Motorcyclist Archives 1966: British Roadracing Season

From the Archives: Motorcyclist Magazine April 1966

Motorcyclist magazine 1966 cover
The only thing better than a motorcycle and a girl is a motorcycle and two girls…Mick Wollett

Honda Hybrid

English Racing Champ Crosses a Norton Manx Frame With a 305cc Honda Engine.

Honda Hybrid clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
An odd mix of a Norton Manx frame and a Honda 305 Works motor. Does that make this a Norda or a Honton?Mick Woollett

Dave Simmonds was a British roadracing champion back in the mid sixties. And in 1966 he was planning to race something he had put together to compete in the British 350cc series.

Kawasaki clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
Kawasaki Motorcycles with power performance that leaves competition far behind.Mick Woollett

During the 1965 season, Simmonds championed both a 250 and 305 Honda to some success. He came by these Honda Works bikes by way of his father who regularly travelled to Japan. In fact, at the time of this writing, the 305 Works machine was the only one ever sold by Honda!

Ducati clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
Ducati is for the connoisseur, the well-dressed individualist.Mick Woollett

The 250 was a winner and Dave won the title with that machine. The story with the 305 was quite different though. With 47 bhp at 12,000 rpm it could beat the AJS and Nortons in a straight line but was useless in the corners.

W.L. Anderson clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
W. L. Anderson takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the wonderful world of motorcycling.Mick Woollett

During the winter between seasons, he went to work and managed to drop the Honda Works engine and gearbox into the Manx frame with one major modification. To fit between the lower frame tubes, he had to reduce the width of the sump. The result was a drivetrain that could be pulled for maintenance and tuning in one piece.

The twin megaphones were tucked up under the frame to get them out of the way and he also managed to retain the Honda wheels on the Manx frame.

Isle of Man clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
Photo of the month for April of 1966 was from 1953 and comes from the Isle of Man. Les Graham was airborne on his 350cc four cylinder MV Agusta on the famous Ballaugh Bridge.Mick Woollett

At the time of writing (April of 1966), the season had not yet started so we don’t know how Simmonds did in the 1966 British 350cc roadracing season.

European Newsletter

1966 Roadracing Season Now Underway

European Roadracing Circuit clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
News from The European Roadracing CircuitMick Woollett

What was hailed by Woollett as “one of the most exciting road race seasons ever” started in Alicante, Spain along the Mediterranean coast.

Yamaha clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
Discover the swinging world of Yamaha on the Twin Jet 100. Groovy baby...Mick Woollett

Riding for MV and taking over the reins from Mike Hailwood was young star, Giacomo Agostini. World Champion. Hailwood had just moved over to Honda for the 1966 season. Agostini was riding a twin cylinder MV that had not been on the grid since the 1962 season.

Zip Seat clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
Zip seat covers shipped the same day the order is received! How do they get the could stitched in so quickly?Mick Woollett

Irishman Tommy Robb on a water-cooled Bultaco traded leads with Giacomo but ultimately, lost the battle with the MV factory racer. Rounding out the podium was Ramiro Blanco who was also on a Bultaco. Blanco too had to battle for his final position with Franco Villa who was riding an Aermacchi—known as a Harley-Davidson “Sprint” stateside.

The season was opening up with some questions about Gilera. The factory had announced and retracted its bid to race during the 1966 season. With past success in the 500cc class, the Italian racing committee offered to pay Gilera five million lire ($8400 in 1966 dollars) and cover the costs of mechanics, hotels and riders should they represent Italian motorcycling in the 1966 season. At the time this article was written, Gilera was out for the racing season.

Guzzi clipping from Motorcyclist 1966
When you’re ready to get gutsy (in your loafers), Guzzi was apparently the choice in 1966.Mick Woollett