Motorcycle Racing News Yamaha MotoGP Snapshot: Bill Ivy

Yamaha MotoGP Snapshot: Bill Ivy

Motorcycle Racing History

As Yamaha celebrates 50 years in Gran Prix racing, it has released snapshots of motorcycle racing legends, including the below piece on Phil Read, a four-time World Champion. To delve further into the rich heritage of two-wheeled history, check out our Motorcycle History section.

A colorful character and one of the first to bring showmanship to Grand Prix motorcycle racing, Bill Ivy was a Yamaha star that dominated 125cc and 250cc competition in the mid-1960s.

The 1967 125cc World Champion with the RA31, the diminutive Englishman (157 cm and 50 kgs) from Maidstone was only able to demonstrate his ability on both two wheels and four for a short-time as a fatal accident slowing down in practice for the East German Grand Prix at Sachsenring in 1969, riding for Jawa, ended his life at the age of just 26.

Ivy took his first race on a Yamaha (125cc RA97) in 1965 at the Isle of Man TT, back when the mountain road course was the pinnacle and almost the definition of road racing.

Ivy joined the works team in 1966 and grabbed his first win around the speedy lanes of Montjuich Park in Barcelona. Eight victories from twelve Grands Prix ensured his name entered the record books in 1967. Ivy’s statistics make for impressive reading at the highest level as he recorded a phenomenal 42 podiums from 46 starts, celebrating 21 of those as wins. He tried his hand at Formula Two and showed some decent speed but was enticed back to the 350cc class in 1969.

Bill’s love of life and reputation as a playboy of the paddock would influence the next generation of racers with individuals like Barry Sheene citing Ivy as one of the riders he looked up to. Ivy will certainly be remembered by older race fans for his fantastic duels with team-mate Phil Read and within Yamaha for his prolificacy at a time when their 125 and 250 two-stroke machines ruled the FIM Grand Prix World Championship divisions.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

2021 BMW R 18 Review (19 Fast Facts on the First Edition)

Over a year after its concept debut, the 2021 BMW R 18 has made its way to production. Much has been written about its...

2021 Honda CRF450R Review (12 First Ride Fast Facts from Glen Helen)

The 2021 Honda CRF450R is all-new for 2021. The entirely new chassis, bodywork, exhaust, and hydraulic clutch highlight the changes to the CRF450R. Add to...

Arai Spoiler EX2 for the Corsair-X Helmet First Look

The Arai Corsair-X is the Japanese company’s flagship helmet and intended for riders of the highest performance motorcycle. MotoGP racers Maverick Viñales of Monster...

2021 Indian Scout Lineup First Look: Five Models (Photos, Specs + Prices)

Although the five-motorcycle Indian Scout lineup is functionally unchanged for 2021—last year was a major expansion of the line—this year, Indian is offering new...

2020 Ural Weekender SE First Look: Special Edition Sidecar

Just in time for autumn, Ural lets loose with the 2020 Ural Weekender SE. Based on the 2WD Gear Up model, the Weekender SE...

Royal Enfield American Flat Track Debut: AFT Production Twins Class

Johnny Lewis debuted the Royal Enfield Twins FT in the Production Twins class at the American Flat Track Williams Grove Half-Mile I in Mechanicsburg,...