Curtis Racing Frames > Early Racing Mid-1960's

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First ever road race – 1965. Riding a friend's BSA 350 cc Gold Star in a Clubman's Race at Cadwell Park race circuit near Louth, Lincolnshire, England. I finished 3rd. The bike was absolutely stock except for a fiberglass gas tank. Details: ran on Avon tires, used a period 'Everoake' 'pudding basin' helmet and a set of used 'Lewis' leathers. I rode the bike to the event, taped up the lights, put on the number plate and went racing! Because I was only 16 years old, I had to get my mother to sign the waiver. My father didn't know I was racing.

Denis Curtis, early racing career

My home track, Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire. This is the Vincent Owners' Club High Speed Trials, 1967. I'm waiting for the 'out' on my Curtis Vincent Special #32. In this line- up is Roger Slater on bike #2. He became the Egli-Vincent distributor for the UK.

Denis Curtis waiting at the 'out' on #32, the Curtis Vincent Special
Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire, Vincent Owners' Club High Speed Trials
Photo courtesy of the Vincent-HRD Owners Club and Geoff Preece.

Curtis Vincent Special
Photo courtesy of Ken Landon

A photo of the first time the Curtis Vincent Special was raced at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire. The bike used a 998cc Vincent V-twin engine with the standard transmission/gearbox removed. The engine was mated to a Manx Norton 4-speed gearbox/transmission. I built this bike in 1966/67 to compete in the Clubman Open racing class.

I used a Manx Norton frame and re-engineered it to put the Vincent engine crankshaft on the same centre-line as the original Manx Norton engine. The frame had to be extensively modified – as you can see from the photo, the front down tubes have been removed. The engine had been modified for racing to “Lightning spec”. I even used the Manx Norton central oil tank. Dunlop racing tyres were used and Girling shocks. It was a cold day and I scared myself silly on this thing. It was my first outing on those old triangular tyres and you needed to get some heat into them so they would work properly.

Curtis Vincent Special

These are all photographs of the Curtis Vincent Special parked beside my BMC Mini. The bike was bigger than the car! The exhaust note was loud.

Curtis Vincent Special roadracing motorcycle

I had two set-ups for different race tracks. For Snetterton and the long track at Cadwell I used 1 & 5/16" Amal 5 GP2 carburetors on special adaptors. For shorter tracks I used 1 & 1/8" Amal monoblock carbs.

Curtis Vincent Special

The bike had lots of torque, and handled really well. After a couple of seasons I realized that I wasn't a very good road racer, as I was more interested in building great handling machinery than racing them.

Denis Curtis Vincent Racing Special

Next: 70's Racing

If you have any information or pictures of Curtis Racing Frames from the period please Contact Us. We would really like to feature as many frames and frame modifications from that period as we can here.

Curtis Racing Frames; a sticker from 1970's

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