Thruxton 500

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The Thruxton 500 was a 500 mile motorcycle endurance race held at Thruxton Circuit, near Andover in Hampshire, United Kingdom organised by the late Neville Goss, M.B.E.,[1] Clerk of the Course of the Southampton and District Motor Cycle Club.[2]

As a production-event for road-based bikes ridden by a team of two riders per machine, in the 1960s the Thruxton 500 race was very important to British motorcycle manufacturers as it was a 500-mile (800 km) test of their bikes which provided public-exposure. A win, or second and third places in the Thruxton 500 offered advertising opportunities[3] and boosted sales, so there was keen competition around the fast and demanding track.

Similar events were the Bemsee-organised Hutchinson 100[3] at Silverstone and the 'Motor Cycle' 500 at Brands Hatch in 1966 where Mike Hailwood demonstrated a Honda CB450 Black Bomber fitted with a sports fairing.[4] It was unable to compete in the 500cc category, the FIM deeming it was not classified as a production machine as it had two overhead camshafts.[5]

Only one motorcycle race a year is now held at Thruxton - a round of the British Superbike Championship

History[edit]

As with many World War II airfields, RAF Thruxton found a new role in the 1950s as a motorcycle racing circuit. Declared surplus to RAF requirements in 1946, the early track included both the runways and perimeter roads. The first race at Thruxton was organised by the Bristol Motorcycle and Light Car Club and took place on 4 August 1952. In 1953, a longer circuit was used but in 1968 the British Automobile Racing Club took over the track and on 1 March 1958 the 2.35 miles (3.78 km) circuit, which is still in use to this day, saw its first race.[6][not in citation given]

Racing at Thruxton became famous for the endurance events for production motorcycles, and the Thruxton 500 in particular. The bikes were supposed to be the same as could be bought, but most factories of the time invested in a racing team that invariably developed the bikes as much as possible.

The Triumph factory first showed their Thruxton Bonneville – a hand-built, extra-specification race-styled machine at the 1964 Earls Court Show,[7] with very-limited production in 1965.[8]

Due to the long distance, the 500-mile race (originally known as the Thruxton 9 hour race) was normally shared between two riders.[9]

Motorcycle racing continued on the bumpy wartime tarmac (which was slowly breaking) until 1965, when plans were agreed for a new track. The new layout ignored the original runways and followed the perimeter road with an added chicane and three tight corners in succession (named Campbell, Cobb and Segrave) which became referred to as the complex.

Due to the poor surface,[10] for 1965 the race was held at Castle Combe[11] and from 1966 to 1968 at Brands Hatch[12]

500 mile race results at Thruxton circuit[edit]

Year Riders Motorcycle Notes
1958 Mike Hailwood, Dan Shorey 650 Triumph 66.0 mph
1959 John Lewis, Bruce Daniels, Tony Godfrey 600 BMW, R69 66.88 mph
1960 Ron Langston, Don Chapman 650 AJS. 31CSR 68.48 mph
1961 Tony Godfrey, John Holder 650 Triumph T120R 67.29 mph
1962 Phil Read, Brian Setchell 650 Norton 76.45 mph
1963 Phil Read, Brian Setchell 647 Norton 68.57 mph
1964 Brian Setchell, Derek Woodman 650 Norton 68.57 mph
1969 Percy Tait, Malcolm Uphill 650 Triumph 84.30 mph
1970 Peter Williams, Charley Sanby 745 Norton 74.80 mph
1971 Percy Tait, Dave Croxford 744 Triumph 84.64 mph
1972 Dave Croxford, Mick Grant 745 Norton 85.00 mph
1973 Rex Butcher, Norman White 745 Norton 82.57 mph

500 mile race results held at alternate circuits[edit]

Year Riders Circuit Motorcycle Notes
1965 Dave Degens, Barry Lawton Castle Combe 650 Triumph 79.18 mph
1966 Dave Degens, Rex Butcher Brands Hatch 650 Triumph 79.10 mph
1967 Percy Tait, Rod Gould Brands Hatch 649 Triumph 79.15 mph
1968 Dave Nixon, Peter Butler Brands Hatch 490 Triumph 75.52 mph

Triumph at Thruxton[edit]

Triumph Thruxton 900

The Triumph Thruxton 900 is a motorcycle made by Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. Launched in 2004, it was named after the Thruxton Circuit where Triumph won the first three places in 1969, establishing the "cafe racer" era where standard production motorcycles were modified to improve racing performance.[13]

Nortons at Thruxton[edit]

In 1969 the Norton Motorcycle Company set up a development department at Thruxton circuit to support two racing Norton Commandos to represent the company in the Isle of Man TT races and the Thruxton 500. The Nortons achieved success over five seasons, during which time several improvements and modifications were developed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] ACU race organisation. Sad loss of Neville Goss. Retrieved 2013-08-15
  2. ^ [2] Southampton & District Motor Cycle Club. Official Site. Retrieved 2013-08-15
  3. ^ a b Motor Cycle, 19 August 1965. p.2a. BSA Triumph full-page advertisement "BSA WIN Hutchinson '100'. 1st Mike Hailwood 650cc BSA Lightning, 2nd Phil Read 650cc Triumph Bonneville, 3rd Percy Tait 650cc Triumph Bonneville." Accessed 2013-08-16
  4. ^ Motor Cycle, 7 July 1966. p.22/23 Scratcher's Marathon. Motor Cycle's 500—mile race. "A plane was specially chartered to fly riders back from the previous day's Dutch Grand Prix. One who took advantage of this was Mike Hailwood and here [pictured] he brakes as he completes demonstration laps on a Honda CB450 before racing begins" Accessed 2013-08-16
  5. ^ Motor Cycle, 19 May 1966, p.664 Racing Line by David Dixon. "The Honda CB450 is not yet regarded as a 'production' machine...the CSI decided not to change the rules—under which machines with two overhead camshafts are barred—as it would be 'unfair to make a chance in mid season'.". Accessed 2013-08-21
  6. ^ "Blast from the past or new world order?". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  7. ^ Motor Cycle, 19 November 1964. 'Earls Court Show Guide'. p.861. [image: with Avon race-type fairing, drops, r/sets and racing seat] Caption:"Triumph production racer, the new Thruxton Bonneville" Triumph Range price list. "Bonneville 120 - £326 13s 3d, Thruxton Bonneville £357 9s 3d" Accessed 2013-08-17
  8. ^ Motor Cycle, 29 April 1965. 'Blackpool Show Guide'. Front cover - Thruxton Bonneville with Avon race-type fairing. 'Blackpool Bonanza'. p.556. Triumph - Stands 30 and 34. "Pride of place on Stand 30 goes to the 649cc Thruxton Bonneville production racer." Accessed 2013-08-17
  9. ^ Kemp, Andrew; De Cet (2004). Classic British Bikes. Mirco. Bookmart Ltd. ISBN 1-86147-136-X. 
  10. ^ Motor Cycle, 10 December 1964. p.987. Goss pulls out. "...news of the retirement of Neville Goss as secretary. Neville has, however, agreed to remain racing secretary and will continue to guide the 500-miler...he mentioned that arrangements had not been finalised regarding the future of the Thruxton circuit—especially the re-surfacing—but something would have to be done before next season" Accessed 2014-04-01
  11. ^ Motor Cycle, 9 September 1965. Brighton Show Guide. p.365. 'Metropole Mixture'. Triumph stands 6 and 10. "...every 1966 model plus the Dave Degens Bonneville which took Castle Combe 500–mile honours this year;" Accessed 2013-08-17
  12. ^ [3] Southampton & District Motor Cycle Club. Official Site. Race Results Retrieved 2013-08-15
  13. ^ "Triumph Thruxton". Retrieved 2008-09-17. 

External links[edit]