Yamaha YZ608 350 cc 1968

Category: Stories from the US/Canada
Published Date

The semi factory Yamaha YZ608 for 1968 was based upon the YR2 roadster.

Yamaha U.S. developed the machine and utilized many Yamaha RD56 (250 cc) works parts.

It is fantastic when you receive an envelope with historical material from a new website friend.

Al Godin  from the USA was so friendly to send me great material from the late sixties. I “published” already some material on the famous Yamaha YZ608 350 cc Daytona racer (Z608 for 1967, YZ608 for 1968/1969. (The YZ631 for 1969 was the European G.P. “works” bike)

Jack’s material is about the 1968/1969 machine and its riders.

Very intriguing are the pictures from the 1969 Daytona race. The period when riders were made of iron and machines of steel… (and bamboo).


Daytona 1969 Race

The picture after the start shows the Yamaha rider  10# Tom Rockwood, #1 Gary Nixon (Triumph), #25 Cal Rayborn (H-D). On the next  picture Tom Rockwood is on full song on his Yamaha:


Daytona 1969 Race, Tom Rockwood

and (next) #58 Jody Nicolas cranks his Yamaha over:


Daytona 1969 Race, Jody Nicolas

This race was won by Calvin Rayborn on the H-D. The Yamaha riders took the 3rd place by Mike (now Michelle) Duff,  5th Rodney Gould, 7th Tom Rockwood , 8th Peter Kellond, 11th Al Gaskill and 12th place Tim Coopey.

And here are the original drawings of the “tuned” parts for the 1968 YZ608 bike! The engine was based upon the YR-2 street model. (The previous year Z608 was based upon the YR-1)

The piston has a much larger “window” than the standard YR2 piston, has 6 mm shorter “skirt” and has only one ring. (It was therefore a different piston altogether).


Yamaha YZ608 piston

The cylinder porting diagram is very different of course and the racing barrel has a chrome bore.

Yamaha YZ608 cylinder porting

The racing exhaust can be duplicated easily if you want to make your old Yamaha fast…..!


Yamaha YZ608 exhaust

Al Godin even has Yamaha engines from that period, which he obtained from Don Vesco and Pat Evans with early numbers, like R2-0006.

The Results list of the 28th Annual AMA Daytona 200 expert motorcycle classic, raced on Sunday, March 23, 1969, at the Daytona International Speedway………. History in a big way, 40 years ago!


Daytona 1969 Race Results

The next copy is from Yamaha International dealer News, August 1968, where you see Art Baumann who won the 250 cc class (and for Yamaha for the 4th year in succession) and Jody Nicolas on the 350 cc. Jody had a bad start (he was last!), but at the finish he was 3rd and closing rapidly on the numbers 2 and 1. What a race that must have been…..

Yamaha News August 1968























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