Pete Davies: Manufacturer of Puma Motor Cycle/Drag Race Components
Pete was born in 1944 in Crick, Northamptonshire, where he still lives. By his own admission he was not very clever at school until a new Head Teacher encouraged him to do art and handicrafts. This was when he discovered that working with his hands rather than his brain, and the understanding of scale and proportion, are as important in art as it is in designing cranks or chassis.
Pete did a five-year apprenticeship at a big steam turbine works and then some years at Lodge Plugs. Working for four years in a sub-contract shop taught him a lot of shortcuts and, as it had a fabrication shop, he picked up some ideas on welding and general metalworking. Whilst there he started racing grass track sidecar, first as a passenger then as the driver: it seemed safer to have the controls. Pete manufactured a lot of parts including timing covers, clutches, barrels and super strong crank cases for his own bike, which was a blown Triumph, and he did the same for many other competitors. After being made redundant in 1972 he thought he had enough work to set up on his own, but not having the run of machinery he had been using, he had to buy a new Lathe – which he still uses to this day – to machine cranks and crank cases.
As most grass track outfits were built around cut down BSA or Norton frames and the chair tubing was 10swg they came out heavy, so Pete took the best ideas from lots of outfits including road racing to design a complete chassis with leading link forks, side car suspension and a glass fibre seat moulding. He made the hubs, calipers and fuel tank resulting in the whole package being really competitive and winning most of the championships in the seventies.
In 1974 Pete met the late Ray Feltell at a bike show in Walsall. Pete had a Vincent outfit on show which had a pair of strong Triumph cases, and as Ray was a drag racer strong cases were the answer to his prayers. He introduced Pete to the current racers including John Clift, Jeff Byne and Bob Webster, all of whom went on to use his parts although John Clift managed to destroy those as well – but it was all good development!! It was John Clift who got Pete into billet bottom ends when he got him to make patterns, and then cast cases to suit the XS1100 motor. He never finished the bike and sold it to Jay Upton who raced it in Australia for many years, finally selling it to the Parker Brothers who only finished using it in 2008. Of cause he made the patterns for the XS when everyone else wanted Kawasaki, so he had to make another set, selling the first three bottom ends to Henk Vink, Frank Brachtvogel and Phil Baimbridge.
As if Pete had not made enough patterns, Brian Johnson came along wanting a bottom end for a FJ1200 so it was into woodworking mode again. It was when Brian took his bike to the States and showed how reliable and fast it was that Tony Lang bought two Suzuki bottom ends to build into his new fuel bike. Chris Hand along with Larry McBride saw the potential along and luckily those riders and dedicated teamwork put Puma into the winner’s circle numerous times. Larry’s team are particularly meticulous, insisting on precision settings and assembly, which shows in the hundreds of five-second passes they have achieved. Larry McBride holds the world record at 5.746, and Korry Hogan holds world speed record of 250.97 mph both with Puma crankcase assemblies. Puma crankcase assemblies also hold eight out of the top ten fastest ETs and eight of the fastest terminal speeds in the world. If that’s not enough, they have held and do hold multiple AMA, ANDRA, ACU, FIM and UEM championships and records.