Racing History

Innocenti's eagerness to prove to the world that the Lambretta engine was the most economical and the fastest in the world, for its cc's, lead them to build many one offs and works racers. Ranging from a 200kph world record holder to scooters built specifically for certain events saw Lambretta gain promotion for its range of scooters.

Racing Model A

This the Racing Model A with a slightly larger bore and a few tuning modifications is capable of almost 70mph. It was built in 1948 and has many Model B components.

Racing Model B

Following on from the Model A racer, Innocenti produced a 'B' racer. Porting and tuning modifications, included a larger inlet manifold and carb, a high compression finned cylinder head. Abrath sports exhaust, quick action throttle, larger capacity fuel tank, dampened suspension, quick release spare wheel, trimmed leg shields and cut down front mudguard were just some of the modifications carried out on the racing B.

Racing Model D

Very similar to the competition 'C'. They appear to be modelled on the later 'D's because of the cable operated rear brake, rear suspension damper and 150cc engine. The thought is that these machines were a very limited production, and offered by the Innocenti factory to dealers who managed to sell the greatest volume of scooters for them. The pillion seat was standard, and the only colour they were available in was red.

Rallymaster

The Rallymaster was designed by Alan Kimber and built at Lambretta Concessionaires for the UK market. It was a very striking machine, with distinctive black and red stripes painted across the side panels. The machine also featured a turning front mudguard, possibly borrowed from the Spanish produced machines as this was one of their features. The horn casting was also different which aligned with the mudguard. The Rallymaster for built specifically for the UK sporting enthusiasts, it was fitted with many extras including a 4.00 x 10 rear wheel, ball-end levers, Perspex sports screen, tally number plates and a GB plate. There was also a handle on the rear for scrambling work, enabling the machine to be lifted out of trouble. A special 'instrument panel' housed a rev counter, stop watch holder, illuminated map board and a separate switch for the extra spotlight, which came as standard. The engine based based on the standard 150cc unit, but was staged two tuned, given a larger bore carburettor, high performance exhaust, and a closer ratio gearbox. Production figures are not known, although only a handful of genuine Concessionaires built machines exist today.

 

Racing Records

When Piaggio and Innocenti scooters appeared on the two wheeled market just after the war, their success was not taken for granted as we may think today. Scepticism from motorcyclists for a vehicle with small diameter wheels and an open chassis was so rooted that even a very low price could not always dissipate it. Small wheels meant for motorcyclists lower stability at higher speeds, because of the strong gyroscopic effect, and lower comfort, because such small wheels entered every little pothole, and potholes were numberless back in those days. Although these claims were partly true, both Piaggio and Innocenti decided to prove them wrong by following two courses of action, which involved taking part in speed races and regularity contests.
The technical staff at Lambretta managed by Pierluigi Torre started to project the machine that was to solve this problem. Obviously, as a specialist like Piero Taruffi had already pointed out, it would have been absurd to immediately face the most challenging records, as the flying kilometre and the one-hour. It would be much better to carefully consider the records and try and break the easier ones first.
At the end of 1948 the valid records for the 125 class on average and long distances were the ones obtained by Rapeau and Renaud with Prester (an Aubier Dunne engine) and by Welche and Kohler with the French Train in the far 1933, with average speeds just over 80 km/h. These were the records that Lambretta was to challenge first. It was in any case just the beginning. A suitable location was sought for the records, the answer came from Rome, where the Innocenti family lived. The Rome Moto Club and particularly Leone Massetti, a member of the Federazione Motociclistica Italiana, did their best to close to regular traffic the Roma-Ostia motorway, a little more than twenty km long. Obviously, a duration record on a straight road involved slowing down and turning back at each end, in addition to the slowing down necessary for fuelling up. A "Series A" Lambretta was selected, to which legshields were cut off and a showy fuel tank fitted (also useful for riders to lean on while running). The front chassis was in any case left open, to comply with regulations. The rear part was instead a tube framing and a large air intake for cooling cylinder and head. Few modifications were made to the motor-gear-transmission group with the type-A structure without rear suspension: a higher compression ratio, a few touches to the lights and pipes and a carburettor with a larger choke tube.
The attempt on the Roma-Ostia motorway started at 9.32 of the 11th February 1949 and was concluded after nine hours, at 18.32. The city authorities, despite the influence of the Innocenti family, could not keep that important road closed to regular traffic for the foreseen 24 hours. All the category records between the 3 and 9 hours were beaten, and also those on the 500 kilometres and the 500 miles. The nearly constant average speed was 95 km/h (95.556 on 500 miles). Besides the selected records, the new average speeds set records from 7 to 9 hours and the 500 miles record of class 175.
During that year and the following it was still possible to assign speed records of a specific category to lower powered motorbikes. A total of thirteen records were set and immediately advertised. This performance inevitably aroused the desire of running also on the Montlhéry track, where it was not necessary to slow down and turn back, as it had been the case on the Roma-Ostia. For this attempt, the same Lambretta unit was employed, but for the occasion it was equipped with a flashy aerodynamic front hood, behind which a higher capacity fuel tank was fitted. In total, the world records amounted to 33 taken by Lambretta on this attempt, with average speeds included between 108.250 km/h for the two-hour record and 94.517 km/h on the 24 hour with a total mileage of 2,268 kilometres. And all this despite the very cold weather, due to a recent snowfall, and the suffering caused by the long time spent in the night replacing burnt out bulbs. The engine power for this attempt was 8 hp at 6000 rpm. As the saying goes, "hunger comes with eating", and not even a month had lapsed when, on the 17th April 1949, the Lambretta team went back to Montlhéry with the 48-hour record as a goal. Same riders, same success and, even if departure was more cautious considering the greater distance, at the 11th hour average speeds were already markedly higher (102.067 km/h instead of 94.517 km/h, which was the 24-hour average speed). In 48 hours, 4,687 km were run (average: 97.639 km/h).
After the 48 hour record, the attempt went on for three more hours, so that also the 5,000 km record was broken. On this mileage average speed increased to 97.781 km/h. The Lambretta employed for the 48 hour record was the same used in the previous attempt, with a higher hood that did a better job in protecting the rider. In the engine, maximum rpm had been cautiously kept at 5,300. The fuel was again 100-octane rating petrol with 10% lubricant oil and consumption resulted in just over 4 litres/100 km.
Once broken all the records over medium and long distances, Lambretta turned to shorter distances with a more accurate aerodynamic bodywork. During the '49-'50 winter, it was rumoured that Vespa would take part in the contest and would do it with a scooter with a complete fairing. Lambretta tried to beat its rival on time and went back to Monthléry on the 21st February 1950 with three champions: the Benelli "pioneer" Dario Ambrosini joined in fact Masserini and Masetti. The weather was not so nice and a troublesome wind was blowing. Despite this, five important records were set: the 50 km, 50 miles, 100 km, 100 miles and the one-hour record. This time, the broken records were not from before the war, but those set by the French Remondini in October 1948 with the Jonghi 125 fitted with a double crankshaft engine. The two-hour record was added to these, but then the wind was too strong and the Lambretta frightfully skidded on straight stretches and had to quit. Average speeds ranged from 126.059 km/h of the 50 miles to the 121.353 km in an hour, but over the two hours speed lowered to 115.872 km/h because of the strong wind. Technical details and photographic records of the vehicle are very scarce. From the few photos, one can see a scooter with a reduced front section, fairing with side openings for access and a showy front air intake for engine cooling. Also the engine must have been considerably improved, mainly because the engagement was to be short, but, as we said, there are no documents.

A Lambretta scooter over 200 km/h

Innocenti's response to Piaggio's record on the flying kilometre
is not to be waited for. After a first positive result, the Lambretta scooter reaches such a limit that the match is considered closed forever.

Innocenti had been getting ready for some time for the flying record, and, after having been anticipated by Piaggio, increased efforts to beat its rival. According to research made on a variety of aereodynamic shapes (shown here in some drawings), the initial choice was with the leaning rider, in a position similar to that later used by Baumm at NSU. A prototype was made and tested by Rizzi at Monza, but it was difficult to drive and discarded. A solution with the crouched - but astride on the saddle - rider was then chosen. This solution tended to higher resistance to advancement and it was necessary to increase engine power. The tests for the record with the final prototype were carried out at five in the morning on the Bergamo-Brescia motorway in a stretch near Ospitaletto. Giulio Alfieri, who was then a young engineer at Innocenti and later a designer at Maserati, mentions that one week before the record they were working full time in the test room, but hp did not come out. Ingegner Torre, who was the technical manager at Innocenti, after many tests was disconsolate and at nine in the evening left the test room saying "Ingegner Alfieri, do whatever you think!". "With mechanics Cassola and Giuliani" says Alfieri "we disassembled head and cylinder once again and modified transfers and finally obtained an increase from 16 to 18-18.5 hp. In the morning, Torre was moved: the record was within reach". Romolo Ferri was the one who was driving the faired Lambretta in the attempt taking place on Saturday 14th April on the straight stretch of the "Fettuccia di Terracina", a stretch of Via Appia near the town of Terracina. Traffic reasons limited the road closing to two hours, from 8 to 10, but the weather was not promising. Finally, it was decided to make the attempt in any case, even if it was late. The first lap on the kilometre was impressive, with an average speed of 195.652 km/h. In the opposite direction, running was disturbed by wind gusts and the average lowered to 184.615 km/h. Total back and forth average was in any case close to the 190 km/h (exactly 189.973). On the flying mile average speed was 190.391 km/h one way and 184.804 the way back (average of average 187.556 km/h). The attempt to improve these results was not made (even if certainly possible) because it was now half an hour over the allowed time and it was not possible to keep the road closed. The engine used in the attempt was boosted. Tests were made with a volumetric compressor derived from a Fimac type depressor used on airplanes and therefore well known by ingegner Torre. Drawings dated 2 February 1951 show a 55 mm external rotor diameter and a 55 mm width, with a 172 cm3 capacity per rev. Obviously, as the compressor rpm is not known, it is not possible to value its liter capacity per minute. In this attempt, according to what the magazine "Motociclismo" reports, the compressor liter capacity per minute was equal to that generated in the engine by the piston stroke, so we can speak of an intake engine. In fact, on the contrary, according to the evidence given by ingegner Alfieri, there was a little supercharging, even if pressure during this first try was reduced (0.5 relative bar). The ignition was by coil and the carburettor a 26 mm diffusor Dell'Orto. The employed fuel, internally marked by number 15, was composed, according to what Riccardo Rizzi recalls, by 70% special 106-octane Agip petrol, 25% alcohol and 5% ether, with the addition of 5% medical castor oil. For the transmission from the engine to gear a disc had been added to the clutch.

The one-hour record. A month after the exploit on the "Fettuccia of Terracina" the faired Lambretta was dispatched to Monthléry for attempts on short mileages and the one-hour record. A new rider joined Romolo Ferri: Carlo Poggi. During the attempts, from the 19th to the 27th May, the two riders took turns at driving in a sort of family fight. On the 19th, Poggi beat the records on the 10 kilometres, 10 miles, 50 kilometres and 50 miles, with average speeds included between 143 and 161 km/h. On the 23rd Ferri slightly improved the record on the 10 kilometres (144 km/h compared to Poggi's 143), and very slightly the 10 miles. His goals were the 100-km record, which he set at the average of 160 km/h, and the 100-miles one (average 159 km/h). On the 25th they run again, both Ferri and Poggi, on the shorter mileages. In this match, the first one brought the 10-km record to 150 km/h and the 10-miles to 154 km/h. The second rider did even better because he brought the 10-km record to 151 km/h and the 10-miles one to 156 km/h. Finally, on the 27th, Ferri tried the one-hour record and he broke it by running a significant 158.6 km. With this result the exploit could be considered closed and the team went back to Lambrate. The scooter employed in these attempts had an engine without compressor and a fairing similar to that of the flying kilometre record, but completed in the higher part so that only the rider's helmet stuck out.

The last touch. Now Lambretta had practically won all the 125 class records, with very few exceptions, and Piaggio did not seem to be wanting to oppose them. The match could be dropped, but Pierluigi Torre was not satisfied yet: he knew that the absolute record of the scooter could surpass 200 km/h and wanted to prove it. The "Fettuccia di Terracina" was dismissed because it was too dangerous. This time the records were challenged on German motorways, and exactly on the stretch between Munich and Ingolstadt, that had already been the setting of many prestigious records of all German motorcycles and motorcars. The Lambretta was again modified with a slight reduction of the frontal section and a modification in the front part. The engine power and boosting level were increased (apparently 1.5 bars relative and over 21 hp). On the 8th of August the machine was on its run and the expected result was obtained. On the flying kilometre the average speed was 201 km/h and 200 km/h were maintained also for the class 125 records with very few exceptions. Piaggio did no longer show the desire to contrast them and the match was over.

 

Dealer Specials

With Lambretta producing factory racers in the early years to promote the brand, so Lambretta dealers built racing scooters, or "dealer specials" to promote themselves, and of course the Lambretta. Many dealers were active in motor sports, to gain exposure they built copies of their race scooters, or just built one offs or limited additions.

The AF S Types started around 1965 with the TV200 then carried on through the 60s with mainly the SX200 but AF also made S types from the smaller engined 150s. 200cc and smaller cc models were called Extra S types, where as all models of 225cc and above are known as Super S types.. Of the original AF "250 S" made by Aurther, only two engines were ever made, and none were sold to the public. However around 1978 to 1980, Ray Kemp who now owns AF did produce an AF250 road going scooter for customers. With all AF S types, AF Rayspeed built the basic specification of the scooters, and the customer would then chose which goodies he/she wanted to add. The AF S types have been continually produced, from their days based in Watford, and also when they moved in the late 60s early 70s to Malton in North Yorkshire. Even today AF build the S types, with either a TS1 engine of 200 to 225cc, or a Rapido 250cc version.