Dedicated to the legendary Arthur Francis race team
Written by and images courtesy of Ray Towle
Practice laps were around 5.00pm (we each had to do two). The race started at 7.15pm with Burt doing the first stint and we would alternate during the 12 hours. The pit crew operated the timing lights red, amber and green and the scooter had a boardattached, with a light underneath and rolled paper showing the time you had to cross the finishing line on each lap, which would get quicker as the event progressed. My self and Burt also had stop watches attached to our jackets to give us some idea of time keeping. The 5 gallon cans were filled and ready for a quick scooter refill at every change of riders. Everything was good, to begin with. Darkness fell, along with the cold, but the scooter was warm. About 2.00am and fog arrived at the end of the long straight, now whilst I am happy to go fast I do like to see where I am going.
With fog your hearing becomes more acute and I could hear scooters coming up behind me at top speed, they must have been counting to know when to throttle back, unfortunately not all could count that well and the gravel run off could be heard rattling with several gratings of metal. I survived, but many did not continue. The fog went as quickly as it had come and the list of retirements grew as light dawned. Some scooters burnt out due to fuel coming into contact with very hot engines and there was one bad accident on the finishing line due to a scooter arriving early and deciding to do a “slow race” for the last 100 yards, unfortunately the rider behind did not realise and went straight into the back of him.
At 7.30 am the event finished and we all packed up to make the journey home, having been awake all night I slept. On the Monday it was back to normal with Burt using the scooter to get to college.
The final results were not known for some time after and this year S types were 1st, 2nd and 3rd. First N Barnes/R Jackson, Second J Ronald/
N Ronald, Third R Burton/R Towle so we were 3rd, but if it hadn’t been for the fog who knows?