Vintage Honda Racing

April 24, 2019 | By Mike Seate

It’s easy to forget in today’s highly specialized streetbike market that way back in the early 1970s, race bikes were built from ordinary motorcycles. There were few, if any, purpose-built factory racers along the lines of today’s superbikes so if the roadracing bug bit, would-be competitors had to modify their everyday rides for the track. There’s an interesting feature in our current issue focused on one such amateur racer, Steve Aspland who now works with Woodcraft Racing Technologies. Steve logged some impressive hours transforming his stock Honda CB750 into a fire-breathing roadrace machine, replete with a homemade fuel injection system, twin disc brakes and modded wheels. His story, part of our Legacy feature about the CB750’s 50 year anniversary, reveals just how much blood, sweat and hard earned cash went into prepping a motorcycle for track use just a half century ago. Coming up not too far off will be another street-to-track chronicle, this one focusing on longtime pal and expert tuner Bob Hesch who started West Hills Honda, a local shop who frequently helps out with our project bikes. Hesch, pictured above, was another of the early 1970s track rats who made quite a name for himself tuning SOHC Honda fours for short circuits. Dig the wacky paddock hat, the 1960s shades and the bright red and yellow livery on Bob’s CB500 racer, a bike we’d love to run a few hot laps on even today. With the custom performance parts aftermarket in its infancy, it’s amazing to see handmade bits like Bob’s clumsy rearsets and weird, too-long exhausts covered in sponsor logos. Who knows, maybe we’ll whip up our own vintage Honda racer for a few stints on the asphalt….