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Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood would have been 75 today. Considered one of the Greats even by the greatest his comeback at the Isle of Man TT is stuff of legend. Here’s the ’71 wrecking crew at Daytona in ’71 where he teams with Emde, Mann, Aldana &Rice on board Triumph/BSA Rob North framed racing machines. Dick Mann won that race, with Emde getting ‘bronze’. Mike burned his engine hammering out the lead for most of the race.  All were in awe of this bike-god but apparently he was the most approachable of fellas.

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4 Comments to “”

  1. Where to start..
    I may have told you this before in which case forgive.. and bear with me. Please.
    I knew SMBH well enough in period. Because I was always at the big events with my club Sec’ who had an open ticket for every major UK event.. no circuit missed out on us.!
    Between 1965 and 1973 [when the club folded] the Sec’, his wife and moi were ALWAYS there [with car and caravan.. parked up in the pits].. to recruit /sign up quality racers for our National level events.. we paid good starting money [on the quiet shhhhhhhhhhhh.!] and the best prize money in the country.. better than the big circuits.
    And the home entries showed it.. average 250 solo’s and 50 sidecars per meeting.. some going.
    Club sec’ was wheelchair bound and so it was moi who went ahead on foot to spot the next of our riders , parked up in the pits, engage and then go get CS if he felt comfortable enough to be out in his wheelchair.. with strangers he could be very self conscious.
    I was not in H’s party crowd, nor his jazz circle.. I never went to tea/dinner/supper with him. Nor back to his flat..
    But I HAVE sat in his company many, many times, with all the great stars of the day.. at BBQ’s often and paddock parties.. endless happy memories.
    At first they see or notice you being there, talking to someone they know. Murdered by fanboys they do hold back, but recognition comes and one day he called me by name and we were on best terms from then on.
    He was charming, funny, to those with pukka manners.. open and friendly. a really super guy, so NOT PW.Read.!
    To the chavs of the day.. merciless.
    I recall chatting with him and Percy Tait [who could and DID hold his own with any racer] one side of the Honda [transit sized] van.. the Honda 6 being parked the other side, and out of sight.
    Some Yoofs appeared, tho’ out of our sight, this was known by their imitation sounds of a screaming H’6.. we walked around the back of the van.. and quick as a flash.. M leapt forward and whacked the Yoof sitting on the bike, across the back of the head.. he flew off the bike and stotted 2 or 3 paces.. turned round to snarl and saw who was there. They took off with typical youthful bravado
    shouting filth..
    In the day.. there were really GREAT racers in the UK.. my own favourites Percy Tait, Ray Pickrell, Peter Williams..others.. and Michael.
    To me, all these years later, and based only on results.. he was and REMAINS the GREATEST EVER..
    His cruel death was so utterly stupid, the driver responsible should have been hanged for treason
    I never saw him again after my time with club.. he was then in Cars and then living abroad. I did NOT approve of his TT return as I was one of those so afraid he would sully his wonderful reputation.. oh ye of little faith.!
    I cried too often for days after the accident, and to say.. he was buried on my birthday. Lovely.
    All these years later, most journalists still rate SMBH as No1.. even now 50 years later.!
    And I have argued this all these years.
    However, I am about to concede that Rossi, on present form might finally be able to take the mantle, given his start to this season, who knows where it might end. And I do wish him the best of luck.. he has had a rotten few years.
    Anyone in fairness would have to say that Rossi and colleagues being on works style bikes have a much harder run than the 60’s in general did. They work for every penny..
    Whereas Ago and others had an easy run to their titles in period [80bhp-v- 50bhp.. not too hard is it.?]
    Michael.. lovely guy, if he acknowledged you, still always missed by soooo many.
    Me most of all.
    Happy days.
    Have a good one.
    Regards ever
    WF

    • Thanks for that memory Bill, wonderful bit of insight to UK racing of that period. You don’t happen to have any photos of the time? Its great to see images of the past that can be given names and events. You sent me a link to a file full of 60’s and 70’s racing goings on from the pits (van in a field) to the track at speed.

  2. In truth, I do not..
    I wanted a camera in period but was always stretched to pay for stuff and all I could afford was a [Russian SLR] Zenit E with 50mm lens. A japanese 90mm came along later.
    I did have pictures.. but a marriage break-up and then living in 5 homes in the next 18 months did for the photo’s what it always does.! They somehow.. or other, got mislaid. I have NO idea what, where, when or how.. but certainly the constant moving.. Carlisle to Yorkshire.. a rented flat, a country bungalow, then a bought home near Catterick Garrison, finally. But.?
    Most of the photo’s were paddock shots of parked bikes etc, people too. The Zenith was too.. erm.. clunky for any passing shots.
    No chance.
    The real fun came when I later got a new Olympus OM1, then a bagful of lenses, then a companion OM2, with motor-drives and.. all to bolt-on.. not a bit like now with all built in.
    There was a camera bag of stuff at home full of Olympus branded gear, plus some proprietary, quality japanese lenses, this time last year. There is a bag of Nikon F stuff too.. a body and 3 lenses, filters everything.
    I tried to sell the camera’s and kit, firstly to Jessops with their “we buy” scheme.. they don’t, and they didn’t.
    They offered £20 for the OM1 and OM2 bodies.. didn’t want the rest.. digital rules these days and are generally flawless [me too.!].
    Funny how today as well as phone/camera’s.. you see even girls with varied sized DSLR’s out shooting, whereas until recent years except at sports events perhaps.. it was rare to see a guy with full photo gear.. all changed.?
    I asked for advice from the local Art college, photo training dep’t and the tutor said he hadn’t the funds to buy the Olympus gear, but he would love them as he recognised what landmark cameras they had been.. because they were invaluable for training students the real techniques,, depth etc.. but his department had no budget and film cameras in good condition were hard to find.
    How much was I asking.? And they still had the service papers from past work.? Hmmmmmmm.
    At £20.. I felt grubby and even a bit erm.. greedy.?.
    So.. I offered to give the College the camera’s and took them down in the car. The guy was out of his workshop, perhaps to make sure I didn’t take them home again.. I got all but hugged and kissed.. a full tour of the photo school which was fabulous.. and a coffee in a cup with a cup-cake from one of the girls.. lovely.
    And I felt good with myself
    As an aside.. Jessops [above] offered £50 for the Nikon F body only.. they did not want the lenses even tho’ they are the same, now used as basic lens models and still operate on DSLR’s.. there is a £1k in that bag.!
    Twats..
    So having now sat on the Nikon stuff for a year[ish].. I’ll give that to the college too.
    In the meantime.. I have bought a bridge camera.. a Fuji HS50.. with everything on it and stacks of pixels.. so I’m a photographer too.!
    Fabulous results tho’ I don’t do a lot these days..as you know I have a form of Diabetes, that is in my hands [and feet] and plays havoc with holding and fiddling with stuff, screwing things in or on, is an effing nightmare.!
    And I can no longer cope with hefty camera’s and lenses.. and that is why I stopped being David Bailey.!
    Today being Monday is washing day.. tomorrow being Tuesday is ironing day. My job being at home.. but buttoning up ironed shirts is for me.. a nightmare.. so hard to do now, Getting older eh.. such fun.!
    Bugger eh.? Mustn’t grumble.
    Otherwise all is well in the Ferry household.. and I hope with you too.?
    WF

    • Its good you donated the gear to a collage where some students might find it interesting to understand ‘limited’ photography. Here’s a roll of 36. Make ’em count! My first slr was a clunky Practika. Mechanical marvel. The sleek Pentax MESuper. Then my first AF was a nice Minolta 7000 (super prime lenses). Then a Canon AF ’til it got stolen. Back to the Pentax …. Whilst in my early years as an alien in the US i had a last 35mm hurrah with a Nikon F3….. Before digital SLR then all was lost…..i have a nice Nikon D60 with 18-200 all you need. But my phone takes darn good images at a pinch too. I always thought the chaps at Jessops kinda snooty or snotty.
      Have a grand week wor Bill!

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