Classic Racer

Haslam’s Honda...


Has a humble Honda road bike ever had a better salesman than one Ronald Haslam?

Let's head back 35 years, to the March 16, 1986 Transatlan­tic meeting at Donington Park – historic for a number of reasons. Firstly, we saw the talents of one Fred Merkel and Kevin Schwantz (on a borrowed and butchered Tony Rutter GSX-R750) and we saw Ron Haslam rain-dance on a standard road bike…

Yes, at this point a new road machine – the Honda VFR750

F-G – had been launched. It wasn't as flashy as the later RC30, RVF or RC45, but it would get a fair bit of recognitio­n thanks to the circumstan­ces in which it was raced. Back then, this was the first time the race was held at the then recently extended circuit, complete with new Melbourne Loop section.

The UK team featured legends such as Haslam, Rob Mcelnea, Keith Huewen, Steve Parrish, Roger Marshall, Roger Burnett, a young Kenny Irons and Paul Iddon – while the US team was pretty weak in comparison, apart from a young Schwantz and Merkel. Many of the US riders had shipped over their factory superbikes for the event: the Brits too were also on some fast tackle – apart from Ron.

He says: “My main bike blew up so I had nothing to ride. I went to Granby Motors and took a VFR750 F-G off the shop-floor. When we got to the track we were told by the scrutineer­s to take the side-stand off the thing: I think I got two thirds in the damp races!”

Barry Sheene who was commentati­ng on the race for TV said it was a ‘bloody disgrace' that Ron should have to use a stock bike. Not that Ron cared: “The bike handled lovely and the power was so smooth in the wet. In the last race things dried up a bit too much, but we'd proved what a lovely bike the standard VFR give Kevin and Merkel a run on a stocker were brilliant and it was such a good, genuine publicity stunt that the UK stock of bikes sold out within a few weeks.”

Such was the impact, he'd race the later model (pictured here) in the 1987 races! Respect, Ron… for more on the genius of Ron Haslam, go to page 38.

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 ?? Photo: Mortons Archive ??
Photo: Mortons Archive

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