MY THIRD AND LAST LITTLE-KNOWN ITEM IS THAT A SHADOWY INDIVIDUAL, ONE JOE POTTS MAY, THOUGH UNSEEN, PLAY A VERY MAJOR PART IN THE SENIOR.
Jimmy Buchan also rode a Potts 350cc at Errol, in the 500cc race against riders on 500 Manx machines and various other larger bikes. Even using the 350cc, Jimmy moved up from 12th on the first lap to finish a very good second behind Alastair King (500 Manx). The Manx Grand Prix was next for the Potts team. Bob would go as mechanic and pit assistant for Jimmy Buchan, who would be piloting the Potts machines. At the start of the week only the Potts 500 was on the Island for Jimmy. Bob was planning on using the 350 at Charterhall on Sunday, August 26, but in the end he did not run the bike due to the track being flooded from heavy rain. A 100-yard section of the track was flooded by two feet of water! Even so, the organisers ran 1.5-mile sprints, but Bob did not compete. He brought the 350 Potts Manx to the Island on the Monday. At the Manx, Bob told Jimmy to “Enjoy yourself and don’t fall off” prior to the practice period. Bob also said that “The machine’s for rugged Scots, not promenade Percys,” when talking about the 350 to Jimmy. Practice went relatively well for Jimmy, as he was able to top both 350cc and 500cc timing sheets against stiff competition from the likes of Alastair King, Bob Anderson and Alan Holmes. The only hiccup was a broken valve spring on Jimmy’s Senior mount, but little damage was done and the bike was easily repaired. The Junior race went well for Jimmy and his Potts Manx, which resulted in victory at an average speed of 88.54mph from Eddie Crooks. After Jimmy was congratulated on his remarkable record at the IOM, his modest reply was, “Aye but look at the good bikes I’ve had!” At the prize-giving, Jimmy thanked Joe and Bob for their help and the “loan of the motor”. Things went just as well in the Senior race, as Jimmy won once more from Bob Anderson and Alan Holmes. He had won the double Manx GP on Potts Manx machines! When Jimmy handed the bikes back to Bob after the racing, Bob stated, “There’s nothing to beat a double scotch!” The Potts team was to have a good meeting at the Scarborough International in September. Jimmy Buchan was to ride the Potts 250 after his Manx GP success and Bob would be riding the two larger machines. In the 250cc class Jimmy rode to a good fourth behind Dave Chadwick’s MV, Brian Purslow’s NSU and Ted Fenwick’s Moto Guzzi. His ride was not without incident, however, as he decided he would be able to go flat out through the bottom straight. When he tried it he had a massive slide and nearly lost control in a big way. In the 350cc class final Bob won from Peter Murphy on an AJS. The 500cc final was a huge battle between Bob on the Potts Manx and Geoff Duke on the Works Gilera. Geoff had the Scarborough specification Gilera, which featured smaller carburettors to make it more drivable. In the early part of the race Bob took the lead, but coming out of Mere hairpin he had a big slide under acceleration and nearly high-sided his bike. On the fourth lap Geoff took the lead, but was only able to get past due to Bob missing a gear-change coming out of Mount hairpin. Bob was close behind Geoff for the rest of the race, in the end finishing in second place. After the race Bob and Geoff swapped bikes for the lap of honour; Geoff riding the Potts Norton and Bob the Gilera. After the lap Bob was accidentally give the winner’s laurels, as he was still astride the Gilera. It was at this meeting that Geoff asked Bob to ride for Gilera in 1957. The following day Bob took his machines to Cadwell Park for his first time at the Lincolnshire circuit. In the 250cc class he won on the Potts 250 from Percy Tait and George Catlin. In the 350cc class Bob could only manage third, while in the Senior he finished second behind John Hartle. Meanwhile, in Scotland, Charlie Bruce was continuing his good form by winning the 250cc class at Errol. At Silverstone’s Hutchinson 100 meeting there were six races (two for each major class) rammed into the day for Bob and the Potts machines. The field was full of top class riders, with the Works Nortons of Hartle and Brett the main threat in the big classes and Cecil Sandford and his Mondial in the 250cc class. In the 250cc races, Bob finished second in the first race behind Sandford and third in the second (250cc BMCRC Championship) behind Sandford and Dave Chadwick on an MV. In the 350cc BMCRC Championship race Bob finished second behind Jack Brett but ahead of John Hartle.
Right: Many spoils to the victor, as is usual in the racing game, but Bob knew that to continue the winning ways would take a team-up with someone like Joe Potts. The smile says it all about the validity of that decision.
Left: L to R, Joe Woollams, Bob, Joe and Vic Willoughby at North Road in Bellshill with the pannier tanked Potts machine.