A Rare Piece Of Triumph Racing History

A Rare Piece Of Triumph Racing History

So what is this “rare piece of Triumph racing history” that we will be covering today?

Anyone want to take a guess?

What we have here is a rare piece of Triumph motorcycle racing history that has made its way from England, to Lancaster, Ca only 53 years later

Let’s take a look...

Triumph Racing History; Daytona 200 (1966-1967) 

1967 Gary Nixon Daytona 200 Aboard Triumph T100R

1967 Daytona 200 Winner - Gary Nixon #9

From 1966-1967 Triumph had 2 successful back-to-back racing wins at Daytona (Florida) 

For 1966, Buddy Elmore was riding aboard a JOMO tuned Triumph T100R when he took home 1st place and for 1967, the following year, Gary Nixon got the #1 win aboard a Tri-Cor tuned Triumph T100R

Both Triumph wins put a stop to Harley-Davidson’s 3-year winning spree at Daytona 

The dual Daytona wins did help the Triumph brand at the time which in turn led the “launch” for the new Triumph T100R “Daytona” production bike 


The man behind the wins 

Doug Hele In Front Of A Factory Triumph T100R Engine

Doug Hele (left)

Buddy Elmore and Gary Nixon were both very talented racers during their time period 

However, if you look deeper, you will find a talented engineer in which helped them both win Daytona 

The man behind the project was Doug Hele..

Doug Hele wanted to put Triumph on the “map”, which consisted of winning and competing

This idea of racing  (winning) would help the Triumph name and sales which was being overshadowed by Honda and many of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers during the 1960s 

Not only a win, but to put a dent Harley-Davidson winning streak at Daytona 

With Doug’s experience and design from Norton he was the perfect man to make Triumph, Triumphant

The race bikes 

Testing Triumph T100R Factory Race Engine

Left to right - Jack Shemans, Authur Jakeman, Doug Hele & Les Williams overlooking the factory T100R engine in 1967   

With Doug Hele in charge of the controls he only had 5 months to make a potent Triumph unit 500 that could compete with Harleys 750 flat head at the Daytona 200

A standard 500 unit twin machine rated at 32 BHP was “built” and “modified” by Doug and his engineers to achieve an impressive 52 BHP at 8,000 RPM 

The benefits of using the Triumph unit 500 was the short stroke and the ability to make power at high RPMs 

 Not only where Doug’s 500s fast, they where also “one-offs” and highly modified; more so than any standard production 500 

Modified frames, engines, oil tank, timing covers, cranks, Fontana drum brakes, heads, rocker boxes and wheels; not one single detail was overlooked or modified for racing 

 Each detail was done to achieve the 52 BHP 

Ignition housing 

Lucas ENM Points Housing

Now that we have covered some brief racing history let’s talk about this “rare part”

This ignition unit was made by Lucas for both Triumph & BSA "racing" twins 

Inside the hosing you will find dual bronze-cage ball bearings similar as to what you would find in a standard K2F Lucas magneto 

Although this housing looks like a modified Lucas magneto, it’s not 

Made from cast alloy then machined to spec, this piece here features the date stamping “68” for 1968 


Points Assembly (Inside The ENM Lucas Ignition)

Further inside you will also find dual “6CA” style points with stiffer spring bands, solid advance shaft (no advance unit), blanchard ground points plate, wiring, output shaft and an oil seal 

This ignition housing is the same unit that was fitted to Gary Nixon’s and Buddy Elmores winning Daytona bikes (as well as Percy Tait’s, and a few others)

The structure and overall design was to prevent ignition deflection at high Rpms according to Doug Hele inside his book “Triumph Experimental”

 Although a “one off” piece for the Triumph race bikes, I could only assume a part like this would have cost a fortune to design, cast and machine for only a few bikes 

How many of these ignitions actually survive?

Lucas ENM Housing With Lucas Tag Plate

With this piece potentially belonging to Doug Heles race bikes, it’s hard to imagine that this part actually exists 

Not only is it a rare piece, it’s NOS, which means it was never fitted (or used) on any bike 

This “clock-wise” ignition was unique for Doug’s race motors, in fact, without the special magnesium timing cover, this unit really cannot be used without some serious modifications to a stock timing cover 

The male spade gear on the shaft was turned and driven by the exhaust cam with a special fitting 

Final words 

ENM Points & Parts

My gut feeling tells me that this housing was a spare for the race bikes or Lucas actually made a very small run for Triumph and sold-off the others

The 1968 date code on the housing makes me confident of my point above as the racing season Triumph entered was from 1966-1967, however some 1968 bikes that where raced where rumored to be 1967 machines..

I have seen this housing fitted on "replica" race bikes machines, so it’s very possible there could be more out there than what we believe 

Although we will never find out the “true” history behind this one piece here, however it is interesting to think about all the different possibilities and hands it could of have been in 

I hope you enjoyed this post

Thanks for reading  

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Ride safe! 


  • KevinMyers

    I seem to recall a harley team member being quoted in magazine about the win That S>O>B> Nixon shows up with 25 less HP and gives Harley a lesson. I,m paraphrasing mabe some one remembers.I savedthe article because the Harley guy was clearly angry and not holding back. I,ve been restoring and riding 650 ,s since sixties. got bitten at 18,still in love with them!lost the magazine tho good riding to my Triumph friends,

  • bob fletcer

    correction —I should have said Les Williams in my comment I sent yesterday.

  • Bob Fletcher

    By chance, I met Les Mason about 25 years ago on the golf course — I mentioned Triumphs - he said if he was cut he’d bleed Triumph blue- he told about making up ignition points upgrade kits for the 1971 or 1972 750 triples that were to be raced at Daytona. These tricked out kits had a shaft extension and additional bearing in the cover. He worked his tail off to get these built , shipped, and in the race teams hands before the race. He told the team that the bikes would not last the race without this modification due to flex , wobble, etc and the ignition timing going way off. The team, for whatever reason did not install the kits and all the bikes failed just as he had said they would. Pretty cool story told by a real nice Triumph guy.

  • Classic British Spares

    @Brian – Your comment has been posted, why wouldn’t it be? 6CA “style”, did not state the points are 6CA. Yes, 6CA was introduced on 1968 models however the design was done in 1967. In regards to the 82BHP, that was an error and now has been fixed. The race bikes did use 3ET Energy Transfer, however, the points and housing is the same as the race machine. For spelling mistakes, free of charge. Thanks for reading

  • Brian Pollitt

    Apart from the spelling mistakes and calling the output 82bhp instead of 52bhp (they actually only got 48bhp from the engine) there are a lot of other anomalies. The 6CA ignition did not come out until the 1968 model year with the advent of the BSA and Triumph triples so could not have been used in 1966 or 1967. The Daytona bikes actually used Lucas 3ET energy transfer ignition housed in a similar unit to the one you have. Other than that an interesting article, although I suspect this comment won’t be posted.

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