fortune, being an ex-airfield circuit means it doesn't have the elevation changes of Knockhill, but still a good meeting, if the weather plays ball! Good health.
    My regards, Bill.

  2. Great story Dave as was your Barber report. Wish I could have made it this year.