DENNIS TO THE RESCUE
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.