1983 Honda RS 500: ‘Jumping Jack’s last dance’
Because of his rough riding style, Dutchman Jack Middelburg was nicknamed ‘Jumping Jack’, after the famous Stones’ song ‘Jumping Jack Flash’. Prior to his unfortunate passing due to injuries sustained in a crash in april of 1984, the 1983 Grand Prix season marked the double GP-winner’s final performances on the world stage. ‘Jumping Jack’s last dance’ was performed with Honda’s all new production racer, the RS 500.
In 1983, following the success of competitors Yamaha and Suzuki, the Honda factory had launched a ‘privateer version’ of Freddie Spencer’s 1982 3-cylinder NS 500. The all new RS 500 definitely was ‘the next best thing’ for privateer GP racers, sporting Honda’s unique V3 powerplant producing 120 horsepower, reed valve–induction, a square-tube aluminum frame and top-shelf suspension components. Such a desirable bike was the RS 500 that in Holland, it became the subject of a heated arguement between two of the world’s best privateers.
DUTCH RACING TEAM FOUNDATION
Twice finishing 6th and 7th in the 1979 and 1981 world 500 cc championship respectively, both Boet van Dulmen and Jack Middelburg were eying Honda’s new production racer to contest the 1983 season with. However, at approximately 100.000 thousand Dutch guilders the limited available RS 500 meant going way over budget for both riders. Following a request from Middelburg, in an attempt to obtain the Honda for at least one of its riders, the Dutch federation budgeted 200.000 guilders for two RS 500 race bikes. Van Dulmen had put in an offer to purchase one bike, which would effectively leave the foundation with the second bike to sell to Middelburg. However, following a sponsorship deal with the Dutch Suzuki importer, Van Dulmen decided to campaign the 1983 season as a Suzuki-privateer. The federation set up the Dutch Racing Team foundation which immediately appointed both RS 500s to Jack Middelburg. This enraged Van Dulmen who accused the federation of favouritism.
Halfway through the season, at their home race, the broiled duo was forced to bury the hatchet when they temporarily became ‘team mates’, with both Dutchmen receiving sponsorship money to race in Barclay colours. Middelburg booked his best result of the season at the 1983 Dutch TT, finishing in 6th. place. But it was van Dulmen who had the last laugh, finishing five points ahead of Middelburg in the final world championships standings.
Between 1984 and 1988 around twenty-five Honda RS 500 race bikes were supplied to non-factory riders from all over the world, including future world champions Wayne Gardner from Australia and Frenchman Raymond Roche.
After Middelburg’s fatal crash in early 1984 the Dutch Racing Team acquired the services of Dutchmen Henk van der Mark and Mile Pajic to man the RS 500s. Both men managed to finish inside the top 10 at the 1985 Dutch TT. In the late 80s Dutchman Kees van der Endt and Ad Slot raced the RS 500 with Van der Endt eventually purchasing this bike from the Dutch Racing Team foundation together with all the team’s equipment. He will ride it during the TABAC Classic GP Assen motorcycle Legends demonstration.