c.1949 Speedway JAP Motorcycle
Engine no. JOS/I 80807
Racing on un-surfaced, or 'dirt', tracks originated in the USA in the early 1900s and by the 1920s had established itself in Australia, where the cinder track surface - still in use today - became the norm. Travelling enthusiasts brought word of this exciting form of motorcycle sport to the UK and in 1928 a series of demonstration events was held in Britain featuring the cream of American and Australian riders. Before the latter arrived, Britain's first proper dirt track meeting had been held that February on a disused cycle track at High Beech in Epping Forest, the event attracting a crowd of around 30,000 people.
Before long almost all major UK manufacturers listed a dirt-track model, the first marque to establish dominance being Douglas, whose inline flat-twins had benefited from much prior development on the Australian long tracks. As shorter tracks became the norm, the Duggie's otherwise excellent handling could no longer compensate for the handicap of a longish wheelbase. Rival manufacturer's single-cylinder models began to assert themselves and by 1930 the four-valve Rudge was the machine to beat. The Coventry firm's supremacy would be short-lived however. By 1932 JAP's racing single was well on the way to establishing a dominance in speedway that would remain unchallenged until the 1960s. As J A Prestwich supplied only engines, a cottage industry of independent frame manufacturers arose to satisfy the demand for machines. Of the major manufacturers, only Excelsior with its JAP-engined model remained a force in speedway by the end of the 1930s.
The maker of this JAP-engined speedway motorcycle's frame is not known for certain, although correspondence on file suggests that it is Rotrax. Beautifully restored, the machine is offered with a spare sprocket, front wheel, two tanks and a folder containing bills, correspondence, JAP engine manual, technical information and related literature, etc. No reserve.
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