Little story about Hailwood's 1978 Ducati
I once met someone who had some limited involvement with Hailwood's 1978 Ducati. He had worked at Sports Motorcycles at the time, Sports Motorcycles in Manchester being the entrant for Hailwood's bike at the Isle of Man.
Hailwood's bike used non-standard crankcases. If you look at pictures of the bike - pictures taken from the left side - you might be able to see the spin-on, white-coloured oil filter on the left of the crankcases. (I have never owned a bevel-drive Ducati, but the road bikes of 1978 did not have this spin-on oil filter.)
In the lead-up to the 1978 TT, Hailwood's comeback was of great interest. (I guess that would be an understatement.) A journalist went to Sports Motorcycles to do a story on the bike that Mike was to ride. Steve Wynne (owner of Sports M.) was concerned that publicity showing the non-standard cases might lead to questions about the bike's eligibility. (Don't ask me what the rules were; I wouldn't have a clue.)
Before the journalist was allowed to take pictures of the bike, Wynne got his mechanics to cover up the oil filter. They did this with papier-mache (newspaper, I think), which they then spray-painted black. Pictures of the bike in the ensuing magazine article (I think it was Motorcycle Mechanics of May or June 1978) show a blackened area at that part of the cases. My friend had the magazine to back up his otherwise implausible story.
At the Isle of Man, with the bike's crankcases on full display, my friend thought the journalist was going to punch him for his role in the cover-up. Hailwood raced, and we know the result ...
My friend also had a piston from Hailwood's bike. The piston had a broken area where the rings fit. After the Isle of Man there were races in England that Hailwood participated in. I remember reading in one of the US bike magazines from 1978/1979 that Hailwood had to over-rev the bike to make up for a mechanical problem, and the broken ring area might have been a result of the over-revving.
There is a lot of talk on this forum about GOATs. It's impossible to know how riders of different eras would go against each other, but I wonder how today's riders would have gone on road circuits like the Isle of Man, and how they would have gone riding in two or three different categories at the one GP meeting.
Last edited by soslow; 05-08-2008 at 10:58 AM.