Isle of Man Manx Grand Prix

Old Bike Australasia - - CLASSIC COB -

Read­ers will re­call that in OBA 53, Alan Cath­cart did a test ride on the fa­mous ex-Tom Arter G50 Match­less usu­ally re­ferred to as Wagon Wheels ow­ing to the cast wheels de­signed by the rider Peter Wil­liams. I was for­tu­nate this year to travel to the Isle of Man for the Manx Grand Prix. There was an open day at Jurby called Fes­ti­val of Speed. It was there that I was able to pho­to­graph Wagon Wheels to­gether with the well known Amer­i­can rider, Dave Roper, and the owner of Team Ob­so­lete, Rob Ian­nucci. Dave was sec­ond twice in the Manx Grand Prix and won the 1984 Se­nior His­toric TT. He rode in a Le­gends dis­play that day as well as a lap of the Isle of Man TT course sev­eral days later. Dave is a friendly ap­proach­able bloke and happy to have a chat about his time in Aus­tralia with the likes of Bill Hors­man. I was cu­ri­ous to find out the dif­fer­ences, if any be­tween Wagon Wheels and other G50s that Dave had rid­den. He told me that it is slow steer­ing as there is lit­tle lever­age with the nar­row clip-ons in­side the fair­ing and the Manx Nor­ton ge­om­e­try. Also the front tyre would be prob­a­bly wider than that used back in the time that Wil­liams was rid­ing the ma­chine. Dave is taller than Wil­liams so it is hard for him to keep his knees in­side his el­bows un­less he sits well back. When he cor­ners he likes to slide for­ward and imag­ine putting his knee up by the front axle, then it is awk­ward to get his knees in­side his el­bows when he tucks down for the straight. He feels con­fi­dent in say­ing that Wagon Wheels had less power in 1973 when Wil­liams did a 102.74 mph lap than what he had on a 1959 G50 Match­less that he set the fastest lap of 102.52 in the 1989 Se­nior Clas­sic Manx G.P. Ad­di­tion­ally he con­sid­ers that he had bet­ter tyres and the course was no doubt quicker with some straight­en­ing, widen­ing and smooth­ing of Quarry Bends among other places. Dave con­sid­ers that not only was Peter Wil­liams a top rider but he had an ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of the cir­cuit. A con­rod from this fa­mous ma­chine was used as part of the tro­phy for the best fin­ish­ing AJS or Match­less at this year’s Grand Prix and was awarded to Cameron Don­ald for his fourth place on the AJS 7R pho­tographed in the last is­sue.


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