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YAMAHA YD RACER
The early history of Yamaha Racing
YZ607's and YZ608's Today
As only 3 x Z608's, 4 x YZ607 's & 3 x YZ608 models were believed to be built and intended purely as official works machines, it was highly unlikely that any of these machines would have survived, let alone fall into private hands. But, back at the end of the 1968 season Yamaha had a major change in their racing strategy and withdrew from officially supporting the World Grand Prix, as well as this there was a restructuring of the Yamaha International relationship with Japan, resulting in the YZ607's and YZ608 being sold off to well connected people in the know at this interesting time.
At this time I can account for 1 maybe 2 X YZ608's and 3 X YZ607's, although the others may be out there...
1968 YZ608 350cc
Above shows my YZ608 in it's Factory paint scheme bodywork. This machine was bought from Yamaha International at the end of the 1968 season by Mr Al Godin, alongside a YZ607. Al was well connected with Yamaha; as well as being a factory mechanic for several riders, he was connected in the movie industry and was responsible for Yamaha featuring in the Robert Redford / Michael Pollard movie "Big Fauss & Little Halsy". Al also privately sponsored many riders such as Jarno Saarinen (Ontario 1972), Jody Nicholas & Tom Rockwood. Al recalled that when he got the call to come and see the bikes, there were 3 of each type available and all painted white with numbers and stickers removed so you couldn't tell whose machine each one was and all of them had the RD56 front brakes fitted.
The "Big Fauss & Little Halsy" lead character bike was based on this machine/Al's colour scheme and a TR2 was painted in a similarly by Molly for the movie, it was also numbered with #58 which was Jody Nicholas' number as used on this machine, whilst the Pollard bike was #10 which was Tom Rockwood's number (Tom also rode as Pollards stunt double) - Both riders being sponsored by Al at the time.
The below pictures show this machine in it's original 1970/71 Al Godin paintwork, as custom painted by Rollin "Molly" Sanders (Paint by Molly), who went on to design the infamous Yellow & Black "Speed Block design... You can perhaps see the origins of the "Speed Blocks" on this bike!
Above, the YZ608 in action at Prescott Hillclimb 2018
Below, the movie TR2 painted as a replica of the Al Godin / Jody Nicholas machine above.
Below, Phil Read on this bike at the Lord of Lydden meeting 2019. As recorded above, Phil rode one of these 4 machines at the 1968 Daytona, although this machine is most likely to have been Yvon Duhamel's or perhaps Art Baumann's, as the front hub has ART painted on it but the head stock has an additional #5 stamped on it (Duhamel's race number), although clearly the machines were ridden by other riders after Daytona.
Al Godin kept this machine right up until he sold it to me in 2016, shortly before he passed on.
Since purchasing this bike, I was lucky enough to find an original works RD05 front drum brake as fitted to a YZ608 in 1968 and as used at Daytona. But as can be seen on the "Giant Slayer" advert, Yvon Duhamel (and others) also used the smaller RD56 brake which is what it had when Al Godin bought it from Yamaha. As Phil Read recalled to me, he (and other members of the team) suffered high speed weaving due to the wide air scoops on the bigger drum. Hence, the following RD05A and indeed the 1969 production TR2/TD2 brakes did not have air scoops, but instead a flat mesh grill covering an air inlet.
It was featured in the press of the day (Cycle World, Jan 1st 1973, by Ivan J Wagar, See link below) that Al Godin was responsible for Jarno Saarinen riding in the USA for the 1st time at the 1972 Champion Spark Plug Motorcycle Classic, held at Ontario, California, riding one of his bikes. Other race reports state that Jarno was riding an ex-works Al Godin Yamaha. I would very much like to find out for sure what bike Godin had supplied to Jarno to ride in that event......
1967 YZ607 250cc
Above shows my YZ607 250cc as it was found. This machine was originally bought from Yamaha by a Californian racer Roderick Brierley, who soon after sold it to Stephen Mallonee. Mallonee made a few alterations to suit his style including lengthening the swinging arm and moving the footrests back. Mallonee later sold it to Jack Matlock, who continued to race the bike well into to mid-70's and kept it until he sold to a collector in the early 2010's.
It has remained largely unrestored, although it really needs to be renovated back to standard.
Below is the YZ607 with frame number 2 away from mine. Current owner Rick Soles, believes this machine was the one ridden by Gary Nixon.
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