Fred Mork racing motorcycles
Recently the OL team had a chance to tour the barn at Fred Mork’s farm. Fred is a local NorCal motorbike racer and sponsor, with an excellent stable of competition bikes for use in multiple types of racing. Vintage road race, vintage trials, vintage moto cross, flat track and speedway bikes are all prepped and ready for the drop of the next green flag. Fred was kind enough to answer a few questions for our readers:
What is the name of your business?
Walter Mork Company. Inc. Sheet Metal, HVAC Contractor since 1909
How long have you been riding bikes?
Since 1958. I’ve been racing since 1964 mostly in amateur events, and in vintage events since 1981.
What was the first one?
A Zundapp 200cc Comfort. About the same time, I also rode a 125 James chassis with a 500 cc side valve Powell engine with a Cushman transmission that I built with a friend when I was twelve.
What classes do you race in? AHRMA and any others?
Road Race: Pre-1940, Class C; Classic Sixties and 500 G.P.
Motocross: Premier 500,
Trails: Premier Heavyweight.
The Royal Enfield trials bike looks like it has magnesium cases. Was it a works bike?
Yes. It is an ex-John Britten factory works bike.
What can you say about the Monark, Lito and the other bikes from Sweden? Were they derivatives of a BSA Gold Star?
My Monarch is one of the first two factory works motocross bikes built by Monark. It was Sten Lundin’s bike when he was first sponsored by Monark. On a later improved version, Lundin won the World MX Championship for Monark in 1959. When Monark ceased sponsoring MX competition, Sten repainted the bike in Lito colors and won the World MX championship for Lito. That would have been in 1961.
My Lito is a factory works motocross bike. It was ridden by Gunnar Johansson to 2nd place in the 1962 World Motocross standings. That year the Swedish riders and bikes took the first five places in world motocross standings.
Later Litos sometimes used BSA engine cases. Most of them used BSA scrambles transmissions.
My Husqvarna is a replica of the factory works bikes. It is a good example with many original parts.
I know that some of the bikes are pretty rare, any good stories behind them?
I am fortunate to be able to collect motorcycles from an early era. Some were ridden by the top riders of the time, world and national champions. Some of the names are Dick Mann, Jeff Smith, Les Archer, Sten Lundin, Gunnar Johansson, Joe Leonard, Roger Rieman, Alastair King, Eric Cheney, John Britten.
Any one of the rider’s experiences of racing these bikes could fill a book. Some of the bikes have had articles written by photo journalists about them. A person could Google the rider’s name or read magazines, books and race results of the era for more information.
Tell us about the Les Archer DOHC dirt bike.
The Les Archer Norton Manx with the double overhead cam, is Archer’s last effort with Norton Manx, and the only double overhead cam. In 1956, Archer was European Motocross Champion with a single overhead cam, heavily modified Norton Manx. The DOHC is the last in the evolution of these bikes. It was built by Les with a Ray Petty built motor. It’s very light with a dry weight of 285 pounds. It remained competitive until 1965. By then, other manufacturers such as CZ and Greeves were developing even lighter two-strokes. In 1966, Archer sold his Norton equipment to Bryan Kenney. Kenney campaigned this bike in Europe until 1967. With the distinctive sound of a single, and known history, it was a crowd favorite, but not competitive against the even lighter machines at that time. I restored it to a ready to race condition.
The AJS 7R and Matchless G50 looked great!
Alistair King raced the AJS. He was a racing mate of Bob McIntyre. The Matchless G50 is a Dick Mann bike. It was highly controversial in its era and banned from competition at one time. Mann raced the G50 both in road races and in dirt track and he raced the bike at the Ascot TT to secure the Grand National title in 1963.
What is the story on the giant ball of wrenches that are welded together?
There is a Norton on the workbench, #91. It looks like a Manx with telescoping forks, and a rigid rear end. What work is being done etc?
That bike was built to be a Pre-1940’s competition and Class C bike. I am getting it ready for the next race season. I was freshening up the top end when I found it had a low spot on the exhaust valve seat and between the cylinder and head. These two leakages were robbing me of power. In addition the carb needed reconditioning and the bike had a weak ignition. The next race is at Willow Springs in April of this year.
How many bearing balls are in that Lucite Box?
How many bikes are in the barn?
I don’t know. They are always changing.
Can you give me any details on the Cal Rayborn III bike?
Cal Rayborn III rode the XRTT at a event for a former owner of the bike. The KRTT was Roger Reiman’s last last flathead road racing bike. At Daytona in ’68 or ’69, he clocked 149.9mph on this bike or one like it. That was the fastest time at Daytona qualifying that year.