I was recently watching on YouTube a video involving a 70 bhp “Rat bike” Harley and a brand new 180 bhp Honda Fireblade in a street drag race (see 1). Surprisingly, the old pushrod won easily 3 times in a row. It kind of demonstrates how important the torque is in a drag race and why the Vincent engine was one of the Drag racers’ favorite choice from the fifties when George Brown converted his hill climb race bike Nero into a straightliner.

Subsequently and for decades, many teams used the Vincent powerplant around the world for this purpose, like the TeamPegasus which was formed by three passionates: Derek Chinn, Mike Butler & Ian Messenger. They started in 1967 to build & race multiple Top Fuel racers under the name of Pegasus. After a first try on a 600 Panther, the team selected a Vincent power plant which was run naturally aspirated with the stock displacement, before the addition of a supercharger and an increased displacement to 1458cc.

In this latest configuration, the bike achieved 9.83 sec at about 150mph for the standing quarter and the team started to win from 1971 various championships including the British Drag Racing & Hot Rod Association and National Drag Racing Club. Pegasus with the Vincent engine was used until 1974. When Mike Butler left the team, a Norton Supercharged Twin-Twin based was built and raced until 1980. Today it has found its last home at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham. Its best performance was 8.39s at 170 mph for the standing quarter mile in 1978.

Philippe Guyony © 2014

When the Pegasus team was formed, a normally aspirated 998cc V-twin Vincent engine was chosen; this is the replica of the first Pegasus-Vincent nowadays.
When the Pegasus team was formed, a normally aspirated 998cc V-twin Vincent engine was chosen; this is the replica of the first Pegasus-Vincent  own by Derek Chinn. Photo © Spike https://www.flickr.com/photos/corbabythatsreallyfree/4827427019/in/photolist-cwEz1b-8mzPSk-d9XGkz
“A great shot of Derek burning the rear slick; this shows the "short" exhaust pipes experimented with for a few meetings. Although they produced a lot of low-end torque, ultimately they didn't improve the elapsed time. 1971 Santa Pod Raceway, UK”.  Picture and information © TeamPegasus
Derek Chinn burning the rear slick; this picture shows the “short” exhaust pipes experimented with for a few meetings. Although they produced a lot of low-end torque, ultimately they didn’t improve the elapsed time. Picture taken in 1971 at Santa Pod Raceway, UK.
Picture and information © TeamPegasus
“Photographer Roger Phillips managed to capture Ian Ashwell in 1971 during Team Pegasus most successful year when they won both the BDR&HRA and NDRC championships.  Santa Pod Raceway, UK”. Information TeamPegasus and picture © Roger Phillips
Ian Ashwell in 1971 during Team Pegasus most successful year when they won both the BDR&HRA and NDRC championships. Picture taken at Santa Pod Raceway, UK.
Information TeamPegasus and picture © Roger Phillips
“Another great action shot from Roger Phillips showing Mick Butler on the Pegasus-Vincent employing his neat "economical" riding style with the nosecone of arch rival John Hobbs just coming into shot. 1971 Santa Pod Raceway, UK”. Information TeamPegasus and picture © Roger Phillips
Mick Butler on the Pegasus-Vincent employing his neat “economical” riding style with the nosecone of arch rival John Hobbs just coming into shot. 1971 Santa Pod Raceway, UK.
Information TeamPegasus and picture © Roger Phillips
“A great shot from an unknown photographer taken at an NSA sprint event with Ian proving the job of a startline marshal can be a hazardous one. In the "Blog" pages you will find a short cine clip of this run. 1969, RAF Debden, Essex UK”. Picture and information © TeamPegasus
A great shot from an unknown photographer taken at an NSA sprint event with Ian Messenger proving the job of a startline marshal can be a hazardous one. 1969, RAF Debden, Essex UK”.
Picture and information © TeamPegasus
“Roger Gorringe shoots Ian at speed, the Norton always had good weight-transfer off the startline”. Information TeamPegasus and picture © Roger Gorringe
Ian Messenger at speed on the Pegasus-Norton; the Norton always had good weight-transfer off the startline.
Information TeamPegasus and picture © Roger Gorringe
“The first Pegasus was 30 year old 600cc single cylinder Panther engine,. Although not challenging the established stars of the day, "Long Rod" as it was christened, did muster a 13sec quarter” Information TeamPegasus
The first Pegasus was 30 year old 600cc single cylinder Panther engine, nicknamed “Long Rod” it did hook 13sec quarter. Later the bike was known as the Pegasus-Panther
Information TeamPegasus
“Team Pegasus members brought together in 2011: Derek, Mick & Ian flanked by Graham Martin (left) and Eddie Keightly (right) with Derek's replica Vincent sprinter”. Information TeamPegasus
Team Pegasus members brought together in 2011: Derek, Mick & Ian flanked by Graham Martin (left) and Eddie Keightly (right) with Derek’s replica Vincent sprinter.
Information TeamPegasus

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(1) Rat bike vs. Fireblade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myGMlgk3PuI

Source and more information: http://www.pegasusteam.co.uk

 

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