Sterling Flat Tank Motorcycle Racing Association

April 11, 2017

How did the great Motorcycles Marques make their name?

Well, of course there is the high quality of workmanship and mechanical superiority above other marques. But how do you prove it? How do you show the public that your machine, your factory, your brand is better than the rest? Or rather how would you have proved it in the late tens and early twenties?

rider on flat tank motorcycle

I shall tell you….

You would have taken your latest model, stripped it back, tuned it up and twisted the wick until your headers glowed red and your motorcycle flew over the finish line in a thundering blaze of glory! From hill climbs to the Murderdromes and board track racing to sprinting and flat tracking- racing was a huge factor in the creation and advancement of motorcycle manufacture.

So how does this fit in with the beautiful Black Douglas Machines?

Well, if you are here on the Black Douglas page and reading this, it stands a chance that you are a believer in the incurable vintage romanticism of Mr Cardoni’s approach to the motorcycle industry, the beautiful by gone era of early motoring, the feel and the love of a pre-war motorcycle with the added ease of a modern reliable engine.

The Sterling Racing Association

Well- I propose to continue with that ethos and translate it into period style racing: Sterling Racing- The Sterling Racing association.

What could be more fun than a ten or so race prepared Sterlings tearing around an oval jockeying for position?

Now- we all know the idea of the Sterling is not about speed. Certainly not amongst today’s offering of motorcycles. But that’s what makes the idea of Sterling Racing all the more exciting. Going flat out  around a dirt track on a Sterling will have all the thrills of early racing. But without the cost and  fear of mechanical  failure  of racing a true veteran  motorcycle. And going sideways on a rigid framed, drum braked, girder forked flat tanker at 50mph is in my book a lot more interesting than doing 160mph on a plastic jelly mould computer on wheels.

flat tank motorcycle racing

Now, being personally involved in the inception of the Black Douglas bikes and a personal friend of the Mr Fabio Cardoni I am lucky enough to own a stable of Sterlings but also I have an early Sterling rolling chassis and this chassis has always been destined for a racer.

However- one racer is no good to man nor beast. Who would one race with only a single race bike?

Two Racers Make a Club

This is where the story gets interesting for me, whilst having lunch with an old friend I expressed my desires for Sterling racing and as we delved deeper into the conversation he was hooked… ‘I’ll race you’ said he. And there and then the first two Sterling Racers were conceived.

So my question is- who’s with us? Who would like to experience the thrill of early flat tank racing?

flat tank motorcycle race start line

This idea is very much in its infancy but with Fabio’s blessing we would like to create the Sterling Racing Association; we are currently in talks with Black Douglas to release a Racers Chassis- this would essentially comprise of raw steel Sterling frame, forks, tank, wheels and brakes allowing the builder to create their machine to their tastes.

The Black Douglas will be posting photos of our Race prepared Sterling soon.

Racing Rules: or Guidelines for Fun

We would lay down some very basic rules to begin with. Our guiding principle: keeping the sport fun and not ‘too’ competitive.  The main objective would be the thrill of the ride as it were and a great way to get like-minded people together rather than people spending a fortune and getting super serious about the whole thing.

For example-

1) All machines must be based on a Sterling frame, forks and wheels.

2) All engines must be air cooled, 2 valve and no bigger than 250 cc.

3) All machines must be built in the spirit of early flat tank racing motorcycles.

4) All motorcycles must be approved by the SRA for the register by emailing a picture of the completed race machine. Only machines that are built true to the spirit of vintage racing will be approved.

5) We weill hold regular SRA race meetings.

6) All racers must wear period looking racing attire.

As the whole concept becomes more defined, we will of course add to these.

1907 flat tank motorcycle race

To the Future of Sterling Flat Tank Motorcycle Racing!

We really think we have the makings of a great fun sport of flat tank motorcycle racing for the stylish gentleman or lady to partake in. Our base is in the U.K and that’s where our first meeting will be held. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a worldwide Sterling Racers Association?

If any of you guys and girls thinks you would like to be part of this movement then please add your comments below and help us with ideas and thoughts to make The Sterling Racing Association become a reality.

Who’s with us?


Benny Thomas for The Black Douglas Motorcycle Co.