1953 AJS 7R: ROAD LEGAL TT RACER
Between 1937 and 1956, Lo Simons was the most successful home rider at the Dutch Grand Prix no less than seven times, collecting fourteen national championship titles in the process. One of those results was achieved in the 350 cc category riding a road legal AJS 7R.
Lo Simons was born in 1910 in Delft. He was a successful motorcycle racer at Assen before and after the war, winning the 1946 250 cc race at Assen on an Excelsior. In 1952 he made his debut in the official world championship which was founded three years earlier, finishing a creditable 6th in the 125 cc class. Sparked by the Boy Racer’s success in the world championship Simons ordered a brand new AJS 7R to compete in the 350 cc class. With it he finished 13th in the 1953 Dutch TT and 9th in the 1955 Dutch TT behind the factory Moto Guzzis and DKWs, again becoming the best home rider in his class.
The AJS 7R’s nick name says it all; the ‘Boy Racer’ was one of the best pre-war production racers available. A proven air-cooled overhead camshaft single-cylinder engine, lightened using parts of casted magnesium and aluminium in a solid chassis similar to the AJS E90 500 cc racer, was an instant hit. In its debut year 1948 no less than twenty-three 7R Boy Racers lined up at the Junior TT at the Isle of Man with British racer Maurice Cann taking home a 5th place finish as the first privateer behind the factory riders. In 1952 the 7R was updated with an additional camshaft with one now controlling the intake valve and the other controlling two exhaust valves. Two years later the AJS factory stopped competing in road racing, but supply and development of its successful production racer continued up until 1962. Such a solid racer was the 7R that its run of earning world championship points lasted all the way up to 1971 when the Brit John William finished 4th at the Isle of Man and Ulster Grand Prix.
In 1956 Lo Simons was killed at the Skäneloppet road races held at Kistianstad in Sweden. The Dutchman suffered a fatal crash in the 125 cc race caused by a broken con-rod in his FB Mondial machine. A few months earlier, at 46 years of age, Simons had finished as best home rider at the Dutch TT for the 7th and final time.
Simons’ AJS 7R Boy Racer exchanged hands several times after he passed away to finally end up being fully restored by its current owner Adri de Ridder, himself a multiple Dutch champion in classic motorcycle racing. The AJS is actually a road legal Grand Prix bike because Simons applied for a road registration on the bike in order to be able to travel to the races. Together with the bike De Ridder still holds the original registration in Simons’ name. The Boy racer and its original registration will be on display during the TABAC Classic GP Assen.