Firstly the superb Moto Guzzi V8 article by Alan Cathcart and secondly Rod Coleman’s letter about his final (1954) season as a ‘Works’ AJS rider riding such as the Porcupines and 7R3s.
Alan mentions he helped with the 1981 Surtees day for which Moto Guzzi sent a V8 over and goes on to suggest the factory for some reason or other painted it red for the occasion, but that was not in fact so. As it happens I too was involved with the Surtees day and spent some of the preceding week helping get the bikes including the then rather scruffy looking and, as Alan says, red painted V8 started up and ready to ride.
However, this bike certainly had not been especially painted for the Surtees day as the paintwork was old and scratched (I still have my pictures), but more to the point perhaps it had been red for quite a few years as also confirmed by numerous other pictures I had taken of it at home in the Guzzi factory several years earlier. Incidentally, I am probably the only person in the world who photographed these incredible V8s in colour, and in actual Grand Prix action back in the 1950s.
Moving to Rod’s letter, and his worrying grass cutting incident at Aintree. I was there too, and at his wonderful 1954 final ‘Junior’ TT win, and photographed both, but what Rod does not mention is the infield at Aintree was ploughed fields, and where he went off it was also nicely hoed up for a crop of potatoes. I shall never forget seeing him bobbing up and down with him being thrown up and down out of the saddle at 100mph plus!
Despite Rod’s riding mastery and yet inevitable disappointment it was actually hilarious to watch, and a great cheer went up from our lot in the crowd when he somehow managed to hold on to the plot and rejoin the race. Memories indeed!
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