Fiona Baker-Milligan

Fiona Baker-Milligan was the proud 2005 winner of the prestigious Susan Jenness 
Trophy, awarded annually for the most meritorious performance, as adjudged by the TT Supporters Club General Council, by a female competitor in the TT Races. 

The Susan Jenness Trophy was donated to the TT Supporters Club by Susan’s husband, Mick, in memory of Susan who tragically lost her life whilst marshalling at a mainland moto cross meeting in 1987. 

First awarded after the 1990 TT meeting, recipients of the trophy have been – sidecar passengers Cat Jenkins [2], Terri Salone, Kate Harrington, Julie Hanks-Elliott, Rachael Norbury-Lea, sidecar driver, Wendy Davis [2] and solo competitors, Sandra Barnett [3] and Kate Parkinson. 2004 saw the Trophy being 
jointly awarded to the sidecar pairing of Ruth Laidlow and Helen Sutherland on being the first all-female crew to complete a TT Race. 

So….why did the TTSC choose Fiona to receive this trophy? Let’s go back right to 
the beginning; how did it all start?………well, Fiona is the daughter of Tony Baker, current TT regular and former Grand Prix competitor, so it was probably ‘love it or hate it’…”Dad’s racing was the way of life in the Baker house
hold. I absolutely loved going to the TT and all over Europe with Mum, Dad and my sister, Gayle. We’d always be busy, cleaning the bike, polishing the fairing and the wheels, lap and time scoring in the pit lane or somewhere around the track at the Isle of Man. The first time I couldn’t go away racing was when I 
was sitting my A-Levels and I was devastated; then college and university took priority, so, unlike my racing childhood friends, helping Dad or starting racing took a back seat.” University it was, qualifying as a Primary School teacher before ‘returning’ to the sport as a passenger in the 2003 season. Was Dad happy, of course he was, but as Fiona explains “he always hoped I’d want to drive so, one day, he could set up a bike for me once he’d decided he’d enough. I hope he never tires of racing though. It’s great watching and competing against / with him. I think he was rather disappointed when I announced 
my intentions to become a passenger. He always knew I wanted to do it, it was all I raved about as a child; I just don’t think he thought I was serious enough to stick with it. I’d always flitted from one sport to another, doing fairly 
well, then moving on to something else. But not this time, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to race, especially at the TT”. Tony is certainly held in high esteem by his daughter, “he is my role model and inspiration for racing. It only truly hit home when I set off down Bray Hill for the very first time. I won’t repeat the exact words I used to describe the guts he must have to hold the throttle wide open down that ‘roller coaster ride’ Suffice to say, I wanted to get off the bike and go back up the hill!! By the end of the first practice lap, however, I was wearing one of those stupidly scared, but blissfully happy 
and free expressions. I’d got the TT bug and wanted to do it all over again” 

The first time Fiona ‘took to the chair’ was when she tested a bike with her Dad at East Fortune and Aintree; once she got her novice jacket in 2003 the pair raced together in the Scottish Melville Championship, which they won. 

How did Fiona come to team up with her current driver, Mick Harvey? “I had just got my novice jacket and was a stand-in passenger for Andrew Couper at an FSRA round of East Fortune during Easter 2003 in only my second ever race. Unfortunately, on the day, ‘Couperman’ was injured and Steve Taylor, 
Mick’s regular passenger damaged his collarbone in a practice incident the same day. Dad and Mick go back years, Mick knew that I had just started, so when I joked that I should get on, he went round to see the boss and got her permission! Next thing I knew I was lined up on the back of the grid absolutely terrified, but with a great cheesy grin on my face. Steve was going to be out for the rest of the season, so, after doing the Festival and Silverstone 
together, Mick asked if I wanted to finish the year with him. Fantastic! I was dead chuffed at being asked” Mick, a welder at Drax Power Station, Selby who started racing in 1968, had many club championship wins under his belt and 
had been competing on the Isle of Man since 1979 when he finished 17th, so he was an ideal driver with whom Fiona could develop 
her racing skills. Fiona was amazed, during the winter, to receive a phone call from Mick asking if she’d be prepared to do the TT. “I thought he’d lost his marbles and I said ‘no chance.’ However, after I talked to Dad, I changed my 
mind. I knew what I was letting myself in for, as it would take a lot of track time, training and hours studying videos. I also went over to the Island in February before my first race there with Jason Millar, Helen Sutherland and 
Patrick Farrance to do countless laps and secure the final tricky places in my head that I couldn’t quite get from the video.” Returning to the Susan Jenness 
Trophy – what was special about Fiona’s 2005 TT performance? Well, it’s probably down to two words – ‘relief and jubilation.’ Fiona takes up the story of last year’s TT…”our experience was pretty disastrous really as we broke down in all but two of the practice sessions, with problems ranging from the engine mysteriously and regularly losing power to a fairly major oil leak entering the Verandah section with another outfit right behind us. Fortunately, luck smiled on us and we were able to complete enough laps within the necessary time to qualify. We were very grateful to the spectators and officials who tried to help us during practice week.” All in all, setting out for Race A was just like an extended practice as Mick and Fiona had not done the full race distance in any of the preparatory sessions which they had done in the previous year. However, the pair soon settled into racing mode, “I knew we had been doing fairly well as it had taken Dad ages to catch and pass us, unlike last year. Setting off down past Creg ny Baa on the last lap, I remember thinking that I felt fresh enough to do it all again, little did I know that a mile later I would need all the energy and then some, to finish the race.” It felt like Fiona’s heart had stopped at Cronk ny Mona when the engine on sidecar number eleven cut out with petrol spilling from the regulator; Fiona continues, “we coasted as far as we could, but pushing out of Governors Bridge was very hard. I kept willing the 
man with the chequered flag to come to us. I remember marshals and spectators clapping and willing us on. By the time we crossed the line we were completely ********* and gutted especially once we found out just how well we had been doing up until that point. It was such a shame as the race had been going like clockwork, so smooth, really enjoyable on such a demanding and punishing circuit. 
Everyone knows, whether they are a competitor or team member, what relief and jubilation it is to finish and just how disappointing it is not to, after all the effort, preparation and money that has gone into getting the team to the start line.” Still there was the second race on the following Wednesday, but was a familiar story developing? “We only just made it to the start line as we had to change an engine at the last minute. I don’t know what happened during the race, though it was faster overall and we finished 14th. It hadn’t been anywhere near as smooth or enjoyable and I know Les Harrah’s death in the first race was playing on Mick’s mind – Les had been such a close friend; it had really shaken Mick.” 

The Susan Jenness Trophy is well deserved; Fiona was also awarded the Arron 
Kennedy Trophy for the most improved novice passenger in a National Series during 2003 and was the fastest lady passenger at her maiden TT, lapping with Mick, at 103.54mph in 2004. The duo took a well-deserved fourth position at the 2005 Southern 100. Times are changing with respect to TT marshalling and safety; the organisers, I know are more than willing to listen to the advice of competitors as they are the ones subjected to the ‘idiosyncrasies’ of racing 
around the Mountain Course. Is Fiona able to make any suggestions? “In 2004, when our bike dramatically caught fire approaching Handley’s Corner, Mick and I had to run back up to the 11th Milestone to fetch fire extinguishers from the marshals, then go back for more as they were only half full, so that Mick could put out the fire and I could warn competitors as to which side of the track to 
go as the roads was engulfed with thick black smoke. I think the marshals were in shock because I had to shout at them to get their flags out, never mind wave them or assist us. It was only when Mick had put out the fire and we had wheeled the remains of the bike into a garden entrance that the marshals came to help – to sweep the track, give some minor first aid as well as the much appreciated 
cup of tea and cake. I’m convinced that the damage wouldn’t have been so extensive if the fire extinguishers had been full or if the marshals had helped us sooner. After speaking with other unfortunate competitors who’d had similar experiences with extinguishers, I’d suggest that, to improve the running of 
the meeting in future, all extinguishers are checked on a regular basis to ensure they are full and that the powder isn’t compact.” TT 2006 beckons….what the prospects? “Like everyone else, Mick and I hope to finish just as well, if not better than last year, as well as improving our lap speeds. We know it’s possible as we have been so near until mechanical gremlins have struck and Mick 
has already gone much faster with previous passengers. We just need a bit more of lady luck on our side. I’m really enjoying my racing with Mick and Team Harvey. Mick’s a patient teacher who has really helped to develop my passengering skills and experiences. I’m looking forward to this season, when hopefully we can go even better.” Thanks to Fiona for all the assistance 
given in writing this article – I’m sure all members wish the pair the best of luck for this season and the TT in particular…I’m quite sure there will be plenty of ‘relief and jubilation’ in the weeks to come.