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Tom Bamford

After selling the Cadillac-powered Alfa featured in this month’s “Racecar Profile,” Tom Bamford raced for several years in a Cadillac-powered Allard. Here he is seen at Torrey Pines in 1955. Photo: Bamford Collection

My father, Tom Bamford, first got involved in motor sport in his late teens when he bought an Ariel motorcycle in the late ’30s that he had to keep down the street at a gas station because my grandparents didn’t want him to own it. One day he was following along behind a “Hare & Hound” race. This is a form of motorcycle racing where one motorcycle, the “hare” would take off down an open trail. A few minutes later all the other racers or “hounds” would take off to try to catch him. This particular day the hounds missed a turn and went in the wrong direction. Young Tom was far enough back so that when the dust cleared, he was able to see what happened. He took off after the hare and earned his first trophy! We have a picture of him sitting on that motorcycle with a big smirk on his face, just wearing a sweater, no helmet or goggles, holding the trophy.

Tom Bamford
Tom Bamford

I recently came across an album with photos of four or five different Ariels he apparently owned. He liked the Red Hunter singles and Square Fours. He rode motorcycles on the local dry lakes with guys like Ernie McAfee, Phil Hill, and others who would get together out there on Sundays. I have a picture of him on a Square Four on El Mirage dry lake (now part of Edwards Air Force Base, where the space shuttle lands when it’s in town). There’s also a great one of him flat-out on an Ariel single going across the beach, right at the waterline like something you’d see at Daytona, only it’s in Malibu.

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