H1R – the H1’s track cousin
The H1 was destined for the track. No racer could ignore a sub-13-second quarter and 125mph top speed. Goodbye Manx Norton, hello Green Meanie. In the early 70s the world’s race tracks really did switch from the monochrome years of Brit singles and black leathers to the start of the multicoloured multi-cylinder future. Painted electric ‘Molly’ green, the H1-derived H1R production racer was a leader of the new-age pack. In fact the racing started even before Kawasaki could get started with making their H1R racers, as we know from the aforementioned 1969 Bol d’or proddie-racing success. There’d be more proddie success to come, too, not least Keith Martin’s impressive Production 500cc TT win in 1974 during which he hustled the H1 round to a 95.21mph lap speed! But it was in 1970 with the H1R that Kawasaki ratcheted the whole game up a fair bit. The engine got souped up to an amazing 75hp, while the weight dropped to just 145kg. Kawasaki sold 40 examples to race teams and privateers and these were easily good enough for grands prix success, as ably demonstrated by New Zealand journeyman-racer Ginger Molloy who rode his H1R to runner-up (to Ago and his MV) in the 1970 500GP championship. Kenny Blake rode another to victory at Bathurst (Down Under) while Bill Smith took yet another H1R to third in the 1970 Senior TT (again, behind Ago). A year later Dave Simmonds scored Kawasaki’s one and only 500GP win with his H1R at the 1971 Spanish GP at Jarama. The design was still going strong years later, for in 1975 (with a water-cooled version) Mick Grant snagged the Senior TT. Nothing lasts forever in racing, though, the end for the H1R was of course hastened by the arrival of Suzuki’s RG500 in 1976.