One of the pioneers of road racing in North America, Frank Camillieri, was among the invited former road racing stars who took to the track at the Vintage Road Racing Association’s 50th Grand Prix Anniversary event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. American Camillieri, aboard a Yamaha in the 32 Lap Grand Prix final on September 30, 1967, placed a strong fifth overall in the World Championship round in conjunction with the Canadian Centenary.
Camillieri was one of the few racers from the original event who took part in this morning’s five lap tribute to the sole C.G.P. fifty years ago. Back in the day, Camillieri faced an uphill struggle against the works racers from Europe on his early production Yamaha.
Winner fifty years ago in the 250cc class was era-hero Mike “the bike” Hailwood on the exotic four-stroke, six cylinder Honda RC166. Second went to the equally unique two-stroke, four-cylinder Yamaha RD56 of Phil Read, who rode in demonstration laps aboard a more modern Yamaha this morning at “old Mosport.” Hailwood, who died in a car accident in 1981, as well as Read are British legends and multi-time World Champions.
Third overall, fifty years ago in the 250 G.P. counter, was the second works Honda of Ireland’s Ralph Bryans. Top Canadian was the production Yamaha TD1C of Yvon Duhamel in fourth, with Camillieri’s similar bike fifth at the finish. Duhamel would go on to a top-flight career as a Kawasaki racer during the 1970s, and raced in the top echelon at C.T.M.P. into the early 1980s. Ever-popular Duhamel was busy signing autographs at lunch in the VRRA Display set-up at C.T.M.P.
Camillieri was from the Boston area, and one of a group of Yank front runner who raced regularly in Canada during the early development days of the sport of motorcycle road racing. A machinist, Camillieri was one of the early adopters of disc brakes and slick tires. Among his rivals of the period were Duhamel, Mike Duff, Gary Nixon and Canadian up-and-comer Jim Allen, also on hand for the Anniversary Events.