Yamaha TR3 Racer

Originally raced by factory rider Keith Mashburn, this 1972 Yamaha TR3 has been lovingly restored.

| September/October 2013

1972 Yamaha TR3
350cc air-cooled 2-stroke twin, five piston ports per cylinder, 64mm x 54mm bore and stroke
Claimed Power: 54hp @ 9,500rpm
Top speed: 140mph-plus
Weight (dry): 220lb (100kg)
Fuel capacity: 6gal (23ltr)

A racing motorcycle is interesting, but a racing motorcycle with known history is even more fascinating. In the late Sixties and early Seventies, Yamaha was proving to be a force in the North American go-fast scene with their 2-stroke 250cc and 350cc twins. Often as not, their small-bore 2-strokes were beating 4-stroke motorcycles with double the engine capacity.

That’s where racer Keith Mashburn enters the picture. In the late 1960s, Keith was racing for Yamaha and also working in the company’s race research and development department. And although Keith didn’t know it at the time, he had made history in December of 1967 when he became Yamaha’s first contracted American racer. He signed on as an amateur and was expected to ride many of the tracks in the AMA circuit.

In 1970-1972, Keith Mashburn was pinning the throttle hard on Yamahas, racing in TT, short track, half-mile, mile and road race events. This was the period, Keith explains, when you had to ride in all of the various races in order to vie for an overall national championship.

Part of Keith’s job at Yamaha was to uncrate and distribute motorcycles to racers, including Kel Carruthers, Kenny Roberts and himself, of course. In 1972, he cracked open the crates on a series of Yamaha TR3 production racers that had been shipped to the U.S. from Japan, including one bearing frame number TR3 990101 and engine number R5 990101 — the 101 in the number indicates it was the first TR3 off the production line. He set TR3 101 aside to be his racer for the 1972 season and distributed the rest.

Street bikes and race bikes

Since 1961 and the introduction of the TD1, Yamaha had offered racing versions of its street bikes. These production race machines were raced by privateers at the club level and also by Yamaha at the national level. Carrying on the tradition of constructing production racers from street machines, the Yamaha TR3 was based on Yamaha’s R5 350cc twin of 1970.

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