Chances are there are elements of the design of its engine, transmission, brakes, chassis, tires, fuel system, electrics or about any operating system you can name that owes at least some part of its design to the incredible advancements that started in Grand Prix racing in the 1960s.
It was during that decade that some of the most storied names in racing — both the men and their machines — arose and made their mark. Men like Giacomo Agostini, Mike “the Bike” Hailwood, Bill Ivy, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Hugh Anderson, Luigi Taveri, John Surtees and many more. Their story is not only compelling, it is relevant to all that has come along since, even to the present day.
Indeed, some of the achievements of the greats who got their start in that decade remain unmatched even today.
Author Chris Pereira explains the special competitive magic of the decade in terms of those kinds of achievements in his latest book, Motorcycle GP Racing in the 1960s. For example, he points out how in those days it was not uncommon for riders to contest the championship in more than one of the five displacement classes then being run: 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc.
That set the stage for some amazing achievements such as Mike Hailwood’s nineteen GP race victories in a single season; ten in the 250cc class, six in the 350cc class and three in the 500cc class—a total that remains unsurpassed to this day and which included Hailwood winning world championships in two classes in 1966. Giacomo Agostini got his start in the decade and won eight world championships in the 500cc class and seven more titles in the 350cc class between 1966 and 1975.
Packed into its 176 pages are 157 period racing action shots, rider portraits and bike images, layouts of 26 of the historic racing venues of the day, a detailed table comparing the major competing machines of each year, complete with engine type and displacement, transmission ratio numbers and horsepower/rpm statistics.
In addition, there is a table detailing all the individual world championship class winners for the decade, the top six riders in each displacement class for each year, and the top six finishers and winning top speed for each class in each GP event in the decade.
The back story on key personalities, the rise of Honda to a GP superpower, the contest between four and two-stroke powered bikes and the triumph and tragedies of the decade roll out in clear and insightful narrative across 11 chapters.
Chances are, you will never need a textbook on the luminous years of road racing in the sixties, but if you ever did, this book would be it. But don’t think of it as an academic work; it is just too good a read!
- Title: Motorcycle GP Racing in the 1960s
- Author: Chris Pereira
- Published: 2014 hardcover.
- Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 3AR, England
- ISBN: 978-1-845844-16-5
- MSRP: U.S. $49.95 U.K. £30 Canada: $54.95