Monday, 29 November 2010


1966 becomes the absolute top year for Honda. They win the manufacturers' world championship in all five classes, for this year they also compete in the 500 cc class, and individual world championships in three classes. It is a unique fact, a record still standing today. Although during the years 1958-60, MV also won the manufacturers' title in all the classes they contested, there were only four classes then – and the competition of the MVs was weak, not to use the term non-existent.
This year Mike Hailwood, arguably the greatest motorcycle racer ever, joins the Honda team as a works rider (his participation and resulting first world championship 250 cc in 1961 was as a privateer, with the Hondas on a loan basis). After Redman's retirement, Stuart Graham, son of the famous Leslie Graham, joins the team to assist Hailwood.

In the 50 cc there's fierce competition between Taveri and Bryans on their Hondas, and Anscheidt, after the withdrawal of Kreidler, on a Suzuki twin. After the one but last GP of the season, the Isle of Man TT (this year one but last because strikes in Great Britain prevented the TT from being held in June as usual), all three riders have 26 points, and a chance of the title. Then it becomes known, that the Japanese GP this year will not be held on the Honda owned Suzuka circuit, but on the new Fisco course, whereupon Honda decides not to participate, and the individual title goes to Anscheidt.

In the 125 cc class, the competition for Honda this year comes from Phil Read and Bill Ivy on Yamahas, not from Suzuki. Taveri takes the title, with Ivy second and Bryans third. The manufacturers' title goes to Honda, with Yamaha second and Suzuki third.

In the 250 cc class, Redman and Hailwood have to defeat the Yamaha four cylinders of Read and Ivy. Although the Yamahas are slightly more powerful with 60 bhp, the combination of Hailwood and the Honda six is so superior, that Hailwood wins the first seven races and is already world champion halfway through the season. In total he wins 10 of the 11 races this year. Read is second and Redman, who breaks his arm in Franchorchamps and retires from racing, is third. In the manufacturers' standing, Honda is first, followed by Yamaha, MZ and Bultaco.

In the 350 cc class, Hailwood wins the title with six victories, Agostini is second with three wins, and Renzo Pasolini (Aermacchi) is third. Honda wins the manufacturers' title, followed by MV Agusta, Aermacchi and Jawa. The 500 cc becomes a different story. Redman, who has decided that this will be his last season, wants to round off his career with a 500 cc world championship, so Hailwood will concentrate on the 250 and 350 cc, and Redman on the 500. In Germany Redman wins, with Agostini second. Hailwood can't compete, since there's only one 500 Honda. In Holland both Redman and Hailwood have a 500. Agostini initially leads the race, with Redman and Hailwood following. Hailwood overtakes both Redman and Ago, and takes over the lead, but crashes, and in the later stages Redman overtakes Agostini and wins.
In Belgium, one week later, Redman has been fastest in practice, one second faster than Hailwood and over 6 seconds faster than Agostini, but, during the race, in pouring rain, he falls and breaks his left arm. Hailwood, although missing his top gear, builds up a lead of over a minute over Agostini, until further gearbox trouble forces him to retire, and Ago wins. Agostini now has the best chances for the world championship, with one win and two second places, while Hailwood has still zero points. In East Germany again Hailwood retires. In Ulster all is well and Hailwood wins, and he also wins the TT on Man. By now Agostini has amassed so many points, that Hailwood has to win Monza to keep his championship hopes alive. He leads the race, but the Honda engine, normally a paragon of reliability, blows up, and Agostini is world champion. Honda takes the manufacturers' title, MV is second and Matchless third.


  1. with me born in 1966 it was always important who was motorcycle world champ that year and i was lucky enough to meet jim redman two years ago at skerries roadrace when he was doing parade laps i like the blog and enjoyed the 1966 pictures ed.

  2. Thank you for your comment Ed

    I appreciate your kind words about the blog, and envy you a little bit for having meet Mr. Redman. Funny that Jim Redman also retired from motorcycle racing in 1966 :)

    Your blog : has been added to the “Check this out!!!” section on Cling on for dear life.

    Thank you for following this blog.

    With regards,

    Jesper Vind