A  History of Classic Racing  50cc Motorcycles


Memories are for a lifetime - The written word is forever.

This page has been created from my memories, research and the Motorcycle media. It is my understanding of what went on at the first Chiltern Enduro I attended. I was a club member/spectator but got involved.  

 Can a Moped Create Exciting, Long Distance Racing?

The first really long-distance race, the 250 mile (402km) Chilton Enduro, organised by the Racing 50 Club (R50C) was held on a day in June and in the superb and sunny, dry weather of the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk, This is some 18 miles (29km) south of Norwich. This race was 92 laps of the 2.71 mile (4.36km) testing and fast circuit. Picture: That there is no lack of determined effort in 50cc racing is indicated in this photograph of R. Harrison (Itom) leading John Gardner (Fruin) and R. S. W. Field (Itom) round Riches Corner. 

This first Chiltern ‘Enduro‘, held on the Saturday 14th May 1960, has proved to all that a ‘50’ can stand up to the endurance type of event, indeed, as one of our R50C Club Officers put it, the percentage on the number of finishers (45 out of 57) is 81.8%, that is higher than that of the 50cc T.T. held in the Isle of Man in Tourist Trophy races on Friday Morning, 8th June 1962 and there is only 14 miles difference in length of the race.

After a delay of half an hour (due to inspecting and clearing the track; see later) the 55 starters for the first-ever long-distance 50cc race in England, got away in a buzzing, weaving mass like a nest of Wasps. At the end of the first lap Vic Dedden (Demm) led from Bill Ivy on the Chisholm-entered Itom; third was yet another Itom, piloted by Charlie Surridge. By the third lap Dedden (partnered by the journalist Mick Woollett) had dropped back to third spot with clutch slip and Surridge went into the lead ahead of Ivy. These little machines were racing flat out to the point where their engine barrels glowed. Picture: Bill Ivy on the Chisitom.

Reading media reports later it seems as if most of the members of the Technical Press were shattered and surprised by the result, and the fastest lap recorded was faster than the Brands Hatch lap record, although this was later broken by Howard German on the 15th of June 1960, riding the Sheene Special Itom.

The Demm of Vic Dedden, usually an ‘also ran’ had obviously been successfully ‘tickled‘ (or seriously looked at to improve the state of tune) by John Tickle, and its performance surprised many Itom owners, not only at the ‘Enduro‘ but also in his races at Brands Hatch held on the following day.

It is good to add here that, after the race, two of our Irish R50C members who were competing at this Snetterton meeting enjoyed the event so much, that they asked to be put down as the first two entrants for next years ‘Enduro'

I must emphasise a point here that a lot of background work has to go into getting an event like this up to the point of bringing the competitors to the line on race day. The old members of the Racing 50 Club and many in the outside world can little imagine the actual physical work that was needed to be done by the Club Officials and also the clubs Irish members, on the day before the race.

For example when the Club Representatives arrived at Snetterton on Friday 13th, after a period of heavy rain, an immediate inspection was made of the very water-logged circuit and that at the Esses, from just before the bridge and through to 50 yards along the straight, they observed it to be knee-deep in water.

Realising that unless this was cleared and secured before the following day, the A.C.U. Steward would not pass the course as suitable for racing, There was no need to ask for volunteers as the inspecting group formed a ‘Working Party’ and commenced a ‘baling‘ operation, there and then, utilising Dustbins, Buckets and empty Paint Tins.

The ‘ganger‘ in charge was one Gordon Huxtable and his ‘Gang’ consisted of Glynn Collingwood, John Gardner, Roger Leigh, ‘Mitch‘ Duncan Mitchell and me ably abetted by the Bucket Girls, Angela Barber, Joyce Huxtable" and Helen Mitchell. In order to provide a receptacle for the ‘AQUA‘, the three drain holes were efficiently ‘Dammed‘ by our Dam experts, Sean Mooney and Felim McHenry making a waterproof bund. The operation took over 4 hours to remove the water to an acceptable level, during which time an estimated quantity of 1,500 gallons of water and mud was literally ‘moved‘ off the track.

I should also to mention that during this operation there was a certain Club Member (name withheld, that persisted in unofficial practising on the circuit and would not desist, nor offer assistance to the 'baling' Crew. We did not have Marshalls out at the time and the action was dangerous. Needless to say, this member was reported to the A.C.U by the club officials, for practising without permission and for them to take some action. The Club stated that it would not tolerate people who did not obey the rules.

The following morning the competitors assembled on the grid while a small team checked the circuit for excess water. all was clear and the race was off with a mass start.   

The race itself has been well covered by the media of the day and some of the articles are on the History site.  Judging by results, it seems to be a two-stroke type of event for, as of the seven 4-stroke entries, 2 were non-starters, 2 retired and 2 more were ‘pushed over’ the line after the chequered Flag was flown. The winners of the 4 stroke class rode Pauline Dales ‘ex Dendy Ducati' The riders were Robby Douglas and Ted Broom. This bike was based upon the Ducati Cucciolo engine, a little pull rod unit with three speeds. Picture: Pauline Dale on her 50cc Ducati at Silverstone 1958.

I suppose that if the rest of those riders who retired had thought of it, they too could have waited for the Flag and then pushed across the line, this would have resulted in 47 finishers. At the time of the race I heard that the Helen Mitchell ‘Parilla’ was purely a ‘stop-gap machine for the 'Enduro’ (it wasn't even run-in) until her new race machine was ready. The frame for the new mount was to be one of the new Italian lightweight ones as seen at a recent motorcycle show and would unusually be fitted with small 17" Alloy Wheels.

The power unit was, I was lead to believe in the process of being prepared, but not named and was to be ready in a very short time for Helen to get back to racing. If this unit was as potent as believed then having an unknown bike on the grid was quite exciting. We seemed to have the forming of a strong 'Ladies' team this year as Beryl Swain had been pushing it somewhat lately with good lap times at Brands Hatch and it was reported that Barbara Bound on her Itom had been continuously lapping  the Silverstone at 55mph plus during a practice sessions. Further to this I heard that another Lady rider was interested in competing for this coming season was Pauline Dale.

Going back to the race meeting: Unfortunately, the pairing of Bill Ivy/Maurice Thomas was disqualified some months later and at the time no reason was given as to why, but Maurice Thomas believes that it was because they broke a pit rule and refuelled while keeping their engine running due to a sticking throttle, Whatever the case, they were the first over the line, with the greatest number of laps,  of this very first 50cc Enduro and could be classed as the winners.

Finishing Order on the day.

The 50cc Chilton Enduro 250 mile - completed 92 laps — 250 mile

1. W D Ivy and M. Thomas (Itom) 5h 12m 48s Speed 47.82mph

Completed 90 laps.

2. V. J. Dedden and N. S. Woollett (Demm) 5h 14m 56.2s.  
3. D. Frost and D. Weightman (Itom), 5h 15m 0.9s.  
4. P. Lucas and J. Snow 5h 15m 28s.  
5. K. I, Johnson and A. D. Bone (Itom) 5h 15m 28s

Completed 89 laps.  
6. R. Kemp and P. T. Ranford (Itom)5h 15m 26.2s.

Fastest Lap. Bill Ivy. 38th lap 55.95 m.p.h.

Class Awards:
Four-stroke Machines: Robby Douglas and Ted Brown. (Ducati), 72 laps.  
Two- stroke Machines: Ivy and Thomas. (Chisitom) 92 laps

Best Lady Rider: Miss Beryl Swain (Itom) with co-rider P. Williams. 72 laps.

If I can remember more I will post it later.

The 50cc Chiltern Enduros