The BSA Gold Star’s 500cc OHV single cylinder engine did not have the raw power of the Harley-Davidson KR750, but its light eight and excellent handling made it a frequent winner on the half-miles, TT and occasionally the mile tracks in American Grand National Championship racing.
The majority of the BSA marques 58 GNC wins came aboard the Gold Star. Road race and TT racers used the stock swinging arm suspension frame while most dirt trackers used a factory BSA rigid frame. Dick Mann was a BSA rider early on and used a Gold Star and a Matchless on his way to the 1963 Grand National Championship. BSA was Harley-Davidson’s main opponent throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. Sammy Tanner led the “BSA Wrecking Crew” at Ascot, winning three Nationals at the tricky Gardena track. Neil Keen also claimed a victory at Ascot along with countless regional events. While most of the Gold Stars wins came on the shorter half-miles and TT’s, the right tuners could coax big horsepower out of the Gold Star’s 500cc engine for the Miles. Tanner won the Springfield Mile in 1964 on a C.R. Axtell tuned machine with Ralph White doing the same at the 1965 event on a Gary Bray tuned machine. The Gold Star went out of production in 1963 and by the late 1960’s was getting a bit long in tooth. The legendary machine’s swan song year was 1967. Dick Mann won both the Reading Half-Mile and Peoria TT on his self-tuned machine with Dan Haaby scoring the last Gold Star National win at the Ascot Half-Mile on a Gary Bray tuned machine. The 1957 BSA on display is a great example of a 1960’s U.S. Gold Star, featuring many personalized modifications by builder Jim Norris of Muscatine, Iowa. It features a factory BSA frame, custom fiberglass fuel tank with compartments for both gasoline and oil, and a custom cast aluminum seat base made locally. It was ridden by 1959 Peoria winner Duane Buchannan, National #39, Herb Bellinger, National #29, Bob Smith, Number 78K and Harry Bellinger Number 99K.
- Model – BSA Gold Star
- Year – 1957
- Engine – 2-Valves per Cylinder 4 Stroke Single
- Bore and Stroke – 85mm X 88mm
- Displacement – 30 Cubic Inches / 500cc
- Brake Horsepower – 40
- Transmission – 4 Speeds
- Wheelbase – 56 Inches
- Weight – 325 Pounds
- Wheels – 19 Inches
- Tires – 4.00 x 19/ 4.00 x 19
- Brakes – None
ON LOAN TO THE NATIONAL MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM FROM Theresa Norris
Al Gunter was the lead BSA wrecking crew
Gunter and Tanner were rivals
Tanner won the Ascot half mile national twice on Triumph twins
Both were very hard to beat at Ascot.the staved off the Harleys until the late 60s
In 1969 after the rule change three Dick Kelm 500 cc BSA Gold Stars made the Ascot half mile national against the 750 cc Harleys , and other 750cc twins.