RID­ING AT THE TIME OF GREATS

Fond­ness and fly­ing lap times

Classic Racer - - PAD­DOCK GOS­SIP -

Dear CR Ex­cel­lent and so very ap­pro­pri­ate that CR #185 is de­voted to the great John Sur­tees; it so fit­tingly ac­knowl­edges and presents this thor­oughly typ­i­cal English gen­tle­man in the man­ner that only peo­ple like my­self who grew up along­side, and took part in mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing at the same time, can ab­so­lutely ap­pre­ci­ate. Thank you most sin­cerely. I vividly re­mem­ber the year when John rode in 76 races and won 68 of them, as I spec­tated at many, in­clud­ing the Sil­ver­stone 500cc class when he beat Ge­off Duke, rid­ing his ‘ubeat­able’ Gil­era, fair and square on his Manx Nor­ton. That was one of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing’s most his­toric mo­ments. The Sil­ver­stone spec­ta­tor crowd rose as one man, climbed the track­side bar­ri­ers and did ev­ery­thing on the three miles of track to ac­knowl­edge John’s spec­tac­u­lar win, ex­cept pick him up phys­i­cally, bike as well, and carry him around the track. It was prob­a­bly the most emo­tional mo­ment ever seen in this coun­try to ac­knowl­edge an all- Bri­tish bike and rider thor­oughly beat­ing, fairly, the best mo­tor­cy­cle racer in the world, rid­ing a for­eign but best, rac­ing mo­tor­cy­cle in the world. In­spired by such per­for­mances, I be­gan rac­ing in 1957 and com­peted un­til 1961 when ca­reer dic­tated 100% at­ten­tion. I some­times hear and read claims of events, per­for­mances and so-called leg­endary peo­ple, there have been four Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cle road rac­ing leg­ends in my life­time: Stan­ley Woods, Ge­off Duke, John Sur­tees and Mike Hail­wood. I raced against Mike Hail­wood in his sec­ond ever track race and a few af­ter that. I thor­oughly en­joyed it but wasn’t good enough to de­vote se­ri­ous time to it. How­ever I did achieve one or two class wins and even set a record, still stand­ing (the track was closed). Thank you for the op­por­tu­nity to wal­low in nos­tal­gia, I thor­oughly en­joy Clas­sic Racer. Brian D Dunn

Hello Brian, Thank you for your let­ter. And thank you very much for your own mem­o­ries of the true lu­mi­nar­ies of our sport. In light of your mis­sives on the sub­ject of the su­per­stars of days past, please ac­cept the ac­co­lade of Star Let­ter in this is­sue of CR. Best wishes Tony

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