Bill Ivy, the little big man in motorcycle racing in the 1960s, he was an absolute “crowd-darling”.

The successful 1967 season of the public’s favorite

In his first full World Championship season as a Yamaha works rider, Bill Ivy had already impressively demonstrated his potential as vice world champion in the 125 cm³ category last year. He contributed a total of 4 of the 5 victories for Yamaha in this class. His team-mate Phil Read was 1966 runner-up in the 250-races behind Mike Hailwood. For this reason, Yamaha saw no reason to change this successful pairing for the 1967 season. And you shouldn’t regret it. Barely 160 cm tall, Bill Ivy had grown into a crowd favorite and serious challenger for the 125 cm³ world title in just one season.

Hans Georg Anscheidt (D, left) and Yoshimi Katayama (JAP) – together with Stuart Gramah (GBR) two of the 3 spearheads with which Suzuki aimed for the title of the 50 cm³ and 125 cm³ World Championship in 1967.

The factory teams for the 1967 season

In the larger classes, Honda and MV Agusta were the two main rivals in the battle for the world title. The Japanese manufacturer dominated the 250 cm³ class at will last year and was of course the most promising contender for the driver and manufacturer title. But Yamaha definitely had a say this year. Honda has been involved in the Formula 1 World Championship since 1964 and for this reason the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer decided to withdraw from the smaller classes. In the 125 cm³ class, a head-to-head race between Yamaha and Suzuki emerged. With Hans Georg Anscheidt, the Hamamatsu factory won the 50 cm³ title last year. For 1966, Suzuki competed with 3 factory drivers who were supposed to judge it in the “shot glass class” and in the 125s for the Japanese.

Hersteller = manufacturer / Kategorie = class / Fahrer = rider.

Season opener in Barcelona with a bang
Just like last year, Bill Ivy started the new season with a bang. He didn’t give his opponents a chance and decided the 125 cc race ahead of team-mate Read and Yoshimi Katayama. Read was only able to stay in his slipstream at the start of the race, but Ivy later managed to break away from him and in the end won clearly. Third place went to the Japanese Yoshimi Katayama on a Suzuki ahead of his team and brand colleague Stuart Graham (GBR). Yamaha decided to use the new 4-cylinder engine instead of the somewhat lighter 2-cylinder unit used in the previous year.

Montjuic Park Circuit Map.
Japanese mechanics of the Suzuki factory racing team on a short break.

250cc race in Montjuic Park
At the beginning of the 250 race it looked like a double victory for the little Englishman, as Ivy had taken the lead after the start and made a strong impression. Unfortunately, the technology thwarted his plans and he headed for his pits after engine misfires. When it was discovered that even changing the spark plug would not fix the problem, he gave up, disappointed. The two MZ works drivers Heinz Rosner (GDR) and Derek Woodman (GBR), who both retired with engine damage, shared a similar suffering with Bill. Mike Hailwood retired on lap 14 due to a puncture and also the Spaniard Luis Yglesias had a piston damage with his Ossa, which threw him out of the race. Victory went to Phil Read ahead of Ralph Bryans (Honda) and José Medrano (Bultaco).

Ivy in front of Read, before he could break away, at the 125cc Spanish GP.
Aerial view of Montjuich today.

The curse of Hockenheim
Last year, Bill Ivy had to go to the pits in the 2nd lap with technical problems in the 125 cc race. Therefore, after his first 250 podium in 1966 at the same place, he now hoped for improvement for the new season in the smaller class. But it just shouldn’t be. Ivy, with Read in tow, was already in the lead in the 125 cc race well ahead of the rest of the field when the two ran up against some drivers to be lapped.

Old Hockenheimring layout.
Start in Hockenheim 1967.

Bad luck caused by the heavy mistake of a pure hobby-rider
A German driver named Kohlar who should not belong to the Grand Prix Sport lost control of his MZ in the last curve. As a result, he triggered a mass fall, to which the Italians Francesco Villa, Phil Read and Bill Ivy all fell victim. This was it for poor billy, no success again and this time with victory in mind! In the 250 cc race, the Hockenheimring went into a new round for Ivy. He was leading the race when he retired after the first lap with a gearbox failure, it was desperate! Ralph Bryans (Honda) won ahead of Ivys teammate Phil Read and Eastern German Heinz Rosner (MZ).

The winner of the 250 cc Hockenheim race in 1967 – Ralph Bryans (Northern Ireland) on his incredible Honda inline 6-cylinder bike.

Round 3 – French GP
Bill Ivy came to Clermont-Ferrand, where the French GP was taking place on May 21, 1967. Like in Barcelona, ​​he won the 125 cc race in front of Read and Katayama. By the time he got to the finish line, he was more than 18 seconds ahead of his Yamaha team-mate. In the 250s, Bill still had an account open after the annoying and no fault of his departure from the GP of Germany. Little man, big, was the motto now.

Circuit de Montagne d’Auvergne close to Clermont-Ferrand.

With more horsepower than 1966 but with fragile technology
The 4-cylinder two-stroke engines from Yamaha were now quite a match for the 6-cylinder four-stroke Honda compared to the previous year. After a good start, Ivy had severe misfire problems for most of the race. But Hailwood also got problems and had to give up the leadership he had taken over afterwards. And even Read had more and more difficulties with his Yamaha, which was anything but smooth. So it was Ivy in the end who was able to overtake both of them and thus secured the first 250 cm³ GP victory of his career.

Bill Ivy leading Yamaha teammate Phil Read – often seen in 1966.

The World Championship round 4 – Tourist Trophy race
From Bill Ivy’s point of view, the Tourist Trophy races were quickly told. He was in a promising 3rd position behind Hailwood and Read when his 250cc Yamaha gave up, and he had to roll out at Creg-ny-Baa. Hailwood won ahead of Read, Honda teammate Ralph Bryans and Dave Simmonds on Kawasaki. In the 125 cc race, the Yamaha ace was not lucky either. After all, the TT was the last event at which Ivy had to leave without World Championship points in 1967.

Bill Ivy on his 250cc Yamaha at the TT – instead of 3rd place the retirement came with technical problems.

Round 5 – Grand Prix of the Netherlands in Assen
In the “Cathedral of Speed” at the Dutch TT, things should go much better for him again. Second place behind Mike “the Bike” Hailwood and ahead of his Honda teammate Ralph Bryans was the second-best result in the 250s for Billy. In the 125 cc race, he crossed the checkered flag behind Phil Read for the first time this season. But two second places were a compensation for the bad luck that had caught him several times before.

Assen route sketch from the 1960s.
250cc Start in Assen 1967: From the right Bill Ivy (4), Ralph Bryans (2) and Phil Read (3).
Phil Read in 1965 leading Canadian Mike Duff on the Assen Circuit.

Grand Prix of Belgium in Spa-Francorchamps
At the Belgian GP in Spa-Francorchamps, the 125 series paused for the only time in the 1967 season. Ivy was again strong in the 250 cc race and clinched a second win for Yamaha ahead of Hailwood and Bryans (both Honda). Bill traveled to the Sachsenring in the 125 class as second in the World Championship with 22 World Championship points behind Read (28). In the 250s, Bryans led with 29 points ahead of Read and Hailwood with 26 each and Ivy with 22.

Spa-Francorchamps route sketch from the 1960s.
Spa-Francorchamps 250cc race 1966 – Phil Read (Yamaha) leading.

The GDR (German Democratic Republic) Grand Prix saw a double victory for Yamaha in the 250 cm³ class with Read ahead of Ivy, followed by Bryans, local hero Heinz Rosner (MZ) and the New Zealander Ginger Molloy (Bultaco). The 125 cc race was a prey for Billy, who won his 3rd GP in this class in 1967. Phil Read stayed in second place ahead of Stuart Graham (Suzuki) and the MZ drivers Klaus Enderlein, Thomas Heuschkel (both GDR) and László Szabó (Hungary). Nobody could have guessed at the time that a bad fate awaited Billy here two years later.

Bill and his 125cc Yamaha on the way to victory in East Germany 1967.
Sketch of the Sachsenring route from the 1960s.
Typical picture at the Sachsenring GP in the Eastern German GDR era before the 1990s – the spectators on self-made “grandstands”. For decades, the race had the character of a festival, something of which is still noticeable today.

Grand Prix of Brno
From Saxony in what was then the GDR, the following weekend went on to the southeast to the very close Czechoslovakian GP in Brno. In the 125 series, Ivy won again on the street circuit at the time, this time ahead of Graham and Szabo. Read posted a zero, which Bill took over the World Cup lead. But that’s not all, the tiny guy from England also stepped up in the 250 cm³ class and achieved a Yamaha double victory behind Read. Hailwood and Bryans had to make do with places 3 and 4. Heinz Rosner finished 5th in the MZ.

The start-finish straight of the old Masaryk ring near Brno.

At the Finnish GP, Ivy followed his hat trick with second places in the 250s. This time he stood on the second top podium of the winners’ podium for the third time in a row after a rain race. The winner was Hailwood and 3rd place went to Derek Woodman (MZ), while Read had to accept a zero. Ivy was also able to improve in the category up to 125 cm³ and secure second place behind Stuart Graham on a Honda. Billy drove the fastest race lap, while team-mate Read was again without points. For Bill’s English compatriot Graham it was the first GP victory in his career.

Bill Ivy at the GP of Finland in 1967 on the 250 cc four-cylinder Yamaha, the Englishman was also very successful in the rain.
Imatra 1967 – Mike Hailwood in the rain on his Honda alone in the lead.

Ulster GP and securing his 125cc Title in World Championship
A victory in this race was enough for Bill Ivy to secure his first world title in the 125 cc category early on. And so it happened that just a few laps after the start, Ivy and Rea were on their own. In the first two laps, Stuart Graham on the Suzuki was able to keep directly behind the two, but shortly afterwards he lost the connection.

The field of pursuit of the two Yamaha riders after Wheelers Corner, led by Australian Kevin Cass (Bultaco) followed by Kel Carruthers (AUS, Honda), Bo Granath (Sweden, MZ) and Ginger Molloy (NZ, Bultaco).

Instruction from the team leadership
Phil Read had received orders from the team leadership not to attack Ivy and to stay behind him. He kept this even when Bill’s Yamaha had a problem with the cooling system and the latter only tried to bring his machine very carefully to the finish. He succeeded in this, and after he had crossed the finish line before Read, this also meant securing the driver’s title in the 125cc class for Yamaha at an early stage. Already after the fourth to last lap Bill Ivy had reached the goal of his dreams and placed third in the 250 race. After a fortunately harmless fall from Read, who was in the lead, the win went to Hailwood again, who won his fourth race of the season ahead of Honda team-mate Bryans.

The fourth from last world championship run of the 125 cm³ at the Ulster GP – the Yamaha duo with Ivy before Read alone and far from their opponents.

Grand Prix of Nations in Monza
In the 125cc race, Bill Ivy, as the newly crowned world champion, was able to impressively prove what he can do. His teammate Phil Read did not start in the smaller class in order to concentrate entirely on the 250 run. Ivy had set the fastest time in practice in order to declare his claim to victory early. However, it was Hans Georg Anscheidt who took the lead with his Suzuki immediately after the start. Billy, on the other hand, got off to a miserable start and was only fourth from last. But he marched through the field like a hot knife through butter. In the last lap he went directly behind the leading Anscheidt and stayed behind the German until the Parabolica target curve. But out of the slipstream, Ivy overtook the Suzuki driver literally in the last few meters and thus secured his sixth win this season.

Monza route sketch from the 1960s.
Bill Ivy on his 125 cc Yamaha – the dominator of the 1967 World championship season.

250 cc race in the royal park of Monza
In the 250 cc class, Bill took 2nd place behind Read in front of Ralph Bryans, after having led the race for a time. In Monza, it was quite conceivable that Ivy would let his Yamaha team-mate, for whom the world championship was still at stake, win without a fight. Also, to return the favor for his generosity at the Ulster GP. A very fair and very sporty gesture, should it have been. Before the Canadian GP, Read and Ivy were each with 50 points ahead of Hailwood with their 46. But with 4 wins each for Phil and Mike “the Bike” over two of Bill’s, only his two English compatriots had a real chance at the 250cc title.

After the start of the 125 cc race in Monza, Hans Georg Anscheidt (No. 1) was already sitting on his Suzuki when Bill Ivy with the No. 4 in the foreground was just getting up. With the number 15 you can recognize the Hungarian László Szabó (MZ) and at the very back in the picture with the 16 Ginger Molloy (NZL) on Bultaco.

The overseas races kicked off with the Canadian GP
In the meantime, Bill Ivy had also proven in the 250 cm³ class that he was one of the world’s best. After his victory in France, he was always on the podium in seven races in a row from the 5th round of the World Championship in Assen to Monza. This is how it would have turned out at the Canadian GP in Mosport, had it not been for his loyalty to his teammate and employer that resulted in a different outcome to the race. Ivy stopped in second place on the last lap, so Phil Read took over this position and was able to secure 6 valuable championship points. With the 125 cc race, Ivy won the 2nd race to Monza in a row. Even recurring overheating problems on his Yamaha 4-cylinder two-stroke machine couldn’t stop him.

250 cc Canadian GP 1967 – Bill Ivy (Yamaha, No. 5) a hair’s breadth ahead of Mike Hailwood (Honda).

Dramatic end of the season at the Japanese GP
The Japanese GP this time was held in Fuji. The 250 cc race, in which Hailwood and Read competed for the title, was hard to beat in terms of drama. First, Read retired due to a crankshaft damage on his Yamaha. After that, Mike “the bike” had to pit too, but was able to continue driving. But one lap later, Hailwood was eliminated with exactly the same defect as Read. Shortly afterwards, Ivy also got hit, who was stopped in the lead by an engine failure. Since this only happened shortly before the end of the race, he still managed to finish 6th and one last World Championship point in the 1967 season.

Fisco route sketch from the 1960s.

Mike Hailwood took the title for Honda
Mike “the Bike” became world champion with the 250s, who tied for points after the deletion of the results with Read at the top, but one more win than his opponent had to show. The 125 cc race was easy prey for Ivy, who won for the third time in a row. It couldn’t be much more convincing and in the 250 cm³ World Championship he was ultimately third as an extra.

David and the two Goliaths, from left Mike “the Bike” Hailwood, Bill Yvy and Phil Read at the Finnish GP in Imatra in 1967.

125cc driver world championship 1967

From the 12 races in 1967, only the best 7 results were counted, which is why 2 pilots received results deleted from the World Championship table. After only the first 6 drivers of a race were able to win championship points at that time, here for completeness also the drivers who finished 7th to 10th in a GP (with the country codes customary at the time):
James Allen (CDN, Yamaha), John Allen (CDN, Yamaha), Martin Carney (GB, Bultaco), Herbert Denzler (CH, Honda), Bo Granath (S, MZ), Bo Gustavsson (S, Honda), Peter Inchley (GB, Bultaco), C. Ingram (CDN, Yamaha), Seppo Kangasniemi (SF, Honda), N. Koln (CDN, Yamaha), Heinz Kriwanek (A, Rotax), Vesa Kuusisto (SF, Honda), Siegfried Lohmann (D, MZ), Eberhardt Mahler (DDR, MZ), Riszard Mankiewicz (PL, MZ), Marcel Morel (F, Bultaco), Angelo Orsenigo (I, Bultaco), George Plenderleith (GB, Honda), Tommy Robb (N.Irl., Bultaco), Philippe Ruyssen (F, Bultaco), Rod Scivyer (GB, Honda), Horst Seel (D, Bultaco), Giuseppe Visenzi (I, Montesa), Pierre Viura (F, Honda).

125cc constructors championship 1967

250cc driver world championship 1967

The seven best results in 13 races were rated in the 250 cc class. If the points were equal, the better individual results counted in comparison, whereby Hailwood was world champion with 5 to 4 wins ahead of Read. For the sake of completeness, the drivers who finished 7th to 10th in a GP (with the country codes customary at the time):
Mauricio Aschl (E, Derbi), Alain Barbaroux (F, Kawasaki), Hartmut Bischoff (DDR, MZ), Cliff Carr (GB, Bultaco), Bob Coulter (N.Irl., Bultaco), Jim Curry (GB, Honda), Graham Dickson (NZ, Bultaco), Bob Farmer (GB, Yamaha), Bo Granath (S, Husqvarna), Terry Grotefeld (GB, Yamaha), Toni Gruber (D, Bultaco), Billie Guthrie (N.Irl.,Greeves), G. Heuberger (D, FKS), Trevor Holdsworth (GB, Greeves), Lothar John (D, Suzuki), Teuvo Länsivuori (SF, Husqvarna), Daniel Lhéraud (F, Yamaha), Robert Lusk (CDN, Yamaha), F. McAninch (CDN, Yamaha), Alberto Pagani (I, Aermacchi), Jacques Roca (F, Bultaco), Horst Seidl (D, Honda), H. Sezaki (J, Suzuki), Martin Sicheneder (D, Bultaco), D. Sullivan (CDN, Yamaha), Ralph Swegan (CDN, Yamaha), Keith Turner (NZ, Bultaco), Lous van Rijswijk, Jr. (NL, Bultaco), Giuseppe Vicenzi (I, Bultaco).

250cc constructors championship 1967