By: Mick Walker .
For the past 100 years the name Norton has been closely linked to the history of the racing motorcycle — and many of the sport's greatest riders.
James I . 'Pa' Norton produced his first bike in 1902 and the 'Energette', as it was called, was soon entered in reliability and speed trials. A Norton ridden by Rem Fowler had the distinction of winning the Multi-Cylinder Class at the very first Isle of Man T 1' in 1907. This was followed by more success in both racing and record breaking at the famous Brooklands circuit in Surrey.
Through the vintage years, with machines such as the Model. 18 and overhead camshaft CSI, Norton continued to enhance its reputation as a manufacturer of superb racing bikes. Nortons of the 1930s saw the breed refined further with the Carroll engine, and the Birmingham marque became increasingly famous for its racing exploits thanks to the efforts of team manager Joe Craig and riders such as Stanley Woods, Jimmie Guthrie and Harold Daniel.
The foundation laid down in the first half of the. twentieth century led to the most famous of all Nortons: the Featherbed Manx, one of the greatest motorcycles of all time, which would dominate international racing in the 1950s. Ridden by stars including Geoff Duke, Ray Aram, John Surtees and Mike Ilaihvood, the Manx gave Norton its highest-ever profile and ensured that the. company's fame would live long beyond its eventual demise.
After the Manx, Norton racing continued throughout the company's difficulties, as the British motorcycle industry began to go into decline. During the 1960s there was the Domiracer; then came the Commando and finally, during the 198Os, the amazingly rapid which was to be the company's last real fling on the race circuit.
Mick Walker's comprehensive history of Norton Racing tells the complete story of these legendary machines on both two and three wheels. The lively text and period photographs provide a perfect tribute to, arguably, Britain's finest racing motorcycles.