Racing Classic Norton Motorcycles
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Last year the team added a Norton Manx to the mix. A 500cc short stroke, it’s one of the very last of the model built in 1961. Although Manxes were still available in 1962, they were almost all built from parts manufactured the prior year.
Purchased as mostly a box of bits, the “new” Norton hadn’t been on the road since 1971, but it was a numbers-matching Manx. Bob’s son, Robert, has played a major role in getting the ’61 on the track. “Robert’s doing all the mechanical work on the 1961,” Bob says. “He knows more about that one then I do now. I was a rider, not a mechanic; I disqualify myself from wrenching.”
The 2009 Bonneville Vintage GP was the 1961’s first outing, and it performed well. Alex and the ’61 took first place in every heat the team raced in, a performance they matched with the ’37, as well. Winning races is in fact something of a habit for the crew. They won three championships with the Nortons in 2009 (Class C Foot, pre-1940 GP and Classic Sixties), and they look set to repeat their performance this year, winning nine of nine Class C races in their first outing at Daytona in March.
Alex, who’s called France home for the past 10 years, appreciates his good fortune. “I’m the only guy I know who gets hired to come from Europe to go vintage racing [in the U.S.]. I’m the luckiest man on the earth getting to ride these bikes,” he says.
For Bob, the payoff is simple: He gets to continue doing what he loves, go racing. And while his diminishing eyesight keeps him from being able to track Alex’s progress around the track, he doesn’t care about that. “I go there for the people, and that’s the only reason I go.” MC
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