Real Classic

RACING ON THE CHEAP

Backin the day, going fast on Brit bikes could be achieved on a very tight budget. David kidd recalls his racing days...

- Re

Back in the day, going fast on Britbikes could be achieved on a very tight budget. David

Kidd recalls his racing days...

My first cafe racer was a 1948 350 Ajswhich I bought with help from the bank of mum for £30 sometime in 1957, when I was earning about £9.1 passed my test on it but had trouble keeping up with my two mates on Triumph Tiger 1OOSI.T smoked and burned oil, so I took off the head and barrel; the piston was barrel shaped asthere was so much side play in the crank. It was re shimmed with a new piston and run in carefully. It took me to the TT and Manx GP from London and around the race circuits, and was my main transport to work .

I later converted it to swinging arm with bits from the great scrappy at the Fourth Crossroads in Twickenham. I painted it by spraying the tank with mum's Electrolux vacuum cleaner set on blow(!) and hand lined it. The handlebars were very early ace bars, the silencer was made up from a Pride and Clark barrel silencer and part of the megaphone that was on the bike when bought, to make it look like a Goldie silencer. Every piece of alloy was polished, with alloy tubing for the rear suspension shrouds and the bare fork stanchions . The Ajslogo on the tank was made up from transfers at the time . And of course the chequered tape made the bike much faster! It was all done on a very tight budget.

I covered many miles on this Ajs,still trying to catch my mates on their Tiger 1OOSO. ne time it dropped an inlet valve on the newly opened M 1.The head was taken off by the side of the road and my mates took me into Norwich where we found a motorcycle dealer in a phone book from a telephone box . They fitted a new valve and re ground the seats; I think the cost was £1.7s6d. We reassemble­d the top end then continued on our journey to catch the ferry to that year 's TT.

I sold the AJSTO a very good workmate for £35, then saw a Velocette Venom Clubman in the window of a motorcycle dealers in Twickenham , Monty & Ward. It was £135, with a deposit of £35 the exact amount I had in hand. The Velo had a big scrape along the

exhaust pipe where it had been dropped, it had a part worn racing tyre on the back which would confer bragging rights among my mates!

After learning how to start the thing, I went straight around to my mates to show off, and then it was off out , tearing around the countrysid­e and race meetings at weekends. My mates bought Triumph Bonnies and had fun trying to keep up. We used to go to the disused aerodrome at Blackbushe and thrash around the perimeter track and up and down the runway, along with other bikers.

When I checked the documents, the previous owners' names were familiar. First was Eric Oliver, sidecar champion , and the second was Mrs Pat Wise; also a racer. I met up with Patand her husband, Les,and they but entertaine­d me with racing tales. The Velo had been tuned by Raypetty and Pat had raced it. They said I should try racing with my mates, as it was safer than on the roads. I left them with a haversack full of spares and hard to get factory parts, and an introducti­on to join the British Motorcycli­ng Racing Club.

I got an entry to a Silverston­e production race meeting, and Patand Lescame along to give advice and support. I did the practice and lined up at the back of the grid for the ten lap race. Butterflie­s ... then the off! I was lapped at the end of the race but wasn't last. The bug had bitten .

After that first race I was a bit dissatisfi­ed with my performanc­e. Ijoined various clubs with a broad range of racing . The proddie classwas up and coming after the famous

Thruxton endurance races. My pals Mick and Ron got their Bonneville­s race prepped with rearsets and different cams, etc. The Velo was cleaned up and fitted with a racing seat and various mods, and we formed our own team : Equipe Ardup.

We gradually got better and starting to get placings. It was getting difficult to ride to the meetings at Silverston­e, Snetterton and Cadwell, and race,and then ride home to west London. So I bought a BSAM21 with a float sidecar to transport my bike. I hastily bolted the float to the bike and chuffed off to meet Mick and Ron and head to Snetterton.

On the way back, going flat out around a right hander, the float took over.the outfit careered acrossthe road and removed the float from the bike with a lamp post. I was

quite badly knocked about, as was Mick. I had two months off work and never rode an outfit again ...

After that layoff we continued racing. I had three major wins against factory machines. The best was at a large meeting at Brands Hatch, winning the 500 class and beating many 650s.these raceswere mainly Le Mans starts, running across the track and kickstarti­ng. The Velo only let me down once when Mick and I were left on the line, both kicking like mad. We got away together and had a race long duel with me leading until the gearbox seized and nearly pitched me off! I managed to stop coming into Clearways, holding the slide. The marshals were all holding their breath asthey watched there had been many bad accidents at that spot.

I turned my back on bikes that day after six years of racing. The Velo was broken for spares and somebody got a great engine . It was beautiful on the inside with everything polished. It could rev a thousand rpm over standard to 7200rpm, and had a range of sprockets for different circuits, with various pipes and megaphone exhaust which I used in open racing.

Many years later I needed another bike for cheap transport. The friend I sold the AJSTO took me to his garage where he had a large collection of Ariels. I spotted a 500 mongrel (wrong frame and wrong engine) which was running.

'How much?'i asked.

'£35; he replied the same price as the AJS I sold to him. I still have that Ariel. ..

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 ??  ?? The same Ajs,now with added swinging arm rear end
The same Ajs,now with added swinging arm rear end
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 ??  ?? The Velocette as it was when David bought it, with David on the right and friend Ron on the left, watching the racing at Brands Hatch
The Velocette as it was when David bought it, with David on the right and friend Ron on the left, watching the racing at Brands Hatch
 ??  ?? A classic paddock view of racing back then
A classic paddock view of racing back then
 ??  ?? David, fettling Velo in the pits his
David, fettling Velo in the pits his
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 ??  ?? David's first race at Silverston­e: the bug had bitten!
David's first race at Silverston­e: the bug had bitten!
 ??  ?? Big win at Brands Hatch. Crossing the finish line
Big win at Brands Hatch. Crossing the finish line

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