The first motorcycle race meeting I ever went to was a British Grasstrack Championship round at Chitterne near Warminster, Wiltshire in 1970.
The reason it sticks in my memory was because a) at 15 years old, it was a life-changing experience and truly, from that day on, motorcycles became my life and b) I saw Chris Pusey in action for the first time.
Pusey was the stand-out character of grasstrack racing at that time – a time when most riders wore black leathers and pudding basin lids with peaks tapped on. Pusey wore coloured leathers with the cuffs turned back and had polka dots on his helmet.
He exuded the kind of cool you’d expect from a hard-man motorcycle racer – off-track he had a tough guy stance, unkempt hippie hair and thick sideburns. On track he stood out for his lurid, full-lock sliding style, never fearing the balls-out, wide line to pass his rivals.
I swear he aimed to see how many of the track marker flags he could take out each race. No wonder he was christened ‘The Polka Dot Phenomenon’!
Pusey was my hero so it was a journey down memory lane when Dave Stallworthy’s epic new 304-page reference work, ‘The Story of Grass-Track Racing 1966-1974, landed with a thump on my desk.
Stallworthy is the sport’s historian. This is actually volume three – his first two volumes covered 1927-1949 and 1950-1965 respectively – and it is rammed with reports and results, documenting every single grasstrack race in the UK during the period in question.
I was able to go straight to that Chitterne race which immediately tweaked my brain with images of Pusey battling and beating other top grasstrackers of the era like Colin Sweby and John Britcher in the 350 class, and Chris Baybutt in the 500s. Pusey went unbeaten that day.
It’s an awesome reference guide for grasstrack fans and it was great to see a tribute to Lew Coffin who celebrated his 86th birthday this year.
Lew is another of my heroes - for different reasons. He’s given much of his life to motorcycle racing.
A great rider in his own right, Lew set about devoting his time to helping the development of young riders once he retired from competition.
He still has an absolute passion for the sport and thinks nothing of driving off to Germany for the weekend to take part in past master demo rides.
Personally, I’d like to have seen more feature stuff included, to steal more of a glimpse into what made guys like, Pusey, Britcher, the Baybutts tick.
But having said that, it’s a remarkable motorcycle reference work and a delight to thumb through.
The Story of Grass-Track Racing 1966-1974 is published by D&H Promotions and is priced £19.99.
Cheques should be made payable to Dave Stallworthy and sent to D&H Promotions, 68 Glenfall, Yate, South Glos BS37 4LY.