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Pierre Kemperman (Race No. 43)  
Like a Virus 'ITOM' flows through his blood
A meeting with Pierre Kemperman at Barneveld, a discussion with Marco Kemperman and a review of the Bromfiets article. I hope that I have understood Marco and Pierre's English and have not misquoted them. My thanks and acknowledgements to Bromfiets magazine and the Internet for my other research - Editor.
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Many years ago, in fact back in the 60’s, when visiting the Assen circuit to watch a GP, I heard the name of Pierre Kemperman. It was said that this man was a fast 50cc racer and an ITOM tuner of some quite some skill. At the time I wanted to follow this up as I had raced the ITOM in 1963 but through the passing of time I forgot about the Dutch racer/tuner. It was only after reading an article in Bromfiets about a 10 cylinder 500cc ITOM, that my memory was jogged.
Some years ago I had an email from a young Dutchman requesting information on the ITOM and the availability of parts, if they were available, in the UK. His name was Marco Kemperman. I questioned him about the man that I had heard of all those years ago and he said it was his father. Marco himself was now interested in the 50cc race bikes and wanted to build some ITOMs to race in Holland and also build a knowledge-base for future reference and for the benefit of others interested in the 50cc marque. He also said he wanted to keep up the family tradition in the motorcycle fraternity. I mentioned to him, in passing, about the 10 cylinder ITOM 500cc that his father had built all those years ago. He said that his father still had the engine and promised to meet up with me at the Barneveld race meeting I had booked into and bring some information on Pierre, the V10 and also on any other information that he thought may be of interest to the Racing 50 Enthusiasts Club magazine and its readers.
The following article is a result of that meeting with Pierre and is also based on my research and collected information with pictures provided by Marco. I have also had the good fortune to use the Bromfiets article as a prompt during my meeting with the Kempermans.  My acknowledgements to Bromfiets for any use of its content and my congratulations on a wonderful magazine.
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ITOM: The Tiddlers of the Racing Circuit.
In the sixties the 50cc racing scene in Holland was going well and with the availability of machines from Italy, Holland and Germany the competition was fierce. It was during this period that the young Pierre Kemperman began his racing career; but it was not without the trials and tribulations that beset so many who wanted to race motorcycles during those years.
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But let's go back a little further and plot the beginnings of this 50cc racing enthusiast to understand how it all began. In 1936 acompany called “Motor Supplies”, owned by Kemperman Senior, Pierre's Farther,was a spare parts shop for motorcycles and he delivered all kind of spares but mainly for English bikes. Exhaust pipes, handlebars, seats, some engine parts and many other spares, some to individuals but mainly to dealers. Ben Maltha, PietBreedijk and Piet van Wijngaarden, motor dealers in the area of the Van Oldenbarneveltstraat in Rotterdam, were very important customers for “Motor Supplies” at that time.
If the race circuit was wet Pierre won almost every race with skill and the power of his tuned ITOM engine. Riders like Jan de Vries and Aalt Toersen would even congratulate him before the race if the road was wet, because in the rain he was always able to go that bit faster than the rest and was then the man to beat, if you could. Even the big names like Nieto(Derbi) and Anscheidt (Kreidler) had to be satisfied with looking at the exhaust pipe of his ITOM as it took up position in front of them.
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How it all Began
Pierre Kemperman was born during a period that some of us can remember and others have only read about. The world was at war. Germany was pushing through Europe and Holland was a target for invasion. This was in 1940: Rotterdam was being heavilybombed and was no place for young children so Pierre's parents decided to move both him and his sister Alice to their relations in Belgium. This was not an easy period and whilst he wasthere he heard that his mother had been killed in the air raids. He was then a boy of four and although he had a good upbringing by the nuns of the local Convent in the Avenue Albert, he realised that if he ever wanted something out of this life, he would have to fight for it. Without realising it at the time, these thoughts had alreadystarted laying the foundations for his racing success. A few years passed and at the age of elevenhe returned from Belgium to his father in Rotterdam.
Like most boys of that time he continued with his schooling but started helping his father with his motorcycle business during his spare time. As he worked in the shop he saw more and more people looking at using the moped as a means of everyday travel. He could see the potential in these small engine driven cycles and wanted something like that for himself. Not being content with waiting for something to happen he went looking for one. He found an Alpino Roma Sport.
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During this re-birth of Holland, it was not only the motorcycle shops that imported mopeds, an accordion company called Prosperita, in The Hague, imported this one. The bike was second hand and the clutch was broken but Pierre was able to mend it with bits from the spares shelf in the shop. By spending some time working on the engine, he found out just what it would take to make a small two-stroke engine go fast.
This very fast"moped" took the young Pierre everywhere around Rotterdam but he always wanted to test his bike and himself against others. A short time later Pierre was 16 and this meant that he could enter his bike in a road race. His engineering skills were well developed and the little bike did not let him down. With his experience gained from riding on the roads of Rotterdam, he came second in his road race held at Duindigt. This was no mean feat as some of the best riders in Holland attended these races.
The race card often included people such as Ferry Swaab on his Tomos, both of the Reys von Rap brothers and Theo Meurs (well known later for his tuning work on the Garelli). It was also creditable due the weight of the leathers he was wearing. These were a very old and very a heavy set of leathers that Pierre found more than just a little uncomfortable. However his one thought was that if he fell off, the thickness of the leather protection would make it a pleasurable experience and he probably wouldn't get hurt.
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With the increased interest in the "moped" in Holland, Pierre's father was getting more interested in selling the bikes himself and in 1957 he became the local dealer for Colibri. This little bike was assembled from mainly Italian parts by Jan Jonker in Nederhorstten Berg and was then sold on through dealers throughout Holland. Mr. Kemperman being the very proud father, proudly showed Jan Jonker a photograph of Pierre racing on the Alpino..
Through discussing the racing and engineering successes of his son he secured Pierre’s first sponsorship which was in the form of a nice set of racing leathers. Pierre remembers that they were too big at the time but allowed room for him to grow. Pierre was now in a position to apply for an international racing licence and so now nothing could stand in the way of his entry into competitive racing. This, Pierre recalls, is an extract from Bromfiets. "In his first International race it looked as if Pierre was going backwards". The bike was going well but there were 5 bikes ahead of him and this he was not used to at all.
The Alpino had always been at the front of the field, not always first but rarely were there five bikes ahead of him. The answer to his puzzle stemmed from Belgium. The ITOM importer had brought five competition bikes and the riders to go with them to compete in the International races.
The situation in the following mornings 50cc race, showed the first five places being held by the ITOM team ahead of Pierre on his Alpino. In the afternoon the scene was the same with these same ITOM 50cc machines finishing in the first five places in the 125cc race to the shock and amazement of the 125 riders and the spectators".
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After seeing the capabilities of the new bikes in 1957, Mr Kemperman senior was very much taken to the idea of importing the ITOM into Holland and in 1958 both he and Pierre decided to take a journey to Turin and visit the ITOM factory.  On arrival they immediately  got on well with the Director of the ITOM works, Snr. Advocado Corradi as well as both his sons Giacomo and Ginjo. The race Engineer Bonnetto and the Development Engineer Spotto, demonstrated the bike themselves on the rolling road. A fast racer was no problem for Pierre and he had a go on the rolling road as well and found the bike very responsive.
The Kempermans were so impressed that they took a bike back with them to Holland and with a little modification and using his tuning skills, Pierre was winning his first race in Zandvoort with Cees van Koevefinge, who imported an ITOM for himself from the Belgium distributor, coming into second place.
The season continued with Pierre gaining experience in both preparing the bike, tuning the engine and racing it and always with great success. Also throughout this time Pierre continued to help his father in the shop in Rotterdam.
In 1960 Pierre's dad asked him to go to Turin to work for Industria Torinese Mechanica (ITOM). At first Pierre worked for six months in the frame design department where he was able to understand the geometry of the frame and how to build into it  good handling characteristics. This would put him in good stead for the future. After that he worked in the engine development department and this was where he was able to add to his knowledge of the two-stroke engine and discover better ways of making them perform so well.
Pierre fondly remembers how an old Italian craftsman wearing a tattered black apron made, with one fluid movement, the beautiful golden stripe on the tank and also how Laura came around the factory each day with the wage packets, on a tea-trolley to pay everybody's wages. Pierre has been ever grateful to his teachers Spotto and Bonetto from whom he learnt so much in those early years. 
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The Del'Orto SS1 was a very difficult carburettor to regulate and it was here in Turin that he worked with Carlo Dell'Orto and learnt about this piece of kit. This was a big moment for Pierre as Carlo was acknowledged the Guru of the competition carburettors and he absorbed as much knowledge as he possibly could from him .
While he was in Italy at the ITOM factory, Pierre managed to build himself a super-fast racing bike. This had the advantage of the collective knowledge of the engineers at the plant and also the near genius of Pierre. Once back in the Netherlands Pierre won almost every national race he entered and also competed eight times in the TT at Assen. His laurels did not end there and he was second in the European championships
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In 1964 Pierre got an offer from the Belgium Suzuki importer Van Moorsel to ride in the Suzuki team for twenty thousand guilders. His team-mate would have been Hugh Anderson, in the 50cc and in the 125cc. Pierre was really keen but his dad was not. "Either you go to Suzuki, or you take over my business" his Dad said, so that meant that Pierre did not really have a choice and until 1974 he carried on riding the ITOM.
From 1965 onwards the Itom models were, apart from the Esperia Sport (1) the Super Sport and (2) the Competizione. This latter machine was a real competition machine and the one that all racers wanted to get their hands on.  The Competizione was the sport-model that Kemperman imported into Holland at the end of 1965. This was the ITOM Super Sport Monoposto (single seat version). This model was produced with footrests and foot change levers as a motorcycle and with pedals and hand-change of a moped.
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The ITOM Automatic-E is in 1969, was the last effort from the Italian factory and ugly automatic moped is best quickly forgotten. We want to remember ITOM as the maker of perhaps the nicest and fastest sport mopeds in the world in its time. The technical advantage, which ITOM had enjoyed since the fifties, was slowly being caught up by the other makes. The knowledge of Mr Spotto was enormous and his continued development of the engine included a water-cooled version that developed far more power than the previous models. However after 1968 there was no more money for development.
The reason behind this was that around the 67/68 period, the main director Advocado Corradi was unsuccessfully speculating in land. The financial losses he suffered were making things very difficult for the factory and all development that was going on, especially in the racing department. From that time onwards the riders had to manage without the help of the factory, in fact it was usually the suppliers and agents that provided help for the riders. The Dutch had Pierre and the UK had Dick Challey of Toolys, London.
Pierre did build a machine for an attempt on the speed record and at tests on the Monza circuit it showed that through the speed trap, it was faster than the Demm and was still in one piece. Unfortunately it never got to the point of being entered for an official record attempt.  Other means were sought, by the factory, to satisfy the requirement for the ITOM product and thoughts went to a ring road production where different factories produced parts and ITOM assembled them in similar fashion to Aprilia of today.  The Astor 4M/S was one of these models.
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1972 saw very serious delivery problems, which caused considerable dissatisfaction from ITOMS distributors. Not wanting to experience these problems, Pierre decided to go to Italy to ensure that his orders were fulfilled and to make sure that everything was ready for delivery to Holland. Everything was ready except Grimeca hubs. This supplier of ITOM parts, of the many suppliers still owed money, decided that they would only deliver the stock when all of their outstanding payments had been met.  It was possible to get Fomi hubs but Pierre did not loke the quality and some people were saying that these were made from old pots and pans and that they can completely explode under pressure.
In 1976 even with the Itom 4M/S still being built using other manufacturers parts, the moped department was officially wound up. Now the factory only produces very un-interesting car parts for Fiat.  ITOM was copied many times. People did say that technicians from Royal Nord were making drawings of an ITOM engine with one sitting on their knee. That's why many parts of the ITOM fit perfectly onto the Royal Nord engine and cycle parts. It was not possible to copy the four-speed gearbox because of an outstandingly good patent and because of this fact Royal Nord had to stop production of the engine in Belgium. This pictures are of a Belgium engine.
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Once ITOM completely dominated the ultra-lightweight racing class, winning championships in Europe, Indonesia, South Africa, South America and Brazil. Big names like Bill Ivy and Mike Hailwood (a great role model for Pierre) started their careers on ITOM motorcycles. Also famous Dutch racers on the tarmac like Martien Mijwaart, who later developed and raced the Jamathi and Jan de Vries, who went to Kreidler) started on the ITOM. Jan de Rooy, of Paris-Dakar fame, rode an ITOM in Moto Cross form. Even the famous Jacky Ickx, a renowned Formula 1 driver, used an ITOM in Belgium. With all of these big names and successes, ITOM made a big impact on 50cc racing throughout the European arena.
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Unfortunately it was this speculating with land by ITOM's owner-director Advocado Corradi that brought severe money problems to the company and eventually brought it down. As a result new owners were sought. Even in the Van Oldenbameveltstraat in Rotterdam, Pierre, the super polite road racer with the gift of tact and diplomacy, could do nothing about it.
After all  of these problems with the Itom factory, Pierre decided to close the company “Motor Supplies” in the Van Oldenbameveltstraat. This he did in 1978, Pierre worked for many years as the manager in the "MotorhuisSafe" in Rotterdam and from 1994 until 1997 Pierre was working as the technical manager in 
Haags Motorcentrum on the Loosduinsekade in The Hague. 
1967 saw the decline in sales and debts grew with much rivalry from Minarelli and Guazzoni. Itom always had esteem design, but with the latest designs from Germany there were no real solutions. In the racing field this could be seen in the superior speed of the Kreidler models with their rotary valves and 6 to 18 gears and so the factory stopped production.  The only thing that the Industria Torinese Mechanica (ITOM) could have done was to make a new start and design a rotary valve engine with water-cooled chrome bore, alloy cylinder and at least 6 gears. But the company was not an out and out racing outfit and they could not stand the cost involved.
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Nowadays he is in his retirement and spending much of his free time on his hobby, his beloved ITOMs. His son Marco has also caught the bug and involves himself in all that is Itom and works with Pierre to get even better ITOM engines developed for racing.
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Pierre Kemperman with Snr. Spotto
The first race with the ITOM in Zandvoort and Kemperman goes flat out around the corner and is second. Note the Cow Horn Megaphone.
You might ask "what happened to the 500cc 10 cylinder engine? Well it is still alive and reving well but not in anger.
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Pierre Kemperman's 500cc engine was made out of ten ITOM cylinders and heads. He created the crankcases himself and all of the crankshaft mechanisms. The barrels were set in a "V" formation with the exhausts pointing outward. Each cylinder was fed from its own Del'Orto carburettor. The engine was believed to be too large to make a good solo machine and so it was decided not to enter it in a solo race and it was not sufficiently developed for other uses, but it did run. According to Kemperman it sounded as though about 30 two-stroke race bikes were starting up all at once.
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The 10 cylinder engine was made available to the "Three Wheeler Brigade and was used in the sidecar outfit of Leo van Dijk during 1969.
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Research:
JEEP's Archives
Motorcycle Magazines
On-Line Encyclopedias
News Paper Cuttings
Scrap Books
Submissions from readers by email

© 2014-2015 Jeep E Elton-Payne. We are always looking for contributions to the web page. Please let the web master know if you have any information or pictures for them. If we have used a picture that requires permission please contact us.

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Mike Hailwood
Bill Ivy
Martien Mijwaart
Jan de Rooy (N23)
Jan de Vries
A Belgium ITOM Engine
ITOM Corsa 1957
Rockanje 1960 Pierre Kemperman Itom
The Del'Orto SS1 Carburettor
The ITOM Factory in Turin
The 1957 Itom 50cc
 Theo Meurs in his Workshop
The Alpino Roma Sport 50cc
Bromfiets a Classic Magazine
The 10 Cylinder ITOM based Engine
Pierre Kemperman
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