Frank Per­ris’suzuki TR250

The small bike was run on a knife edge of re­li­a­bil­ity. Get it right and it sang – as Frank Per­ris proved. But, boy, is this mo­tor­cy­cle a labour of love.

Classic Racer - - WHAT’S INSIDE - Words: Peter Parn­ham Pho­to­s­graphs: Gary D Chap­man

Long-time friend of CR, Peter Parn­ham, has over­seen a re­turn to for­mer glory for this par­tic­u­larly lovely 250. It’s worth a close-up look at this ex­quis­ite piece of ma­chin­ery.

“Al­ways be aware, Peter – there’s an aw­ful lot of back­lash in the slot­ted drive of those Koku­san Denki mag­ne­tos. Start with the pis­ton at top dead cen­tre and wind back so that the points just close at 3.1mm btdc.” With those em­phatic words of warn­ing from Manx Grand Prix win­ner Frank White­way ring­ing in my ears, I re­alised one of the pos­si­ble rea­sons for the re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems which ini­tially be­fell the new Suzuki TR250S when first im­ported... “You’ll ei­ther get the tim­ing right at the first at­tempt or the 99th” was ex­pe­ri­enced Suzuki rider Les Trot­ter’s warn­ing and, boy, was he right. In May 1967, Suzuki GB brought into the coun­try three of the new Suzuki TR250 pro­duc­tion race machines. They were quickly en­tered for the June TT races, giv­ing lit­tle time for the fullest race prepa­ra­tion which would ob­vi­ously have been car­ried out, but per­haps, just as im­por­tantly, lit­tle time to over­come the in­evitable Grem­lins. The TR250S were pure race machines and were based on the Super Six (or X6) six-speed road machines. De­spite their ob­vi­ous po­ten­tial, they were not the hoped-for im­me­di­ate suc­cess. All three had re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems and their rid­ers, Chris Vin­cent, Rex Butcher and Barry Smith, suf­fered re­tire­ments.

One of the three (num­ber 022) was sub­se­quently sold to the fa­mous Ed­die Crooks’ Suzuki deal­er­ship. There, Ed­die and his rider Frank White­way pre­pared the ma­chine for the Manx Grand Prix later in the year. Us­ing all the in­for­ma­tion learned in those early months, grad­u­ally and steadily both re­li­a­bil­ity and speed were ob­tained. Frank con­se­quently fin­ished sec­ond – a good start to the whole project. A batch of seven new TR250S were ob­tained by the deal­er­ship in 1968 and six were quickly sold to ea­ger cus­tomers, the re­main­ing new one (num­ber 013) be­ing kept along­side the last year’s bike and pre­pared for Frank to ride in the 1968 Manx Grand Prix. Dur­ing prac­tice, Frank rode both bikes and made the brave de­ci­sion that the older bike was the faster and the new one was con­se­quently not raced. The de­ci­sion proved to be the cor­rect one, as Frank won the race – some­times bold­ness of thought pays off. Now, this newer ma­chine was again fully race-pre­pared by Frank White­way for a star name’s re­turn to racing. Ex-suzuki works rider Frank Per­ris was go­ing to make a comeback. He had re­tired in 1967 af­ter a five-year con­tract with the Suzuki works team, hav­ing gained 40 Grand Prix top six fin­ishes, 21 podium po­si­tions and wins in the Ja­panese, Ger­man and Czech Grands Prix. Sub­se­quently he had em­i­grated to South Africa to start a prop­erty com­pany in part­ner­ship with a cer­tain Stan­ley Michael Bai­ley Hail­wood. The new com­pany was called Per­wood Homes Ltd and built luxury homes (in­clud­ing their own houses). With Per­wood Homes’ on­go­ing suc­cess seem­ingly as­sured, Frank Per­ris de­cided to re­turn to the Grand Prix scene in 1969 by racing the now very quick and re­li­able Crooks Suzuki TR250 (num­ber 013). Here I think the 1969 his­tory and achieve­ments should be in the late Frank Per­ris’ own words, writ­ten in 2004, as a tes­ta­ment to the great man and to the su­perb lit­tle bike… “Please find be­low the race his­tory of the Suzuki TR250 ( that I had the plea­sure of rid­ing dur­ing the first part of the 1969 racing sea­son.

Ce­se­n­atico: 3rd place af­ter a good race with Berg­a­monti. Imola: 4th place af­ter a hec­tic race be­tween Berg­a­monti and Gras­setti. Nur­bur­gring Long Cir­cuit: 2nd place. Led the race un­til the last lap when the ex­pan­sion box split which en­abled Ros­ner on the MZ to pass me to win. Aus­trian GP: 2nd place. Once again led the race un­til the last lap when the ex­haust box split once more. Ralph Bryans on the Honda got by me to win. (NB the welded re­pairs can still be seen on the ex­haust) Ger­man GP: 4th. Very enjoyable race be­tween the Yama­has of Kent An­der­s­son, Lothar John and Karl Hu­ber. French GP. Le Mans: 6th Hard race be­hind Her­rero, Gould, Kent An­der­s­son, Sz­abo’s MZ and Berg­a­monti. TT IOM: My swan song on the TR250. It was a fan­tas­tic part­ner­ship on my mini ‘come-back’ to fin­ish 2nd be­hind Car­ruthers’ Benelli and ahead of Her­rero on the was a very sat­is­fac­tory part sea­son for me on Ed­die Crooks’ Suzuki TR250, en­gine num­ber 013. A fan­tas­tic achieve­ment for this over the counter racer.”

Be­cause of sud­den, un­ex­pected and very press­ing busi­ness com­mit­ments, Per­ris had to re­turn to South Africa af­ter the postTT In­ter­na­tional race at Mal­lory Park. He post-scripted his words with the fol­low­ing poignant sen­tence: “By the way – when I


re­turned to South Africa af­ter the TT, lit­tle 013 and my­self were in 3rd po­si­tion in the world cham­pi­onships.” The crown­ing achieve­ment was, with­out doubt, the TT’S 2nd place. It was be­hind the works four-cylin­der Benelli of Kel Car­ruthers and in front of the works Ossa of San­ti­ago Her­rero. Bring­ing up the rest of the top six were Mick Chat­ter­ton (Yamaha); Frank White­way (on yet an­other Crooks Suzuki) and Derek Chat­ter­ton (Yamaha). Of in­ter­est to the press was the fact that the top speed of Frank Per­ris’ Suzuki on the Sulby Straight was an im­pres­sive 129mph. Af­ter Per­ris’ re­turn to South Africa, 013 was re­turned to the Crooks Suzuki em­po­rium and was used by them dur­ing the rest of the year. Les Trot­ter fin­ished 18th in the Manx Grand Prix (even­tu­ally af­ter sev­eral leader­board po­si­tions, go­ing on to win the 1976 Se­nior

Manx Grand Prix on a 500cc Crooks Suzuki). But the con­tin­u­ally de­vel­oped Yama­has were soon the machines to have. Even­tu­ally, 013 was dis­played at var­i­ous venues, in­clud­ing the 1995 TT Races be­fore the TT Rid­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Pa­rade Lap. It then passed into the hands of Ferry Brouwer and was pa­raded by Frank Per­ris for one sea­son in Ferry’s Cen­ten­nial Clas­sic Demo Team. In­deed, in his book “That Boy”, there is a pic­ture of Ferry (cig­a­rette in mouth), fully concentrating on get­ting the tim­ing of 013 cor­rect, echo­ing Frank White­way’s words. Sub­se­quently it then be­came the prop­erty of Phil Mor­ris and has been on dis­play at his Oswestry Road Racing Mu­seum. Phil de­cided to sell it and I bought the ma­chine from him with the in­ten­tion of dis­play­ing and parad­ing it, ei­ther with me rid­ing or an­other rider who could show it care and un­der­stand­ing. A look in­side the en­gine has proved that the in­ter­nals are in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion and it would be a shame for oth­ers not to see it run. My only reser­va­tion with that idea is that to fit si­lencers for the dreaded noise test would seem a sac­ri­lege. As far as noise is con­cerned: “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” should be the or­der of the day with lit­tle 013. No si­lencers, but as al­ways, I am open to per­sua­sion.

The au­thor with the 250.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.