By JJ Cerilli, via : www.vintagemotorcyclesonline.com
Long before the word “motocross” was even coined, scrambles races started slowly but were active well in the 1930s. Brands like Yamaha and Kawasaki were still in the embryo phase at this time, back then, it was BSA, Triumph, Norton, Matchless from Britain, and a few other European marques that dominated the race tracks. The British pioneered enhancements like swinging fork rear suspension which took them well into the 1950s.
Remember the famous BSA 441cc Victor Special? Originally, a world-class dirt bike! Another historical note, in 1954 (when I was born) BSA was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, producing 50,000 motorcycles per year and importing worldwide!
The first “scrambles races” with motorcycles I ever witnessed was in 1969 on a hot summer Sunday in upstate New York. Andre’s farm in Fishkill, New York was the local dirt bike track, and I remember my father taking my cousin and I at about age 14 to see this exciting event. I can still remember smelling the strong “racing Castrol” in the air which was a concoction added to the gas/oil for higher engine performance.
Back then, two-stroke motorcycles with names like CZ-Jawa, Maico, Ossa, Bultaco, and Husqvarna were the hot bikes to own and race. The Japanese bikes were just coming into the scene. There were a few Triumphs, BSAs and Nortons on the track, mostly ridden by older guys. Compared to the European bikes I mentioned, they appeared heavy and slow... Read more