DEN­NIS TO THE RES­CUE

Classic Racer - - PEOPLE -

Jock, Lewis and me­chanic Char­lie trav­elled down to Lon­don in Jan­uary 1978, in the search of much needed spon­sor­ship and to col­lect sec­ond place be­hind solo racer Kevin Wret­tom in the an­nual, pres­ti­gious, Grove­wood awards. But de­spite their best ef­forts at the Road Rac­ing Show they found no new spon­sors. Sud­denly, though, Cas­trol and Cen­tu­rion Hel­mets came along with of­fers of spon­sor­ship. An­other of­fer of help came from Ray Hamil­ton of Ham-yam Rac­ing in Ch­ester-le-street. Ray of­fered them a new Di­eter Busch out­fit, com­plete with 500cc en­gine. Sadly the deal came with too many con­di­tions. It was more like a busi­ness ar­range­ment, rather than spon­sor­ship. They felt it would have cost them too much, so they turned it down. Den­nis Trol­lope came to their res­cue. He had heard about the hunt for spon­sor­ship, but be­cause of all the names on the out­fit’s fair­ing he thought they had enough back­ing! Jock, Lewis and Char­lie drove down to Bris­tol to talk with Den­nis and wife Ann. To ev­ery­one’s as­ton­ish­ment Den­nis went be­hind the counter and handed over a whole load of en­gine parts, in­clud­ing a com­plete 500 top-end, four 250 ex­haust pipes, a spare ig­ni­tion kit and a mind blow­ing se­lec­tion of en­gine parts. Den­nis also loaned them a TZ750F ex­haust pipe, a de­vice that pro­duced the most bhp. There were no hid­den clauses in this deal. Jock and Lewis kept all the spon­sor­ship and prize money. The team made a lot of mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the out­fit for the 1978 sea­son, in­clud­ing a new wheel arch, in­cor­po­rat­ing the ra­di­a­tor. The fuel tank was in­creased in size to last the TT and GPS. Yamaha me­chanic Iain Mckay rec­om­mended that they bored out the carbs to 35.5mm and sup­plied them with phos­phor- bronze wa­ter and oil pumps. Bill Simp­son helped with a lot of the work. They turned Den­nis Trol­lope’s en­gine into a 500 and the out­fit was painted in Cas­trol colours. They were ready for the new sea­son, GPS and all. The sea­son started with the Transat­lantic Match races over the Easter week­end. Jock and Lewis used the 750 en­gine and started with sec­ond place to the new world cham­pion, Ge­orge O’dell, at Brands Hatch on Good Fri­day. At Mal­lory, on Easter Sun­day, they were sec­ond again, this time be­hind Brian Webb. The fol­low­ing day the pair were bat­tling for the lead at Oul­ton Park, when a fair­ing bracket broke and they were black-flagged. Thanks to Lewis Ward’s aun­tie and his granny do­nat­ing their sav­ings, they hired a very small, four-berth car­a­van for four weeks. The day be­fore set­ting off for Europe they went to Knock­hill for a test and dis­cov­ered there were prob­lems with de­liv­ery of fuel to the carbs. Just be­fore leav­ing, Tom Kin­naird, then the owner of the Knock­hill cir­cuit, came over for a chat. Hear­ing that they were off to the GPS he pulled out his wal­let and handed over £80, all the cash in it. With the van fully loaded and the car­a­van at­tached Jock, Lewis, Char­lie and Lewis’s dad, Harry, as head cook and bot­tle washer, set off for Aus­tria. Jock, still work­ing as a me­chanic ser­vic­ing East Loth­ian Coun­cil’s 70 lawn mow­ers, had been given eight weeks’ hol­i­day by the author­ity, in re­turn for dis­tribut­ing thou­sands of leaflets pro­mot­ing Scot­tish tourism. Driv­ing through Ger­many the van went on to three cylin­ders af­ter an ex­haust valve melted. They strug­gled on to Aus­tria and then the fuel pump packed up. They stopped at a garage and fixed the pump and trav­elled on to the Salzbur­gring. They parked next to French­man Alain Michel and his Bri­tish pas­sen­ger, Stu Collins. Come the race there was a prob­lem with the en­gine over­heat­ing and they fin­ished 12th. Af­ter Aus­tria they called at Her­mann Schmid’s work­shop just out­side Geneva in Switzer­land and re­placed the cool­ing sys­tem with the old one. Next was the French GP at Nog­aro, where they fin­ished sev­enth, de­spite be­ing lapped. Round three was at Mugello, Italy. They were eighth home. It was then back home to Scot­land, via Terry Win­dle’s work­shop near Sh­effield. He showed them a new chas­sis made from folded sheet steel. It had been or­dered by Ge­orge O’dell, but Terry wanted Jock to have it in­stead. The new out­fit was left to be com­pleted and the team set off for home. Back in Scot­land, Lewis called a team meet­ing for the fol­low­ing night, where he an­nounced he was quit­ting. The team’s strong, tight-work­ing bond had started to change at the GPS. Lewis had stopped en­joy­ing it all so he had de­cided to pack it in. It was agreed that when the new Win­dle out­fit was up and run­ning, the old out­fit would be sold and the pro­ceeds split be­tween Jock and Lewis. Look­ing back, Lewis be­lieves that it was the big­gest favour he ever did for Jock, be­cause he had to look for a new pas­sen­ger, par­tic­u­larly for the up­com­ing TT and that led to him hav­ing Kenny Arthur to race with in the Isle of Man. As a re­place­ment pas­sen­ger Jock asked an­other young Scot, 17-year-old James Neill, from nearby Hadding­ton, to take over. The pre­vi­ous sea­son James had been a pas­sen­ger for a lo­cal club racer. Sadly the pair had not fin­ished a sin­gle one of the half dozen meet­ings con­tested. James, who was work­ing in his fa­ther’s com­pany as an ap­pren­tice plas­terer, made his de­but with Jock at the Cad­well Park In­ter­na­tional in May where the pair fin­ished sev­enth.

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