If you are in your mid-fifties and love motorcycles, you likely grew up with pictures and posters of Ago or Mike-the-Bike pinned on the wall of your bedroom and the Continental Circus was the window to this magic world. Black Leather, Cromwell, Climax or Barufaldi, the 4-stroke as the only decent answer whatever the architecture used from a single to V8, faultless paint job where advertisement was simply not an option…
The paddock looked indeed very different with numerous works involved along with a long list of private pilots (mainly on Manx) which were all very accessible literally as figuratively as there were no fences on the track.

Laperrousaz’s documentary “Continental Circus” released in 1971 tells well this story with a focus on Jack Findlay, one of the latest private to contend in Grand Prix. This is a documentary, so take it for what it is, no fancy story, just the reflect of what motorcycle racing was in 1970, but at least, do not miss the clip #1 out of 7 that I have posted on the timeline in the year “1971”. These were the most Glorious days of what we called today the Classic Motorcycles; however these were also the darkest as the security on race track was so poor that a crash was likely to be the end of the story for the pilot. The first seconds of this movie are pretty hard and are dedicated to all pilots which paid tribute to their passion by their own life.

May 20, 1973 will be one of the most tragic accidents when Jarno Saarinen and Renzo Pasolini lost their lives in the same crash at Monza in the Curva Grande. For many this is also the end of these old days, which coincides as well with the eradication of the European works from the Grand Prix (last was MV Agusta in 1975) and the domination of the Japanese Works with 2 stroke technology and particularly Yamaha which is the first Japanese works to become world Champion in 500cc.

Private pilots like Jack Findlay, which were travelling across Europe with Wife and racing bike in the minivan will eventually either find a team or retire. Today, I realize this is why I lost the interest for Motorcycle Grand Prix: The magic portion of it was gone when the genuine Continental Circus died.

However, how to summarize these glorious years in less than 25 pictures as all pilots deserve to be mentioned, even if they never won anything. The selection was difficult and I hope you will enjoy it. I will open the board to any suggestion and will add the one you would like to see included…. as long as it was before 1975.

Philippe Guyony © 2013

1.Four Aces in a bend: Mike Hailwood leading the way (9), Giacomo Agostini (2), Renzo Pasolini just behind Hailwood and Phil Read.
1. Four Aces in a bend: Mike Hailwood leading the way (9), Giacomo Agostini (2), Renzo Pasolini just behind Hailwood and Phil Read.
2.Agostini focusing before the race. Active racing1964 – 1977 Teams:MV Agusta, Yamaha, Suzuki Won 15 Championships 350cc | 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 500cc | 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1975 Ago also contested 8 Isle of Man TTs (1965-1972), won 10 and made 13 Podiums.
2. Agostini focusing before the race.
Active racing 1964 – 1977
Teams: MV Agusta, Yamaha, Suzuki
Won 15 Championships
350cc | 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974
500cc | 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1975
Ago also contested 8 Isle of Man TTs (1965-1972), won 10 and made 13 Podiums.
3.Starting the MV Agusta 3 cylinders, no fancy rollers, just a motivated mechanic.
3. Starting the MV Agusta 3 cylinders, no fancy rollers, just a motivated mechanic.
4. Agostini on his MV Agusta 350 on the Isle of Man.
4. Agostini on his MV Agusta 350 on the Isle of Man.
5. Catch me if you can: In 1968, Agostini on the superior MV Agusta won all ten rounds of the 500cc. Agostini not only set new lap records on each track but sometimes he even lapped the whole field like on this occasion on the fast Sachsenring circuit. (Source Metzeller)
5. Catch me if you can: In 1968, Agostini on the superior MV Agusta won all ten rounds of the 500cc. Agostini not only set new lap records on each track but sometimes he even lapped the whole field like on this occasion on the fast Sachsenring circuit. (Source Metzeller)
6. In 1968, Mike Hailwood competed and rode a 500cc Honda. Note the caricature on his helmet which replaced the checkered and union jack flag that year. Active racing1958–1979 Teams: Honda, MV Agusta and Ducati for the TT Won 9 Championships 250cc | 1961, 1966, 1967 350cc | 1966, 1967 500cc | 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965 Mike also contested 12 Isle of Man TTs (1958-1967, 1978, 1979), won 14 and made 19 Podiums.
6. In 1968, Mike Hailwood competed and rode a 500cc Honda. Note the caricature on his helmet which replaced the checkered and union jack flag that year.
Active racing 1958–1979
Teams: Honda, MV Agusta and Ducati for the TT
Won 9 Championships
250cc | 1961, 1966, 1967
350cc | 1966, 1967
500cc | 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
Mike also contested 12 Isle of Man TTs (1958-1967, 1978, 1979), won 14 and made 19 Podiums.
7. One of the most famous picture of Mike Hailwood, on the RC166, the Honda 250 cc 6 cylinders.
7. One of the most famous picture of Mike Hailwood, on the RC166, the Honda 250 cc 6 cylinders.
8. Mike Hailwood on the MV Agusta 4
8. Mike Hailwood on the MV Agusta 4
9. In 1964, Phil Read raced a Kirby AJS 7R and finished runner-up behind Jim Redman aboard his superior four-cylinder works Honda. Active racing:1961 - 1976 Teams: Yamaha and MV Agusta Won 7 Championships 125cc | 1968 250cc | 1964, 1965, 1968, 1971 500cc | 1973, 1974 Phil also contested 14 Isle of Man TTs (1961 - 1973, 1977), won 8 and made 13 Podiums.
9. In 1964, Phil Read raced a Kirby AJS 7R and finished runner-up behind Jim Redman aboard his superior four-cylinder works Honda.
Active racing: 1961 – 1976
Teams: Yamaha and MV Agusta
Won 7 Championships
125cc | 1968
250cc | 1964, 1965, 1968, 1971
500cc | 1973, 1974
Phil also contested 14 Isle of Man TTs (1961 – 1973, 1977), won 8 and made 13 Podiums.
10. Duel between Phil Read and Mike Hailwood.
10. Duel between Phil Read and Mike Hailwood.
11. John Surtees with his Norton Manx. Active racing:1952 - 1960 Teams: Norton and MV Agusta Won 7 Championships 350cc | 1958-1959-1960 500cc | 1956-1958-1959-1960
11. John Surtees with his Norton Manx.
Active racing: 1952 – 1960
Teams: Norton and MV Agusta
Won 7 Championships
350cc | 1958-1959-1960
500cc | 1956-1958-1959-1960
12. John Surtees later on MV Agusta
12. John Surtees later on MV Agusta
13. superb picture of Geoff Duke riding his Norton Manx at the 1952 Dutch TT, Assen, the Netherlands, and I think it worths to be added to the Continental Circus folder.  Duke wears #1 as the 1951 World Champion, but in 1952, the 4 cylinders Gilera and MV Agusta finished first and second at the championship, while Norton finished third in the 500 class.  Active racing:1950 - 1959 Teams: Benelli, BMW, Gilera, Norton, NSU Won 6 Championships 350 cc | 1951, 1952 500 cc | 1951, 1953, 1954, 1955 Geoff also contested 9 Isle of Man TTs (1949-1955, 1958, 1959), won 6 and made 8 Podiums.
13. superb picture of Geoff Duke riding his Norton Manx at the 1952 Dutch TT, Assen, the Netherlands, and I think it worths to be added to the Continental Circus folder.
Duke wears #1 as the 1951 World Champion, but in 1952, the 4 cylinders Gilera and MV Agusta finished first and second at the championship, while Norton finished third in the 500 class.
Active racing: 1950 – 1959
Teams: Benelli, BMW, Gilera, Norton, NSU
Won 6 Championships
350 cc | 1951, 1952
500 cc | 1951, 1953, 1954, 1955
Geoff also contested 9 Isle of Man TTs (1949-1955, 1958, 1959), won 6 and made 8 Podiums.
14. One of the last pictures of John Hartle, former MV team-mate of John Surtees. Six weeks later, on August 31st 1968, Hartle was killed in a racing accident at Scarborough. He was only 35 years old. Active racing1955 - 1968 Teams: Norton and MV Agusta
14. One of the last pictures of John Hartle, former MV team-mate of John Surtees. Six weeks later, on August 31st 1968, Hartle was killed in a racing accident at Scarborough. He was only 35 years old.
Active racing 1955 – 1968
Teams: Norton and MV Agusta
15.For 1967, Bill Ivy joined Phil Read, replacing Mike Duff as Yamaha works rider. He promptly won the 125cc championship that year. Active racing:1962 - 1963, 1965 - 1969 Teams: Jawa and Yamaha  Won 1 Championship 125cc | 1967
15. For 1967, Bill Ivy joined Phil Read, replacing Mike Duff as Yamaha works rider. He promptly won the 125cc championship that year.
Active racing: 1962 – 1963, 1965 – 1969
Teams: Jawa and Yamaha
Won 1 Championship
125cc | 1967
16.Jack Findlay on of the most famous private until he joined the team Suzuki in 1973. He greatest victory was the Senior TT in 1973 after 15 years trying to do it. His best result was second behind Agostini in the 500cc championship in 1968. Active years1958 - 1978 Teams: Suzuki Won 1 Championship  1975 | Formula 750
16. Jack Findlay on of the most famous private until he joined the team Suzuki in 1973. He greatest victory was the Senior TT in 1973 after 15 years trying to do it. His best result was second behind Agostini in the 500cc championship in 1968.
Active years 1958 – 1978
Teams: Suzuki
Won 1 Championship
1975 | Formula 750
17.Jack Findlay preceding Karl Hoppe on an in-line four cylinder engine built by Helmut Fath mounted in a Metisse frame developed by Rickman, Aug13, 1969.
17. Jack Findlay preceding Karl Hoppe on an in-line four cylinder engine built by Helmut Fath mounted in a Metisse frame developed by Rickman, Aug13, 1969.
18.John Cooper (42) preceding Bill Ivy (19) and Paddy Driver (53) Active racing1964 - 1972
18. John Cooper (42) preceding Bill Ivy (19) and Paddy Driver (53)
Active racing 1964 – 1972
19.The South-African Paddy Driver finished third in 1965 behind the MV Agusta works of Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini.
19. The South-African Paddy Driver finished third in 1965 behind the MV Agusta works of Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini.
20.Renzo Pasolini has adopted John Cooper's moon eyes basin look (Silver for Pasolini and Red for Cooper) Active racing:1964 - 1973 Teams: Aermacchi and Benelli
20. Renzo Pasolini has adopted John Cooper’s moon eyes basin look (Silver for Pasolini and Red for Cooper)
Active racing: 1964 – 1973
Teams: Aermacchi and Benelli
21.Renzo Pasolini on his Benelli
21. Renzo Pasolini on his Benelli
22.For Jarno Saarinen, I had to select a picture with his wife, which was supporting him in every race. There is a famous shot where Soeli is simply dressed with a bikini holding high the stopwatch board in the pit lane. I leave you make some research on Google  Active racing:1970 - 1973 Team: Yamaha Won 1 Championship  250cc | 1972
22. For Jarno Saarinen, I had to select a picture with his wife, which was supporting him in every race. There is a famous shot where Soeli is simply dressed with a bikini holding high the stopwatch board in the pit lane. I leave you make some research on Google
Active racing: 1970 – 1973
Team: Yamaha
Won 1 Championship
250cc | 1972
23.This picture outlines Honda team orders to Redman to stay behind Taveri who wanted to defend his 1962 125cc title. Jim Redman active racing: 1959 - 1966 Teams: Honda Won 6 Championship  250cc | 1962, 1963 350cc | 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965 Lugi Taveri active racing: 1954–1966 Team:Honda Won 3 Championships 125cc | 1962, 1964, 1966
23. This picture outlines Honda team orders to Redman to stay behind Taveri who wanted to defend his 1962 125cc title.
Jim Redman active racing: 1959 – 1966
Teams: Honda
Won 6 Championship
250cc | 1962, 1963
350cc | 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
Lugi Taveri active racing: 1954–1966
Team: Honda
Won 3 Championships
125cc | 1962, 1964, 1966
24A.Angel Nieto on his Derbi 125 cc in 1970 Active racing:1964 - 1986 Teams: Derbi, Morbidelli, Kreidler, Bultaco, Minarelli, Garelli Won 10 Championships 50 cc | 1969-1970-1972-1975-1977 125 cc | 1971-1972-1979-1981-1984
24. Angel Nieto on his Derbi 125 cc in 1970
Active racing: 1964 – 1986
Teams: Derbi, Morbidelli, Kreidler, Bultaco, Minarelli, Garelli
Won 10 Championships
50 cc | 1969-1970-1972-1975-1977
125 cc | 1971-1972-1979-1981-1984
26. This "Continental Circus" album would not be complete without adding Dane Rowe, the most famous of the 3 women which ever competed in Grand Prix. Dane was "monkey" in the Sidecar world championship in the late 1960s and 1970s. It adds a bit of diversity in this exclusively male Hall of Fame!
25. This “Continental Circus” album would not be complete without adding Dane Rowe, the most famous of the 3 women which ever competed in Grand Prix. Dane was “monkey” in the Sidecar world championship in the late 1960s and 1970s. It adds a bit of diversity in this exclusively male Hall of Fame!
25.Last one, in Technicolor: Mallory Park Post TT 1968 | Mike Hailwood (Honda #1), Phil Read (Yamaha #2), Rod Gould (Norton #8), Giacomo Agostini (MV Agusta #12), John Cooper (Seeley #4), Pat Mahoney (#19), Percy Tait (#7), Percy May (#50) and the “kid” Barry Sheene (#30). Copyrights Mortons Archives Download your free desktop picture at http://www.classicbikersclub.com/files/customcontent/wallpaper/cbc001-1920x1200.jpg
26. Last one, in Technicolor: Mallory Park Post TT 1968 | Mike Hailwood (Honda #1), Phil Read (Yamaha #2), Rod Gould (Norton #8), Giacomo Agostini (MV Agusta #12), John Cooper (Seeley #4), Pat Mahoney (#19), Percy Tait (#7), Percy May (#50) and the “kid” Barry Sheene (#30).
Copyrights Mortons Archives
Download your free desktop picture at http://www.classicbikersclub.com/files/customcontent/wallpaper/cbc001-1920×1200.jpg

More pictures on: www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=552422618181255&set=a.498881533535364.1073741867.439034106186774&type=3&theater

See summary of all championship onhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Grand_Prix_motorcycle_racing_World_champions

Riders between 1969 and 1975:
http://park5.wakwak.com/~yumei/1969R.html
http://park5.wakwak.com/~yumei/1970R.html
http://park5.wakwak.com/~yumei/1971R.html
http://park5.wakwak.com/~yumei/1972R.html
http://park5.wakwak.com/~yumei/1973R.html
http://park5.wakwak.com/~yumei/1974R.html
http://park5.wakwak.com/~yumei/1975R.html

4 thoughts

  1. Wonderful memories. I was at the T.T. every year from 1967 to 1973. I also attended all the national and international races in England at the same time. I was at the Mallory Park ROTY that is shown on the last picture. What a great shot, I need to get a print from somewhere if its possible. 900 x 600. Do you know if anyone makes this??

  2. Hey Philippe, great page – thanks for the memories. Do you know who owns copyright on the picture of John Cooper, Bill Ivy, Paddy Driver and Derek Minter in line astern at Brands Hatch? Where did you find it? Thanks, Bob

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