The 50th Anniversary Of The 1967 Mosport Grand Prix Blew My Mind

Vintage machines and legendary riders gathered to celebrate Canada’s only GP

participants sitting in a meeting room
A once-in-a-lifetime experience? Probably. The 2017 Vintage Road Racing Association (VRRA) Mosport round coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Mosport Grand Prix, and the club extended invitations to true legends of motorcycle racing. In this room are racers Yvon Duhamel, Michelle Duff, Jim Allen, Steve Baker, Rod Gould, the 1970 250cc World Champion and eight-time World Champion Phil Read, Frank Camillieri, Eugene Brown, Dave Roper, Kurt Lentz. (I’m sorry, I wish I could list all the heroes in attendance). It was an impressive meeting of undisputed talent. VRRA’s Len Fitch headed the hard-working organizing committee and Alan Cathcart wove together a fascinating narrative of the 1967 race weekend and filled-out the experience with insightful interviews. Unforgettable.Nick Ienatsch
trucks and trailers at the race track
See all that yellow and white? Those are HB Cycle rigs, important because HB Cycle was the main sponsor of the 2017 VRRA Mosport Vintage Festival. Phil Hodgson owns HB and this dealer’s sponsorship made a lot of happy people, me included. Series sponsors are: SeriesTracker, Waldridge Motors Limited, Marin Motorsports, CMR Racing Products, Honda, Inside Motorcycles, The Motorcycle Shows, and Tactical Products Canada. And a quick nod to the VRRA class sponsors: Marin Motorsports, Woody’s Cycles, Martin Brickwood Performance, Pro6 Cycle, Tactical Products Canada, CMR Racing Products, Moto Sports of Trenton, HB Cycle, Rocket Performance, Castrol Classic Oils, and Sign Design. I added a personal sponsor that got me and the Spondon TZ750 to the Mosport event: Luke Connor’s CPL Systems. Thanks to all who use their hard-earned money to allow racers to realize our dreams.Nick Ienatsch
motorcycle guys sitting around talking
Who better to interview about vintage racing than Dave Roper (left in leathers) and Rob Iannucci? Iannucci teams with Roper to bring the Team Obsolete collection to life on the racetrack with soundtracks you can't believe. This weekend, the Isle of Man winner rode a 1960 Surtees Special AJS7R, a Tom Arter Special G50 Matchless and Dick Mann's BSA 750 A75R triple, plus a Geoff Monty Special Replica 350cc BSA, tuned by Ken Rosevear. Not in this picture is Josh Mackenzie, Iannucci's hard-working tuner who kept all these bikes in top form during the weekend and putting Roper on the podium. Impressive. More amazing pics and info are at teamobsolete.com.Nick Ienatsch
nick ienatsch and bob williams talk
Bob Williams is a lot of fun to talk to if you love Bonneville top-speed racing, and I do. In 2004 Williams’s self-designed streamliner set the 650cc class record at a mind-numbing 210 mph. "And then I looked at the record book and saw that NSU set a 500cc Blown Fuel (turbo- or super-charged on methanol) record in 1956 at 211 mph, the longest-standing record in FIM history." Williams told me. "Well, I had to take a shot at that!" Williams's 'shot' went 228 mph with only 490cc, with little tricks like a billet crankshaft. The team didn't get the record because they hadn't contacted the FIM prior to the runs, but the 228 number came with the bike on the revlimiter. Re-gear and try for more? Speed lovers can see more at arrowracing.org.Nick Ienatsch
norton motorcycle static side view
While tip-toeing through the rain-soaked paddock this Norton reached out and grabbed me. I know next-to-nothing about Nortons or this bike in particular, but snapped a pic because “it’s done right”. When I wrote that this weekend could “fill a book”, it was because of the amount of cool machines and people present.Nick Ienatsch
guys holding down a tent
Dave and Lorraine Crussell (left and center) are helped by mechanic Jeff Moyer when a hailstorm (yes, hail!) roared into Mosport for 45 minutes of tent holding. See them laughing? That sums up the vintage outlook: we're gonna have fun. Earlier in the weekend Dave and I ran neck-and-neck on our TZ750s during the Heavyweight Vintage Grand Prix heat race, while Lorraine raced two- and four-stroke machines with great aplomb. Meanwhile, Moyer gets his kicks tuning the Crussell machines and riding his first-gen Concours across the USA. If you want a quick VRRA-summarization of vintage bikes, it's this: Get them out of the museums and onto the racetracks. To that, I'll add: Get off the couch and join the fun!Nick Ienatsch
jim allen standing next to his race bike
My long-time friend Jim Allen was one of the legends invited to this Mosport celebration. Humble to a fault, Allen will never tell you this fact: He hauled ass. After this 1972 TR500, Allen bent a TZ750 to his will with great results. This ultra-clean Suzuki went to Ed Culverhouse for a while, but was then lost until recently rediscovered and rebuilt "to an amazing standard by Ken Rosevear," said Allen. Most know Allen as the force behind Dunlop's road racing efforts in America, but before he put Dunlop on the map in America, he put fast two-strokes on the podium in Canada.Nick Ienatsch
guys standing in front of ducati motorcycle
Inside the Legends tent, fans could talk with true heroes of motorcycle racing. Here, Jim Allen (left) and Yvon Duhamel (right) pose with a vintage-racing fan. Both Allen and Duhamel competed in the 1967 Mosport GP, with Duhamel carding a fourth in the 250 race and Allen a 10th in the 125 battle.Nick Ienatsch
guys standing with spondon tz750
Kurt Lentz (left) and Rusty Bigley (right) are reunited with Steve Baker. Fitting that the reunion was centered around Yamaha’s TZ750 because that’s what Baker used to win the Formula 750 World Championship in 1977. Baker flew in from Oregon to ride the Fran-Hall-built CMR-framed TZ750 (with Bigley pipes and engine), while Bigley and Lentz came north to let me race the Spondon. We won Heavyweight Vintage GP, but more importantly, got to lap Mosport with Baker! Hey, ever notice that Kurt’s last name ends with “tz”? That’s why he was so fast on them. Bigley has a few thousand miles on the big four-cylinder stroker too; big TZs have been under a lot of champions since 1974.Nick Ienatsch
honda vfr bubba shobert replica bike
Can you say “clean Bubba Shobert replica?” Beautiful bikes were sprinkled throughout the Mosport paddock and this 750 is legal for VRRA’s Period Four, F1 class, plus Open Vintage. I took this pic for all Honda fans interested in vintage racing, and specifically to inspire my friend Anthony Sansotta who has a VFR racer in the works.Nick Ienatsch
guy standing next to suzuki katana
Every Friday the VRRA runs a two-hour endurance race and you’re looking at the Heavyweight winner, parked next to its builder, tuner and original owner, Gilles Bolduc. Steve Smart (who once owned and raced Wes Cooley's Katana..wow!), Norm Murphy and Dave LaPorte rode this ultra-trick Kat to victory and it was fun to watch and great to hear. “When I bought this in ’82, I took it straight to our Canadian Yoshimura rep and spent another $6,000 before I even started the bike,” Bolduc relates. The bike is beautifully modified from top to bottom, including one of the first detachable aluminum subframes. Horsepower? “About 140.”Nick Ienatsch
kevin schwantz replica race bike
Perhaps Canada's longer winters are responsible for the awesome builds on display at Mosport? Here, Kevin Kernohan poses with his Kevin Schwantz-replica 500 Gamma after a successful weekend of racing. Kernohan runs BKD SpeedPaint and not only painted this replica, but built it as well, with help from Andrew Jones's ATR shop. You know Jordan Szoke? BKD paints his helmets. Bkdspeedpaint.com.Nick Ienatsch
schwantz pepsi replica suzuki race bike
Andrew Jones stands behind his Schwantz/Pepsi-replica Suzuki Gamma with deserved pride: this thing is trick! But as beautiful and cool as it is, the Gamma gets raced at VRRA because Jones is a true motorcycle-mad enthusiast. I reported on one of his builds 25 years ago! See the GSX-R750 next door? That bike led Saturday's endurance race until it "stopped"; probably dropped a valve, but it was also impressively turned-out. Jones's shop is Alien Technology Racing (ATR). Alienracing.net.Nick Ienatsch
race bikes displayed in show tent
Even late at night the VRRA hospitality tent was a popular place to meet legendary riders and see some rare and exotic machines. VRRA had 248 entries at Mosport and the club’s Vice President Domini Aubry—my host for the weekend and Honda Hawk GT racer—is proud of the family orientation and competitive nature of Canada’s largest road racing club. This all-volunteer club runs four rounds of vintage racing per summer and seamlessly combined the 50th anniversary of the Mosport GP with their regular race event at one of the world’s most-iconic racetracks. A personal thanks to VRRA for another opportunity to ride Bigley’s Spondon TZ750. Yes, it wheelies over the final hump before Turn Eight in sixth gear. No dull moments.Nick Ienatsch
1970 kawasaki h1r static 3/4 view
Photo 1 of 2.Nick Ienatsch
kawasaki h2 static 3/4 view
Photo 2 of 2: Like Kawasaki triples? Cruising around the Mosport paddock was one of the nicest 750cc street versions you'll ever see or hear, and inside the Legends tent was Yvon Duhamel's storied 500cc racer. The VRRA paddock is teaming with two-strokes so get those 125s and 250s out! When a two-stroke is right, there's nothing as intoxicating. Rene Girard taught me the proper French-Canadian term for this feeling: Sa Coche. Girard races a Honda RS125 and founded the famous/infamous Joe Bar Racing team. The more friends you drag along, the more fun vintage racing gets.Nick Ienatsch
honda cb750f static side view
Warmers on, tank topped off; this CB750F is ready for action. This Honda caught my eye because it was clean and well thought-out, but also affordable. You can peruse the VRRA rule book online at vrra.ca, and quickly discover that there are many inexpensive ways to go vintage racing in Canada, just as there are in America with AHRMA and other vintage clubs.Nick Ienatsch
guy standing behind ducati race bike
You want Ducati history? How about Jimmy Adamo’s 1985 Mille! Jim Watson is the rider and maybe the luckiest guy in the paddock because his boss, Mike Bigioni, owns the Mille and offers it to Watson. This is one of the most beautiful race bikes you’ll ever see.Nick Ienatsch
nick sitting on an old vincent motorcycle
Photo 1 of 2.Nick Ienatsch
nick riding away on a vincent motorcycle
2 of 2: Bar Hodgson runs the Canadian Supershow motorcycle shows and has been building custom bikes for 50 years; this 1953 Vincent Black Shadow is a high-water mark for the “Built by Bar” collection. Bar dubbed this bike “Sandbagger” because inside the stock cases hides a bunch of Terry Prince goodies: Stroked crank and big-bore pistons for 1300cc of fun, “bathtub” heads with dual spark plugs and twin 41mm DellOrto carbs feeding the monster. It looks like a stunningly-clean Black Shadow, but runs like a modern big twin. I should know, because after Bar walked me through the starting procedure (started on the first kick), I took the bike out on the highways surrounding Mosport, shifting (race pattern) with my right foot and getting used to drum brakes. It was the definition of “torque monster,” steered lightly and willingly and just ate up the pavement. My first ride on a Vincent was aboard a world-class Bar Build.Nick Ienatsch
guy showing cmr tr750 race bike
Spondon. Harris. Bimota. Rickman. And you can add CMR to that list of world-class chassis makers. Here, CMR founder Dennis Curtis is showing the CMR TR750 build to a customer. Curtis, along with partner Byron Cox, builds modern-geometry frames for many engines and this ultra-clean TR Suzuki is one of over 30 examples the Canadian company has churned out for anyone with a "Water Buffalo" GT750 engine. They have built and sold over 30 TZ750 frames and their XR69 four-stroke chassis is a hot item, too. Carry Andrew of Hypercycle is building an FJ-powered CMR for Colin Edwards to race at Phillip Island. Stay tuned because Michael Barnes and I should be riding a CMR TZ750 at the September Champ School. curtisracingframes.comNick Ienatsch

For more Mosport coverage, look for my feature story and Alex Bilo’s photos in Cycle World soon. More Next Tuesday!