The readers of Classic Trial Magazine who love their sidecar trials may be feeling a little neglected, and quite rightly so. One of the problems we have is identifying the riders and passengers, as we do not always have the programmes from the events and on some occasions the passenger is not named; maybe you could help? Here we have a look back at the 1975 Northern Experts Trial, where you can see just how popular the sport was in the seventies and eighties by the size of the crowd, in these superb Malcolm Carling pictures, who stayed behind after the solo riders had gone to watch the action on the lower hazards at Hawk’s Nest in Derbyshire.
The hot favourite at this annual end-of-season event run by the Manchester 17 MCC was Jack Mathews and his passenger Ray Armstrong. ‘Jumping Jack’ (as he was known for reasons better kept private!) was the current British Trials Champion and enjoyed the luxury of works support on his Ossa sidecar outfit from the UK importers Cliff and Roger Holden. Living in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Mathews considered this a local event and, having recently opened a new motorcycle shop with his ex-passenger Gordon Ruffley, he knew it would be a good opportunity to meet the local trials enthusiasts.
A Foggy Start
The 30th running of the prestigious Northern Experts was covered by thick December fog, which came down on the start at Wincle high above Wildboarclough near Macclesfield as the sixteen sidecars entered got underway after the start time was delayed by clerk of the course Dave Rowland for half an hour to allow the fog to lift and make way for a clearer day. In the early stages of the event it was the 26-yearold agricultural engineer from Wensleydale in Yorkshire Norman Iveson and his passenger Gerald Simpson who battled for control with Mathews. Also in the hunt for the victory was former British Champion Alan Morewood with Mick Bailey in the chair. Morewood was riding a Suzuki outfit which was on loan, and he immediately felt at home on the single cylinder two-stroke machine.
The formidable group of hazards at the well known Hawk’s Nest had a large crowd waiting to watch the action, and they would not be disappointed. Iveson arrived at the venue a mark behind Mathews but he footed clear to emerge with a three-mark
advantage over Mathews, who crashed into a rock that was sticking out – and for once he blamed himself for the error! Looking very confident on his new Japanese outfit Alan Morewood watched his rivals falter before attempting the hazard last and he made a superbly confident attempt to move back into contention for the lead. However, all the hard work came undone in the river below Hawk’s Nest at the hazards known as Robinson’s Rocks. It was then a short road ride to the muddy banks and climbs at Booth’s Farm.
The battle for the top spot was still wide open, and Morewood looked very good as he regained the upper hand on the hazards at Booth’s Farm. Iveson parted with five marks through the three hazards as Mathews added ten more to his score but Morewood was supreme, losing only a single mark. At the High Edge hazards it was now Iveson’s turn for glory as he was the only rider to mark a clean ride over the limestone rocks while the rest of the entry failed. The previous year it had been East Midlands based Walter Bullock and Brian Pearce on the Mick Andrews supported Yamaha TY 250cc who won, but this year they parted with nearly twice as many as the winners as they enjoyed their day’s sport in the company of Ray Sayer on his Triumph twin.
Riding very confidently, Iveson would not be headed again in the event as the focus moved to the runner-up positions, which would be fought out between Morewood and Mathews. As Morewood became more confident on his new machine he opened up a two-mark advantage over Mathews at the Cheek’s Hill hazards but his rival was not finished, and he came fighting back to draw level at Dane Bower quarry. It would be the last hazard of the day that would find the winner at Worsleys Wash, with the honour going to Mathews by a single mark. When Dave Thorpe took the solo class win and Iveson the sidecars it was a first for Bultaco as they took both class wins.
Malcolm Ellis/Alan Guest (Montesa)
Eddie Dew/Peter Potts (Bultaco)
Joe and Paul Howells (Suzuki)
Charlie Gardner/Geoff Berry (Kawasaki)
Jack Matthews/Ray Armstrong (Ossa)
Walter Bullock/Brian Pearce (Yamaha)
Keith Horseman (Suzuki)
Alan Morewood/Mick Bailey (Suzuki)
Norman Iveson/Gerald Simpson (Bultaco)
Ray Sayer/Mick Gaines (Triumph)
The Bultaco was very popular with a sidecar on
Geoff Gadsby/Henry Gaunt (BSA)
Check out the crowd