Until the mid-1960’s mile and half mile dirt track race grids were filled with riders mostly on KR750 Harleys and BSA Gold Stars. Then British parallel twin engines began to power many riders including Ronnie Rall, Gary Nixon, Dave Aldana, Don Emde, Sammy Tanner and Gene Romero to podium finishes. Gary Scott won the 1976 and 1977 Ascot TT’s on Triumph race bikes.
As race bike builders became more experienced and Class C rules loosened up, tuners began to build complete dirt track bikes from scratch. Cheney, Trackmaster, Redline made light frames with newer geometry, and rear suspension came into play. This Gary Scott Triumph was built around a 1977 T140 engine, the 750 version of Triumph’s venerable and universal parallel twin. Its builder used a Trackmaster frame, Ceriani forks, Fox shock absorbers, Barnes wheels, and Airheart disk brakes – the brakes because Scott used this bike for TT racing, including the 1983 Peoria TT.
Notably, when Yamaha chose to move into big four-stroke bikes in the late 1960’s, they modeled their XS650 on the Triumph to some degree, but used a SOHC cylinder head. Tuned for racing, and installed in chassis similar to this Trackmaster, Kenny Roberts, Gene Romero, and Jimmy Odom, among many others, made the Yamaha work on America’s dirt tracks as well.
Gary Scott’s Triumph TT bike, owned by Don Rosene of Anchorage, Alaska, is one of about 30 machines featured in the National Motorcycle Museum’s new Allstate Motorcycle Dirt Track Heroes exhibit, presented by J&P Cycles. Make sure you visit before the end of April 2014 to take in all the great short track, TT, half mile and mile bikes and learn more about the Grand National Championship riders from 1954 to present.