1973 Bridgestone 125 cc: an extraordinary achievement
In 1973 in Spa-Franchorchamps Angel Nieto from Spain, en route to becoming the third greatest motorcycle Grand Prix winner of all times (90 GP victories), got beaten by Jos Schurgers from Holland on a home-built Bridgestone 125 cc machine. An extraordinary achievement.
In preparation for the 1972 125 cc world championship, having raced and developed the 50 cc Dutch Van Veen Grand Prix Kreidlers for 2 seasons, Jos started to work on a standard Bridgestone twin-cylinder engine. Bridgestone motorcycles were a division of the Bridgestone Tyre company in Japan that had already ceased its motorcycle production in 1970. With the help of Van Veen technician Jörg Möller it was only a matter of time before only the engine casings remained original. Using Kreidler water-cooled hard-chrome cylinders, German Mahle pistons driven by a custom-made crankshaft and con rods, the Bridgestone eventually produced around 35 horsepower. To fit the highly tuned engine Schurgers made a beautifully compact frame with Kreider GP racer characteristics and detachable lower support beams. To cover it all up Schurgers designed his own fairing and a polyester tank which were hardly any wider than those of a 50 cc racer. With a top speed of 220 kilometers per hour the Bridgestone 125, raced by its creator, was more than capable of running with the best racers in the world.
Schurgers’ 1973 GP victory was to be his and Bridgestone’s first and last. Despite finishing third in the standings that year he decided to stop racing and concentrate on his day job as a designer at Van Veen Kreider. He sold the one-off Bridgestone engine to future world champion and countryman Henk van Kessel whose efforts to race it in a Yamaha frame were to no avail. Schurgers was responsible for the styling of the Van Veen developed OCR 1000 street bike and in 1978 he started his own company manufacturing motorcycle fairings.
During the Classic GP Assen the extraordinary duo of Jos Schurgers and his Bridgestone 125 are reunited in the Motorcycle Legends GP 2 category.