Sunday, 3 April 2011

Wayne Nolan and his Honda CB750

I'm a big fan of classic racing and why not? Real machines ridden by riders who don't rely on anything other than skill and bravado to get them round the track appeals to me more than mega-buck factory machines that you'd need an engineering degree even to start. No electronics, no telemetry and usually not much in the way of sponsorship either. We're talking late 60's through to the early 80's  bikes - which is basically anything air-cooled with a steel cradle frame. In Australia these brackets of racing are called the Post Classic and the Forgotten Era.
Wayne Nolan (above) runs 'Team Hasbeens', a team that races in both these classes with a 940cc Honda CB750 in Post Classic and an 1160cc Suzuki GSX1100 in Forgotten Era. The teams' rider is Leo Cash (below), a seasoned veteran of sidecar and dirt track action and  a nationally titled road racer.
Leo's consumate skill as a rider is borne out in his riding school and race coaching. It helps no doubt that his machinery is well looked after and built for the job. As the old adage goes, there's no substitute for cubic inches and the heart of the machine is a bored and stroked  to 940cc. It's fed by a bank of smootbore carbs and exits through a ceraminc coated 4-into-1 exhaust sytsem. The extra cubes produce considerable heat and you'll no doubt notice the heat shield protecting the carbies and the large oil cooler in front of the motor. The custom made aluminium oil tank looks larger than stock too and I suspect an uprated oil pump too.
Getting those pistons in there would've required new liners and some machining of the cases. I suspect some head work gone into the motor as well (in for a penny and all that). You'd have to imagine larger valves and some port work on a race bike of this calibre, especially one that breathes an extra 200cc or so? Custom ground cams would be a good bet too. But the engine work isn't extreme and it's not tuned to the point of unreliability, the bike runs pump unleaded and has to be reliable enough to last at least a season.
I don't recal how many times I've seen the bike race, but the most memorable was the Barry Sheene Memorial at Eastern Creek Raceway where Leo battled valiantly against the 1300cc Irving Vincnent. Excellent racing if a little unmatched! The Honda is a lesson in function before form and its good looks derive from its racetrack cred. Every part is there because it works on the track and there's nothing superfluous. Looks cool, huh?


  1. This thing's GORGEOUS - And you've done a great job describing what's going on with the motor itself which kinda makes sense 'cause it's the part of this scene which one can't actually SEE in the photograph (though the blanked off case covers & stuff like that sort of HINTS at what's within) All the same, being that a lot of folks might not realize what they ARE looking at, do you figure you could list more of a bike's CHASSIS specs? I guess by now, after being into this stuff for a long time, I can eyeball stuff and figure out that say, the rear wheel: it's the stock hub in a 3.0x18" Morad rim, sort of a copy of the earlier Borrani rims of the same spec but with a lower shoulder - But then again I could be wrong it could be a 3.50 or 2.50" even - You've gotta realize that one lovely feature of your high-def photography, is that WE all literally SQUINT at these shots, trying to figure out what the make, series, and SIZE of the tires - and TRY to figure out what's going on with the rims, all the more tricky when they're wire-spoke with aftermarket alloy rims, or hubs switched about this and that maybe a CB550 drum instead of the CB750 to save a few pounds - I realize it's difficult to get all of that info, especially out of a racer at the track ha-ha. And we hardly manage to get half of this info out of the best magazine articles! But yeah it would be awesome to get more verification of what all chassis gear a person's looking at, being that the engine stuff interesting though it may be, could be abbreviated to horsepower & torque figures ha-ha. No, obviously BOTH is nice, but hey maybe all of that engine stuff would be great subject matter for a photo series of it's own? I love a good "dissection" photo series!

  2. Yeah magazines usually have word limits, which limits the amount of information can go into a story. Leo and Wayne were such cool guys, I was sorry I could never get this story published (hence the blog). My other regret is I didn't get to ride this one...!

    One of the guys at the race club was telling me they didn't really enforce the modification rules until you got as fast as Leo. Which is pretty damned fast. He'd often win by a lap in a 5 lap race.