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RR 250 "Yellow Tanker" - The Prototype Production Racer

As previously mentioned, the RR (in its works form) made it's debut at the USMC Daytona races on February 12th 1961 as the production chart below shows. For the machines to have been at Daytona in time, it would seem to indicate that the bikes were actually built and shipped in late 1960. 
​Three months after Daytona, a batch of just 10 x RR 250cc customer machines, started to appear in the US as a prototype for a new breed of Yamaha that customers had eagerly been waiting for; a bespoke built, over the counter Production Racer. 

West Coast Yamaha Distributor Frank Cooper, received the machines from Japan and it is he who can credited with the choice of colour scheme, as legend has it that as Yellow was his favourite colour, he chose it for the new machines. The colour of course was again chosen by the US Factory Team 8 or 9 years later, the Yellow, Black & White Speed Block design by custom car painter Molly Sanders, made famous by the many victories of Saarinen, Carruthers & Roberts etc. Yellow though, was not the Yamaha factory's intended colour scheme. Recent findings on more than 1 surviving machine shows that under the vivid yellow is a muddy red-brown, following along the lines of the YDS1R Fuel tank colour but with a more glossy finish. One can easily understand the marketing decision to choose Yellow, or indeed ANY colour other "muddy" brown !  

Cooper sent several of these machines across to his counterpart distributer George Caswell, for sales on the East Coast at Broomall, PA. It was reported by Caswell to Frank Munz that the machines would just arrived from Japan without notice and without knowing how many more would be sent across. 

The "Yellow Tankers" or "Yellow Road Racers" as they became known received an improved, slightly stronger frame than that of the Daytona works machines. They had an additional length of tubing wrapped and welded over the top of front downtubes and onto the headstock to beef the assembly up, a feature which was to stay on the frames from the Yellow Tanker right through to the end of the TD1 range. Position of the front fairing/tachometer mount was altered and a little less attention to detail was applied to the welding than the works machines, possibly indicating a different grade of steel.

The rear brake was altered slightly with the new machine featuring a SLS rear hub with a forward facing vent as opposed to a TLS with a downward facing vent on the works machine (as seen on the YX18 prototype) and the exhaust system differed too, with the header pipes converging under the engine on the Daytona machines as the YDS1R and diverging on the production machines and the subsequent later TD1 model.

The YDS1 based Asama spec YX24 engines were now fitted with alloy barrels but retained the Asama YDS1 cylinder heads. MC2RY ignition remained, as did the Amal-Mikuni 27mm carburation. The float chambers though were now affixed to the rear of the engine as opposed to brackets on the frame. 
Above) Johnny Thompson of East Side Cycle bought the first RR off of the production line.  The picture above, shows Mr Thompson on a lap of honour after winning a race at Tucson Raceway 1962. This picture was kindly supplied by Roger Davis, an employee and rider at East Side Cycle, Tucson who also raced and won on this bike as late as 1969. 
This machine first raced at the Dodge City road races in 1961 but after a crash on the tarmac that resulted in injuries, Johnny Thompson decided to modify the bike for the gravel flat tracks, where it locally it became very successful.
Above) Rider: K. Johnson. Pic taken at Santa Barbara 27 May 1961. He finished 6th. This machine was later sold to Steve Parker in 1962. Interesting to see another Yamaha ridden by an S. Clark to 9th. (pic courtesy : Sonny Angel archives)  
Above) Believed to be the same Kenny Johnson machine above, bought by Steve Parker, K&N M/Cs, California.
yellow tanker 1961 Yamaha.jpg
Above) 2 great pics from Sonny Angel of an RR machine of unknown Rider #38. 1961. California. (Willow Springs/Paradise Mesa?)  Note the YDS1-R #98 behind in the top pic and the converted YDS1 #19 in the background above.
Above) A Mr Larry Parsons #112, Santa Barbara, 1962. (pic courtesy : Ray Jennings)
Above) Jim Munz's machine, Indianapolis July 1961. (Pic courtesy D.Bauerbach)
Above) Believed to be Frank Munz, 
Harold McMullen Vinelands.JPG
Above) Harold McMullen on George Caswell's machine on his way to 2nd place at Vinelands. Note the integral rear number plate in the seat cowl and the round front number plate with fly screen. 
Above) George Caswell on bike, Harold McMullen standing. Vinelands, NJ. May 14th 1961.  A week earlier it was also raced at Vinelands which was possibly the 1st ever event for a privateer Yamaha production racer.   (Pic courtesy D.Bauerbach)
picture credits : Sonny Angel,  Frank & Jim Munz, Roger Davis, Ray Jennings.
Thanks to everyone for helping me to bring this information together
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