In 1972 American motorcycle racer Cal Rayborn accepted an invitation to ride in the Trans-Atlantic Match Race series, a yearly six-race event on the UK’s short circuits that had America’s top racers, primarily flat track dirt riders, lined up against England’s best circuit racers. The American riders were very much the underdogs, nobody gave them much of a chance, and even the Harley-Davidson factory wasn’t crazy about the idea. At this time the all alloy version of the XR 750 engine had not been fully developed and so Rayborn had to use an old iron-barrel XR, an engine that ran so hot it was nicknamed the “Waffle Iron.”
Fortunately the British weather came to the rescue keeping the engine cool enough for Rayborn to put in masterful performances on tracks he was very unfamiliar with, he went on to set lap records and take the checkered flag in three of the six contests, tying for top scorer of the series. In the coming decades Americans would come to dominate international road racing, with the new re designed all alloy XR-750 Harley-Davidson had a AMA Grand National road race win at Laguna Seca Raceway but the bike’s days were numbered. Multi-cylinder Japanese two-strokes would come to rule American road racing, relegating the XR-750 engine to dirt tracks where it became and still is almost unbeatable. Factory XRTTs were never built in great numbers, no more than two dozen, with some experts estimating only half that amount. Those few that survived their racing days are now in museums or wealthy private collections. Fortunately the factory continued to supply XR engines to AMA race teams long after official XR 750 production stopped in about 1982. Replica bikes with factory components are still rare and valuable and have continued to be raced in various events.
This bike was built using a kit of parts supplied by XR guru John Steel of Hi-Speed in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The build and development completed by the previous owner a skilled professional motor engineer and amateur racer. It has the benefit of many later modifications including twin plug heads, larger oil sump and oil cooler and of course disc front brakes. Having been used ‘carefully’ for a few track days and some parade laps the bike has not seen any hard action and is in excellent running order.
Report by anthonygodin.co.uk