CLASSIC IRON: 1963 YAMAHA 250 ASCOT SCRAMBLER
BY TOM WHITE
Southern California’s Ascot Park was the hotbed of flat-track racing in the Western United States in the 1960s and 1970s. AMA rules required first-year professional riders to compete on 250cc machines until they made enough advancement points to move up to the Amateur class. Amateurs and Experts rode machines up to 750cc (four-stroke twins or 500cc four-stroke singles).
The top prospects in the 250 Novice class often showed up with twin-cylinder Yamaha TD1 engines in custom frames built by Trackmaster and Redline. Yamaha decided to seize the opportunity and publicity that came from winning races at Ascot Park by introducing the 1963 Ascot Scrambler. This limited-production model was derived from the street-going YDS2 model (with aluminum cylinders similar to the TD1 road racer model). The carburetors were 24mm Mikunis—larger than the 22mm units on the YDS2 but smaller than the 1-1/16-inch Amals that came standard on the TD1. The Ascot Scrambler had chrome expansion chambers and TD1 brakes.
Sales were brisk, but the owners soon found out that the handling was subpar when compared to the custom-framed twins that were being raced at Ascot. Imagine a 35-horsepower machine with a peaky powerband and a short wheelbase. Production of these very unique machines lasted from 1962 to 1967 with very few changes. The retail price in 1963 was $745. The 1965-and-later models had a fiberglass racing seat, which is the only way to tell the difference between them and the earlier models. The Ascot Scrambler was unique in that it was designed and built to be used at one racetrack (although it could be used at other oval dirt tracks). The production was limited, but in 1964 Yamaha released the YDS3 Street Scrambler with an upswept pipe, skid plate and full lighting.
Restored Ascot Scramblers are very difficult to find. Make sure it is actually an Ascot Scrambler. The TD1 wheels and brakes with alloy rims, front number plate with brackets, expansion chamber exhaust, unique clamp-on air filters and a tach are standard items. They are difficult to find separately, and virtually impossible to replace. The serial number on our Early Years of Motocross Museum Ascot is D6-5327. This bike was found in London, England.