SELECTED ARTICLES FROM THE 2003 SUMMER ISSUE OF THE
TT SUPPORTERS CLUB MAGAZINE
RACING TO BEAT LEUKEAMIA
|How on earth does a title like that have anything to do with the T.T. and sidecars?
So in the words of Dylan Thomas "To begin at the beginning."…..
When I first became interested in transport, motorcycles were it! I guess it comes from the fact that my parents forbade me to have one, but my uncle had an Excelsior and I used to bother him all the time about bikes and one day, to my parents shock, I came home on a James .The poor thing was abused, unreliable, but...mine! Its failings made me learn about all things mechanical and electrical, it taught me independence, and it was just too slow - but I loved it...and now I had to buy bigger and faster bikes.
With speed, came racing....I knew that I couldn't afford to race or so I thought, it's really like having kids - you can't afford them, but you manage. Now, I am not a spectator. I need to be involved so I became a marshal to see at close quarters, racing - sidecars - wow! Can you imagine a device, which steers differently, left and right? Where driver and passenger must work as a team to make the thing perform - and yet they can't tell each other what's going on? They need blind faith in each other! Madness! Well it certainly appealed to me!
I watched at close quarters my heroes. Chris Vincent was my favourite driver and the glamorous Rose Arnold was in every way my favourite passenger. I even bought a road B.S.A outfit and went to Austria on it. If only we had silicone and loctite in those days!
The next decade or so was work and family life and although I always had a bike they were on the back burner. I had risen to be Managing Director of a Soft Drink Business- Ben Shaws and Suncharm - when in 1990 Terry Shaw, the Chairman, died from Leukaemia.
There are times in your life when someone is a major influence. For me that person was Terry. Although he was a wealthy man he was the most down to earth person I have ever had the pleasure to know. His death stunned me! He had fought the disease so hard. I have never seen such bravery. He even got me to spring him out of hospital so he could have a drink with the workforce at Christmas!
Terry's death was such a wake up call to me. I realised I didn't want to get old and have the regrets of "I wish I had done that and now it's too late..." Suncharm had been a minor sponsor of Mick Grant's Suzuki Team. I had continually annoyed Mick with my talk of wishing to have a B.S.A. racing outfit like my heroes had raced. While at work one day Mick rang up to say there was a B.S.A. sidecar for sale at the right price. Buy it or never ever talk about racing sidecars again. To his horror I arrived at his house with what was a real shed of a bike. Jack his dog used to bite the tyres of race bikes...he looked at mine and walked away.
My first meeting was a two-day meeting at Cadwell Park's full circuit in March. What an introduction! At 42 I was to start racing. I thought I could ride. In the first race just about everything lapped me. It was cold, it snowed, I was in a one-man tent. However, I had been working in Yorkshire and I was going to get my money's worth and the second day...nothing lapped us! I was hooked!
I can't remember why I went from Classics to FII, but I guess the T.T. was the lure. In '95 I had my first T.T. ride. Now I have always thought how lucky we are to race. I think it is a wonderful sport. I also think there is something special about the help and friendship on and off the track that goes with sidecar racing. I wanted to use this very special sport to help beat leukaemia.
When I was at school, polio was a killer. Now it's history. I wanted to play a small part in putting leukaemia into history. I am confident it can be done. The survival rates continue to improve. I can almost feel the breakthrough coming.
So how to do it? The T.T. is such a wonderful and prestigious event, with such history, I felt sure that a T.T. ride would allow me to create interest in fund raising. I was very clear that there must be no confusion with the cost of racing and fund raising. "Space" is sold on the fairing and we ask for a cheque made out to "Leukaemia Research" so there is no mistake where the money is going. I am proud to say the support we get is tremendous and to date nearly £15,000 has gone to "Leukaemia Research" through my sidecar racing and the T.T.
Little did I realise that the T.T was to have another major "life change" for me and in 1998 I moved to the Isle of Man. - one of my better decisions. Geoff Smale, my passenger, will be in the chair again for T.T 2003. We, and the Ireson Kawasaki, will be raising funds again for "Leukaemia Research". We already have a range of sponsors from "local" to "international" businesses and, of course, some individuals. The support we get is tremendous. We are hoping we will raise over £3,000 this year. I am honoured to be the Treasurer of The Isle of Man branch of the "Leukaemia Research Fund".
Geoff and I think that we are so fortunate to be in the sport of sidecar racing, the T.T. and to able to help beat leukaemia.
The Club wholeheartedly supports Nigel in his efforts to raise money for such a worthwhile cause - to commit sponsorship contact Nigel at 30, Malew St, Castletown, IoM, IM9 1AD; 01624 820526
© TT SUPPORTERS CLUB