This month, the fact Freddie Frith won all rounds of the 350cc world title chase in its first year, as mentioned in Richard’s piece on page 72, leapt out.
I think this was because I was reading it on a Monday morning, having the evening before watched Marc Marquez win his ninth consecutive MotoGP race, while during the day I’d been at Mallory, where I’d seen Agostini out, demonstrating his MV.
Apparently Marquez is on the verge of equalling Giacomo’s 10-race unbeaten run, which of course is double the number of race wins Fred achieved in 1949. Which leads on to the ‘who’s best’ question, which is of course unanswerable, but is interesting to consider – because of course all one rider can beat is who’s in front of them.
So while in 1949 Frith had a highly rated teammate on a similar machine (Bob Foster) which is as Marquez is now (Pedrosa), and there were other equal (or almost equal) machines about, ‘Ago’ didn’t really have such opposition.
That wasn’t Giacomo’s fault though – and anyway, if someone had have been on an equal machine, he’d have perhaps just beaten them anyway. Therefore, in many ways, his least heralded 500cc championship on the Yamaha was his greatest achievement. Still, whatever, Ago was in fine form at Mallory – there’ll be more about that event next month.
Freddie Frith was from Grimsby, not far from our ‘base’ in Horncastle, which itself is only something like seven miles from Cadwell Park. The picture below is from what has become a great ‘day out’ (this year on American Independence Day) for us locals – and a fair few less-than-local – as we joined the Morini OC for its annual trackday.
By ‘we’ I mean a group of Velo enthusiasts plus a couple of New Imps – there were I think nine of us out on prewar machines. We were sent out in the ‘Morini group’ which meant that we shared the track with a host of the 1970s Italian V-twins, predominantly. And great fun it was, too.
Come day’s end and Ian Whitehead – one of the aforementioned New Imp riders, pictured below with me – offered me a go on his Grand Prix, just like Ted Mellors used to race. I didn’t need asking twice and enjoyed a couple of laps on the pokey pushrod 350, which Ian races and hillclimbs. Brilliant, and it made my day. Thanks Ian.
James Robinson, editor
Where legends come to life
James Robinson, Editor
James Robinson has been the editor of The Classic MotorCycle since 2002. Aged 34, he has possessed a motorcycle licence for 16 years and during that time has owned and ridden all manner of motorcycles, spanning over 100 years from oldest to newest.
Presently the custodian of a varied shed full of motorcycles, his overriding enthusiasm is for pre-World War Two sporting machines, with a couple of cammy Velos, a Rex-Acme and a Model 9 Sunbeam among those competing for attention.