Moto Guzzi Formula Production Twins – Vintage Motorcykler Online

26 februar 2015 | Forfatter: | Comments OffMoto Guzzi Formula Production Twins – Vintage Motorcykler Online
Moto Guzzi California Vintage

Moto Guzzi Formula Production Twins

An update of sorts, I’ve made significant headway on two long-term projects; The George Kerker/ZDS racer story, og (somewhat newer) a study of the Guzzi V7 Sport production racers. Amazingly, I’ve been working on the Kerker feature since 1998. More specifically, just after Greg Field released his acclaimed ‘Moto Guzzi Big Twinsbook.

A good friend, I met Greg at the Washington State MGNOC national two years before, and I recall the surprise reading about Kerker’s involvement with Moto Guzzi. Since then, on and off, I’ve tracked Kerker’s personal and professional story. a tale filled equally with accomplishment and tragedy. Knowing the racer was sent to Europe from Texas in the late 1990s, a recent, half-hearted query on Facebook produced the unthinkable.

After searching for fifteen years, within a half-hour of posting I had the owner’s name, email and location. Co-conspirator Bill Ross and I have been in regular contact with the owner since, with fresh new pics of the racer in action. All that’s left to do is write it. after deciphering my notes and remembering what I’ve forgotten, that is.

Billoni figures prominently in the V7S production racer study too. Nothing less than a true and profound Guzzi-madman, when Bill isn’t busy restoring, fixing, or cooking up yet another Mandello missle for The Salt, he’s collecting info. This is shared with a small circle of tuners, racers and technicians from all over the globe, each adding to the collective informally. Some, like third-generation journalist Ivar de Gier, are most knowledgeable.

Soft spoken and humble, Ivar hasn’t just read, but witnessed much of this history. As an adult, Ivar’s relationship with many key contacts at Moto Guzzi gained him a unique understanding. Most of what’s out there worth reading is due to Ivar’s input, but there’s always more to be learned. “The factory V7 Sport racers is a complex subject” he says. “Much wrong has been written.” Knowing this to be true, the words you read here are mine, unless quoted.

This is an easy study to trip over, and one doesn’t have to look hard at what’s been published before the inconsistencies reveal themselves. Any research of the Guzzi twin must begin with its chief designers; Giulio Cesare Carcano and Umberto Todero. Forever grateful, it was Greg who first dispelled the myth that the engine powering that first-issue V700 came from a military tractor. An epic fail that’s dredged and repeated to this very day.

Nonetheless, it was Carcano’s successor, Lino Tonti, fresh from a successful stint at Aermacchi who stripped the touring clothes off the portly V7 and transformed it into a 750 and 1000cc (using 757cc) endurance record breaker at the Monza bowl. Was Tonti’s motivation sales, or reviving the Mandello tradition of innovative passion? Passed away for nearly a decade I can’t ask, but the reasons seem varied.

Testing durability was always paramount.

Period reports say nothing about factory involvement with Kerker and ZDS headman Bob Blair. I have no facts to back it, but I suspect a connection. Pictured at the factory during the time the salvaged, 1970 Ambassadør (below) was being prepared for the 1970 Daytona 200 (late 1969 or early 1970) Kerker and Blair represented Guzzi’s most important import destination. This included a lucrative contract with the California Highway Patrol, a domain previously enjoyed by Harley, and Harley alone.

Fresh off another series of record runs in October of 1969 I can only speculate that Tonti shared tuning secrets and parts. Who knows? Maybe Kerker and Blair didn’t need any outside help to make the Guzzi competitive.

They aren’t around to ask either. alligevel, the results produced a racer that was not only strong enough to catch the AMA’s attention, but warrant action to ban it from the race. We’ll never know if Kerker would have challenged Mann’s winning Honda or all those fast Brit triples, but wouldn’t you love to?

Interesting as the old loop racers are, Guzzi’s future was securely fastened to Tonti’s slimmer and stronger frame. Speaking only for myself, that’s where the fascination really begins. It was Tonti (below, viewing a wind tunnel test) who initially oversaw Guzzi’s racing V7 Sport prototypes working first on his own in the actual design and construction of the prototype, then moving the project into the race shop at Mandello after the design was embraced by management.

Tested at Monza, the V7 Sport made its debut at the Rouen 500km race in France. I could type a bunch of names here for effect, but suffice to say Guzzi employed a good number of top riders, even attempting to sign Mike Hailwood. My personal favorite of these is Luciano Gazzola.

Wiry thin and a fast, skilled rider/technician, Gazzola later teamed with Works tuner Bruno Scola to spearhead a privateer effort after De Tomaso closed the racing department before the 1973 season.

Moto Guzzi California Vintage

By then, the machine was developed to 844cc with disc brakes, special Lanfranconi exhausts, 40mm Dell’Ortos and lots of streamlining. Bruno Scola’s continued work was instrumental in producing what would later become the Le Mans 1000. “24-hours of racing produces extreme amounts of stress to an engine” Scola is quoted as saying. “Our experience in racing produced a line of tough, long lasting motorbikes.” Before De Tomaso’s axe hit alloy, Tonti invited Dutch tuner Jan Kampen to develop the twin in parallel at his workshop in Holland, and their relationship resulted in swapping engines and formulas back and forth, increasing the twin’s speed, power and durability.

Not to be left out, French importer Charles Krajka also raced and developed the Guzzi, later teaming with Kampen to promote his brilliantly prepared V7 Sport endurance racer. Ved 1980, eye-witness reports saw Kampen’s screaming twin (^ above left) power by factory Honda and Kawasaki DOHCs at 175-plus. Amazing.

I’ve left out a bunch of people, places and things, but I’m still sorting what’s known from what isn’t.

Now, all these years later, requests for information have overburdened the remaining players still with us. And unfortunately, part of the group asking includes yours truly. I’m forever indebted to Ivar for all he’s done to educate and encourage my research.

It’s doubtful that I, or anyone will know everything there is to know about this incredible era in Moto Guzzi history, but Ivar has given me the road map and knows full well my findings will translate better into words from learning, not hearing. I’m closer to writing Kerker than Formula V7 Sports. I need photos (read: my own) and I’d love to get my hands on one. Even after visiting the museum in Mandello twice, I don’t recall seeing one there.

I don’t even know where these stories will be published, but you’ll see (at least) a condensed version here. Promise.

Similar to what was quoted by Scola in a recent interview, Ivar’s last email explained that if De Tomaso’s favored fours and sixes would have met with success, there would have been no Le Mans. While the Benelli experiment was being carried out, a close-knit group working largely outside the factory walls invested their own time and money to continued development of the twin. When those machines, known later to us as the T3 and Le Mans 850 were needed, they were ready.

So while many journalists continue to regurgitate the same biased, cynical misinformation about Moto Guzzi, those who favor the facts can thank Lino Tonti, Bruno Scola, Gazzola, Kampen and many others for not just the Le Mans, but likely the sporting Moto Guzzi twins that followed. Nolan Woodbury

Moto Guzzi California Vintage
Moto Guzzi California Vintage
Moto Guzzi California Vintage

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