Friday, June 06, 2008
By some strange confluence of events, while researching Dirt Track racing history, I came across the same fellow, Roberto Sigrand, who built my supercharged Zenith KTOR in Argentina sometime in the late 1920's. A little more digging through my books on Speedway produced this photograph of an English team of riders who tried to establish the sport in Argentina in 1929, going so far as to build a new track with stadium seating in Buenos Aires. Lo and behold, Roberto Sigrand is sitting on a DT Douglas, in a white sweater with 'FN' logo. Apparently Roberto's father, Camilo Sigrand, imported FN motorcycles (and guns! Fabrique Nationale was a Belgian arms factory, a duality shared by BSA - Birmingham Small Arms, and Royal Enfield - makers of the infamous Enfield rifles - 'Built like a Gun'). He also was a fine engineer, and produced his own motorcycle, the 'D-S' (Debladis-Sigrand) in France between 1914 and 1922, when he sold the company, and it became the DS-Malterre, produced until 1958! Camilo Sigrand raced his 'D-S' motorcycle in the very first Bol d'Or 24-hour race in Paris, 1922. The machine did very well, but did not complete the race.
Here's the coincidence part. That very same day, I was contacted by Sigrand's grandson Ignacio in Argentina, seeking the whereabouts of 'Super KIM', the Zenith, and offering family photos and press clippings about the bike. Spooky. I'll post more when it arrives.
Now, where is the Douglas?
Update; Ignacio Sigrand has sent photos of a few of his grandfather's effects; a set of medals won in the 1920's for motorcycle races (the first clearly is for Roberto Sigrand, the second was won by his father Camillo, the third by Roberto in a sidecar race in France. Apparently Roberto was a French national, and purchased a Zenith Super 8 directly from Freddie Barnes (the director of the Zenith motorcycle company, and a keen racing supporter). The Zenith apparently came from the factory with a KTOR racing engine, and possibly the Heavyweight Sturmey-Archer 'SB' (Special Brough) gearbox - although this may have been added later when the machine was supercharged.
In the 1930's, Sigrand created the 'KIM' piston ring company, and the two brilliant orange boxes are both for rings.
More pix as they arrive...
On the above photo, 'Super KIM' can be seen on the tank. Unfortunately, by the time I purchased the bike, a light film of rust had taken hold of the tank, and the logo is almost lost (see bottom photo).
The speedway Photo is from 'Speedway Panorama', by Ron Hoare (Haynes, 1979)