Two-Stroke Scooter Racing with Rocket Race Club…
While our focus here at BikeBound might be motorcycles, we have a soft spot for just anything with two wheels — especially if it’s fast. In our coverage of this year’s Glemseck 101, we noticed a lot of tuned scooters making runs on the 1/8-mile track.
We can’t say we were overly interested until we heard from our friend Kris Szews of Rocket Race Club, who described the machines for us:
“We had some pretty mad vintage two stroke Vespas and Lambrettas racing at Rocket Race Club this year… The craziest one without a doubt being a 1958 model with 407cc and 88 bhp at 80kg. Did a show race against a GSXR after it had won the scooter class and nearly got the bike too!”
More than one horsepower per kilogram? Now we’re talking! Kris says the tuning and racing scene with highly-modified two-stroke Vespas and Lambrettas has become big in Europe, especially in Italy and Germany.
There’s an organization for circuit racing and another one for sprint (drag) racing. Says Kris:
“Both disciplines are taken very seriously and are quite competitive. Tuning these vintage scooters without the likes of turbos and NOS is preferred, because it’s harder and requires more skill.”
While some of the scooter tuning shops have exhibited at events like Bikers’ Festival and Glemseck 101, this was the first year they were on hand to race. Phil and Kris of Rocket Race Club actually invited some of them as their guests to Bikers’ Festival.
“Six of them arrived and proved to be identical in mindset as the motorcycle guys and we got on from the first moment. Great guys and absolutely mad machines! They delivered an incredible show in Spa, even winning some of the fun runs we did against motorcycles!”
Fast forward to Glemseck in September, and the scooters got a proper 30-minute racing slot on Sunday and didn’t fail to impress. Says Kris:
“Those machines are such underdogs, so the crowds were very surprised to see how they performed…especially the likes of Jesco and his 88-hp rat that won the race in Glemseck.”
Rocket Race Club’s scooter class is called “Rock’t Roller,” and today we’re thrilled to feature that high-powered Vespa from Jesco Schmidt of Germany’s SIP Scootershop — one of the world’s go-to shops for tuning parts and more.
“Jesco is what I like to call a tech wizard at SIP. He’s been building extremely powerful and solid race engines for countless years and is one of the founders of the DBM (German Sprint Championship for Vintage Scooters). He does tech videos on their Youtube channel concerning new parts, tech explanation vids, custom workshop visits, event reports, etc.” -Kris Szews, Rocket Race Club
Jesco has been tuning and customizing scooters for more than 30 years, with a primary focus on drag racing. He used to build and tune race engines for customers through his own workshop, Jesco Motors, but he now works as a product manager for SIP Scootershop.
His ’58 Vespa is highly modified, featuring a stretched, lowered, and braced frame with increased rake and better geometry for going fast in a straight line. Then there’s the engine. The 407cc two-stroke results in some pretty mind-blowing numbers, considering the machine started life as a basic commuter for getting to the café and back.
“82 HP at the wheel, 88 HP at clutch, 81 Kilos (181 with driver 😉).”
Not surprisingly, this Rock’t Racer took home the win at Glemseck, and we’re looking forward to seeing more race scooters in action in 2024 with Rocket Race Club. Below, we talk to Jesco for more details and video about his 88-hp Vespa drag scooter.
Vespa Sprint Scooter: Racer Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Hi, my name is Jesco Schmidt. I’ve been into scooter tuning and customizing since 1990. My most important and main business is drag racing. Under “Jesco Motors,” I was building tuning and race engines for customers. Now I work for the world-leading store for classic scooter parts “SIP Scootershop” as a product manager. We also have a YouTube channel, where I present workshops from the scooter scene, technics, events, products and also custom scooters: www.youtube.com/@SIPScootershopTV.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
Vespa VNA 1958.
• For what class of racing was the bike built?
It was built to have fun wherever possible.
• What custom work/upgrades have been done?
The frame was extended by approximately 21 cm. The head tube and the frame were divided horizontally and lowered by 10cm. The frame was reinforced, the handlebars were dropped. The steering head angle and caster were increased.
407cc cylinder, special casing, gearbox, carb, intake, and one off exhaust.
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, and/or performance numbers?
82 HP at the wheel, 88 HP at clutch, 81 Kilos (181 with driver 😉).
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride/race this bike?
Mostly fun, sometimes fear…
• Anybody you’d like to thank?
Help with welding metal sheets by Basti Attenberger and Jürgen Posch.
Engine Build Video: 407cc Vespa
Video building the engine:
Scooter Drag Races: Glemseck 101
Follow Rocket Race Club & Organizers
Spa: @marc.holstein (www.marcholsteinphotos.com) x @myeyesbychristine (christinegablerphotos.com)
Glemseck 101: @annagphotography
Glemseck 101: @claudefischer (see-you.agency)
Studio Shots: ab-gedreht.de (@abgedreht_gmbh)