Bar-None – not even Nortons!

Mention of The Motor Cycle’s late Vic Willoughby in a recent ‘Prattle’ prompted Simon Warner to send us these recollections of both the Bar-None Motor Cycle Club and the Bar-One Motor Cycle and Racing Club, the latter with which Vic was involved.

In June 1939, Bar-One club member Vic Willoughby, who went on to become a noted staffman on The Motor Cycle, was one of three members to gain a Gold Star for lapping the Brooklands circuit at over 100mph – in his case on a 348cc Velocette! In that same year, he is seen in typical racing action.

The North Africa Campaign (June 10, 1940 to May 13, 1943) had a great influence on military motorcycle design and use. Articles published in The Motor Cycle and Motor Cycling during this period demonstrate the keen involvement of Service personnel – many of whom had been avid motorcycle riders and racers in their prewar lives – in the improvement and adaptation of their machines for local conditions ranged from rock-strewn mountainsides to torrential mud, rain and desert sands.

The lessons learned were clearly applied when, for example, developing the panel-tank, girder-forked Matchless G3-WO into the much-improved G3L with its Teledraulic forks, lighter weight and increased ground clearance.

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Also evidenced by press articles both before and throughout the war was the widespread participation of Service personnel in competitive events that were considered fertile ground for promoting skilful riding technique.

With the eventual success of the North Africa Campaign, the military authorities now had the problem of gainfully employing thousands of battle-hardened troops who might otherwise stagnate and concoct their own diversions, and by the end of 1943 the formation of a wide variety of clubs, activities and events was being actively encouraged.

Read more in February’s issue of OBM – out now!

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