My first road race passenger was Fred
Holden, first riding with me in scrambles with the
AMCA when I was 13 years old. After Fred came, Malcolm Lucas, Gerald Daniel,
Beginnen, Rose Hanks, Cliff Mellor, Carol Hanks, Norman Panther, Tom Hanks,
Alistair Frame, Vince Biggs, Donny Williams, Tony
Derby, Phil Biggs, Robert Biggs, Chris Richards, Julie
Hanks-Elliott, Dave Wells, along with many more one-day stands. This
is not to say I am hard to get on with, it’s just
that I have been racing for 42 years, and to think I started road racing
as a passenger.
My first road race meeting was as a passenger to my older brother Peter.
After 5 races
and 3 crashes, I decided I could better. “Of course it could have been that
I was a crap passenger.” Well, like most things,
it is easy to put a passenger down and very easy to upset them.
However, in the hope that I don’t upset them I will give my views and
beliefs on them. In the main they fall into boxes:
Newcomers. Usually newcomer passengers need to race with a newcomer
driver, so they
learn together. A short time later, possibly after a season, they should try
a couple of other
drivers, who have been racing for 4 or 5 years, on a stand-in basis. The
same also applies to
newcomer drivers, try a couple of seasoned passengers; this is sometimes
possible at organised practice days. Once you have
made the grade as a passenger, you need to find a driver
with whom you blend, and who’s company you enjoy. This may even be
the first person you rode with.
After making the upper grade, passengers fall into one of four
Group 1 Passengers that get on and hold on, doing very little to help
with the steer ability of
the outfit; these are in the main newcomers, but many of them learn and
quickly, or realise that they do not have the balance, and it’s not for
them, they retire
gracefully and sensibly. Don’t knock them, they tried; remember “I tried”.
Group 2 Then there are the passengers who learn that fine art of
balance, using the forces of
gravity to make the job easier on change overs.
Group 3 Are those above who keep on learning, willing to try things
that help control and steer an outfit and put all
their effort into being good; sometimes these passengers aren’t
the perfect size or weight, but give 100% to be the best.
Group 4 Perfect passenger. (Is there such a thing?) In the main these
are usually the right
height, weight and are fit, have a very good sense of balance, don’t drink
and do as they are told ? They usually control the outfit on the degree of
steer from the rear. I’ve been very lucky and had such passengers through my
How do you keep a passenger? Make sure they understand how much you
them, thanking them for all their efforts, and when you run out of
superlatives, ‘you were good,
fantastic, unbelievable’, then tell them they were rubbish and smile, they
will understand just
how much you are impressed with them. (It’s a driver / passenger thing.)
Out there, there are many very good passengers, some of which I have had the
“Passengers” I take my hat off to you all".