Unnamed American rider at 40th ISDT, Isle of Man 1965
I have found some amazing footage from this historic event. This is just part one of three that we will post. The first couple of minutes are a tad slow, but after that it is fantastic. To see the challenges these riders faced on such bikes is something that never ceases to amaze me.
As for the Americans, it was a tough go. The country really came to know the ISDT in 1964 when Steve McQueen famously participated in the event along with fellow So Cal Trophy Team riders Bud Ekins, Dave Ekins and Cliff Coleman. 1965 would see the same group back, less McQueen. The final Trophy team member was John Steen. Other US team riders included John Penton (250 BMW) and Leroy Winters (Honda 90).
This would be the last year that the Americans would attempt the six days on the big Triumph four strokes. Their beloved desert sleds that dominated the California desert were no match for the sloppy race conditions or the new generation of two strokes that were evolving. Day 3 was the last one the US Trophy team would see.
The sloppy conditions of the Isle would favor the smaller and lighter European two strokes such as Jawa, MZ and Husqvarna. You will see a few British Greeves bikes in here along with many others that I can’t readily identify.
The lessons from this event would help to change the course of American off road racing forever. John Steen would open up the world of motorcycling to a whole generation of future racers with his Taco mini bikes. John Penton would develop the next generation of competitive 100cc and 125cc race bikes that would soon fill race podiums in both enduro and desert racing.
This would bring about a complete rethink of all off roading in just the next 4 years. Two strokes from Europe and Japan would bring motorcycle racing to the masses in a way that could probably have never been imagined in ’65.