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Fred Mork racing motorcycles

February 25, 2011

fred hd miller '10

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.

fred miller '10

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.IMG_5958

IMG_5959

 

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.

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What is the story on the giant ball of wrenches that are welded together?

The ball of wrenches was created by Bill Ojala, an artist friend of mine. It consists of 20 sets of chrome vanadium wrenches welded together.IMG_5980

 

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.

IMG_5939

 

How many bearing balls are in that Lucite Box?

That art piece is entitled “A Million and One” and was also created by my artist friend, Bill Ojala. There is one gold plated ball that can be seen from one side.IMG_5969

 

How many bikes are in the barn?

I don’t know. They are always changing.

The barn is a showroom and an overflow store-room for bikes that are actively raced. Some of the bikes and other materials belong to other people who want to put something on display.IMG_5964

IMG_5992 

 

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.IMG_5963

 

 

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fredworkshop flywheel build

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Somer permalink
    February 25, 2011 12:03 pm

    Brain chill!!!

  2. athar permalink
    February 25, 2011 6:17 pm

    wow…!!!

  3. Jeff permalink
    February 25, 2011 6:45 pm

    Good Photos Pete. I like the coke sign. The pit pics are at Miller Sports park in Utah Sept. ’10 Ahrma road races.

  4. February 25, 2011 7:29 pm

    SO cool to see. Thanks. Please open up the Cal Rayborn engine, lay it out, and post the detailed photos. Such an awesome sight!

  5. April 28, 2011 12:20 pm

    FRED MORK IS A FIRST PLACE CHAMPION AS A PRO RACER, IN MY EYES ALSO FRED IS THE REASION I LOVE MOTORCYCLES AND LIFE IT SELF,HE ALWAYS GOES OUT OF HIS WAY FOR ME AND OTHER RACERS,THAT ALONE IS WHY I KNOW RACING OF PAST HISTORY IS SO GREAT AND ALL TO ME JUST THE PLEASURE OF KNOWING FRED ,HUMBEL SMART AND GIVING IS THE ESSENCE OF (MOTORCYCLE)FRED MORK IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE MY FRIEND.

  6. Jim Crain permalink
    December 17, 2011 3:43 pm

    How I got to ride Fred’s ESO. A less than proud moment for me was when I hit Fred in a race at Honey Lake in far eastern CA. Fred was on his ESO and I on my Gold Star. I had a crumby start and some other problem that left me in the back. I tried to get to the front as fast as possible and made a bad pass to the inside on a decreasing radius left hand corkscrew. I was slightly in front of Fred when we contacted and his foot went into my rear wheel lodging behind (or in front of the shock). When all of the excitement stopped, Fred’s foot was stuck fast and my Goldie was in the racing line with Fred slightly outside. I spent most of the Premier 500 race warning other riders about the obstacle ahead as the corner worker was not in sight of the conflagration. Fred was stuck fast and there appeared to be no choice but to remove the shock on my Gold Star to set him free. In the mean time the track had started the next race and once again I was defending Fred against the other riders as they blindly approached the cork screw. Finally, a safety crew arrived and suggested that they tug on Fred’s leg till it was free regardless the outcome. Fred was clearly opposed to the approach so I suggested that I take the ESO to my pit to get the tools to remove the shock. I had no idea about the shift pattern of the ESO and assumed it was like the Gold Star: Wrong! Fortunately the way to the pits was all down hill and I was able to get to my trailer and grab some tools. I picked up Kevin Peltz for some help on the way back and we rode two-up on the ESO to where Fred was held captive. In just a few minutes we had Fred free and on his way with the safety people. My Goldie had a broken pipe and the stop for the front fork had hit the frame web so hard as to poke right through. This allowed the triple clamp to hit the tank. The damage to my bike was nothing compared to the injury that Fred suffered. Needless to say he was not happy with me. Several weeks later at the Sandia Classic I was identified as the reason that Fred was not there. The reminder of a bad choice on a race track. So much for the way that I got to ride Fred’s ESO……..Jim Crain

  7. November 25, 2012 6:26 pm

    I am interesred to purchase a classic or vintage four stroke single motocross or ISDT / ENDURO LITO, ESO, MONARCH,OR HUSQVARNA…OR EVEN A MATCHLESS G85 orAJS OR SIMILAR VERY EARLY OFF ROAD EUROPEAN MOTORCYCLE. I AM A SERIOUS BUYER AND WOULD APPRECIATE ANY AND ALL HELP. THANK YOU TOM 309 507 1646 tom@springfield-armory.com

  8. Cortez Lawrence permalink
    November 9, 2013 5:40 am

    Glad to see Bryan Kenny mentioned in the Les Archer section. Bryan was a good friend and mentor of mine I first met at the 1970 German MX GP. By then he was past the LA Norton’s (though he retained one-I presume the one in the article) and was riding CZs. In fact I purchased his spare 360 side-piper (wish I had kept that one over the years) to race the German national MX series in 70-72. Bryan’s contributions to MX have largely been ignored as other, later MX stars finally came to Europe and stayed long enough to establish a credible and winning American presence. But Bryan had been there for several years, doing journeyman’s work in shops from the UK to Germany, knew where to get something machined in every country in Europe (if he didn’t have the equipment to do it himself), worked at local MX shops in the off-season while living year round in a very small caravan near Chartes in France. He came a regular on the Internation MX circuit and “normalized” the expectations of Americans being there to race. Plus he was a genuinely good guy. He organized and raced under the “American MX Team” logo for several years and from time to time was joined by other US riders, Barry Higgins being the most memorable (in several ways!). Many US troops stationed in Germany and the UK would travel to be part of the US MX team experinece, always waving arms and flags, and offering to assist in the pits! Great memories and thanks for the remembering Bryan. One of those whose shoulders our sport stands on today. The last time I spoke with him he was retired from bikes and was an accomplshed sculpturist in welded art. Cortez Lawrence, Gettysburg, PA

  9. Loris permalink
    March 20, 2016 3:43 am

    Hello,

    I am looking for a complete engine or parts for the bike AJS 7R Boy Racer 1949 – 350ccm (Long Storke).

    Any other piece of body, Frame or aggregates, are welcome.

    I also have spare parts for an exchange!

    Regardless of which is the state!
    For review
    Individual parts
    Engine parts
    Used / occasion
    New
    Reproduced

    Please send any offer, availability, state or possibly some contact or dealer!

    Thank you

    Loris Luraschi Switzerland.

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