Imagine Mat Mladin winning this year’s Daytona 200 on a Suzuki two days after winning the Superstock race on a Honda.
Today, it would be. But back in 1967, two-time Grand National Champion Gary Nixon did the equivalent of that, winning the two biggest road races of Daytona Bike Week riding for two different factories.
Nixon won the Daytona 200 for Triumph the day after riding this factory-spec Yamaha to victory in the 100-mile “lightweight” race at the same track.
“Things were just different back then,” he explains. “Both Yamaha and Triumph wanted a rider for Daytona. I think I got $1,000 to ride the Yamaha, and $300 to ride the Triumph.”
Nixon notes that he rode this Yamaha two-stroke 250cc machine for the first time in practice sessions at Daytona. And, he says, it was a certified screamer.
“It was a great little 250,” he says. “That thing ran 148 mph.”
The bike was the product of two worlds. It combined the frame of Yamaha’s RD56 grand-prix bike with an AMA-legal motor from a TD1C production racer. And Nixon says the combination worked perfectly at Daytona—except for one part.
“I think my clutch cable broke on the first lap,” he says, adding that the bike was so good he could still run at the front, holding off Dick Hammer, riding a factory Suzuki, for the win.
The next morning, Nixon and Hammer were teammates on the Triumph squad, riding 500cc Triumph T100/Rs. The two again battled for the lead until a pit-stop mistake caused Hammer’s bike to slow, and he crashed trying to make up ground.
That left Nixon to cruise to victory in what he still recalls as his favorite Daytona.
“Man, that was a great two races—the highlight of my career, really,” he says. “After the race, I celebrated by counting all the money. And then I think I gathered it all up and took a picture of it.”
The bike that took him to the first half of that Daytona double, now owned by Rick Soles, is on display in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio.