Alan Aspel – Sammy Miller

As a young­ster I was mo­tor­cy­cle tri­als mad, lit­er­ally; even in my very ju­ve­nile years, all I was in­ter­ested in was tri­als. Men­tion the name Sammy Miller and my ears would prick up and my eyes open wide. My fa­ther Ron was just as keen on the sport, and thr


My first port of call was to Brian for some con­tact de­tails for Alan, but he in­formed me that he had sadly been killed many years ago while test­ing a Honda ma­chine on a test track. He re­mem­bered that he had been the ed­i­tor of Mo­tor­cy­cle Il­lus­trated be­fore mov­ing to Honda in a pro­mo­tional po­si­tion for their new range of road mod­els. This put a stop to the gen­er­a­tion of the ar­ti­cle, but not for long as I then con­tacted Don Morley, and so the story un­folded. WHO WAS ALAN ASPEL? I had never made the con­nec­tion that Alan was one of the three Aspel brothers un­til Don pointed it out, with the el­dest, Michael, per­haps the most fa­mous. He was a TV star in his own right, and many read­ers will re­mem­ber him as the pre­sen­ter of ‘This is your life’ amongst other pro­grammes he was in­volved with. The youngest brother Ge­off was also in­volved in the mo­tor­cy­cle press as a jour­nal­ist for the then weekly pa­per ti­tled ‘Mo­tor Cy­cling’. When it fin­ished, he would move on to be­come a ra­dio DJ, spin­ning the discs on a pro­fes­sional ba­sis. De­spite the pass­ing of fifty years, Brian Holder can still flash his mem­ory back: “We had a nice day in the com­pany of the great Sammy Miller and Alan Aspel, who had be­come a friend. Sammy, as usual, was very pro­fes­sional and took both of us on a tour of his work­shop and his tro­phy room, some­thing he was quite right­fully very proud of. His ma­chine pre­sen­ta­tion was ex­cep­tional and, de­spite the fact it was not a com­pet­i­tive event, Sammy was so full of en­thu­si­asm. The train­ing took place at one of his prac­tice ar­eas on the edge of the New For­est in Hamp­shire with his devel­op­ment Bul­taco, the one he was win­ning so many events on.

“Look­ing back it’s al­most un­be­liev­able that Alan did not wear a crash hel­met! De­spite the fact he was very much a mo­tor­cy­cle road test rider he was okay at go­ing up­hill and over the rocks. It was just the down­hill he strug­gled with as he would not use the en­gine break­ing of the Bul­taco and he kept pulling in the clutch and pulling on the front brake, de­spite Sammy correcting him on what he should have been do­ing. No dam­age was done but what it did high­light to Alan was just how much con­trol the mae­stro Miller had of a mo­tor­cy­cle in all sit­u­a­tions; many for­get that he was also a very ac­com­plished and suc­cess­ful road racer”.

TRIAL MAG­A­ZINE Sammy Miller stands proud in a room in the house with his grow­ing col­lec­tion of tro­phies which are all im­mac­u­late, just like the man him­self.


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