Tom Thorp -1930 - 2011
When I first met Tom Thorp, long before I was the editor of this magazine, I was keen to find out more about the man and his road racing past. Anyone who was lucky enough to meet Tom will know that the last thing he wanted to talk about was Tom Thorp. Modest doesn’t even come close.
Several years later, and after much gentle persuasion, Tom finally agreed to an interview for a feature I was writing for our sister title The Classic MotorCycle. Five hours later, in the lovely Isle of Man home that Tom shared with his charming wife Frances, I had enough notes to write a book never mind a feature! And I suspect we had only just scratched the surface.
Tom was born in Greenford, Middlesex in 1930 and like so many more spent his childhood dodging German bombs. Getting into motorcycling as soon as he could, he was soon showing his engineering talent by tuning his own machines. I suspect it was his engineering skills that he was most proud of in later life.
His road racing career started with an Excelsior Manxman, bought with a £50 budget, a bike which served him well for a couple of seasons, before it was replaced by a 7R which he ran alongside a self tuned 250 BSA, which gave him a great runner spot in the North West 200 behind Tommy Robb.
Tom’s first attempt at racing in the Island in the 1956 MGP resulted in 19th place, and that after an unscheduled stop at Ballaspur for several minutes diagnosing a fuel lock. This was followed by a fine sixth the following year. But it was 1959 that should have given Tom MGP victory as he led the Junior by 90 seconds on the last lap, only for the piston to let go at Brandywell. Tom pushed home for 45th place.
Racing finally came to an end for Tom after a massive accident at Snetterton in 1961, but not before he had raced, and beaten, the very best in the sport. His last TT finish was a fine seventh in the 1962 Senior. It was only bad luck and machine failure that robbed Tom of true greatness. After racing finished he ran a successful motorcycle shop, followed by car and caravan business which was sold in 1984 allowing Tom and Frances to retire to the Isle of Man.
In a happy retirement both Frances and Tom worked tirelessly for the TTRA, with Frances becoming the secretary, a position she still holds. A lasting reminder of Tom’s skill and commitment is the TTRA’s Isle of Man headquarters, the 38th Milestone.
Tom passed away after a brave battle against a cruel illness. Rest in peace my friend.
Classic Racer Magazine
JOHN KIDSON APPOINTED TTRA PRESIDENT
Now 77, John Kidson has been on the committee of the TT Riders’ Association since 1980, and served in the demanding role of Treasurer for some eight years before finally deciding to ‘retire’, although he immediately followed this up by succeeding Philip McCallen as President for 2011.
John, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, had a long TT career, competing in the big Isle of Man event from 1960 until 1977 on a variety of machines including a 125cc Ducati, a 250cc Moto-Guzzi, a 250cc NSU Rennmax, 250cc Cotton Telstar, 350cc Manx Norton, 250cc and 350cc Yamaha TZs and a Honda CB400F on which he won the F3 race in 1977.
He also competed on a 350cc Aermacchi in the Manx Classic event from 1989 until 1991, being beaten twice in succession by Bill Swallow and then by Bill’s brother Richard, who was unfortunately later killed.
PETER KELLY JOINS FoTTRA
Pete Kelly, who retired from Mortons Media Group in July 2009, but is still busy writing freelance features for a variety of Mortons’ magazines, is the new Hon Secretary and Administrator of the TTRA’s supporting group, the Friends of the TT Riders’ Association, and his brother Geoff has joined the FoTTRA committee.
Pete first visited the Island in 1959, and has missed only a handful of TTs since 1962. He was a staffman on the old Motor Cycling weekly, commonly known as the ‘Green ‘Un’, in 1965-6, and edited Motor Cycle weekly from 1974 until 1976. He started Trials & Motocross News in Morecambe with its Editor, Bill Lawless, in 1977, and edited Motor Cycle Mechanics from 1978-80. During the last ten months of a journalistic career that spanned almost 50 years, he looked after Classic Motorcycle Mechanics in the absence of its esteemed Editor, Rod Gibson, who unfortunately succumbed to his illness.
In 1973, Pete was a member of the successful Maudes Trophy team that ran two BMW R75/5s around the Isle of Man’s Mountain Circuit for seven days and seven nights.
With eight bikes and a vintage tractor in his garage, he has plenty of other things to keep him busy in ‘retirement’.
In his new FoTTRA role he intends to involve as many members as possible in raising funds for those TT heroes who find themselves in difficulties after racing accidents or perhaps suffer misfortune in later life.
• To contact Pete, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND BUFFET
T.T.RIDERS ASSOCIATION - ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
To be held at the PROJECT 21 Centre. Greenfield Road, Douglas.
Tuesday June 8th 2010 at 8pm.
(Road by the Start line opposite the paddock warm up area).
1. The Minutes of the 2009 AGM.
2. Hon Secretary’s Report.
3. Hon Treasurer’s Report and Approval of 2009/10 Accounts and introduction of the new Treasurer Elect.
4. Election of Auditors.
5. Election of President.
6. Election of Committee.
7. Election of Hon Secretary.
8. Election of Hon Treasurer.
9. Honoraria Secretary and Treasurer.
10.Any Other Business.
N.B. We will be having a cold buffet supper with a glass of wine as usual. Tickets are available in advance by post from Frances Thorp or any practice evening or race days £10.
Tickets must be ordered and paid for in advance so that we can be sure of the numbers for the Caterers.
PHILIP MCCALLEN APPOINTED TTRA PRESIDENT
Irish road racing star Phillip McCallen received his chain of office from outgoing TTRA President Neil Tuxworth, in front of almost 500 guests, at the recent TTRA Luncheon at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham. Friends of the TTRA Chairman, David Mylcreest, presented a cheque for £5000 raised during the year, and a lively auction, conducted by Alex Barber from Bonhams, raised close to £4000.
Mortons Media Group, publishers of Classic Racer, handed over £750, half of the money raised from the Press Trial, with the other half going to the Lincolnshire Air Ambulance.
Keith Heckles 1934-2010
The World of motorcycling lost one of its most popular characters with the passing of Liverpudlian ace Keith Heckles on the 16 January.
Although Keith was known as a Liverpool lad he was born in Crawley, Surrey and it was only thanks to Mr Hitler’s blitz that forced his family to relocate to Merseyside, just in time for the Luftwaffe to turn their attention to the area.
With a motorcycling father it was almost inevitable that young Keith would take to two wheels, but early rides on dad’s Autocycle could have given no hint of the racing success that Keith would later enjoy.
By 1959 the road going Heckles Gold Star was stripped for racing and he made his debut on the long Aintree circuit and before the end of that season he had his first taste of the Manx Grand Prix.
That first Manx didn’t go quite to plan, with a lost sump plug and sticking throttle being just a couple of the problems, but Keith made the start but a close encounter with Sulby Bridge ended his race.
However, success in the Island followed, with a runner up spot in the 1967 Production TT being a high point. But lady luck always seemed to desert Keith in the September races and he was without doubt the best rider never to win a Manx.
Keith was an all round motorcyclist and was quietly proud of the small collection of bikes that graced his workshop, especially his Beart Norton, on which he came so close to that elusive MGP victory.
Life wasn’t always kind to Keith, but through personal tragedy and illness he never lost his sense of humour or his zest for fun. He leaves two sons, Paul and Mark, both of whom he was very proud.
I am pleased to have been able to call Keith a good friend and without him the world of motorcycling will be the poorer. God speed old mate.
Classic Racer Magazine
TT Challenge - comic strip
We've recently heard from Dermot in Canada who writes:
"I have long been interested in Vintage motorcycle Racing....especially the early Isle of Man TT.
I recently put together a short story to honor Stanley Woods' efforts in 1922 / you can see it here : http://zoomfrog.blogspot.com/
It's the least I could manage......although I wish I had the time to do it more justice.....a longer format / I did it on spec but a graphic novel publisher has promised to buy it and feature it in an upcoming issue........so the youth of today will continue to learn from his example! I hope some of Stanleys friends like Joe Wood and Dave Crawford have a chance to see it
Dermot ( in Canada )"
Tuxworth slides into the TTRA chair
Article by Malcolm Wheeler, Kindly reproduced from Classic Racer magazine
Outgoing president Colin Seeley hands over the chain of office to a clearly chuffed Neil Tuxworth.
In keeping with tradition incoming TT Riders’ Association president Neil Tuxworth rode into the annual luncheon, held at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham, but not on a road race bike. Avid sand race fan Neil chose his Honda 250 sand racer, a bike on which he has had over 1500 race wins, to rattle the chandeliers.
In an acceptance speech that kept the 600 guests hushed for 30 minutes Tuxworth, who manages the whole of Honda’s race effort, on two and four wheels and in the water in the UK, talked only briefly about his own successful racing career, preferring to pay tribute to latter day stars like Freddie Frith and Mike Hailwood.
The second recipient of the Allan and Wyn Robinson Rose Bowl, presented for outstanding effort, was to a shocked Tony East, outgoing chairman of the Friends of the TTRA.
During his time in the chair Tony and his wife Pat have raised tens of thousands of pounds through fundraising activities at their museum in Kirk Michael in the Isle of Man.
Among the messages received from members unable to attend the luncheon through age or infirmity was a poignant message from 94 years young Ernie Lyons. Sadly Ernie lost his wife Bessie in June this year, but thankfully he hasn’t lost his charming Irish wit. His note said: “I’m on the last lap, almost at the top of the Mountain climb, but the fuel level is low, I may run out. Best wishes and enjoy your day.”
Classic Racer Magazine
Derek was aged 70 and lived in Bolton, Lancashire.
His racing career began in the early 1960`s; riding Manx Nortons and BSA Goldstars, in nationals and club events, around the U.K.
A switch to the Japanese two strokes, in the early 1970`s, saw him become one of the very first Maxton Yamaha pioneers; and he rode to many club championships at Aintree, Oulton Park, Croft and Carnaby.
Derek first rode the TT in 1973; and anyone who ever stayed at the Grasmere Hotel, in Douglas during the 1980`s, will remember him well. The pinnacle of his Isle of Man racing was in 1978, when he was runner up to Bill Smith in the F3 event; which was a one-off World Championship event at the time.
He retired from racing, after his last TT in 1980, and took up the role of mechanic for his son Richard; who is also a TTRA member.
He was familiar and popular figure around the road racing paddocks in the 1990`s as his skills, as a talented engine builder and welder, could always be bought for the loan of a cigarette. He ended his direct involvement in the sport in 1998; and since spent most of his time in his beloved village of Medano in Tenerife.
T.T.RIDERS.56TH ANNUAL LUNCHEON.Local support made its presence at the once again successful day held at the National Motorcycle Museum.B’ham. Approx 500 special guests and members enjoyed a feast of great company.
Jim Readman on Honda 6
Nick then performed the traditional entrance on the Triumph G.Prix bike to the excitement of everyone.kindly loaned by the Museum. Great names are always present to mention but a few. Geoff Duke OBE. Greame Crosby, Luigi Taveri, Tony Rutter, Neil Tuxworth, Tony Jefferies, Bob Heath Mick Boddice, Selwyn and Jason Griffiths and many more.
Patrons present were Murray Walker OBE and Mr Michael Sutton.Chairman of Sutton Warehousing and Distribution (St Helens). Lord March (Goodwood) sadly could not attend this year.
Thank you all for your continued generosity. The fund raising Auction which is the high spot of the day raised a tremendous amount of money which goes to assisting TT Riders past and present and families in need. This being the Associations main purpose.
Thanks for donations to the auction must go to IOM Steam Packet, Manx2.Com flights and IOM Post who were all very generous with free travel tickets and postage costs for mail distribution.Also, Friends of the TT Riders Association for their substantial donation and support on the day by Tony & Pat East.
The formal proceedings closed with the President riding out on his winning Honda RC 30 to a rapturous applause. As usual the event was ably compered by Charlie Williams with his usual aplomb.
If you have raced in the IOM TT and need an application form to join this prestigious and worthy Association or alternatively are interested in joining our Friends of the TT Riders Association (FOTTRA) please contact Mrs Frances Thorp
• For details 01624 843695.For details of the Annual Luncheon, November 21st 2007, and list of auction items please see bulletin 59.
Multi-TT winner Dave Saville dies
Dave Saville passed away this morning, 7 March 2006. Quadraplegic since 1993 following a tragic accident at the Manx Grand Prix classic races, Dave was best known for his heroics on the Sabre Racing F2 sidecar, particularly at the TT where he shared a top score of nine victories with Mick Boddice and Siegfried Schauzu.
An integral part of the Bawtry based Brindley sidecar clan, Dave’s first TT was back in the 1968 750cc race when he finished 10th. It took several attempts but he took his first win in the F2 A race in 1985 and went on to win either one or both races each year up to and including 1990.
His accident resulted in seven years in Southport Spinal Injuries Unit before he returned home, though still needing round the clock care. He missed the Island greatly and a terrific effort by his family and friends succeeded in him being present for a fund raising event at Sulby Glen Hotel, last September.
His efforts and those of his family to give him as near normal a life as possible since the accident is a story of untold bravery and determination. His passing, though very sad, is without doubt a blessing.
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