Description
The growth of 50cc racing from 1955, when race speeds were under 50 m.p.h., to the Suzuki's 75 m.p.h. Manx laps in 1962
THE RACING FIFTIES
wita look at the men (and women) who ride them
(Written by Roy Nicholson for the Motorcycle Sport April 1963 and edited by Jeep with the inclusion of extra pictures)
Description
Girls ride 50cc racers (although not in International events!): Here is Ceri Dundas-Slater
The first appearance of 50 c.c. machines on British race tracks was during 1955 more in the way of demonstration runs than races and usually providing novel entertainment for spectators during an interval. The idea of seriously racing these " pip-squeaks " did not catch on at all fast for they were pitifully tame compared with even the 125cc machines. To become accepted in the racing world was a steady struggle for those few enthusiasts who believed the fifties had a future.

Derision from spectators had to be endured, and a consequent reluctance by race organizers to cater for the 50 c.c. class added to the difficulties.
Buas the years passed it became clear that history was simply repeating itself, for the one-two-fives had been in a similar position not so long before. That the fifties are now firmly established is amply borne out by their participation in the world championship series last year. However, such contests are the province of factory-supported entries and this article is more concerned with ordinary clubmen and the growth of the game in this country.
The private owners who make up the field at any national or club meeting have for years been hampered by an almost complete lack of suitable racing machinery. Iis this fact which makes their achievements all the more worthy. 

Itom machines have been predominant since the early days and no wonder, for they have an amazing performance, especially when you think of their low cost and simplicity of design. 

For the uninformed here are a few details:  The power unit is an orthodox three port two-stroke, with 40mm bore and 39.5mm stroke. The barrel is of cast-iron, the cylinder head of aluminium, and the compression ratio is 10.5 to 1.  The crank assembly has full flywheels. Primary drive is by helical gear wheels to a three - or four speed gearbox. Engine and gear box are of unit construction, forming a neat little power egg which is housed in a tubular spine frame. - Suspension is by pivoted fork at the rear.
Other competing machines have included Maserati, Ducati, Stern, NSU, Demm, Dot, Frain, Cimmatti, Victoria, Atala. Royal Nord, and others. It will be noted that the majority are foreign. Those machines which were made in this country inevitably used foreign components- the Fruin Dartela, for example, was powered by an Italian Demm unit. Of this list, the Demm. Maserati and Fruins were thmost successful!, highest marks going to the Fruin. Rarely, if ever, were the Itoms beaten to the flag!
The Italian Motoms arrived in Britain in 1961 with every intention of upsetting the supremacy of the privately owned Itom two-strokes which had been winning races since around 1956 But they achieved only moderate success,and their best performance "the writer believes" was a runaway win at Silverstone, when the rider was Peter Inchley. The spine frame carried is four-stroke engine and gear box unit (with four or five speeds). Top speed: around 80 m.p.h.
Description
That was the general picture until 1961. During that season the Italian Motom factory sent over their factory racing team as part of a sales drive on the British market. Word quickly got round among the 50cc. racers that thfactory maintained four strokes with four or five speed gearboxes ruled the roost, in their native Italy. Speeds of 80 m.p.h. were mentioned, and the privateer's winning days seemed numbered. However the results of events in which the Motoms took part did not entirely justify their reputation. if memory serves me right, in only one race did they score a convincing win, and that as at Silverstone where Peter Inchley set a new lap record at 56 m.p.h., an increase of some 4m.p.h.
At Crystal Palace they finished second, third and fourth behind a lone horn, and in the Racing 50 Club's 250-mile Enduro a crash and mechanical troubles put them out of the running. Their last appearance was at Brands Hatch where David Simmonds brought home the first Motom in fourth place behind a fighting trio of Itoms.  

Lap speeds on most short circuits had risen about 10 m.p.h. since the early days when Fred Launchbury was the leading light. This increase was obtained with engines virtually unchanged, apart from the various modifications carried out by amateur tuners.  Improvements to cycle parts and the use of fairings helped somewhat but the real point was that riders and tuners had acquired a lot of know how on extracting the utmost from these tiny machines. 

As already mentioned, Launchbury on his Gatto Itom was quite successful in the early days but gave up the class in 1959 feeling that the time and expense incurred were not entirely justified by the actual riding time. Most 50c.c. races were very short then.
Description
The Racing 50 Club's 250-mile Enduro at Snetterton is one of the top events in the calendar.  This is the start of the 1962 race
Howard German, riding Frank Sheene's Special, quickly proved the most successful 'runner" during 1959 and 1960. He was well-equipped for success. His riding ability was tops and his mount was always perfectly prepared, fast and reliable. 

Recently it has become known that a new Sheene Special fitted with a Spanish Ducson unit is nearing completion. H. G. may well be the jockey and, should this be so, itis a fairly safe bet his name will be appearing frequently in the results this year.

Striving to tumble German from his top position were several riders who often figured on the leaderboard board. In case I omit any reader's particular favourite, I will say among those riders were Charlie Mates, Bill Ivy, Alan Dawson, A. Stride, P.Horsham, M. Chiles, S. Lovell and, putting aside modesty, I will add myself. Some have since retired from the game but Mates, Horsham and Ivy are still very keen.
Charlie Mates, who comes from London, entered 50cc. racing on a Maserati in 1959 with the useful experience behind him of dicing a two-fifty NSU. The"Mas." however, did not prove either fast or reliable enough to give a consistently good performance, so in 1960 Mates took delivery of a so-called factory Itom. 

From that time on, his name has featured regularly in the first three at most British tracks, and he was one of the gallant private owners who rode in the first 50c.c. T.T. 

During that ride he became some what anxious when he saw his rev-counter needle flickering past the 14,500 r.p.m. mark on a long downhill section of the course.  To sustain this speed for only a short period was straining the engine considerably, but it did not burst, and Charlie turned in one of the best performances by a privateer. He was the first Itom rider to finish, in fact.
Description
Charlie mates crossing the line at the 1962 Isle of man 50cc TT
For 1963 he will be riding a Honda production racer, so a lot of his compatriots will be getting a monotonous view of his rear wheel. 

Bill Ivy, entered by Chisholms, the enthusiastic Maidstone dealers, has had more than his share of bad luck in the way of crashes. A serious accident on the road left him with broken legs, but after a slow recovery he came back as determined as ever, having lost none of his old nerve. Like Mates, he is small and light (under 8st), and this, coupled with outstanding riding ability, makes him especially suited to 50 c.c. racers.  

He is not unknown among the one-two- fives, either. having lapped Brands on a Honda Benly faster than most riders of these little Japanese models.
Phil Horsham, 32, comes from Berk­shire and has been a regular "50" enthusiast from the beginning. But it was not until 1962 that he really hit the high spots. Early in the season it was clear that the right things had been done to his engine for his Itom displayed dazzling speed. This enabled Phil to figure con­sistently in the first six finishers and shake up some of the accented stars.  

It is reported that he will be using the ex-Mates Itom for this season.  

During 1960 one of my spies who had a close watch on the"opposition" kept mentioning D.A. Simmonds as a man to watch. The following season I could not help but watch him, for increasingly often on the track he seemed to be the man in front of me.  At each appearance his performance improved and it was during 1961 that he fitted his Itom engine into a frame designed and constructed by his brother Michael and himself. Handling was improved considerably, and while testing at Brands many a rider of bigger machinery was shaken when passed on a difficult  Dave Simmond's screaming fifty.
For 1962 the Simmonds brothers some­ how acquired a Japanese Tohatsu sprint engine. The engine was an orthodox twostroke with four speeds and once housed in one of their own frames soon began cleaning up most races in which it was entered. Among the Tohatsu's notable achievements were a 50c.c. sprint record and the Enduro, when it demonstrated staying power as well as high speed with a convincing win. That was the year when the SimmondsItom turned out in water-cooled form; the actual work they undertook themselves, and they were amply repaid for their patience. Usually Michael rode it and his lap times were little slower than the Tohatsu's had it been fitted with four gears it might well have proved a little quicker. They hope to obtain a twin-cylinder Tohatsu for this season: an exciting prospect
Description
Another watery wonder, the Pope Special, was one of thfastest machines in 1962 but for some reason did not bring its rider, A. E. Dawson, deserved renown though he put up some excellent performances.
Description
The Pope Special has been fully restored and is brought out in various classic parades (Editor)
Beryl Swain received wide publicity both before and after her historic T.T. ride. Historic because the F.I.M. have now imposed a ban on lady riders in international events. To anyone who knows her, it will come as no surprise to learn that Beryl is trying hard to get the ban lifted. Together with husband Eddie, Beryl is to be seen at most meetings where fifties are on the program. Eddie prepares and tunes the machines, and for this year a six-speeder Itom should be ready for his blonde, petite wife.
Description
Apart from his trade connections, Dick Chalaye is well-known in 50 c.c.circles as an active committee member of the Racing 50 Club. Early last season he also had the distinction of being the owner of an Itom which, according to its rider, Geoff Votier, was probably the fastest in the country. Although several good placings were obtained, the Itom's road holding did not quite match up to that required of a winner, and for safety's sake Geoff had sometimes to give best when dueling on a difficult bend.  

Geoff Votier, incidentally, was the winner of the 1961 Enduro, riding his own machine, and I had the good fortune to partner him in that event. Our race record was broken handsomely last year by the Simmonds' equipe, as previously mentioned.
Much has been contributed to the movement by enthusiast Brian Woolley, now secretary of the Racing 50 Club. This appointment is a very demanding one, as any club secretary will confirm, but Brian Woolley somehow finds the time to tune and prepare other people's machines as well as his own. Last year his Kreidler was ridden mostly by Brian Brader, with great gusto. It had more than its share of troubles, which caused its retirement often when a creditable placing seemed certain.  

In the 1962 Enduro I rode a perfectly standard Sports A.J.W. with Charlie Surridge, a well known Bantam ex­ponent of the 1950s. We completed the 250 miles without a hitch, although naturally our speed was somewhat down on the highly tuned Itoms. But the steering qualities of the little Wimborne ­ made machine were excellent and on more than one occasion I was able, easily, to out corner a rival who had just screamed past on the straight.
This same A.J.W. shortly afterwards passed into Brian Woolley's hands. He experimented with the power unit. At Mallory Park some weeks later I was able to sample the same machine for the purpose of direct comparison. Whereas we had whispered our way round Snetterton in the Enduro on the standard patent silencer, a healthy exhaust note was now emitted from a Woolley expansion pipe and power matched the noise. 

The improvement was substantial, but quite unsuitable gearbox ratios made it an impracticable  for short-circuit racing. It will be interesting to see what the A.J. W. catalogues offer for this year.  

It should not go without mention that Brian Woolley has also ridden fifties himself with commendable result (especially when his 12 or 13st is taken into account). His brother Tom now does more riding, on a Mk. 6 Itom, and showed considerable promise in his first season.
After this brief look at some of the personalities and happenings to date, what of the prospects for 1963? Ignoring factory entries, the privateers now have a far greater choice of machinery with which to display their ingenuity and tuning ability. The result should be higher race speeds and even keener competition.  

The 50 c.c. lap record at Brands Hatch, for example, now stands at 70 m.p.h., set up by Ernst Degner on a factory Suzuki. It will not be long before a private owner betters that figure for sure—but who, I wonder?
Description
The Suzuki RK63 50cc Works Racer
The Ariel Pixie unit will no doubt be used by one or more competitors--but wouldn't the cheers go up should a British manufacturer decide to enter the fray wholeheartedly with a pukka race model! 

Suzuki took only about 12 months to design and build their world beater, proving that such things can be done. Have we no manufacturer to show the flag, and some foresight, by producing an all-British racing fifty? Thousands of enthusiasts are hoping! ..............Roy Nicholson
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Description
Description
The 50cc A. J. W. Greyhound similar to the Sport.
Description
Brian Woolley's Race License 1962
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