If you were paying attention to American roadracing in the 1990s (more and more resembling a golden era), the name Martin Adams might ring a bell. Martin begat the Commonwealth Racing team, which in 1989 won its first AMA title: That would be the AMA Pro Twins GP championship (at the last corner, at the last round of the Series (Topeka), with Randy Renfrow in the saddle of the Commonwealth Honda RS850).
Later, when Camel sponsorship came to town in 1991 (remember tobacco?), Commonwealth became known as Smokin’ Joe’s Honda, winning four 600 AMA Supersport championships over the next seven seasons as well as more than a few Superbike races. When Honda’s new RC45 arrived on scene in 1995, Martin’s team won 19 0f 21 Superbike and Supersport races entered that year, with Miguel Duhamel taking both championships on the Smokin’ Joe’s RC and CBR600F3. Not bad.
Those were great motorcycles, too, but this story isn’t about them. It’s about Martin’s first racer, and our introductory Reader’s Ride: the Commonwealth Racing Norton he campaigned in 1984 and ’85. Our recent news posts about Norton’s current fiduciary woes started him down the memory lane of his own Norton misdeeds. Take it away, Mr. Adams:
“The name came from my being from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, our rider being from Great Britain, while our crew was Australian – the British Commonwealth of Nations. I knew just enough about Nortons to make myself dangerous. I had a Dunstall Commando. This was a Norton short-stroke 750 with bigger pistons, revised “squish” combustion chambers, and a one-piece lightened crank, netting – whatever! I had no dyno!! It seemed fast at the time!
“The twin contained a C.R. Axtell cam, increased inlet length (torque) with two late-model Amal concentric carbs (38mm, I think). Total loss ignition. A five-speed Quaife …read more