A  History of Classic Racing  50cc Motorcycles


This page is under construction.

Geoffrey Saunders Bedford.
Motorcycle Racer

Birth date: 4th July 1930
Birth Place: Coates, Peterborough
Date of Death : 18 July 1978
Place of Death : Canterbury
Nationality: English 
Gender: Male

Geoff had always wanted a motorcycle but his Dad would not allow it. In the thirties what your Dad said was the law. However the moment he reached 21 years he was his own man and bought a James Captain. 

How did Geoff get into 50cc racing? Well, I don't know the trigger that began all of this but whoever pulled it, started a sequence of events that carried on even to today.  Vic Dedden could have been that person as he was a good friend, a member of the Chiltern 50 Motorcycle Club and very keen on 50cc racing, perhaps it was this that pushed Geoff into the "WASPs" Challenge.                                                                   Picture:  1951 James Captain Motorcycle

Geoff Bedford bought his first racing motorcycle in 1958 from Maserati. This seemed to be the right thing to do as others, Charlie Mates, Beryl Swain and Vic Dedden had also bought them. Geoff checked them out and found the Italian write-ups good reading, The 50/T2/SS came with a dual-beam back-bone frame, wrap-around front mudguard, race number carriers in front of the headlamp and at the rear, and a dummy megaphone exhaust pipe. These features made this model particularly popular among the younger enthusiasts as it gave the impression of being a larger engined bike. They had competed in the Italian ' Giro d'Italia Motociclistico' (The Motorcycle Tour of Italy), the 'Milano-Taranto' (The Milan to Taranto race) and many other local races, showing that they had reliability.

Maserati did not only make cars in the 1950's but also plugs, batteries, machine tools and motor cycles:  In the early 1950's the Orsi family "split the Maserati combine" up between them, and Ida Orsi soon realised that the motorcycle industry was booming in Italy. Rather than attempt to start from scratch, she approached the small but well regarded firm of "Italmoto" in Bologna, and bought the entire operation and moved it lock stock and barrel to Modena, where the Italmoto 160 T4 model, a compact 160cc single, was simply rebadged a Maserati. By 1956, the year of the superb T2/SS (TOAD). The Italmoto design had sold in sufficient numbers so as to allow Maserati to develop a new range of smaller capacity machines of their own.

They started with an "entry level" machine, the T2, which came in a traditional style - the T2/U for men, and a step-through, the T2/D, for women. Both sold well enough to encourage sporting derivatives, firstly the 50/T2/S and then, as here, the "pocket rocket" T2/SS. The "Sprint Speciale" was powered by a tuned version of the same engine, and was rated as good enough to hit 75 kph! The styling, coupled with an outrageously large "can" for a 50cc machine gave it instant cachet amongst the "speed" set in Italy and they sold strongly and were campaigned in many events through out Europe. 

They had a three speed, hand change gearbox controlled from a twist grip, it was also believed it would develop 3bhp. The model's 'nick name' apparently came from Lina Borri, a Bologna Maserati dealer's reaction as he opened the first example of the T2/S's packing-case in his work shop - he asked his brother - "What is this ugly toad?" He clearly had little taste, as the model sold very well, and when the T2/SS was launched, it was indeed christened "The Toad" and the brother's adopted this unusual logo for their sales decals. The boom for Maserati was at its peak in 1956 and 1957, however, and with factory backing on events such as the Motorcycle Tour of Italy and the Milan-Taranto races, their sales reached a highly profitable state, and yet, within 3 years, in 1960 they had ceased production.



Geoff did have some problems with his and referred them to Maserati in Italy for resolution. A number of letters passed between the two but the factory could not guide Geoff in getting his bike to compete with the ITOM.


This is Geoff at an early meeting on the Cadwell Park circuit in 1958. He is riding No. 126, the Maserati 50. The tuning on this engine was limited and he still ran the exhaust pipe and silencer that was standard with this model. His adversary in the picture is Roy Nicholson, riding a 1958  ITOM. 

As you can see Roy is using an open pipe after changing from the "Cow Horn" megaphone exhaust which came, for the Astor Super Sport in 1957. This model also had the change from the bottom link forks to telescopic.

The Maserati "pocket rocket" T2/SS. "Sprint Speciale" was used for a couple of seasons and Geoff managed to maintain the interest in the 50s but although his skills of racing improved, he was always down the field with regard to good placings.  The bike of the day was the ITOM but he had already spent money on the Maserati and with a family was reluctant to invest in another mount.

This lack of performance from the Maserati caused Geoff to re-think the bike.  The frame, with the running gear was good but the engine could not be tuned to match the power of the ITOM.  The solution was to swap out the "Mas" engine and install an ITOM unit.

I had met Geoff's friend Vic Dedden when I was racing in the bigger classes back in the late 1950s and although I had loved watching the WASPs, I had not at that time ventured into that class but through him I met many 50cc riders including Geoff. Vic was a very friendly person and used to chat with me about the 50s and the excitement of their racing. The 50c Enduro, run by the Chiltern 50 Racing Club had begun in 1960 and so as a club member I took a trip to Snetterton a year later, to see Vic who was entered for the 1961 Enduro partnered with Mick Woollett, the journalist, on Vic's DEMM Dik Dik and at that meeting I saw that Geoff had also entered the race and had already changed the engine to a three speed ITOM.

Geoff entered the 1961 Enduro with  the GSB, teamed with F. Briggs. 

Geoff's approach to his bikes was very methodical. he kept records of the changes he made and the results. As you will see later this enabled him to re-trace his steps if a change was not successful. With this approach the Mas-ITOM slowly developed into a race winning machine and on occasions he beat his friend, Vic Dedden, who had a very quick MOTO DEMM, Dik Dik.

Geoff originally named the bike the "GBS", shortening the Geoff Bedford Special to its initials. However during his racing years he raced at tracks further away from London and encountered another bike with the same name. This was the GBS of G. L. Baxter. As Geoff's middle initial was "S" he decided to re-name the Mas-itom to "GSB" using the three initials of his name: Geoffrey Saunders Bedford.

Carrying on the Enduro theme, we move to the next one that I currently have records on and this could be titled: 

ONE MANS RACE - The Enduro - August 4th 1962

Well - two men’s really - Michael & David Simmonds who led from start to finish with their beautiful Tohatsu Special. Some people had no luck at all. For example Geoff Bedford was in and out of the pits with his G.S.B, as were quite a few more. Charlie Mates “dropped it” – as did quite 'uncharacteristically' our unique “Jasper- Smith”;

Geoff had set his bike up with a 15 tooth engine sprocket and a 30 tooth rear.  This seemed OK from previous experience but he found it too high.  For 40% of the lap he could only use 2nd gear with top coming in on the long straights only.

When the bike was on song and the wind low, she ran well but with the over gearing Geoff found the head wind down the main straight a problem. As the race progressed the engine began to misfire and it needed to come into the pits too often. Most of the trouble was the points, which pitted badly and the longest stop, which dropped them way down the order, was the clutch centre nut coming loose. 

The G.S.B did finish but Geoff never made a note of the position, so if anyone has a results sheet I would be happy with a copy.

The 1963 Snetterton 50cc Enduro.

When the Chequered flag falls in the afternoon on October 12th to mark the end of the 1963 "Enduro" it will indeed be a memorable milestone in the History of the Racing 50 Motorcycle Club, for it will mark the successful running of the fourth "Enduro", with 1,000 Racing Miles having been completed and will have established beyond all possible doubt the reliability of our 50c.c. Racing Machines.  Jack Leary.

Well, it was certainly well supported as there were 42 racing pairs with their mounts lined up for the mass start of the race. Geoff and Vic Dedden had drawn number No.6 and their entry was noted as 'GEOFF BEDFORD / VIC DEDDEN G.S.B. COMPETITZIONE'. The bike seemed to run well in testing and they were looking forward to a good race.

Pages taken from Geoff's notebook for the race

In this picture you can see Geoff, wearing the American Helmet of the day, pushing off on the GSB. this was the mass start of the 1963 Chiltern Enduro, held at the Snetterton Race circuit.

Around Geoff 1963 are: 
No.4 K. Wilson-Sutter/ K. Cole                ITOM
No.15 Colin Skinner/ Victor Wijeratne  ITOM
No.29 Desmond Laid/ Alan Laid            Maserati
No.41 Alan Peryer/ David Bodlington    Woolley Kreidler

Unfortunately the GSB did not finish the race on this occasion as, although Geoff took the first hour and had a good ride, the gremlins were planning their action. Geoff was feeling happy with the bike's performance, so when he pulled in for a change of rider he felt comfortable that they would maintain a good position and that Vic would also have a good ride. 

Vic took over and drove off at a fair speed for the first lap, he passed the start and finish line on the second lap and the bike sounded good.  on the third lap however, the big end seized and that was the end of the day for their racing.

"Over 70mph - for 250 Miles -in the 1964 Enduro"

Geoff and Vic Dedden had decided to enter the 1964, Racing 50 Club's, Snetterton 250 mile Enduro. Choice of bikes was decided between them, the outcome being that they would use the GSB Maserati/ITOM. Although they had experienced a big end blow-up in the 1963 Enduro when Vic was riding, the GSB was more superior to the DEMM and by comparison had more reliability.

In this 1964 race, Geoff knew that he and Vic were up against some stiff competition as the grid was building with some well known names and machinery.

Although Bill Ivy had decided to quit the 50cc class before joining Geoff Monty, he made a one-off return for the 7 October 1964 meeting, when he was co-rider with Paul Latham riding a HONDA CR110 production racer. Rod Scivyer partnering A. Hutchings along with Charlie Mates and George Ashton were also on CR110 machines. The Simmonds Brothers were there with their fast TOHATSU.

Geoff set up the GBS in a similar fashion to the 1963 data, running a 15 tooth front sprocket and a 28 tooth rear. The intention was to change this once the bike had warmed up and shown what it could do in the first stint. The bike had shown a top speed of 70mph down the Norwich straight in the '63 Enduro and the general performance had been good. However when Geoff handed over to Vic for the next stint and Vic managed 3 laps, the big end went solid. That was the end of the Enduro for No.6, the G.S.B. Masitom. Based on this the decision not to use the 20 tooth rear sprocket on this occasion proved to be a good one.

The remainder of the settings were as for the previous Enduro: The Plug was an Auto 95, The exhaust was the shaped cone, open mega and the petrol was National Benzol Super. The Oil for this year was Castrol “R” at ½ pint to the gallon and Castrol XXL for the gearbox.

During the race, the GSB ran well with Geoff and Vic taking their turns riding while their pit crew carried out the usual bike and rider support and up-dated them on their progress.

By contrast, Bill Ivy and Paul Latham did not have it all their own way. For most of the 93 laps that the winners covered, they were hotly challenged by another Honda CR110 ridden by Charlie Mates and George Ashton. However, 12 laps from the finish the Mates/Ashton bike ground to a halt with suspected valve gear trouble; although they still managed to finish fourth overall and third in their class

Geoff was delighted with the GSB as they came in 5th after the Mates/Ashton machine and were the first, non-production racer, to finish.

The final results for the 50cc Enduro run by the Racing 50 Club at Snetterton over 93 laps - 250 miles were:

1st W.D. Ivy/P. Latham (Honda)
2nd A. Hutchins/R. Scivyer (Honda)
3rd D.A. Simmonds/M.J. Simmonds (Tohatsu)
4th G.F. Ashton/C. Mates (Honda)
5th G. Bedford/V. Dedden (GBS)
6th B. Goldthorpe/M. Sampson (Kreidler)

Someone you would not expect to see on the 50cc grid was John Cooper of Norton fame. On this occasion he was a competitor against Geoff and Vic and rode a Honda 50cc Cub (Production Road Class). He was entered with G. Towle by Bob Minion, Honda Motorcycle Agent. Note the road legal number plate.

Circuit Racing Events

The local circuits of Cadwell Park, Snetterton and Brands Hatch were favourite with Cadwell Park, perhaps coming top.. He had many successes on these circuits and also put up a good performance on the other tracks in the UK as well as Ireland.

Let's start with one of the trips to Ireland. This was for the ARDS Motorcycle Club, 25 mile Irish Championship Races that were held on the Kirkistown Airfield in 1961. The pictures below are taken from the program for the the 50cc races and from the internet.

Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit was opened in 1953, and continues to this day, hosting karting, rallying, rallycross, motorcycle and supermoto, and currently claiming to be the fastest circuit in Ireland. The track is well established, and clearly visible in aerial photographs. But the original layout did not have the chicane on the main straight, as shown below. 

The 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland have completed a massive tree planting exercise at Kirkistown Race Circuit, with help from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and their Forests For Our Future programme.  Kirkistown Race Circuit will become a track that winds through picturesque woodland in a similar manner to the Aberdare circuit in Wales.

The picture above, No.9 is of J. Morrow, on his much modified, two speed NSU Quickly, which powered him to the 200cc class award. Here he negotiates the hairpin in fine style at the Temple "100" meeting. He also took part in the Kirkistown race. Unfortunately I do not have results for the meeting.

The Mainland Circuits

Cadwell Park 

is a motor racing circuit in Lincolnshire, England, 5 miles (8 km) south of Louth, England. Sited on former parkland across a steep-sided valley with dips and crests, the circuit features sharp changes in gradient, including one section called The Mountain where bikes can become airborne by up to several feet. Its mix of challenging corners has led to its nickname as the Mini-Nürburgring. The full circuit length is 2.173 miles. For some bike meetings there is the Club circuit at 1.481 miles.

The records for Geoff at the Cadwell circuit are from programs and so I have listed them in chronological order. Where I have found reports on the races, these have been included with them.

As this page is for the GSB bike as well as Geoff, I have included this shot of Vic Dedden riding at Crystal Palace. If anyone does have records of the Crystal Palace races I would be most grateful for copies.

This race was a DNF

Brands Hatch, Race Circuit, Kent, England

Brands Hatch 22nd May 1961

Brands Hatch 20th August 1961

Status of the bike during the race

Things to be done on return to the workshop

Silverstone Race Circuit, Northamptonshire, England

First Meeting on the Gosling Stadium. 14th July 1962

SHOWING everyone else the way round, “Charles Mates (ITOM) was bang on form on Saturday; when the Racing 50 MCC staged a first meeting on the Gosling Stadium cycling track at Welwyn Garden City, Herts., 14th July 1962. This was held in glorious sunny weather but before a medium sized crowd of only a few hundred, Memories of Brooklands were brought back by the presence of the Weybridge track, record holder Noel Pope, who acted as starter for the first heat.

This is a page out of Geoff's booklet where he noted the actions of the day. 

There were no pictures available for Geoff riding at this Goslimg  meeting and I do not have a program, If anyone has a copy would they please get in touch with me.

Paddington Cycle Track, Paddington, London, England. 29th September 1962.

 Paddington Cycle Track, Paddington, London, England. 29th September 1962

Currently I am unable to find data on this race apart from the information from Geoff. The map is of the Paddington Stadium in 1962 and the page is from Geoff's race notes. As you see the race took place on the 29th September 1962 . If anyone has information or a program I would welcome a copy. If you have motorcycle magazines for the weeks after the race, please look through them and see if information is there.

Snetterton Race Circuit, Norfolk. 






Some other Meetings Notes and Jottings

Notes for Mallory Park, No date and a non-starter in the race

Itom Main jet sizes for different tracks

Sprocket sizes for Geoff's Itom at different tracks

A reason why Geoff gave up racing? "Keeping a Family"!  

Steve Bedford with Vic Dedden at Snetterton 13th October i963,

 with the GSB/ Masitom. Geoff was taking the picture.

Vic Dedden carried on using the GSB and now it is 

Steve's turn to race and parade the little Wasp.

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