Richard Scott From Grace­field to GPs

“I was shot, to­tally worn out. I’d spent the whole year crash­ing, get­ting hurt, get­ting nowhere.”

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Richard Scott’s in­tro­duc­tion to the world of 500cc Grand Prix rac­ing as a mem­ber of the il­lus­tri­ous Kenny Roberts Lucky Strike Yamaha team had been a painful ex­pe­ri­ence – a harsh re­al­ity check on a ca­reer that had blos­somed con­tin­u­ously since his rac­ing de­but in 1975 in his na­tive New Zealand. His tal­ent and en­thu­si­asm had taken him to Aus­tralia, and to two na­tional road rac­ing ti­tles, then on to Eng­land – the tra­di­tional route for as­pir­ing an­tipodean rac­ers. His in­tro­duc­tion to two-wheeled mo­tor­ing came at the ten­der age of 14 when he was given a pil­lion on a friend’s Vespa mo­tor scooter in his home town of Wan­ganui. “I was hooked, to­tally and ut­terly hooked,” Richard re­calls. “I got a job af­ter school but soon an­nounced to my par­ents that I wanted to quit school. They were hor­ri­fied. All I wanted to do was to get a job, earn some money and get a mo­tor bike – as quickly as pos­si­ble. Ev­ery­one had bikes at the time (around 1974). We’d ride on the streets, on

farms, on the beaches, ev­ery­where”. Scott had such a grand time on his new bike (a TS125 Suzuki) that he had no thoughts of rac­ing. When he did de­cide to have a crack at the track, at age 16, his par­ents re­fused to sign the en­try form. Even­tu­ally, Richard won them over and tried his hand at lo­cal mo­tocross events on a TM250 Suzuki. The much-lamented Marl­boro In­ter­na­tional Se­ries ar­rived in New Zealand in 1976, and in­cluded a round at the fa­bled Ceme­tery Cir­cuit at Wan­ganui. “There were guys like War­ren Will­ing, Gregg Hans­ford, Jeff and Mur­ray Sayle, and Randy Mamola, who was just a kid, on a 250. I thought I should have a go at this and put some road tyres on the TM250 and even bor­rowed a mate’s 125 mo­tocrosser which had tri­als tyres on it. They had races for sin­gle cylin­der bikes and I went to all the street cir­cuits like Honikawa, Napier and Hamil­ton and had a ball.” The bug had bit­ten, and by this stage, New Zealand had gone pro­duc­tion rac­ing mad. Shelling out NZ$5,395, Richard bought his first brand new mo­tor­cy­cle – a Suzuki GS1000S. The big­gest event in the coun­try was the Castrol Six Hour at Man­field, the Kiwi ver­sion of Aus­tralia’s famed event, and Richard cir­cu­lated steadily un­til the fifth hour when a blown fork seal leaked oil onto the front tyre and he decked the model. “The (Suzuki) 1100s had just come out,” Scott re­calls, “and these were the days when Dave and Neville His­cock and Neil Chivas did most of the win­ning. I rode the 1000 for a full sea­son in New Zealand but then went to work for Peter Daniels in Welling­ton and he spon­sored me on a GSX1100 for 1980. The fol­low­ing year I joined (NZ Suzuki im­porters) Cole­mans, and they pro­vided a Katana 1100 for the ma­jor pro­duc­tion races. Well, they were called pro­duc­tion races but some bikes were more pro­duc­tion than oth­ers!” Across the pud­dle A six week trip to Aus­tralia in 1981 saw him work­ing for Pirelli im­porter Frank Matich, who ran one of the most suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tion rac­ing teams in the coun­try. Richard found him­self pre­par­ing the Suzukis raced by Neville His­cock to vic­tory in the Castrol Six Hour and the Surfers Par­adise Three Hour. “I learned a lot, work­ing with Neville, and I couldn’t wait to get a ride or­gan­ised for my­self”.

An in­vi­ta­tion to co-ride with Richard Scoular in the 1982 Yamaha 750 Pro­duc­tion Race at Oran Park took him onto Aus­tralian soil for the sec­ond time, where he qual­i­fied third but Scoular crashed in the race. He

stayed on in Aus­tralia af­ter the NSW Yamaha im­porters gave him a XJ750 for the year. “It had shaft drive and wasn’t re­ally my bike of choice,” Richard said, “but it gave me an en­try into all the Aussie races.” It was too late to get an en­try for the big Easter meet­ing at Bathurst but Scott went any­way, hop­ing some­thing might even­tu­ate. It did. When Alan Blanco crashed one of the Matich en­tries in prac­tice, wreck­ing the bike and putting him­self out of the meet­ing, Scott was able to take over the en­try, but his XJ750 was in Syd­ney – three hours away. “I phoned my mate Stewie (Wylie) in Syd­ney and told him to put the bike in a van and get out to Bathurst as soon as he could, but he didn’t make it till Fri­day af­ter­noon, so I only got six laps of prac­tice.” It was all he needed as Richard, rid­ing the un­fan­cied shaftie, won the 750cc class in the 20-lap Pro­duc­tion Race on the most daunt­ing and dif­fi­cult cir­cuit in the coun­try. “It was a great learner year for me. There were stacks of pro­duc­tion races all over the coun­try and I went to just about all of them. I got a job at a car wrecker and slept on the couch at (for­mer Side­car GP rider) Peter Camp­bell’s place at Greenacre (in Syd­ney’s western suburbs). I ended up with Graeme Crosby’s old Ford Tran­sit van, which had been ly­ing in a back yard with a blown trans­mis­sion.” The year fin­ished with sec­ond place in the 750 class of the Castrol Six Hour race, corid­ing with Ron Boulden, but with noth­ing fur­ther lined up, it was back home to Wan­ganui for Christ­mas to con­tem­plate the next move. As it turned out, that move had al­ready been made. For­mer Syd­ney film pro­ducer Peter Ad­di­son, who had done some his­toric rac­ing on a G50 Match­less and 7R AJS, had bought a new TZ250K Yamaha with a view to stick­ing a promis­ing young rider on it. “I’d been watch­ing Richard ride through the year and I got talk­ing to War­ren Will­ing about the idea of spon­sor­ing some­one. War­ren said that he thought ‘Scotty’ had prom­ise, so I called him up,” re­calls Ad­di­son. “It didn’t take him long to say yes!”

“I’d never rid­den on slicks be­fore, so it was an­other learn­ing year for me”. For­tu­nately, Richard is a quick learner. At the Aus­tralian Grand Prix at Bathurst he came home a dis­tant sec­ond to Chris Old­field’s rapid Arm­strong, but the con­test for the Aus­tralian 250cc Road Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship, held over seven rounds, was a much closer af­fair. Through­out the sea­son Ad­di­son and Will­ing con­stantly up­dated the Yamaha, swap­ping the frame for a Spon­don and 16-inch As­tralite wheels, with Hans Hum­mel cylin­ders. Go­ing into the fi­nal round at Mel­bourne’s Calder Park, Scott held a nar­row ad­van­tage, but crashed heav­ily in prac­tice, break­ing a shoul­der. Ad­di­son and Will­ing quickly re­cruited New­cas­tle rider Ge­off McNaughton, who duly won the race, cru­cially push­ing back ti­tlea­spi­rants Mike Dow­son and Peter Hin­ton and hand­ing the side­lined Scott the ti­tle.

Teamed with Michael Dow­son on a new Yamaha RZ500 two-stroke, the pair bat­tled might­ily with the Honda CB1100R of Wayne Gard­ner and John Pace.

Beach bound

Amid the cel­e­bra­tions Scott planted the idea of go­ing to Day­tona in 1984, and within weeks Ad­di­son had or­dered a new Yamaha which ar­rived in Aus­tralia only weeks be­fore the event. Af­ter a quick check over, the bike was crated and sent to USA, ar­riv­ing not at Day­tona, Florida, but at Day­ton, Ohio, com­plete with a gash through the side of the crate from a fork­lift. Once it was lo­cated the Yamaha was trucked to Florida, where it was stripped in the mo­tel room and var­i­ous go-faster bits bolted on. For a Kiwi kid like Richard, Day­tona was an over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. “It was awe­some. There were 130 en­tries for the 100-mile 250 race, with the fastest 80 get­ting a start. In the first round of prac­tice I was 30 sec­onds off the pace, but the times grad­u­ally dropped. Wayne Rainey won the race and I ended up ninth, which wasn’t too bad be­cause the bike was way slower than the top guys. War­ren (Will­ing) was there work­ing with Graeme Crosby and we had din­ner with Kenny Roberts and a few oth­ers, so it was a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence for me.”

“In the first round of prac­tice I was 30 sec­onds off the pace!”

Af­ter the eu­pho­ria of his in­ter­na­tional de­but, it was back to the usual diet in Aus­tralia, where Richard was re­cruited for the new Toshiba Yamaha Dealer Team. At the Aus­tralian Grand Prix at Bathurst, Scott again faced his ad­ver­sary from 2003, Chris Old­field, who had a new 250cc Ro­tax en­gine in a frame built by Mel­bourne en­gi­neer Bob Martin. Old­field con­trolled the race un­til his en­gine tight­ened, al­low­ing Scott to take the lead with a new record lap in the process. Af­ter a sea­son-long grind, he won the Aus­tralian 350cc Cham­pi­onship and fin­ished run­ner-up to Jeff Sayle in the 250. In ad­di­tion, there was the usual stack of Pro­duc­tion Races, cul­mi­nat­ing in the Castrol Six Hour, which moved from its tra­di­tional home at Ama­roo Park to Oran Park. Teamed with Michael Dow­son on a new Yamaha RZ500 two-stroke, the pair bat­tled might­ily with the Honda CB1100R of Wayne Gard­ner and John Pace. For some still-un­ex­plained rea­son, the che­quered flag came out nearly three min­utes early but it was a life­line for Scott, as the Yamaha ran out of fuel as it en­tered the pits af­ter the slow­ing down lap! The Honda squad were un­der­stand­ably livid, but the re­sult stood.

By now, Scott’s eyes were turn­ing to Europe, but he couldn’t af­ford to walk away from a good deal in Aus­tralia, so for 1985 he joined Matich Rac­ing, rid­ing Pirelli-shod Kawasaki GPz900s in all the ma­jor Pro­duc­tion Races. A win and a new lap record at Bathurst be­gan the year well, but it was Septem­ber be­fore he saw the win­ner’s cir­cle again. Teamed with Paul Feeney, Scott won the Surfers Par­adise Three Hour, a race marred by the deaths of Kiwi John Wood and lo­cal rider Greg Davies. At the sea­son-end­ing Castrol Six Hour Race at Oran Park, Scott again teamed with Feeney in the mis­er­ably wet con­di­tions. How­ever sec­ond place looked to be their lot be­hind Len Will­ing/Iain Pero, who had led through­out, un­til Will­ing fell with just ten min­utes to go. Scott pounced to take the win, his sec­ond on the trot, by four sec­onds. There was an­other con­tract on the table with Matich Rac­ing for 1986, but Scott was de­ter­mined to at least test the wa­ters in Eng­land and asked team owner Frank Matich for some time off to al­low him to con­test two races in the UK. When Matich re­fused, Scott went any­way. “I phoned up Barry Sym­monds from Honda UK, who I had met the year be­fore, and asked him if he could give me any help. They (Honda UK) al­ready had their team in place, but they gave me a cor­ner of the work­shop and a VFR750. Ron Grant was back in Eng­land at the time and he stayed for the year and helped me. We got some of the team’s bits from ’85 and fin­ished sec­ond in the MCN Su­pers­tock Se­ries be­hind Kenny Irons on a Loc­tite Yamaha run by Steve Parish.” At the Bri­tish round of the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships at Don­ing­ton, Sym­monds put Scott on an RS500 triple that was ly­ing around in the work­shop, and Richard re­paid the favour by win­ning the 500 race. That led to a fur­ther start on the triple, at the fi­nal race of the year at Brands Hatch. Scott knew a good per­for­mance was vi­tal if he were to se­cure a berth for 1987. “It was pretty sim­ple re­ally. I reck­oned what I had to do was beat the Honda Bri­tain guys (Roger Mar­shall and Roger Bur­nett, but I crashed twice in prac­tice – iden­ti­cal high-sides at Druids Bend and to­tally wrecked the bike – so I kinda blew that!” De­spite this set­back, Sym­monds loaned Richard the RS500 for the New Zealand Cham­pi­onships, where he won all three races.

Ups and downs in Europe

For 1987, Honda UK came up with an­other RS500 and a sup­ply of parts, which Scott ran as a pri­va­teer team in the 500 World Cham­pi­onship, en­tirely self­funded on a shoe­string bud­get. At his first Grand Prix, round two of the 500cc ti­tle at Jerez, Richard fin­ished a bril­liant tenth, the first pri­va­teer home. He fol­lowed this up with 13th in Ger­many at the su­per-fast Hock­en­heim cir­cuit and achieved the same re­sult at Monza. It was in Italy that he was ap­proached by Kenny Roberts, who’s Lucky Strike Yamaha team had lost Mike Bald­win for at least six races due to in­jury. Richard’s first con­cern was loy­alty to Sym­monds, who had stood by him through thick and thin, but Barry gave his bless­ing and Scott jumped camps. It proved to be a very bad ca­reer move. “We went test­ing at Riejka and I felt pretty good on the Yamaha, un­til af­ter about 30 laps, for no real rea­son, I lost it – a hun­dred miles an hour high-side. It was a huge crash and I re­ally beat my­self up. I spent a few days in hos­pi­tal and the bike was trashed. Mike Sin­clair, who had been in GPs for a long time, said he had never seen a bike so wrecked. So that wasn’t a par­tic­u­larly great start. The hos­pi­tal in Yu­goslavia was a dump, so the team got me out of there and we went to Aus­tria. It was only two weeks be­fore the Aus­trian GP and I had bro­ken ribs and skin off ev­ery­where, but I was more wor­ried about what Kenny would think of me. When I saw him in Aus­tria I said I was sorry for wreck­ing his bike and he just sort of shrugged and said, ‘No prob­lem, just see how you’re feel­ing when it’s time for the race.” “Doc­tor Costa had to give me about fifty in­jec­tions be­fore I could race.”

In Aus­tria, Scott re­turned to the sad­dle sore but de­ter­mined to put things right, and was fourth in the first (wet) qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion. Then in the fi­nal ses­sion, he en­coun­tered a slower rider as he ex­ited the fi­nal cor­ner onto the straight. “This guy was rid­ing so slowly, and I went to go un­der him when he just fell off right in my path. I ploughed into him at full speed and there I was on the deck again, and with an­other bike writ­ten off. Ev­ery­one in the team, in­clud­ing Kenny, saw the crash from the pits and knew it wasn’t my fault, I was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. I did more dam­age to my­self, cracked my hip and tore a groin mus­cle, and Doc­tor Costa had to give me about fifty in­jec­tions be­fore I could race. I fin­ished eleventh but I was pretty knocked around, I should have just gone home and got my­self back to­gether. By the time we got to Yu­goslavia for the GP I re­alised I had head prob­lems, I couldn’t pick brak­ing mark­ers, I had no co­or­di­na­tion. I kept rid­ing but I spent the whole year just crash­ing. It was such a strug­gle. I couldn’t give the feed­back the team needed. Kenny was re­ally great, but I just never got to grips with it. These were long races and I was al­ways fight­ing the Yamaha. You needed to slide the bike to be quick but I was lack­ing con­fi­dence and when the tyres went off I re­ally strug­gled. Also, those Yama­has were dif­fi­cult to set up with car­bu­ra­tion – they would load up in cor­ners and make it dif­fi­cult to get back on the gas cleanly. Guys like Ed­die Law­son would step the rear wheel out just enough to spin the tyre so they just rode through that rough patch and were so much quicker out of the cor­ners and then down the straight.” Some­how Scott hauled his bat­tered body through to the end of the sea­son, then ful­filled a com­mit­ment to con­test the New Zealand se­ries again on the RS500. “I had no in­ter­est in do­ing this at all, I was so de­pressed. I was slower than the year be­fore, my heart just wasn’t in it, so I de­cided that was it. I couldn’t face go­ing back to Europe as a pri­va­teer.” Scott made a com­plete break from bikes, work­ing as a bar­man on a yacht and gen­er­ally tak­ing time to al­low him­self to heal. Even­tu­ally he opened a mo­tor­cy­cle deal­er­ship in Taupo which he had for three years, then moved to Tau­ranga and into a busi­ness im­port­ing used cars from Ja­pan. This led to some four-wheeled ral­ly­ing in a Subaru XRX. Scott’s leathers had long been hung up when Peter Daniels, his first-ever spon­sor back in 1980, came into the pic­ture again. Daniels had a For­got­ten Era Kawasaki 1000 and brought it to Phillip Is­land for the NZ ver­sus UK ver­sus Aus­tralia chal­lenge at the 2004 Is­land Clas­sic. Richard, who by now had ex­tended his car im­port­ing busi­ness with a fi­nance com­pany to flog them to his cus­tomers, came along to help out at the meet­ing. Whoosh! The old flame was reignited. “I went home and said to my wife Cindy, I’ve just had the best time, I want to get an­other bike!” Fairly quickly he ac­quired a Suzuki GSX1100, the ul­ti­mate weapon in the For­got­ten Era class, and with help from Bob Toomey, for­mer GP me­chanic for Suzuki, an im­mac­u­late racer took shape. In both 2005 and 2006 he was the class of the field at the Is­land Clas­sic – fast and, un­like the Scott of old, safe. In 2007 he was the top scorer for the New Zealand team but de­cided to call it a day af­ter that, not want­ing to push his luck in the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive For­got­ten Era for­mula. Since 2008 Richard has been the Hyosung im­porter for New Zealand, so he’s right back where he started, and happy do­ing it. In 2010 Richard and busi­ness part­ner Ken Dobson in­sti­gated the Hyosung Cup for iden­ti­cal 250cc bikes; a se­ries de­signed as a train­ing ground for young road rac­ers. His in­juries have healed, and he’s long over the dis­ap­point­ment of his dis­as­trous GP foray. “My best mem­o­ries of rac­ing were in Oz (Aus­tralia). They were re­ally great days.”

Suzuka 8 Hour 1987 on a works Honda.

Chas­ing Ron Haslam in the 1987 Dutch TT at Assen.

Photo M Bryan.

BE­LOW On the Honda RS500 at Wan­ganui, New Zealand, Box­ing Day 1986. TOP RIGHT Aboard the Team Roberts YZR500 Yamaha in the Dutch TT, Assen 1987.

CEN­TRE RIGHT An­other bent YZR500. Aus­tria 1987.

With Kenny Roberts, Aus­tria 87.

On the Lucky Strike YZR500 1987.

Lead­ing Len Will­ing in the wet – 1985 Castrol Six Hour Race at Oran Park.

En­joy­ing the spoils of vic­tory with Paul Feeney af­ter the 1985 Castrol Six Hour Race.

With Michael Dow­son af­ter win­ning the Castrol Six Hour Race at Oran Park in 1984.

On the RZ500 Yamaha in the 1984 Castrol Six Hour Race at Oran Park.

LEFT Pit stop in the 1984 Castrol Six Hour with Michael Dow­son pre­par­ing to take over. RIGHT A paint­ing by the late Alan Puck­ett to com­mem­o­rate Scott’s 250cc Aus­tralian Cham­pi­onship win.

MAIN Dic­ing with Chris Old­field in the Aus­tralian 250cc Grand Prix at Bathurst 1984. TOP RIGHT Aus­trian GP at Salzbur­gring 1987 on Lucky Strike Yamaha. BE­LOW Ne­go­ti­at­ing the Esses at Bathurst in 1984.

In leathers once again, demon­strat­ing Gary Mid­dle­ton’s KR750 Kawasaki at Lev­els Race­way, NZ, in 2016.

In ac­tion on the Suzuki GSXR1100 at Phillip Is­land, 2007.

Show­ing a clean pair of heels to the For­got­ten Era Chal­lenge field at Phillip Is­land, 2006.

Richard Scott (cen­tre) with the late War­ren Will­ing (left) and for­mer spon­sor Peter Ad­di­son dur­ing the In­ter­na­tional Chal­lenge at Phillip Is­land 2006.

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