'I want to show you my big cock'

From Cyril's memoirs dated 12 August 2005

‘I want to show you my big cock.’ Such was my rather bewildering introduction to Gunter Blasen, consultant designer at BMW. I was reminded of Gunter when I saw BMW's brutally handsome K1200R in the flesh for the first time recently. Gunter was instrumental in changing the way BMW think about their bike design, although his tenure with the firm was rather short lived.

A few years ago I was asked by BMW to be part of a group assembled to offer honest opinion of their then current range and of their hush-hush plans for the future. It meant being away from home for a month, so I was anxious about telling my lovely young wife, Francesca. I found her in the kitchen, expertly tossing a caesar. She took the news well, however, saying that it would give her time to get to grips with our new gardener, Claudio, a muscular youth who didn't seem to know his basil from his backside but for whom Francesca clearly had a soft spot.

Although I'm lucky enough to have a well-travelled R1150RT in the garage, it seemed that taking it to the 'secret summit' in Bavaria would be too sycophantic, so for the blast up from my Umbrian hideaway I took the Ducati ST4 – and a big bag of tools.

The long day's ride on beautiful roads was marred only slightly by the mishaps. I know I'm not the only one to ever have suffered sprayback when filling their fuel tank, although I was especially unlucky that so much petrol went in my eyes. I screamed like a schoolgirl and ran to the toilets. Having rinsed my stinging eyes I went to the loo, but there must have still been petrol on my hands as for the rest of the day I suffered an irritating burning sensation 'down below'. While I was in the toilets someone used the keys, which in my panic I'd left in the ignition, to steal my panniers. They could have nicked the whole bike, so I suppose I should be thankful.

On arriving at the hotel that night my eyes were red and bloodshot, my face rotten-tomato blotchy, I reeked of unleaded and was fighting a losing battle to control the urge to continually rearrange my stinging peter. I could see the receptionist was most thrilled to be checking me in.

Later, on coming down for our welcome dinner, the Hawaiian shirt, tight snow-washed jeans and yellow flip-flops weren't ideal, but it was the best the hotel could rustle up from lost property given the theft of my panniers. My eyes were still pink, my face a patchwork of blotches and I must have resembled an ageing, drug-addled sex tourist (not helped by the fact that the old chap still demanded regular tweaking).

Dinner went well, I'm glad to say. We were a very eclectic bunch from all over Europe and varying motorcycling backgrounds. It was there that I was introduced to Gunter Blasen, seated next to me at the large table. After dinner, as we sipped the strong local abspritzen firewater, we began a debate on BMW quirks. Switchgear – innovative German design or Legoland freakery? Boxer engine – refined by almost a century of development or a throwback destined for Somalian tractors? Suddenly, Gunter stood up, leaned close to me and said: ‘Come outside, I want to show you my big cock.’ It was all I could do not to laugh, which would have been such an insult because despite Gunter's English being almost perfect he'd obviously got the wrong word this time. I guessed that he wanted to show me his bored-out Beemer, or something of the sort, so I followed him through a side door towards the carpark.

We stopped in a dark spot near the bins and I looked around for the bike. When I turned back Gunter did, in fact, have his old chap in his hand, and I have to say it certainly was enormous.

‘Cyril,’ he said, ‘I have noticed you winking at me all evening and you cannot leave yourself alone down there. Let us enjoy the moment!’

‘Ah, look Gunter,’ I said, ‘You've got it all wrong. I had a bit of a mishap today, and that's why I seem to have been winking, and as for fiddling with myself, well...’ And I went on to explain the situation.

If only it had ended there. I have to say, we'd both enjoyed perhaps a little too much wine and abspritzen, which perhaps explains why Gunter remained with his percy in his hand and why I decided to pop mine out to show him the burns inflicted by the petrol.

And I'm afraid that was the scene which greeted a top BMW executive strolling out to enjoy a cigarette – a German chap with a mullet proffering his unfeasibly large member, and an old boy dressed like a low-rent Miami pimp doing likewise with a rather less impressive specimen, the two of us apparently squaring up for a little pork swordery.

I left early the next morning and haven't been in touch with BMW since, and neither, so my source in the industry tells me, has Gunter. However, I'm sure I detect Gunter's influence in that big, bruising hooligan tool, the K1200R. I feel convinced he managed to plant a seed with at least one of the BMW designer chappies. Guten tag!


California, gender bending and tortoises

From Cyril's memoirs dated 30 July 2005

Ah, the heat of lazy summer days, the smell of scorched tarmac, the bitter-sweet thrill of a sun-baked black vinyl saddle. This time of year was made for motorcycling and when the mercury rises and resting fuel tanks gently whistle, I like to take off into the mountains on my Ducati Monster M1000S.

I was parked up last week overlooking a parched Apennine valley and tucking into a juicy panino slipped into my backpack by the lovely Francesca (who works wonders with a salami and a smear of olive oil). My mind was taken back to the permanent summertime of California where I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months in August 1971 working on an exciting film project with the BSA-Triumph group in my role as Global Sales Director. I'm sure you're all familiar with the great documentary film On Any Sunday, starring Steve McQueen. Well, BSA-Triumph decided to cash in on the film's success by creating its own version in which Triumph motorcycles would play a major part. The film was to be called Spank the Monkey! (these were more innocent times when it meant merely to enjoy the power of one’s machine) and its star would be Sean Connery. However, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, things didn't go exactly to plan. A humiliating farce? I’m afraid so.

The project ran into budgetary troubles almost immediately. BSA-Triumph could barely afford a buttered bun let alone the movie business, consequently, plans to commission the highly respected Bond film producer ‘Cubby’ Broccoli had to be abandoned. Many potential candidates were then sidelined as we searched for an affordable name. Alf Bishop may not ring a bell with many people, but when I tell you he was the genius behind the 1968-'73 British TV quiz show Nig Nog Golliwog I'm sure the memories will come flooding back (it must be said, the programme was a product of its time and nowadays not only unacceptable, but quite probably illegal). We considered ourselves very lucky to get Alf.

Of course, Sean Connery also fell victim to our meagre budget. As we went down the list, through Dennis Waterman, a young Mike Read and even the keen motorcyclist Dick Emery, it was clear how desperate things were getting. Eventually, salvation arrived in the shape of a young amateur actor who, better still, was useful on a bike, having been spotted on waste ground handling his big thumper with aplomb. (I must say, I do enjoy taking out my own lusty mudplugger on balmy evenings, much to the delight of certain of the local lads.)

However, there was something about Ashley Clarke that unsettled me, yet I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But the board were getting jumpy and decided that his rather effeminate voice (I'd say Catherine Zeta-Jones being throttled by a large-handed maniac) could be dubbed over at a later date – such was the muddled thinking which had already permeated the project.

The first week's shooting ended badly after an almighty row with director Alf Bishop, who had hijacked what was an admittedly loose script and decided to insert his 'trademark'. This entailed 20 black and white minstrels riding pillion through the Californian desert, complete with straw boaters and canes. It was clearly ludicrous, though perhaps not quite so ludicrous as the mass brawl that ensued when I requested security remove the disgruntled minstrels from the set. Mammy!

A couple of days later things turned especially strange. We were out in the desert shooting a scene where Ashley comes charging through the scrub, kicking up a trail of dust on a lovely, high-piped Triumph TR6C. Unfortunately, he swerved rather violently in a noble attempt to avoid a desert tortoise. The result was a spectacular end-over-end crash which left Ashley squealing like a stuck pig with what appeared to be a broken leg. The medics were on hand very quickly and having administered enough morphine to render him not only silent but putty-like, proceeded to cut away his leather jeans.

Well, as jeans and underpants came away as one, my misgivings and Ashley’s curious traits all began to make sense. Ashley Clarke had quite the strangest set of ‘meat and two veg’ any of us had ever seen. It turned out that he was, in fact, a transsexual who, until very recently, had been Andrea Clarke (not the Brit porn star from the 80s, she came later). The last turkey in the shop with which the gathering crowd was presented was the result of many hours of surgery, but
by the look of it there was still a fair bit of tidying up to do around
the edges.

With our main rider out of action, the project folded. But wouldn’t it be superb to see John Bloor and Hinckley Triumph pick up the reigns and make a modern-day Spank the Monkey? A Bonneville Scrambler powering through the Baja California desert, perhaps with 'Right' Charley Boorman in the saddle? What a marvellous thought that is.


For Cyril, the Gold Wing’s anniversary brings painful memories from 1975 flooding back

From Cyril's memoirs dated 14 July 2005

Has there ever been a better time for touring on a motorcycle? I’m very impressed by recent sports tourers such as Triumph’s Sprint ST and the BMW R1200RT. But the most famous out-and-out tourer must be Honda’s Gold Wing, now in its 30th year, and I was lucky (or rather, unlucky) to be involved in its 1975 UK launch.

Although now huge, with all the bells and whistles, back then it was far simpler, unfaired and considered quite sporty. The term ‘sports tourer’ could have been applied to that first Gold Wing and we at Honda UK decided to plan a high-speed route through France on which to send journalists for the launch. It could have been a magnificent showcase for this most wonderful machine. Sadly, the event never made it past the reconnaissance trip, which I’m afraid descended into a humiliating farce.

A team on three pre-launch Gold Wings were to plot the route and find suitable hotels. The embarrassingly-named Ooh La La Tours were charged with the task and I, as UK sales executive, went along to oversee proceedings. And as we were keen to test how she handled two-up, my wife Teresa also came along. Ooh La La’s owners, Australian brothers Craig and Stewart Jenkins, took a bike each as they flatly refused to share one. How ironic that turned out to be.

The first day’s brisk ride down to Cramouille, just south of Limoges, went smoothly, leaving us very impressed with the Gold Wing. I was glad to see Teresa getting on well with Craig and Stewart as I was keen she wouldn’t feel out of place. I’d married Teresa only a year previously (after my first wife absconded with a mechanic, and I’ve heard all the ‘bigger tool’ jokes, thank you). Many of my friends were openly jealous that I’d married a woman who, at only 28, was ten years my junior. She certainly was an ‘athletic’ and rather demanding girl and I very much enjoyed losing more than a stone in weight in our first year together.

That evening, what with the day’s ride and a large dinner, I was exhausted. By 11 o’clock my eyes were so sandy I left the others ordering brandies and chatting about Mott the Hoople or whatever. Despite Teresa’s raucous laugh breaching two floors, I fell asleep quickly, images of the French countryside playing on the inside of my eyelids as I drifted off. (Which reminds me, I had a similar experience many years later when overseeing the Yamaha YZF-R1 launch. Flashing white lines and rushing tarmac played across my closed eyelids as I gently fell asleep. Unfortunately, I was still riding and very lucky that the picnicking family were so understanding).

The next day we began scouting locations for the press photographers. I was keen to get started but neither the Jenkins brothers nor Teresa surfaced before 10am. By the time we left I was rather wound up, which probably contributed to the following ‘incident’. In my defence, controlling a 1000cc motorcycle on a tightening, gravel-strewn mountain bend is hardly enhanced by a woman screeching, ‘I need a f***ing p**s you b*****d’. Although I finally lost control when, clutching my helmet, she shook my head from side to side like a bladder on a stick.

It was hardly an accident at all. I’d almost brought the Wing to a halt when we toppled over, but it was the noise the goat made as the Dunlop Gold Seal thumped its midriff that upset Teresa. I can only liken it to the honk I imagine would be made if one were to jump off a five-foot wall onto a fully-inflated bagpipe. Teresa refused to ride with me from that point, foisting herself instead on Craig.

Later, we split up to explore separate areas and I enjoyed several hours’ peaceful cruising. If I’d noticed that the prang had cracked the crankcase I wouldn’t have ended up stranded with a seized engine in the middle of nowhere. Mobile phone? Ha! This was 1975. It took me six hours to walk and hitch back to the hotel, by which time it was gone midnight.

There was no sign of the others so, clutching a sandwich kindly made by the porter, I went up to my room. Teresa wasn’t there either. Then, from Craig and Stewart’s room next door, where I assumed they’d been chatting, came the distinctive gasping of Teresa in the throes of one of her asthma attacks. These could be life-threatening, but I knew the procedure well and speed was of the essence. I knocked on the door but all fell silent. Fearing the worst I put my Lewis Leather boots to the test and kicked open the flimsy lock.

This is not the place to describe the carnal act that confronted me, suffice to say it was not invented by Premiership footballers. It was a regrettable (and prior to witnessing it for myself I'd have argued physically unfeasible) incident that not only scuppered plans for the launch but also our brief marriage. I’m glad to say that Teresa received nothing in the split, so she was certainly left with egg on her face! And to think that those boys said they’d never share a bike. You live and learn.


It's 1965. Rumours of Honda’s impending 750 Four see Cyril sent to Japan for high-level talks in a bid to save the British bike industry

From Cyril's memoirs dated 15 June 2005

Kawasaki and Suzuki, once bitter rivals, now co-operate closely to produce very similar models such as the Mean Streak and Marauder, a situation that benefits them both. This is nothing new of course, and I recall the BSA/Triumph Group extending the hand of friendship to the Honda Motor Company in the mid 1960s. It could have marked a period of greatness for both firms, but I’m afraid the venture descended into a humiliating farce, the details of which I’ve kept hidden until now.

In the summer of 1965 the BSA/Triumph board heard rumours of a big-bore multi-cylinder bike being developed by Honda. So as not to panic the Small Heath workforce, the Honda project was always referred to by the codename ‘Steak and Kidney Pie’. As early as 1963 Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele had drawn up the three-cylinder engine for what would become the 1969 Triumph Trident. Our parallel twins were being pushed beyond their limits resulting in extreme vibration which, while helping lady pillions to a heightened state of readiness, left nerve-shattered riders unable to unfasten their own gloves, let alone complex female undergarments. Everyone was frustrated! However, despite problems with our overstretched engines the Japanese industry was seen by many of those in charge as nothing more than funny little men making quirky little bikes and of no threat whatsoever to the British industry, so for many years in the mid-Sixties the triple was shelved.

The Honda rumour changed all that and we Brits creaked into action, but certain board members saw ‘Steak and Kidney Pie’ as an insurmountable obstacle and that our best chance lay in co-operation with the enemy. It was decided that in my capacity as Global Sales Director I would be flown in secret to Tokyo to meet with the great Soichiro Honda, when I would bring up ‘Steak and Kidney Pie’ and the future of our companies.

In later years, such as during the development of Suzuki’s GSX-R1100 and then Yamaha’s YZF-R1, I travelled extensively throughout Japan and even picked up a little of the lingo. But in September 1965 this was my first long-haul flight and I was a naive 29-year-old from the Midlands. I hold that up as meagre defence for what was to follow.

I’ve never been a heavy drinker, but in those days there was little else to do on a long-haul flight and I’m afraid I began sipping the complimentary spirits as soon as London receded beneath a sheet of grey cloud. I was seated next to a chap who at the time would have been termed a beatnik. I found his slender sunglasses a little disconcerting, but we got along well, taking it in turns to choose the next tipple from the drinks trolley. Several hours in, Bernie, as he insisted I call him, produced a small brown dropper bottle and popped a couple of drips of clear liquid into our Johnnie Walkers. LSD was still perfectly legal, and although I hadn't the slightest idea what it was I decided (helped in my decision by Mr J Walker) that ‘turning on’, as Bernie put it, could do no harm. (Incidentally, ever wondered if habitual use of strong hallucinogens has a lasting effect on the brain? Bernie went on to be a freelance designer in the motorcycle industry and had a hand in such models as the BMW K1, Morbidelli V8 and Honda X-11. I rest my case.)

Thirty minutes after finishing my 'enlivened' whisky, things became a bit chaotic. Perhaps it was because Tokyo had hosted the 1964 Olympics that I seemed fixated by the Greco-Roman wrestling gold medallist Imre Polyak, for apparently it was his name I chanted while climbing over the seat backs in my underpants, smeared in the olive oil supplied with our meal. Air rage is now a common term, but back then I was lucky that grappling with whoever came to hand was seen merely as drunken high spirits. It appears I was pacified for a short while only to return to the fray. Apparently, I spread crushed peanuts up and down the aisle then skidded back and forth on what I clearly considered to be a speedway track. It’s claimed I was doing a passable impression of a methanol-fuelled single and bellowing, in a poor Kiwi accent, ‘I am Barry Briggs, eat my shale!’ Regrettably, I was again stripped to my underpants.

If only it had ended there. I have no recall of the incident for which I was detained by airport police, but I am eternally grateful to the lovely Japanese stewardess for not pressing charges. Neither my socks nor underpants were ever found and apparently upwards of 50 passengers were prepared to testify to the fact that I have a birthmark in the shape of Wales on the underside of my ‘percy’.

The meeting with Soichiro Honda? I’m ashamed to say that it never took place as I was deported after a gruelling five hours' interrogation. In any case, it turned out that the BSA/Triumph management had had a change of heart, having decided to fight the Japanese head on with new designs of our own, and had sent a telegram to my hotel telling me to abort the meeting. So really, it all worked out for the best. Except for the ensuing and catastrophic collapse of our motorcycle industry with the loss of thousands of jobs and many historic marques. But apart from that...


The anti-lock brakes debate takes Cyril back to his involvement with two very different development projects 40 years apart

From Cyril's memoirs dated 21 May 2005

Anti-lock braking is becoming a contentious issue as companies such as Honda fit it as standard. To some it’s a comfort, yet others consider that it robs them of ultimate control. My personal involvement with ABS brings back rather bad memories.

However, before I begin, I’d like to say that development work wasn’t always traumatic. In the summer of 1951 I was just 15 and an office lad at Ariel. Final testing was underway for a double-adult sidecar developed in conjunction with Watsonian and when the chance arose to attend a session at the test track I seized it with both hands. My duties involved no more than acting as ballast in the sidecar during laps of the course. Riding the 1000cc Square Four was chief tester Bill Jenkins and I was in the fully-enclosed chair with development engineer Stan Chesterton, a large man in his late 50s with a bushy, grizzled moustache stained by snuff.

I’ve always respected the impenetrable methods employed by these men of mathematics and on this occasion, however strange it may have seemed to my young mind, Mr Chesterton required weight distribution to be shifted each lap just before crossing the rippled, eyeball-shaking pavĂ© section. I had to rise from my seat and sit squarely on his lap facing away from him while he gripped my waist tightly for stability. I recall it being vaguely uncomfortable because of the small torch in Mr Chesterton's trouser pocket, which, he told me, he always carried 'just in case'.

This methodology, and the fact that I was required to wear nothing more than swimming trunks, may seem unconventional in today’s computer-driven world and as a naive teenager I could only guess at the good I was doing. But, as a breathless Mr Chesterton explained, he was receiving a lot of extremely satisfying feedback and a mere 212 laps later our work at the track was complete. Mr Chesterton seemed utterly spent, such, I imagined, were the complex calculations he'd been working on in his mind. It was good to know that, in a small way, I had helped in the birth of what became the best-selling sidecar of 1952 – the Intruder Senior.

But back to braking. Many years later, in the early 1990s, I worked for a major bike firm that was experimenting with ABS (my lawyers insist that the company remains nameless). BMW and Honda had ABS-equipped bikes on the market and we were keen to get on the bandwagon with a tourer based on a bike not unlike the GSX1100F.

We took the prototype to the Lucas research department’s skid-pan near Coventry and present that day was myself, chief engineer Keith Armstrong, the test rider Chris Allworth and, to record his observations, Keith Armstrong's secretary Marjorie Priors. It was an open secret that Keith and Marjorie enjoyed a little extra-curricular activity, and common knowledge that Keith and chief test rider Chris Allworth hated each other's guts.

For some reason, Chris decided that outriggers – to prevent the bike flipping onto its side on the slippery surface – were unnecessary. I think his exact words were, ‘Are you suggesting I’m some sort of poof?’ It seems daft now, but none of us realised just how slippery a wet skid-pan could be.

I heard Chris in the distance, counted up three gears and remember thinking that it would surely set him far too fast. He must have been doing 70mph when, as per correct procedure, he slammed on the front and rear brakes simultaneously and pulled in the clutch. The GSX hit the floor like a wet kipper. Bike and rider separated and slid on for 100 yards, coming to rest 25 feet from where we stood. Marjorie let out a scream and we all rushed to help Chris, lying flat on his back and very still, like a giant leathery starfish.

I’m sure you all know the frozen pond scene in Bambi. Well, Keith and I were in leather-soled shoes and Marjorie in heels, so none of us were suited to running on a surface with a friction co-efficient less than ice. Marjorie went down first, lurching forward, then back, arms flailing before landing with an almighty thud on her well-padded rump. The jolt was enough to dislodge her false teeth uppers, which skittered across the skidpan. Mortified, and desperate to get up, she grasped at Keith’s trousers, pulling them to his knees as his braces twanged and sending him into a crazy dance that ended in him landing on all fours, trousers like manacles around his ankles. I have to say, we were all rather surprised, except perhaps for Marjorie, to see a 52-year-old man wearing tight black satin briefs.

Chris sat up, pointing and laughing uncontrollably. Years of bad feeling came to the surface and a furious Keith lunged for the doubled-up Chris, who was struggling for breath between sobs of mirth. At that point, I was still standing and felt that I had to step in, but immediately trod on Marjorie’s top set, which snapped in two. I completely lost my footing, fell on my face and, rather appropriately, knocked out both my front teeth, one of which I must have swallowed as we never found it.

Still, my misfortune seemed to diffuse the situation. Chris, now uncontrollably amused by my gap-toothed expression, was in a panic to relieve himself and left the skidpan on hands and knees, guffawing like a braying donkey. Keith retrieved his trousers and poor Marjorie, broken choppers wrapped in a tissue in her handbag, left the bottom set in place, giving her a strange look reminiscent of that scrawny dog on That’s Life which said ‘sausages’*.

All of which is perhaps why to me the letters ABS have never signified anything more than A Buggering Shitstorm.

*Prince the dog on That's Life


'I’ve blown the arse out of the bollocking budget'

From Cyril's memoirs dated 12 April, 2005

Honda's RC211V MotoGP bike is a wondrous machine and Simon Hargreaves’ report in February's Bike magazine showed how HRC has made a racing weapon feel so like its road cousin. But I had to smile, because more than 40 years ago BSA had great plans for a V5 grand prix racer with road-based spin-off.

In the late Fifties the BSA race shop boasted some fine engineers, not least Peter Cartwright. Peter had a fierce intelligence but an explosive temper, a combination that did his career no favours. I recall one meeting when Peter clashed with chief accountant Bob Crowley about race team investment. Bob should have known not to goad Peter in an afternoon meeting as Peter was ever primed by a liquid lunch in the Pen & Wig pub. Despite a vicious assault Bob recovered quickly, with the aid of an inflatable rubber ring, although the disturbing nature of Peter’s undeniably innovative attack meant chocolate finger biscuits were never again served in meetings.

I digress. In late 1958 Peter was asked to develop a racing engine with a vee formation, something the Japanese factories and indeed Ducati would later adopt with great success. Guzzi’s marvellous V8 had been retired before reaching full potential when the firm withdrew from racing that year and BSA saw the chance to pounce. Although Peter later achieved great things with Suzuki’s grand prix V4 of the Nineties, even in the Fifties he felt that a V5 was the way forward. He fought hard to get his ideas approved – literally at times. He was a small man but I often saw him stripped to the waist (or indeed from the waist, which was far more disconcerting), blue eyes blazing, ‘offering out’ all comers in his broad Brummie twang. Despite these antics he was given the go-ahead in spring of 1959. I’m afraid what followed is a dark chapter in both BSA’s and Peter Cartwright’s history.

Working in overseas sales I had no direct link with the project but was a good friend of Peter’s, perhaps his only friend. One day he called me to his secluded workshop. ‘Cyril,’ he implored, ‘you’ve gotta help me, mate. I’ve blown the arse out of the bollocking budget and I’ve done bugger-all testing.’ By his beery breath I suspected that, by contrast, the Pen & Wig’s budget was looking pretty healthy. He begged me to meet him at the firm’s test track that Sunday. Rather rashly, I agreed.

I arrived at the deserted track on a chilly April morning. The works Austin van was parked at the head of the straight and as I approached I heard what sounded like a very loud electric shaver. I knocked on the rear doors, but there was no reply. Walking round to the far side of the van I was shocked by what I saw. Wedged into the frame of one our road models was a monstrous engine. Yes, it was a vee set transversely like the Guzzi’s, but it was a sprawling mess of fins, tubes and brackets. I stepped closer and bent down. On part of the hideously cobbled-together crankcase was a section of the word ‘Qualcast’ and I could see dried grass cuttings wedged between the fins on the barrels. It was clearly cobbled together from a lawnmower. Perhaps most strangely of all, a pair of stabilizers from a child’s bicycle were attached to the back of the machine.

Then there was a terrible yelping, barking and shouts of panic. The van doors burst open and Peter’s border collie, Hailwood, bounded out. The dog was clean shaven from the tip of its nose to its midriff and the rest of its coat was clipped close and covered in shaving soap. It stopped momentarily on seeing me, then took off into the distance. I found Peter sitting in the van on an upturned beer keg, balding head in hands, electric shears and a razor at his feet. He was wearing nothing but a pair of brogues and his underpants and was covered in lather, dog fur and some nasty nips from Hailwood.

As I dressed his wounds, a sobbing Peter explained all. The development money had long since been ‘pissed up the wall’ on strong ale and a rather accommodating ‘professional lady’ from the Pen & Wig. Peter had then carried out a spate of garden-shed burglaries for the raw material for his racer. With no budget left for track time or riders he’d planned to performance test by guiding the bike using a rudimentary radio control system. For ‘added realism’ – and those were his exact words – he’d intended to strap the shaven Hailwood to the bike dressed in a tightly-fitting woollen bodysuit knitted by his mother. At this point, it must be said, Peter was a very confused man.

And so, many years later, I was extremely happy to see Peter gain the success he deserved as one of the engineers behind Kevin Schwantz’s 1993 World Championship win with Suzuki. However, it can be no coincidence that Schwantz was never once seen at a race meeting with a be-pelted pet of any description. Kevin always did his homework.