1998 Honda 650cc Speedway Racing Motorcycle
The great sport of Speedway never fails as a spectator attraction, ever since those dramatic beginnings, near Epping Forest, in the late 1920s; today, though, with so many distractions, crowds are not what they were. For the technically minded this exciting sport has evolved through several mechanical phases inasmuch various makes of engine have dominated the racing at different times. J.A.Prestwich's dope-burning ohv engine achieved the longest run until eventually outpaced by the Czech built ESO; that too has now been superseded by even more powerful engines. Prompted by ever rising costs there came a point in the late 1990s when it was thought a "control engine" [preferably ex a volume-selling motorcycle] might reverse the sport's ever rising costs. Honda duly constructed a batch of eight 650cc prototypes for Sheffield Tigers, capable of being raced virtually out-of-the-box, with a minimal outlay for maintenance. The ultimate intention was to seal each engine from the outset, effectively shifting the emphasis from outright horsepower to rider skills. Masterminded by Eric Boocock and Mick Grant Honda slotted their twin-port 650 street singles into speedway frames albeit, for time reasons, still fitted with conventional transmissions. The machines were thoroughly tested at Owlerton by Robbie Kessler and other interested riders, running on pump fuel. Whilst naturally slower than the norm they performed without mechanical problems. The consensus was that, if accepted, the project simply made too much existing equipment redundant...and was quietly abandoned. From that original batch it is understood all bar two examples were stripped and dispersed; one then went to a specialist collector, and this is the sole survivor. It has not been run since acquired about ten years ago. There is a brief history and some photographs on file.