Back in the 50s, the Grey Flash never came close to the success that the factory expected for its new racer. For the first season, in 1950, two Grey Flash finished 12 and 51 at the Senior TT and 12 at the Ulster Grand Prix. In 1951, none of the bikes aligned at the TT and Netherland Grand Prix finished and it was no different in 1952. Of course Grey Flashes have been raced subsequently for decades privately by enthusiasts around the world, but at the Continental Circus level, this is it and for many Vincent enthusiasts this is quite a sad story as we believe that the bike had the genetic potential to do much better, like its twin brother did. Eventually, a too short career and a lack of success in Grand Prix left only 31 Grey Flash manufactured.
1952 was also a key year, as the Italian 4 cylinders started their domination for nearly two decades, so when Norton first pilot Geoff Duke moved to Gilera in 1953, fate was sealed for the Manx, Grey Flash and other great singles. However the Manx will continue to be the reference and the preferred bike of the private racers during the following years with huge tuning efforts to maintain its competitiveness. In 1955, 164 pilots signed up for at least one of the seven Grand Prix, and 92 of them were riding a Manx!
Today through the classic championship such IHRO and other US AHRMA, all these Manx, Matchless G50 and Velocette KTT continue to give their voices. What about the Grey Flash? It was rare yesterday, so … it is as rare today! It also becomes more and more incongruous to race it as its value increases and also because continuing the development to make it competitive potentially alters the value of the bike, not to mention the potential risk of destruction. David Dunfey has for example retired his Grey Flash a few years ago to restore it in stock condition and has develop a competitive racer based on a 500 Comet. The Comet has indeed a very similar architecture, is much more affordable and they are much more common with 3,893 manufactured.
With a DOHC, the Manx had a greater competitive advantage, but the “Comet Avengers” will also tell you that the Manx head has a lesser potential to get more power than the Vincent pushrod head! This is precisely where our Avengers try to win the battle that the factory never won. When Godet introduced his new Egli Comet Racer, he mentioned that this bike was a 30 years dream: make a Comet competitive enough to beat a Manx! Patrick already exceeded the Power and Torque of his benchmarked Manx and he recognizes that with more work he expects to get there. Ian Boyed’s Vinton 500 Comet has reached 58.1HP at the crank, which tells us that it can be done. So there is no secret; to beat a Manx, the Comet needed at least a decent big port cylinder head and also a bigger bore to keep up with the modern Molnar Manx either in 90 or 95 mm bore configurations.
If you both love the Vincent and racing, there is no question that you have to race a Vincent. Randy Hoffman which own and race Manx, KTT, Norvin and Comet mentioned that it also quite exciting to race an “underdog” among other prestigious racers. For the Vincent Avengers, this quest of the fastest Vincent will never end; make a Comet much more than a half Vincent that too many people believe it is, and give its nobility as the fastest single on wheel.