Pride of Scotland
Fergus Anderson won the solo 350cc world title in both 1953 and 54, riding a factory Moto Guzzi. He lost his life at an international meeting at Floreffe, Belgium, in May 1956 at the age of 47. Jock Taylor took the sidecar world championship in 1980, with a Swede, Bengt-goran Johansson, as his passenger. Two years later Jock was fatally injured at the Finnish GP at Imatra in August, 1982. Jock’s sidecar career started as a passenger, not a driver. Scottish sidecar competitor Kenny Andrews, who was born in Smethwick, but who moved north of the border when very young, was in the Goblin Hawe, a pub in Haddington, East Lothian, near Taylor’s home, having a drink with his wife one Saturday night in early 1974. Jock and some friends, including Charlie Swanson, later to be Jock’s mechanic, were also there. Possibly fuelled by alcohol, Jock was heard to declare that racing a sidecar outfit was easy! Andrews, aged 27, suggested if Jock thought that was the case, then he should be at the East Fortune circuit early the following morning for a practice day. There were two big shocks the following day. The first was that Taylor turned up! The second was that he immediately turned out to be a top class passenger. Using an ex-mac Hobson Windrick BSA chassis, bought by Taylor, fitted with a Triumph 650 engine and gearbox, owned by Andrews, the pair agreed to start racing at the beginning of the 1974 season. In the close season Lewis Ward offered to be his passenger and buy a BSA engine. Obtaining an engine was no easy task. They caught a train from Edinburgh to London, met up with Alastair Ward, Lewis’s brother, who drove them in his car to Newmarket to have a look at Alex Harper’s A70 engined outfit. Taylor rode the outfit round a housing estate, and agreed to buy it for £230. They removed the engine and exhaust system, drove back to London, put them in the guards’ van and returned to Scotland. Taylor and Ward’s first race was at Silloth. They finished second to Colin Jacobs in the heat and fourth in the final. They spent the season battling with Alastair Lewis and Jimmy Law. At the last meeting of the 1975 season at East Fortune the engine blew up so the pair sold the outfit. In the close season they bought a second-hand Hartwell Imp engine and Norton gearbox to go into a new chassis from John Crick. Unfortunately, just before Christmas, Jock had a road accident breaking his right leg in three places. Jock was not able to go to the Melville Club’s dinner and presentation of awards so he was presented his silverware at the hospital. Doctors told Taylor he would not be fit to race in 1976. Not surprisingly Jock had other ideas. Ward and the mechanic, Charlie Swanson, built the Imp outfit while Jock was laid up. At first the kneeling tray had to be pivoted out to 45º, but as the season went on the tray was gradually moved back, until his leg was straight. The Imp outfit was sold to Dave Mallon at the end of the 1976 season and Taylor and Ward looked for a two-stroke. They looked at the flat-four Kohler engine at the Road Racing Show, but while they were considering that, an Ireson TZ750, owned by Spike Hughes and raced by Dave Lawrence came up for sale. They drove down to Chippenham, Wiltshire, rode the outfit round an industrial estate and with loans bought it for £2700. Ward’s parents purchased the
Scotland has only had two road racing world champions, Fergus Kenrick Anderson and John Robert Taylor, better known as Jock Taylor. Both were later killed taking part in the sport they loved. Chris Carter takes up the story.
spares for £300. Scottish solo champion Jock Findlay showed the pair how to strip down and rebuild the engine ready for the start of the 1977 season. With the outfit rebuilt and resprayed, the late Robbie Allan offered them a free stand at the Scottish Motor Cycle Show. Jock roped in some glamorous girls he knew, gave them tight-fitting Taylor/ward T-shirts and had them out and about selling T-shirts, stickers and posters. At the end of the show there was still some merchandise left, so the tallest girl, Syl, offered a free kiss with any purchase and quickly sold out! Their season opener was at Croft and they won all their races. Then it was down for the Easter Transatlantic meetings in England. With help from commentator Fred Clarke they obtained entries at Brands and Oulton, but the organiser at Mallory said he had never heard of them and said no. They set off in a Ford Transit van, supplied by one their sponsor, Jimmy Mitchell, towing the outfit on a trailer, with Jimmy’s son, Richard, following by car. The team finally arrived at Brands after their practice session was over. They and two other teams were given three laps before the first race. Taylor qualified mid field, but made a great start, grabbing third place behind George O’dell and staying there to the chequered flag. They were lying third at Oulton when the fuel pump failed. Spike Hughes was so pleased, he offered to pay the entry fees for the season and all expenses to race at the three club meetings at his local track. Jock was getting quicker and quicker, equalling the solo lap record at East Fortune, held at that time by the late Jock Findlay. From there the pair went to the Ulster GP. The engine flooded at the start and they were last away. They charged quickly through the pack, but were forced to stop when red flags came out immediately after a fatal accident. Astonishingly the flags were then pulled in and they were told they could rejoin the race! They crossed the line in fourth place after breaking the lap record and becoming the first sidecar crew to lap Dundrod at over 100mph. The organisers accepted that it had been an unusual race and that though they had finished fourth, they paid them third place prize money. The team then raced at Scarborough, Cadwell and then Oulton, where they beat George O’dell to win their first international event. Next was Mallory, the penultimate round of the British championship. They had tried to borrow a Yamaha 750, fearing all their rivals had all upgraded to the bigger engine. They were let down and could only finish sixth. Then Dennis Trollope stepped in to sell them a 750 top end, for which they did not have to pay until Christmas. Final round of the series at Brands carried double points and the organisers agreed to the competitors’ request to make it 15 laps rather than 12. Bill Hodgkins, Jock’s main rival for the British title, led from the start, with Jock breathing down his neck. Unfortunately, after 12 laps, a marshal jumped out to usher Bill and Jock off the track. He was nearly run down. Nobody had told him it was a 15 lap race. At the end of that lap the chequered flag went out and the result declared after 12 laps, giving Hodgkins the win and the British title. All in all it was not a bad season with the pair winning the Scottish championship, runner-up spot in the British series and third place in the Motor Cycle Weekly International championship.
“WITH THE OUTFIT REBUILT AND RESPRAYED THE LATE ROBBIE ALLAN OFFERED THEM A FREE STAND AT THE SCOTTISH MOTOR CYCLE SHOW.”
Left:thanks to the support of Dennis Trollope Jocktaylor got to live thett dream with experienced Kenny Arthur in the chair.Below:the youthful duo of Jocktaylor and Lewisward regularly made the long trek south to take on the best English sidecar men.