Memories of two great bike racers

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Bill Lomas, The world championship road-racer on motorcycles, has sent me his book of that title (Redline Books). I am glad to have it, because I find present-day bike racing closer and more competitive than most of Fl but do not know enough about it. As a boy I read the ‘Blue ‘Un’ (The Motor Cycle) and the ‘Green ‘Un’ (Motor Cycling), when TT machines looked rather like production models but were so very much faster. Lomas was associated at first with McEvoy, Pomeroy, Laird, and fast Morgans at Donington, and Pomeroy twin-cam MGs. I can now also find out intimacies of the works machines, particularly those from 1946 to ’57.

Lomas’s book refers to the accident in which Fergus Anderson, another great racing biker, was so sadly killed. I met him only once. It was pre-war, when I was a member of the Bugatti OC, but sans a Bugatti. I even had a BOC pennant (remember them?) for writing bits for Bugantics. I managed to persuade the late Guy Griffiths to enter his Brescia Bugatti for a BOC Night Trial. I don’t think he was very keen! I was stuffed into a seat in the tail, the front-seat passenger being Fergus Anderson; I was in awe of such a famous person. On the way to the trial’s start Guy let the Bugatti run into a ditch, possibly deliberately, as a means of getting out of the night driving.

He stopped the first car to appear, a Vauxhall saloon with a staid driver and lady, probably returning from a dance. Guy asked the driver to tow the Bugatti back onto the road, taking charge, tying on the rope and driving the Vauxhall while its worried and astonished owner looked on. We then went back to Guy’s flat, as he kidded me it was too late to do the trial. Here Fergus chatted into the small hours about how he prepared for his races, studying pictures of every corner as he lay in bed before the next day’s event. I listened, still in awe…

He died in 1956 racing a BMW at Floretti.

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