Long time NCNO member Bob McKeever, passed away on January 31, 2017 at the age of 97.
Bob was a WWII vet, who in 1948 raced a Norton International on the sand at Daytona. 50 years later he did laps on a nearly identical Norton at the Daytona track.
Bob sponsored a racing team, I am not sure when it started but it was a going concern when I joined NCNO in 1993. They raced Norton Manxes. And despite wining the #1 plate many times the bikes always carried the number 122, the same number Bob used in 1948.
Lately they raced a 1938 Norton International and two early 60’s Manxes. For years Bob flew his rider, Alex McLean, from Paris where he lived, to race his bikes. He so trusted Alex as a rider. A few years ago, much to Bob’s wallet’s ease, Alex moved from France to Florida.
Bob’s bikes were superbly maintained and always ready to race. They never broke down in a race. Often between races they would only check air pressures and oil level and touch nothing else on the machines. They were reliable and fast. Alex is an excellent racer, often winning a race beating bikes in classes with more engine and suspension. Also Alex never crashed. They routinely won, often winning all the races they entered and multiple championships.
They spared no expense in getting the bikes ready each winter. AMA Hall of Fame member and legendary wrench Knobby Clark often accompanied the team during race season to watch over the bikes. As Bob got older his son Robbie took over the day to day management of the team and I am sure will carry on the winning Norton tradition.
Bob was a member emeritus in NCNO, we quit charging him dues years ago. He was generous in letting us borrow his bikes for bike shows and trusted us with these invaluable machines. He attended most meetings and was at the January 2017 meeting chatting up a storm.
Bob thought the only real Nortons had one cylinder, he tolerated all of us Atlas and Commando owners. I rode a Yamaha SRX6 single to a club meeting at his house once and he commented it was an acceptable motorcycle.
After the day’s racing completed and at most NCNO meetings, Bob would drink several glasses of champagne, hence the name Norton Champagne Racing Team.
The team’s website is nortonmanxracing.com. There are many great pictures of the Bob, his Nortons and the team.
We will miss him greatly.