Ray Petty was one of the most respected tuners of the Norton Manx engine. Petty was an accomplished racer himself, getting his start in 1939 on a 250cc Imperial. He spent most of his war time service in the U.K. developing his trade as a skilled engineer working at the Vickers aircraft experimental shop under the tutelage of Francis Beart. When the war ended, both men joined Norton to prepare Manx racing machines. He continued to road race motorcycles too, even winning as International Six Days Trial Gold medal off road. When his racing career wound down, he employed many top riders of the period, including legendary racer Derek Minter, the "King of Brands" with whom he shared many victories. Such was the fertile mind of Petty that many interesting, innovative ideas found their way onto bikes. This was followed with the inevitable complete 'Petty Manx'. The last British Championship won by a single cylinder machine was in 1971 on a Petty-tuned Manx. Ray Petty continued this type of development work until his death in 1987.
American vintage motorcycle racer Chris Jensen has spent most of his seat time on Ducati's small and large and even Yamaha TZ250's over the last twenty years. He'd been looking for a Manx after throwing a leg over one a few years back at a race weekend.
He found a very special one in the form of 'RP3', the Ray Petty Manx #3. It's one of just handful of true Petty built period Manx racers, it one of two being actively raced today. Summerfield Manx in the U.K. started building replica's in the late 1990's, but Chris's bike is the real deal.
Chris brought the bike to the Iron Oxide Garage for some fine tuning before his next race in a week's time at Loudon, New Hampshire with the USCRA. Long time Manx racer and tuner Dick Miles shared his knowledge with Chris to help dial in the bike to help reach its potential.
Chris has spent an significant time in the last year since it's acquisition optimizing the machine. The bike is surely the ultimate development of the Ray Petty dream machine at this moment.
Belt drive and numerous other modern go-fast goodies blend
seamlessly with the 1971 Petty-built frame.
Running 18 inch alloy rims, a Ceriani front end and rebuilt brakes
ensures that the Manx handles very well. The original Petty forks are stored for later use.
Modern silencer meets the ever tightening sound regulations with ease and improved mid-range performance and ground clearance over the stock megaphone pipe. A stock 1961 Norton Manx frame sits in the background, awaiting a rebuild.
The Iron Oxide Racing garage will soon be torn down to make way for a parking garage in the name of 'progress' and urban renewal. Oh, the story it's walls would tell if they could talk. So many great cars, motorcycles, racing go-karts, and wooden boats have been worked on here. So many interesting characters have visited these premises, too. The city where it's located has promised to provide the owner with a new space to replace it with, but time will tell how well that plan goes. Well, at least we've got the memories.