Anglo-American Transatlantic Match Races, later known as the Transatlantic Trophy, was a trophy that was contested between 1971 and 1991 in England during the Easter weekend and which pitted against a selection of North American riders of road racing against to a selection of riders of the same specialty coming from His Majesty's lands. At a time when the World Road Racing Championship was somehow considered by some Americans to be a European championship, the Transatlantic Trophy had the virtue, a bit like what the Daytona 200 Miles represented for the riders of the old continent, to be a showcase for American riders.
Joey Dunlop, Honda 1100cc, Mallory Park, 1981
It was during the editions of this event that several American stars made themselves known to the European public: Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey, Dave Aldana, Gene Romero, Steve Baker, Pat Hennen and many others. Facing the American army, names like Barry Sheene, Ron Haslam, Mick Grant, Graham Crosby, etc., tried to get the better of it. The trophy was disputed, through the accomplishment of 3 races, in several British circuits. In the 70s, the circuits of Oulton Park, Mallory Park and Brands Hatch were used, later on, Donington Park and Snetterton would also be used. Aside from the individual classification, the icing on the cake was the team victory and often the individual winner did not belong to the winning team!
Mike Baldwin and Barry Sheene, Brands Hatch,1979
The specifications of the admitted bikes have varied over the 21 years in which the trophy has been disputed. In the initial edition, 1971, all pilots used TRIUMPH/BSA tri-cylinders. Later, Formula 750cc, 500cc GP and even Superbike motorcycles were used, which gave a heterogeneous character to the starting grids. The first edition was won by the English team, with names like Paul Smart or Tony Jefferies, against an American team in which the great revelation was Dick Mann.
Dave Aldana (5), John Long (4), Barry Sheene (14), Dave Croxford (11), Yvon Duhamel (7), Paul Smart (12), Gene Romero (3), Peter Williams (10), Stan Woods (15) e Barry Ditchburn (16), John Player Trans-Atlantic Trophy Match Race at Mallory Park 1974
During the first nine editions (6 victories for the UK against 3 for the USA), it became clear that it was difficult for the Americans to beat the English when the latter were playing at home and had the great advantage of knowing the circuits used much better. , this despite great individual performances by riders like Cal Rayborn, Yvon Duhamel, Kenny Roberts, Steve Baker, Pat Hennen or Mike Baldwin! The USA won races, but the sum of the points usually favored the British. In the phase that followed, the Americans achieved more homogeneous selections and, therefore, better results as a whole.
Transatlantic Trophy 1984
Finally, this event lost interest, mainly because, on the one hand, the growing importance of the World Road Racing Championship and, consequently, the funds involved, meant that factory riders were prevented by their employers from taking a physical risk that could jeopardize their performance where they mattered most. On the other hand, the loss of notoriety of the American road racing scene has withdrawn the public's interest, at a time when, in fact, first-rate American riders were already regularly participating in the World Championship.
In 1991, the epilogue of the Transatlantic Trophy took place. There were 3 races at Mallory Park and another 3 at Brands Hatch. Despite the England team having notable names such as Ron Haslam, John Reynolds, Jamie Whitham and Ray Stringer, the American team was made up of unknown names such as Thomas Stevens, Jamie James, Michael Barnes and, not even the presence of the, at the time, already semi- withdrawn Freddie Spencer managed to spice up the event. It was the end of an era, when English and European fans alike were looking forward to this event to see the American stars in action who, often, could later shine on World Championship.
Mamola e Haslam, Mallory Park,1981 (photo: PSParrot)