Speedway Workshop

Today in Motorcycle History

The "Red Devil" Douglas.

The late Bob Jones, probably better known as Mr Swindon, was well known for his love of Motorcycles and amongst his collection he had a Douglas "Red Devil", originally purchased from Claude Rye, a former Wimbledon skipper.

It was in 1930 that this particular machine made its appearance and only a small number were made. They differed from the Douglas Company's other speedway models in several ways. For instance a different cam was employed, they were the firm's only models running purely on dope and they had a narrower tank, nickel-plated, with a red transfer of a different shape.

Specially tuned by Bert Dixon, these unique machines had a 9 to 1 compression ratio and were clutchless. RD1 was their fuel and, enameled all red, they had a quickly detachable cinder-guard. On the frame's head a brilliant transfer took the form of a Scotsman holding high in the air a 350 engine with one hand! Which all went to demonstrate the lightness of the Douglas motor.

The Red Devils however, were the last of the long-stroke Douglas dirt track machines and although some of the machine's history seems rather obscure, it appears certain that these models did exist. They were a by-product of tuner Bert Dixon, more closely associated with Wimbledon speedway in the post-war era.

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ABOVE: The late Bob Jones (Right) discussing his "Red Devil" with Cyril May (Left) and Bill Davies.
BELOW: Bill Davies trying out his D.T Douglas at Hackney in 1970.

It was in a Vintage event at Coventry speedway when Bob Jones, on the Red Devil was beaten on the straights by the old-time notability, "Squib" Burton, who shot up the straights like a rocket. Bob knew full well he had one of the fastest Duggies in the country, of 494cc of course, and only fathomed out the mystery the next time he met "Squib", the Leicester Team Manager.

Apparently there were two Devils in that particular race, for Cyril Burton confessed that he was riding one of the old 600cc Duggies! "The Old Devil," remarked Bob in his characteristically laughing manner.

There is a Red Devil pictured in the main Douglas section.

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