The Story of a Unique Prototype Road Racer

Wanker’s Kawasaki KZ900-powered prototype ready to roll at Pocono in ’81.

Wanker’s Kawasaki KZ900-powered prototype ready to roll at Pocono in ’81.

A few days ago on the Rider Files Facebook page I posted a photo of the Team Wanker prototype ridden in a 1984 WERA National Endurance race at Road America with Mike Murphy at the controls. The post generated a lot of buzz due to the unique nature of the motorcycle, in particular components that were on the cutting edge in the early 1980s, when the bike was developed (pieces like a 16-inch front wheel, mono-shock, ram air brake cooling, etc.).

Charlie Finney, the owner of the bike, wrote in to tell us a little of the history of the machine and he included a few more detailed shots. Thanks to Charlie for solving the mystery of this machine and for giving us some insights on one of the leading endurance teams of the era.

Charlie writes:

A look under the skin of the unique Team Wanker prototype.

A look under the skin of the unique Team Wanker prototype.

A bit of history and a couple of scanned pictures.  I purchased the rolling chassis as a kit from Robert (Bob) Behn in 1978 on returning from the bol d’or with George Millar.  Given the opportunity doing the bol d’or should be on everyone’s bucket list, if you give a damn about m/c roadracing.    1979 came and went, Bob was struggling and delivery was slow, but the major pieces made it in January of 1980.  WERA had just instituted the Prototype class in endurance racing and unit looked like just the ticket.   The RB Racing story can be seen at: http://www.rbracing-rsr.com/aboutrb.htm.   Clicking on the pictures will bring up larger images.

I got the bike assembled just in time for the 6 hr. race at the old MAR track at Wentzville, MO on Memorial Day weekend.  I no longer recall who rode with me, I do recall that 6 hrs. on the KZ900 brake pads burned them completely out and we finished the race metal on metal on the front.  We took overall win the first race out, it was my birthday.  I felt better about the long time to get there.

Wanker’s Mike Murphy at Road America in 1984 – a motorcycle that makes me think of the Mad Max movies.

Wanker’s Mike Murphy at Road America in 1984 – a motorcycle that makes me think of the Mad Max movies.

Various folks campaigned the bike with me, Tony Swain, John Howell, Brian (Buck) Blankenbaker, George Millar, Bob Marquardt and others.  We were Grand National Champs for Prototype in 1980.

The first picture was taken at the 6 hr at Pocono in 1981, I had joined forces with Mike Murphy and Ed Kay (Team Wanker), they were Grand National Champs for 1980 on their KZ750.  We merged the teams and ran number 1/1, no one complained about our numbering scheme so that was the way it was.  The second picture is the way the chassis looked at the start of 1981.  By this time I had been through half a dozen brake systems, wheels, forks, fuel systems, etc.  We never ran anything other than a stock 900 engine as I felt it was a better use of my time to work on stopping and handling than working on engines.  Almost forgot, we took the over-all win at Pocono also.

I have some pictures from the 30 hrs or Rockingham from 1970 should anyone care.  I eventually peeled the Grand National Champion plate from the trophy and threw the trophy away, along with about 200 others.  I’m just not much for dusting or being owned by stuff.

There is plenty more to this story, but it’s all history now.

Charlie

6 thoughts on “The Story of a Unique Prototype Road Racer

  1. Very trick machine,thanks for putting up for us to see and enjoy. I’d love to see more 30 Hour photo’s. Can’t get enough vintage RR stuff !
    Nick

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  2. Charlie I would love to see some of the pictures from the 30 Hours of Rockingham!!! My dad was the promoter of this race and he took a real bath on the deal… Thanks Nick DiBruno

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    1. Nick,

      I just had some photos scanned and there are a few from the 30 Hours of Rockingham in 1980. That was a real cool event. I just remember flying down the infield at night, then setting up for a right hand turn into pure darkness … you couldn’t see the turn until you made the turn. Freaky.

      You have to wade through a few others, but the ones with the Red 592 with the full fairing are from Rockingham in 1980.

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  3. Hi Charlie,
    George Nolan and I rode and won Rockingham with Mike and Ed on a KZ750 around 1980. Can’t remember exactly what year. Would like pictures or articles if available. I remember a picture of the winners being posted in CycleNews.
    Thank you,
    Dave Kaler
    Davekaler123@gmail.com

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