When Ivan Wicksteed and Marius Winslow packed off to Bedales, a private boarding school near Petersfield, southwest of London, England, their parents had no idea the boys would become great friends and go on to build a supercharged Triumph that would break the Brooklands 500cc lap record. But this was a school that nurtured individuality and initiative, and for these boys, that meant riding and tuning motorcycles.
In 1932, Ivan borrowed a 250cc BSA and won a bronze medal in the Schoolboys' Trial. A year later he was riding a 500 Norton, which propelled him to a silver medal, and then in 1934 the friends bought a 350cc Cotton-Blackburne. Marius wielded the spanners, and the bike was prepared for their first race at Brooklands on July 28. With the Webb fork's legs taped up to reduce drag and the fishtail of the Brooklands muffler extending 10 inches behind the rear mudguard, Ivan covered the flying kilometer at 76.61mph. That was it — they were hooked on speed.
Earning the Gold Star
The Cotton soon made way for a 4-valve, twin carb 250cc Excelsior Mechanical Marvel and they started winning races. By this time, Ivan was an engineering student at Loughborough College — he said that he only enrolled so that he could learn welding. Money was tight, so when Marius suggested Ivan move to London where they could start their own motorcycle tuning business, Ivan said he couldn't afford the rent. Fortunately, Marius had wealthy parents who were bankrolling his adventures, and he would pay Ivan a salary. Ivan wasn't exactly a "works rider," but it was a start.
In May 1936, Marius tuned a 500cc Rudge-JAP and Ivan won a Gold Star by lapping Brooklands at over 100mph, winning his race by 100 yards. Then he borrowed Jock West's old 494cc Triumph single and won the last race of the season with three terrific laps, one at 110.68mph. Ivan was 21 years old.
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