Another photo in the Jim Greening Series - in 1971 BSA/Triumph launched the Anglo-American Match Races (later called Trans-Atlantic Match Races). American motorcycle road racing was beginning to emerge as a separate entity from the country’s flat track roots. The question arose at a bar in Daytona Beach in 1971 between the American and British BSA/Triumph big wigs as to who were the best road racers between the Americans or the British. While the liquor flowed the concept of the Match Races emerged and, in the simpler times of the early-1970s racing scene, the event was quickly organized.
According to 1971 Daytona 200 winner the match wasn’t exactly fair. He said in a 2003 feature for SuperbikePlanet.com:
“If I had been in the bar that night, I would have asked our guys ‘what were you thinking?’ But I didn’t get that chance, so about mid-week [at Daytona] we got handed a packet that included an itinerary for a trip to England. We were told it was just some kind of exhibition. When we got to England we found it was more like Custer’s Last Stand. Here we were matched up against the likes of Paul Smart, John Cooper and a bunch other British short circuit veterans on the tracks they had all grown up on and all of them with new “Low-Boy” BSA and Triumph triples. Only Mann and Gary Nixon (who was riding Romero’s Daytona bike) were on “Low-Boys” and the rest of us had the taller, heavier year-old machines. We ended getting smoked pretty badly in that first series, but we still had fun and set the stage for a series that eventually would see Americans winning over there.”
Brits Ray Pickerell and Paul Smart dominated the inaugural series of races held at Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Oulton Park. Only Dick Mann and Don Castro were able to hold up some American pride by way of excellent rides. Mann scored podium finishes in three of the six races, with a second at Oulton Park his finest outing. Castro took a third in the second race at Brands Hatch.
The American effort was hurt when arguably the best American road race of the time Gary Nixon, crashed in practice, broke his wrist and was unable to race in the event. Had Nixon raced the Brits may have still won, but undoubtedly the American team would have made a better showing.