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XS1100UK Forum  |  Technical  |  Mods  |  Topic: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
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Author Topic: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike  (Read 22807 times)

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Brian

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Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« on: April 16, 2007, 06:05:46 PM »
First - the credits....
This article was written by Gary “SpongeBob ThemWereTheDaysPants” Smith and originally appeared in BikeSa (I think it was the March 2007 edition but this is to be confirmed).

Kind permission to reproduce the article here was granted by Simon Fourie (Editor and owner of BikeSA). 
Many, many thanks  :bowing:

Eric “Evil Eric” Krog put us on to the tale of this bike and permissions to publish were obtained by Robbie “Scoobes” Watson.


"Wherein  one of the most significant race bikes South Africa has ever seen gets discovered after disappearing for over 10 years, is bought back by the original owner after being sold to museum, and is restored back to its original race glory and raced again by the original factory rider in a classic race at Zwartzkops.

For anyone under 30 years old reading this story, this is just an interesting tale, but for anyone who was hanging out at motorcycle race tracks in the early 80’s, this is probably going to be one of the greatest walks down memory lane you are ever going to take.


John Baker, 4 times owner of one of the most famous bikes in Sa racing history, the BP Yamaha 1.1 chain drive conversion F1 bike.
The bike you see in the pictures here is one of the legends of old time racing in South Africa, back from an era when we had world championship grand prix motorcycle races on our tracks and local boys on local machinery could run in the top 5 with the world champions, back when there was an 8 hour motorcycle endurance race every Easter Saturday at Roy Hesketh in Pietermaritzburg, back when newspapers and sewing machines and underarm deodorants and chicken farms used to sponsor motorsport, and back when we had our own local Formula one car series. 

Back then bike racing was rampant, and apart from having a production bike class as we have today, there was also a GP bike class where TZ Yamahas and NS Hondas, identical to what the grand prix boys were using, battled it out locally, and then there was the big daddy class, the F1 unlimited class. Basically it was a silhouette class; that is, the tank, seat and handlebar shape of the bike had to look mostly like what the road bike it was based on looked like, but after that, aw hey, anything went. And it was into this class that the leading bunch of reprobates in the Durban and Pinetown area of the time (Tommy Johns, Ophie Howard, Charlie Young, John Baker and mates) decided to show the country exactly what the hell they were capable of building.


The decision was taken to use what was then the baddest muscle bike of the time, the  Yamaha XS 1.1, or XS 1100 as some markets called it, which was very popular due to a version selling with a black and gold JPS style paint job called the Midnight Special.

Anyway a  bike was obtained, by fair means or foul, that actually turned out to be, as the story goes, a pre-production European model, hence the Europa name tag on it. Once the bike was in the Rat Packs hands, the first order of business was to get rid of the very heavy and power sapping shaft drive system it had and make it into a much more race friendly chain drive. This job fell to the engineering skills of Ophie Howard from Pinetown Precision Engineering who did a very commendable job. It also fell to him to “do something about” the swingarm to stop it trying to turn itself into a pretzel under race conditions, and so, using the best practices of world renowned frame makers like Nico Bakker of Holland and Spondon of England, he welded up and braced what is believed to be a Suzuki swingarm until it was significantly lengthened and strengthened for the job. It still wears the “made in Pinetown” plate that he installed on it with pride.

Exact details of all the engine work done are lost in the mists of time, but it is believed that Ophie has also gas flowed the heads, and at some stage, Opel car valves have found their way into there because there just weren’t any bike valves big enough at the time. The block still retains the standard bottom end but the barrels sport a 2mm overbore and are filled with Wiseco pistons that are fed through de rigeur of the time 38mm flatslide Mikuni carbs running open intake trumpets. An airbox in those days was just something that caused extra weight and needed throwing away as soon as possible, much like a fairing was.

Lockwired exhaust and frame mounting bolts plus vented alternator cover, all necessary to keep a 1980 race bike going for 12 laps back then.


The shocks (yes two of them remember) were replaced by the hot race items of the era, Marzocchi specials, the exhaust became the Bassani superbike competition race special and a rear seat unit modeled roughly off of a Honda CBX 1000 six cylinder was grafted on. Front brakes became WIWO single pot race items with, what was then thought to be the hot setup, drilled and vented solid mount discs. Much other race prep like cutting cooling vents in the alternator cover, having an open billet throttle block made for the cable, an extra oil cooler being mounted up the frame over the engine and most of the wheel hubs and mounting parts being made up from billet, was done. The level of workmanship and care that was expended is evident in the amount of lock wiring that is all over the bike. In a time before Locktite liquid and nylock nuts, it was vital to drill and lockwire almost every bolt on a bike to ensure that it all stayed in place during the rigours of racing. Lockwiring is, I fear, becoming a lost art and going the same way as steam locomotives, thanks to modern technology, which, this scribe personally believes, is a great pity as a beautifully fully lockwired bike is actually very pretty to look at. .
 

WIWO singlepot calipers (lockwired of course) and vented discs on
billet hub plates. Paint and stickers on the forks is 1982 race season original.

Pinetown made side cover plates to change it to chain drive all lockwired in place.

When Rod “Bud” Gray got the bike in 1982 for the racing season, legend has it that it won the very first race it entered and then every race thereafter and eventually held the lap record at every track that it raced at. I suppose if some-one wanted to spend four days crawling through past MSA records, entry lists and results sheets of the day this could be verified or not, but to be honest, I’m quite happy to live with the legend. If anyone thinks they know otherwise, phone me and I’ll meet you for a beer to hear your side of the story, but you’re paying. Oh, and, apparently, to this day, the bike has never yet been dropped or crashed, which obviously means they have never let a BikeSA employee loose on it. Also, as far as anyone knows, it has only ever had one engine blow up, and that was in practice at East London or PE somewhere.  If fact, John remembers the paint and the stickers on the front forks and can match them to period photos of the time and is quite certain that it is still the original paint and sticker set from the 1982 race season still on there.


After Rod destroyed the opposition in 1982, apparently Tommy Johns bought the bike and put the motor into a Nico Bakker special frame for a while. Then in 1985 John Baker got the bike for a few years and then sold it to Rory Nesbitt. Rory left it standing in storage for a good 10 years before John Baker bought it back again. He then sold it to friend who had it in a private museum of sorts for a while, but unfortunately that friend has recently died and the first thing they did when clearing out his museum was ask John if he wanted to own the bike again for the 4th time.  By this time John is now a man of means and has a “toys” garage of numerous old bikes that he builds up and restores to concours condition, although senility and delirium is showing through with age in his preference for old Kawasaki Z900s of which he has far too many. So it was that he had the means and the time to buy back, and this time totally restore, the bike back to its original racing condition which is as it stands now. When he showed it to Rod Gray after he was finished and asked him if he would like ride his old beast again in the Classic Car and Bike meeting at Zwartkops recently, Bud jumped at the chance. He immediately went and had his old leathers adjusted 4 sizes larger and then went out and wowed the crowds for the day. Apparently everyone was on their feet clapping when he came out on it.


There will be another chance for the general public to see the bike in full fury in June again, this time at the vintage bike race at East London (South Africa) with Rod Gray aboard. But until then, it lives in all its pristine restored glory in Johns garage alongside his Bimota DB5, a TZ125 from the day and numerous of the aforementioned Z900s. But never fear, we will keep bugging John every week to let us have spin round the block on it until he eventually relents or gets so pissed off with us he just lets us have a go on it, at which time we will be able to bring you a riding impression of it. Now then, where did I leave those old Delmas Chicken leathers of mine lying around last millennium? " 

The billet Throttle cable block machined up by Pinetown Precision Engineering that allows 3 choices of pull ratios.


No this picture is not upside down. The revcounter is blanked off below 4000 and Rod preferred it upside down.


Basic history and original photos and press cuttings of the bike.
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the gov'nor

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2007, 06:31:11 PM »
 well glad you were able to sort it out brian thanks,you done a good job there,but the bike well its the dog`s in it,that has got to be the ultimate xs1100,trevor will enjoy it as it was a pre-production bike like his so it could be a sister bike to his, :bowing: :bowing: :bowing:

Brian

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2007, 11:05:12 PM »

Here's some additional photographs that were taken for the magazine article but not printed.











       







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Shappers

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2007, 03:27:51 AM »
Pure XS Porn  :drool: :drool: :drool:   I have GOT to get me one of those exhausts  :beg: :beg:

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2007, 09:32:21 AM »


Stunning ain't it Shapps ,,i want the Brake Calipers and most of the other parts too ,,makes mine look a right botch up  :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :cry: :cry: :hitme: :hitme:
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mathh

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2007, 10:39:06 AM »
 :rolleyes: mmm , I had a complete set of Wiwo front and rear discs and calipers, brandnew. Sold them last year. Wish I had seen these pics last year..

Miti

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2007, 11:08:51 PM »
THAT..! is as groovy as a VERY groovy thing from Groovetown.. havin' a groovy day...!!

Nice..! :drool: :drool: :drool: :drool: :drool:

Miti
« Last Edit: April 24, 2007, 11:12:43 PM by Miti-Babe »
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Eric

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2007, 11:38:37 AM »
Hi guys! It has been a while since I have last contributed - sorry!  :sad:  :frustrated:

To me this is THE XS of all time! :bowing: :bowing:
So who is going to join me to see this bike (and Rodney riding it) in action on the 16th of June at East London (300km away from me)?? East London has the last old style Formula One track in South Africa with names like John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Jim Clark, etc. racing there over the years. The track is still exactly the same today!

It is a 3 day bike only racing festival including all our National classes. I, most propably, can host a person(s), with other possible 'benefits', for the period. As well as take him/her to meet Rodney (and all the other guys I used to work for / race against). 
Eric Krog
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'81 4T0 SH Black (Molly-the wife's)
'81 4W2 LH Black-Gold (Midnight Special)
'83 5N5 S  Black (Rod Gray Replica)

Miti

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2007, 11:51:54 AM »
Eric...

That is SOME offer mate... I'm sure plenty of guys will be VERY tempted... :cheer: :cheer:

The timing, however, is poor... It's the weekend immediately prior to the XS1100 Rally in France and many members (myself included) have been getting everything in readiness for that event... :frustrated:

So, assuming that very few, if any, UK members will be able to make the East London event, how's about a few piccies and a write-up, to give us a flavour of what went on and what there was to see? :drool: :drool:

Miti

Jeff Mitchell
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Brian

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2007, 12:21:59 PM »

 :frustrated:

Great offer Eric (or can we call you Evil now ?  :winker:),  SA would be  :sunny: and the racing would be  :cheer: but like Miti says, that clashes with the annual European Rally in France  :cry:
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the gov'nor

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2007, 11:13:24 PM »
hi evil,i have had a email from gary as the pearson who has it now wants to get it to the goodwood speed festival next month to show it.... :bowing:

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2009, 09:38:36 AM »
Did it actually get to Goodwood ???? - Kev
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melbxs

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2009, 11:12:08 AM »
 :bowing: :bowing: :bowing:

Swing-arm-tastic.  :drool: :drool: :drool:

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2011, 10:08:52 PM »
I am building an F1 XS1100 to race this year in my local race club http://www.race-uscra.com  and I am using this bike as my inspiration. Is there any way to get any detailed technical info on this bike such as cam profile, valve and cylinder head mods and also which swing arm was used etc.

Thanks

Chris

Brian

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Re: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2011, 12:52:54 PM »
Hi Chris, welcome to the forum  :grin:

It's not specifically info on this bike but in this thread there's loads of info about the factory race bike setup.
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XS1100UK Forum  |  Technical  |  Mods  |  Topic: Rodney Gray’s 1982 BP Yamaha XS 1.1 Europa F1 race bike
 

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