During the 1980s I was pleased to be able to support a number of local riders for whom I negotiated deals on tyres, oil, plugs etc and had a special relationship with EBC who supplied us with race spec brake pads on which we reported post race on wear and braking effect.

One of my proteges was a young man who lived in Slough and who was a wizard with computing especially in the banking business and he installed hard- and soft ware for a number of major banks here in the UK and in Europe.......But his hobby was motorcycle racing and had started on a heavy road-going Honda VFR 750 which frankly was not easily converted into race spec. Ben came the shop in which I worked and we got talking about racing. We had a new Suzuki GSXR 750 XH (in maroon and black) which could be set up for racing and on a cold winters day Ben took delivery of his Suzuki and gingerly got it home on icy roads. I followed in the car hoping he didn't skid or fall off.

As soon as the race season hoved into sight I took out an ACU entrants licence and a backup one in the name of the shop (as a Suzuki dealer) and entered Ben in as many club events as we could, filling up half the season. We purchased race fairings, set up a supply of Pirelli tyres thanks to Eddie Roberts, acquired oil from Putoline and received a large box of H rated EBC pads.

So we set out early morning for Bens first event that year.....


He enjoyed practice and finished well up in the races. We sat and analysed the races and we felt we needed more oomph from the 750......So Andy appeared on the scene, a brilliant technician who worked on Concorde at Heathrow so he was more than ideal to re-map the ECU and tune this standard motor. We went to a motorcycle show and I met up with Mick Grant to whom I introduced Ben...I was very pleased that Mick had a nice chat with Ben and Mick gave me his phone number to contact him for any info we wanted.....This was superb and I think we rang Mick a couple of times mainly to discuss gearing.

Ben had now invested in an old single decker bus and this was converted into a team bus with sleeping area, social area and in the back, storage space for two or three bikes. We now ran a local team of six riders who came with us to each meeting.....Two riders on 750 two on 250 and two on 125.... We had Liz Skinner as a guest rider a couple of times and by the end of the season we had a group of twelve riders including Ged Tennant in his sidecar outfit.....

The next two seasons were even more exciting and I felt in February of that third season I would take Ben to the JUNE TT to see if he fancied a long race.

Our first year we stayed on the prom near Broadway.....We were two fellows in a hotel FULL of female hockey players (There were hockey tournaments in those days) We came down to breakfast each morning not sure where to look and tended to blush somewhat !! Ben enjoyed his first look at the TT and after few brisk laps in the car, was most impressed.

We found Suzuki who were based down at Quarter Bridge and saw they were sponsored by Durex. We met Mick Grant who introduced us to his riders Jamie Whitham and Phil Mellor....


Phil was extremely interested to listen to Bens desire to do the Manx and the TT, so he gave Ben lots of quality advice. We met up a number times during that TT and after having Phil do a lap with us in the car, race week started.....Unfortunately Ben had to get back to work before the weekend and the ferries were booked up solid post racing so we set out back home on the Friday morning before the final races and reached home early evening....We put the tele on to be horrified to see that Phil had crashed at Handleys on his 1000 and had succumbed to his injuries.......We had been with Phil the night before !

Deeply shocked Ben had to decide whether or not to race in the Island. The rest of the season saw a big change in Ben yet his results were getting better and he got the required number of signatures needed to do the Manx.
The next year Ben and I set out in the car for Liverpool as part of a journalistic experiment. Bens girlfriend came with us and I added Andy my friend from work ..

..I hadn't actually booked anywhere to stay but once over I contacted Manx Radio who put out a plea for somewhere for us to stay. Response was very quick in those days and we drove round to a huge farm just before Ballaugh and had a rare old time there.

However, .. we came back from a jolly night in Douglas one evening and accidentally ran over one of the farmers Geese --- so after profuse apologies we felt it wise to move nearer to the action in Douglas. A friend had given me a phone number in Douglas and after being interviewed we were accepted and we moved into a huge house owned by a very nice girl.

History tends to repeat itself, so like the days of the Fairhaven, and since it was a big fairly empty house I managed to get some pals without places to stay with us with permission of the nice girl. We all got jobs to do including the cooking !! But we were here to concentrate on Bens attempt at the TT or the Manx GP. More research was carried and Ben decided to race in the Newcomers at that years Manx to commemorate the help Phil had given him. I entered him and set up the usual deals. I did not go with him but he had Andy with him plus another guy who would be the pit man........So Ben went to the Manx in the August...... and completed the full race and dedicated his finishers award to Phil...