Road Racing, Bridgestone Motorcycles.
Florida Grand Prix Race Circuit 1970-1974
- Dade City
- West Palm Beach
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The ride to the Farm Commune.
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in Gainesville Florida, as a mechanic, I aquired a Honda 175 road racer in trade for one of the 200 C.C. Bultaco Metrallas I had brought back from Spain during my Air Force tour.
This had been hand built by my friend Steve Misces. Consisting of a 160 frame and engine, with 175 jugs and 5 speed gear box, Del Orto remote float carburators and hand built high dome pistons. My first race was at the West Palm Beach International Road Race.
This track sported a banked oval track. As I took the bank at a speed of over one hundred miles per hour, I was amazed at watching the horizon rotate in front of me as I leaned into the turn. It seemed as if I would be upside down in a few more degrees, and the G forces pinning me to my bike reminded me of a ride in a jet fighter four years previously. The Honda was a fast and very stable mount, but slower than the Bridgestones I raced against.
The next race was at Dade City Florida, on a converted go-cart track.
In 1971 I started my own Bridgestone/Rockford motorcycle dealership, "Motorcycles and Things" with the help of my wife Debbie.
Soon a man sold me a used Bridgestone 175 street bike.
Taking the Honda road racer as well as the Bridgestone as a pit bike to the Gainesville track, I entered the heat races.
The Honda ate a valve so I entered my "pit bike". I took a third place trophy, that race, on a stock bike.
Back at the shop I ordered all the SR (production race parts) from my distributer, Rockford Motors.
Rocky Cycle supplied the tank and seat.
Cerrani suspension was fitted, and the combination looked something like this.
With this bike I continued to trophy at second through fourth place.
The addition of a fairing later, helped the appearance as well as the performance.
Feeling the need for speed, my next project was a converted Bridgestone 350 GTO. Which looked some what like this before conversion.
Back at Gainesville, at one hundred forty miles per hour I missed a down shift into fifth gear as I was approaching a turn. Flames suddenly poured out the left carburator and the engine locked.
Grabbing the clutch and clamping the brakes on hard I dived into the turn.
This is the fastest I ever went through a turn, on my dying steed, I passed everyone grinding the frame and right expansion chamber.
Back at the pit, taking a look at my mount, we considered it a total loss.
The engine case had a hole the size of a base ball, the right expansion chamber shredded as well as other damage.
My franchise was now named "Superbikes Inc." and I had added Norton, Moto Guzzi as well as Ducati to my line.
I campaigned the Bridgestone 175 SR some more.
Gainesville again, and my son Sean was the first customer for the ambulance that day, I was the second.
Sean rode his Z-50 minibike into the side of a van and required a bandage.
I entered an open heat race, and while chasing a 125 Kawasaki, I crashed.
The events I remember: The Kawasaki in front, my attempt to overtake him, my expansion chamber dragging, rear wheel comes off ground, rear wheel catches ground, wheely, hands slip off clip on handle bars, frantic grab of handlebar, grab front, brake, bike comes down and comes to terms with a locked front wheel, bike flips, sliding on my back, time slows, watching bike tumble, end, over end, for eternity, coming for me, normal time as we both slide to a stop.
Some how I got the beast started again and limped it back to the pits.
My girlfriend "little Debbie" Daugherty, found me wiping my blood and gasoline off the gas tank with a towel, as I applied duct tape to the holes in the gas tank and my body.
"What are you doing?" said she.
"That was just the heat race, getting ready for the real race" I replied. "You are crazy and I am leaving you" said she.
I walked over to the ambulance and they removed the duct tape and made me look like a mummy.
She did leave me, but I placed second and got a plastic trophy for my pain.
I raced one more race weeks later, then I retired from racing at age twenty nine.
I had to sell the bike a few months later, as the bank had called one of my loans on the shop around the end of 1974, and I had to pay it.
Sure miss that bike.
Robert R. Colee A.M.A. Amateur, A.A.M.R.R. Novice
Timing the 175.
Scott wrote:There are really only three things to line up. One is to make sure the
punch mark on the pinion gear lines up with the punch mark on the
crankshaft spline. (This can't really be seen once the nut is in
place.) The punch mark on the pinion gear also lines up with the lower
of the two punch marks on the clutch gear. By lower I mean when it's
lined up with one punch mark on the clutch gear, the other punch mark is
roughly upward (towards the generator gear). The position of the idler
gear is irrelevant, since it's just an idler gear, but the generator
punch mark should be pointing directly towards the center of the idler
shaft. If this is done, you should be fine. In rotating the assembly
you'll find it doesn't line up that way again very often due to the
varied gear diameters. No need to worry about it.
For Bridgestone fans about bringing your bikes to the rally:
It seems that some folks didn't bring their bikes to previous rallies
because they felt that the bikes were not "nice enough" or were "not
finished". This might be a consideration for some events, with all the
concours quality stuff on display, but it is not a factor at the Bridgestone
event - so BRING YOUR BIKE, regardless of the condition!
It doesn't run? So what. You might find the part you need to fix that, or
get some technical assistance from the folks there. The first year, we even
toyed with the idea of tearing down one of Randy Hayes's bikes just for the
It's too rusty? Big deal. We don't see many examples of the 350 GTR in
chrome that doesn't have a few pits on the tank. People didn't tend to take
care of these things. As a result, many of them picked up some rust along
the way. The nice ones might help inspire you to fix a rusty one up.
Another thought - if you bring your bike, it may be easier to remember what
parts you need! You might be able to pick up a part you would have
forgotten. We plan to put an emphasis on getting vendors there.
Any other excuses? Forget it - so please, just BRING YOUR BIKES. That
will help to make the Rally more fun.
Bring a list of parts you need. If you don't have the part numbers, someone
there can help you. Also bring your literature and photo collection.
By all means and by whatever means, bring your bike, preferably several
bikes - no matter what condition. Most old bike enthusiasts understand
that not all of the bikes out there were pampered show bikes. We like to
see bikes that are actually ridden in addition to show quality stuff. Jans
Bogg's own GTR had over 25,000 miles put on it before it was detailed, and
he still rides it alot. We don't care if its not perfect. They don't need
to be perfect to be appreciated. So, no excuses - PLEASE BRING YOUR BIKES.
Bridgestone Motorcycles On-Line
To: Bridgestone Motorcycles List
Date: Monday, April 09, 2001 5:50 AM
Subject: Fw: [vjmc] First call to grid...(long)
>Bridgestone Motorcycles List -
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>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Gary Charpentier"
>To: "VJMC List"
>Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2001 9:59 PM
>Subject: [vjmc] First call to grid...(long)
>I had one of the best rides of my life today. It wasn't on a racetrack, at
>least not physically. It wasn't for an incredibly long distance either.
>There was nothing remarkable about it other than the fact that I was on my
>GTR cafe racer, the sun was shining, and it was almost 50 degrees ABOVE
>It wasn's supposed to be this way. All the weather pundits and witch
>agreed that it would rain ferociously from sullen, cloud-choked skies from
>Friday right through until sometime in the middle of next week. On
>I was at work at nine thirty in the morning when the power was knocked out
>by high winds and falling trees. So you can imagine my surprise when,
>sitting in my garage this morning, fettling this and polishing that, the
>appeared suddenly through a break in the clouds. I peered at it skeptically
>for several long moments. I walked out into the middle of the yard, and
>scanned the horizon for 360 degrees. No doubt about it, the clouds were
>slowly breaking up, and it was starting to get warmer!
>A rush of adrenaline surged through me as I ran back to the garage and
>pulled "Moriarty", (yes, I've re-named him again...), my faithful
>Bridgestone GTR, out into the light for the first time in almost 5 months.
>All his control cables, chain, nuts, bolts, and tire pressure were adjusted
>to perfection. He wasn't completely clean and polished, I was planning on
>doing that over the course of the next several days of bad weather, but it
>would be absolutely criminal to miss an opportunity like this. The only
>nagging question was whether 100 octane race gas, with no stinking
>additives, had remained stable during the long winter storage. This
>was answered on the seventh kick, as a cloud of blue smoke erupted from the
>pipes and "The Devil's Own Chainsaw" shattered the stillness of a sleepy
>Sunday morning. I had to hold the enricher open for quite awhile, while
>simultaneously blipping the throttle, just to keep him running. I'm sure
>this really endeared me to my neighbors, but they know me by now. To
>complain at this point would be like somebody moving in next to an airport
>and then whining to city hall about jet noise.
>Satisfied that he was ready to roll, I shut him down and ran into the house
>to suit up. No leather snowmobile bibs this time, no balaclava, just pure
>motorcycle riding gear today. I put on a wool scarf to protect my throat
>against the 40-some degree wind, and selected my full-face Arai Renegade
>rather than my customary pudding bowl and goggles. After informing my wife
>and the Wee Savage (daughter Emily) of my intentions, I went back out the
>door for the familiar take-off ritual. I rotated the kickstart outward, but
>then thought better of it. Turning on the ignition, I pulled in the clutch
>and snicked it into first gear. Then, running a few steps down the slope of
>the driveway, I jumped on sidesaddle and bump-started the beast. Swinging
>right leg over, I turned down the street and brought Moriarty slowly up
>through the gears.
The air was crisp, and the raspy howl of Moriarty's
>disc-valve twin echoed off the houses on either side of the road. Taking a
>deep breath, I experienced the two words which I could use to describe my
>entire ride: Profound Joy!
>Keeping to the city streets and a sedate 30mph speed limit, I rode slowly
>and savored every sensation. All the while I was listening and feeling for
>any unusual vibrations or noises, but the faithful GTR was simply chomping
>at the bit and waiting to be unleashed. Noting the sand almost everywhere
>the roads, I decided caution should rule the day. No weaving to heat up the
>tires, no scraping the pegs around corners, just a simple putt past all my
>familiar haunts. First stop was Dunn Brother's on Grand Avenue, for a mocha
>and a blueberry scone. Parking up, right in front, we drew many
>glances. I always enjoy watching guys walk up to the bike, squint at it for
>a bit, and then seeing that comic-book question mark pop up above their
>as they try to figure out just what in the heck that thing is, anyway.
>only clue is the "350 GTR" badge on the left side cover, and that is the
>side away from the curb. So finally I call out "`68 Bridgestone GTR!", and
>the inevitable conversation ensues. I find this interface with complete
>strangers one of the most satisfying parts of owning a vintage bike. I
>believe it was Adam Novitt who wrote about a similar experience a couple
>weeks ago, but I was too lost in my Minnesota Winter Funk to appreciate it
>at the time. I believe the word I used was "Rant", and for that, Adam, I
>Back on the bike, after another theatrical run-and-bump start down the
>middle of Grand Avenue, I rode down West River Road to enjoy the scenery.
>The Lycra-Clad Trotters were out in force on the paths along the river. I
>felt like a one-man parade as several of them waved to me and I spend a lot
>of time waving back. Something about that Bridgestone sound really attracts
The bluffs along the river reflect that sound back to me,
>and there is no way I can hold to the 25mph speed limit along the parkway
>for very long. As soon as I can see about a half mile down the road, and
>satisfy myself there are no speed traps in my immediate future, I twist the
>throttle and let it rip through a couple gears. Cresting a hill, I test the
>TLS brake on the front, which brings me back to legal velocity with a
>moderate two-fingered squeeze.
>I stopped at my secret source for race gas and filled the tank, on my way
>Bob's Java Hut. The price for 100 octane is up to $2.49 a gallon now, $.50
>more than last season, but still a bargain for the trouble-free running,
>possible extra performance, and especially that wonderful smell!
At Bob's I
>notice a few other hearty souls have taken advantage of nature's oversight
>today. There is an old Yamaha 175 enduro parked up on the corner, a
>GS-something BMW on knobby tires and lanky suspension, and a T595 Triumph
>Daytona in Basic Black, with a fancy titanium aftermarket exhaust.
I get a
>simple cup of coffee at the counter and am very lucky to hot-seat into a
>just vacated table by the window. The joint is packed today, mostly with
>too-hip, strung-out, uptown Minneapolis crowd. But the bikers are coming
>back, and will soon take over for another season of bench racing and
>outrageous lies. I sit there only long enough to warm up and finish my one
>cup, then it's back down the road I know not where...
>I end up at a local Irish pub called Molly Quinn's. Inside, it's like being
>magically transported to the Island Kingdom, with authentic accents and a
>choice of several different brands of Stout, Ales, and of course Harp's
>bitter lager. I order a pint of Guinness and sit back to soak up the
>ambience. This is what cafe racing is all about, here in America at the
>of the century. The agents of law enforcement have become too overbearing
>and technically adept for us to engage in ton-up antics on urban streets. A
>bike in impound and my ass in jail is too steep a price to pay for a little
>testicle-tightening thrill, especially when access to a racetrack is only a
>month away. So I content myself by sipping my Guinness and gazing at my
>motorcycle out the window on this brilliant spring day, and count my
>blessings. When I get home, I will do some more work on my Cafe Scrambler
>project, and maybe take the girls out for a walk if this weather holds
>sunset. It's been a long, cold winter here, but one day like this can erase
>months of boredom and frustration if you let it. The sun is shining... It's
>time to ride!
I also had rear shocks by Cerrani the total bike was built by me when I owned Superbikes Inc. in Gainesville Fl. We ran a shop ticket on it for laughs and the final bill which was tabulated, came to nearly $20,000.00 parts and labor in1970s currancy. This was put on our advertising budget and offset our taxes. Hate to see a shop ticket on a bike that we bought for $100.00 and converted to new SR specifications in the 21 Century.
We never built our Norton roadracer as we ran out of money. Later I sold the same bike when the economy collapsed and really got burned, but the bank was happy.
Rumor had it the same machine was still running races into the 80s. I sure miss that bike and wish I still had it. The tank and seat were fiberglass and it had a full race fairing and open expansion chambers. The rotary valves were trimmed. No head gaskets were used and the heads were flat surfaced after milling, by hand. The compression was about 20/1
We used the prototype synthetic oil, and the engine was never torn down after three years of racing.
You could light a cigarett off the heads after a race. The bottom end was not packed, as we didn't learn of the technology until completing the project. The original color was red, but after the crash we repainted it orange to tone down the vibration of the violence chakra.
Our other projects were a Zundapp 125 motocrosser converted to a road racer by Fred Marzloff, currently of Streits Motorsports in Gainesville Fl. and a 175 Bultaco Sherpa
mounted on a Metralla frame. We relaced our wheels to alloy on all the projects.
Robert Colee 2001
Strange projects from the mind of Robert Colee and staff! We brought the concept of E-commerce and what is now Cable Modem from Russia to you in 1993. Also representatives for the Gorizont Space satellites and Russian Aircraft that year. We are famous but never got rich.
Regarding William Schmiedlin's request on Cerianni Forks. Ducatti used them but the Ducatti ones are to heavy for a small lighter project.
Bultaco used them as did Sachs, William your best bet may well be Can-Am which used Betor these are equal to the quality of Cerianni plentiful in fact a lot of the Vintage Roadrace guys use these in the lighter bike classes,200cc & 250cc.
So call around the motocross wrecking yards for Can-Am I doubt if they even know the difference.
William, The fork holders are generally referred to as(top) Triple Yoke & Triple Tree (bottom unit). with regard to locating the front hub it's a Math Thing. Generally the front drum laced with the rim in center position to the fork tubs,Sooo what you have to do is install the fork tubs (stanchions if in merry olde England) measure the inside distance between the spindle location (write this measurement down) measure the distance across the hub with brake plate installed and subtract the two(can be measured by two 12" steel rules held at the spindle location and measure the distance between. You may have to shim one side or both in order to get the rim centered to the forks.
It's possible you may have to trim (on a Lathe) one side of the hub or possibly both sides again depending on getting the rim centered.
Plan "B" would be to keep the original yoke & triple tree and reweld in the Bridgestone headstock spindle,now you most likely only have to install spacer shims to center the rim.
Any questions give me a call at
regards Bert Lilley
Bultaco used Cerriani forks pronounced "Cherry ah Knee". When someone would
race a small Bridgestone back in the 60's that was the way to go. They would
also buy girling rear shocks, and a Van Tech or Yetman frame.
Bridgestone Specs. Speed Tuning and Pictures
International Title Service
William Schmiedlin wrote:
Is there a way to fix the excessive drip of gas/oil that seeps out of
drain port on the bottom of my BS bikes?...
Mine don't leak, but it took a bit of tinkering to get it that way.
aluminum washers on the banjo bolts for the oil pump are one-time-use
only. Invariably some PO has loosened/removed and retightend these
bolts. They never quite seal properly again. I've used thick metric
fiber washers with success, which are available at your local hardware
store. The carbs should not leak if all internal components are sound
and the bowl gasket good.
The fuel petcock doesn't leak through in the
slightest in any BS I've encountered (175-350), so when it's off it's
One potential source of fuel accumulation in the carb area is a
result of cutting the rotary disk valve. Doing so only creates blowback
and consequently atomized gas sprays out the inlet and makes a mess (not
to mention screws up your carburetion for street use). If this has been
done I recommend going back to stock.
Bridgestone EJR2In response to popular demand for details, the Bridgestone EJR2 is a
twin cylinder 50cc works road racer. There is still one in going
order in Japan (see It is water cooled with
rotary disk valve intake and magneto ignition. It drives a 14-speed
gearbox through a dry clutch, and produces 17 horsepower at 18,0000
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