Photos & Musings: British Championships

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Streatley Hills, 1987

This looks like the second straight at Streatley Hills, scene of the opening British championship round of 1987.

That's myself (6), Andy Nicholls directly behind me, Kurt (2), Greg Hanson (4), Willie Simpson (9), Mervyn Anstie (3), Thorpe (1), and Stuart Coyle (16).

This was the first championship race for me after returning from my Golden State trip, so I was trying to put into practice what I had learned from racing in California.

I had a third in the opening moto, but crashes in both the second and third races.

Streatley was eventually closed because of noise complaints, allegedly from nearby resident Andrew Lloyd-Webber, the famous composer.

In the second photo you can see the chalky track in the background. This paddock shot shows, from left to right, Alec Wright, not sure, Steve Goodyear, Richard Metcalfe, Colin Wright, and Sean Brown.

Alec Wright was the factory Kawasaki team manager for many years. Based out of Kawasaki UK, Alec ran the factory GP team, I think, from the days of Brad Lackey. Wright's riders included Jobe and Kurt Nicoll, and he also orchestrated the signing of David Thorpe away from HRC Honda in 1990. However, in all those years Alec and Kawasaki failed to win a world championship.

Wright's style of management was controversial. Kurt Nicoll, former factory Kawasaki rider who later went on to become the KTM race team boss after his own racing career was over, was quoted in an interview after he retired, saying 'Alec taught me everything I needed to know about how NOT to run a race team. He had zero empathy with the riders'.

Whatever people may think about Wright, he brought never before seen levels of professionalism to a fledgling sport. He was instrumental in creating the whole 'Team Green' brand, and many riders, particularly at schoolboy level, genuinely aspired to be part of that.

Alec sadly died in January 2010, aged 77.

Steve Goodyear was a well-respected mechanic and tuner in the UK. Richard Metcalfe was also a Team Kawasaki mechanic.

Colin Wright, son of Alec, was himself a good schoolboy rider and went on to be a factory mechanic for Kawasaki. Colin then went into superbike racing and I believe that he is now team manager for the GSE Racing world superbike team.

Sean Brown, last on the right, was, if I remember correctly, Rob Herring's mechanic who came over from South Africa with him.

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Alec Wright & friends Enlarge image