Since the great Norton years of the 1950s talented engineers have struggled to create a motorcycle that would stem the tide of,firstly Italian and then Japanese motorcycles that have dominated the road-racing World Championships.
With the collapse of the British Motorcycle industry in the 1970s it was left to a few talented and driven engineers to strive to resist the foreign onslaught. Men such as Colin Seeley, Don and Derek Rickman and Peter Williams turned their ingenuity to maximise the performance of existing machines, and they had considerable success during the 1970s. These attempts were however doomed to fail from the start because they relied on old technologies and engines. What was required was a new approach. Turn our backs on the aging engines conceived in the 1930s and invest in multi cylinder power which could be tamed by the likes of Colin Seeley and Peter Williams and thus create a competitive British Challenge .
The Major factories of the day had “put their foot in the Multi-cylinder water” in the early fifties but for their own reasons had decided against investment in this technology. Despite this there were men who believed that they could show the factories the way forward and they were determined to push ahead with their ideas against all the odds. The result of two of such men are here at Brackley Festival 2017.
The first is the Marsh MR4 racer from 1962. First conceived in 1954 Fred Marsh, an engineer at Harland and Wolff in Southampton was quite simply an engineering genius. Working in his shed he created over eight years a 4cylinder engine racer he believed could take on and beat the world. If he had been able to spend on development or had received backing from the reactionary British Industry he may well have been proved right.
But no investment came and despite a few track appearances in the 1962 and 1963 seasons this truly remarkable and valiant effort was allowed to die. This amazing machine is at the festival courtesy of an inspired restoration project undertaken by The National Motorcycle Museum, the undisputed home of the British Motorcycle Industry.
The bike was fired up in February this year but runs round the Brackley circuit will be the first time the bike has ventured out on-track for many years.
But the powers- that- be feared this innovative machine and disputes over actual engine displacement finally led to the end of development and a slow death of this fantastic British “World Beater”. The concept however lives on and a new road-going version is planned with the Crighton/Rotron CR700P at a late stage of development.
Again courtesy of the National Motorcycle Museum we have at Brackley 2017 is the ex Jim Mudie Duckhams Sponsored BSB machine, and many times a race winner
See and hear these brilliant, inspired, British machines and dream of “What might have been , if only “?????