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Peter Mitchell – a trials character

PETER MITCHELL – a Scottish Trials Character – 1942 – 2011.

 

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Peter Mitchell – 1942-2011

 

Words: John Moffat, Isobel & Duncan Mitchell

Photos: Eric Kitchen; Jimmy Young, Armadale; Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven; Colin Bullock/CJB Photographic, Solihull; Anthony MacMillan, Fort William*; Richi Foss, Inverness; Mitchell Family Archive.

 

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Peter Mitchell having a cautionary dab on his 250 Suzuki at a Forfar event around 1980. Photo: Jimmy Young

One of Scottish trials best-known characters was Peter Mitchell.
Born in the granite city of Aberdeen on 20th July 1942, he was the youngest of six children with four sisters and one brother, also a trials rider.

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Peter Mitchell on elder brother Colin’s 16c AJS at Skatie Shore in 1962

Elder brother Colin competed in the SSDT and many events having been demobbed from his national service in 1959 and purchased a new 350 AJS 16C from Comerfords at Thames Ditton, a machine that Peter would ride on occasion.

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Elder brother, Colin Mitchell seen here on his Beamish Suzuki in 1979

Peter attended school in Aberdeen, firstly at Mile End primary school and then Stonehaven’s Feteresso and Mackie Academies.
Married to Isobel, they had four children, Duncan, Derek, Stuart and daughter, Alison. His nephews were Alan and Richard, Colin’s two sons.

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Peter’s elder brother Colin seen here in 1979 with his Beamish Suzuki. Colin was a car body repair specialist and rode many events together with Peter Mitchell.

Isobel recalls: “Peter started scrambling as a member of Bon Accord MCC at the age of sixteen at a meeting at Findon near Aberdeen. Although I did not know him at the time, I used to go along to the scrambles to watch the racing, but never thought that on the 28th of December 1966, I would be married to him”.

Peter Mitchell scrambled a BSA Gold Star at one time, but a bad crash put him out of scrambling and he decided to concentrate his motorcycle efforts into trials, like his elder brother Colin.

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Peter on his BSA Gold Star scrambler – Photo courtesy: Mrs Isobel Mitchell

Young Mitchell worked in various jobs as a builder, digger driver, lorry driver and with a demolition company. At the weekends he also worked at his brother Colin’s garage, where he would dismantle cars for parts reclamation and sales, this was before the advent of large vehicle dismantlers such as Overton Dismantlers. The beyond use parts were sent away to the scrap yards for crushing.
Dismantling work was always done on a Saturday when his four sons were also involved, by donning their boiler suits to work at removing parts from the cars. Lunch times involved a trip to the Cammachmore public house where pie, beans and chips and a few pints were called for, while the children got a game of pool and a soft drink.

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The camaraderie of Scottish trials is shown in this photo of Peter Mitchell at the 1988 SSDT start. If you look closely to the left, the man reaching forward with his hand to his face is Jimmy (J.D.) Morton of Sorn, Ayrshire – shouting ‘words of encouragement’ to Peter as he is piped away!

Son Duncan Mitchell, also a trials rider: “We used to get to drive the cars around the fields until they broke down, crashed them, or ran out of fuel, then we used Uncle Colin’s Land Rover to recover them, syphon the petrol from the cars so we could all use our bikes to race about the fields next door”.

 

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Duncan Mitchell now rides Peter’s 350cc BSA B40, which he called his ‘secret weapon’ when it was first built. Duncan believes in keeping his Father’s memory alive in Pre’65 events, seen here at the Highland Classic on Alvie Estate, near Aviemore – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Peter was also a supervisor at George McGowan civil construction, operated by the brother to Rodger McGowan, who ran the Aberdeen bike shop ‘McGowan Motor Cycles’. After McGowan closed his company, Peter was made redundant and started out as self-employed, setting up a building company simply called Peter Mitchell Builders. He had the assistance from all his children on weekends and summer holidays to assist with any jobs they could undertake.

Duncan: “I remember this one time we built a wall and set the coping stones on it, then put the scratch coating on it all in one long day, Dad then said to me ‘great job let’s wash out the mixer’. He said to me to put some stones in the drum to knock off the mortar from it, so that is what I did, this was a ‘tow behind’ mixer so you can imagine where the stones came from, the wheel chocks! Well it took off down the hill and went clean through the wall, I’ve never ran so fast”.

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Mind on the job in hand, Peter Mitchell (Beamish Suzuki) at the 1980 Aberfeldy Two-Day Trial – Photo: Jimmy Young

In 1998 Peter had a heart attack and was forced to give up his company. After he had some rest and was finished all the bikes in the garage he got a job with Ready Mixed Concrete (RMC Group) at Durris Quarry where he was in charge of the batching plant. He had a good easier job there and had a shed there where he could tinker with his bikes, also had a folding seat that he could sit outside when he was not too busy.

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In 1982, Peter Mitchell rode and finished with this 238cc Bultaco in the Scottish Six Days.

 

Recycling:

Duncan Mitchell: “When the RMC company closed the Durris plant, Dad then got a job working driving skip lorries for a living, he was in his element here as many a good thing was discovered in a skip was what he told me. Many a tool and other things used to come home”.

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1988 Scottish Six Days with Peter taking a hefty dab and advertising the ‘YAMSCOT’ support as he gets the TY250R Yamaha up the big step at ‘Witches Burn’

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Eyes front and concentrating hard, 1993 Scottish Six Days on the TY250R Yamaha – Photo: Colin Bullock/CJB Photographic, Solihull
Family Man:

Peter was a real family man; he was Grandfather to Nicole and Callum, Katy and Iona, and father-in-law to Fiona, Pauline, Willie & Jill.  He was also a Step Grandfather to Leanne, Darren and Liam with Great grandchildren, Tony and Sol.
Son Stuart was not captivated by motorcycles, preferring football and golf as his sports.

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Family man! Peter on his 1969 Bultaco M.27 Sherpa with his children Duncan, Derek and Alison.

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Family was important to Peter Mitchell, seen here with son Duncan, daughter-in-law Jill, and wife Isobel at the finish of another SSDT for Duncan on the TYZ Yamaha.

Derek did both trials and motocross and also car rallying, autocross and hill climbs. He also took part at the Alford Museum popular moped race on a Yamaha DT50 and won this several times including the first year it was organised. Derek worked at Shirlaws Motorcycles for many years.

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Waving a precautionary right foot, Peter Mitchell was a regular competitor at the Loch Lomond ‘Dan Stewart Memorial’ 2 Day Trial, seen here at the 1980 event on his 250cc Yamaha TY ‘Yamscot’ – Photo: Jimmy Young, Armadale

Alison was also a trials rider and rode for many years and only gave up competing to have a family and start a new business.
Duncan Mitchell still rides trials most weekends, with the moped racing at Alford in September. He also assists the Bon Accord club whenever possible, the SSDT, Loch Lomond Two Day and at club trials. He was also the Bon Accord trials and enduro convener for a number of years and also set up the 2 Day events at Ballindalloch, where the barn dances were epic many a good weekend spent there.

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Scottish Six Days in 1989 with Peter Mitchell on a Fantic 305 on Ben Nevis.

Peter Mitchell played Football for a local team in Cove Bay, until he got struck with the ball and punctured his lung. He was also an officer in the Boys Brigade 1st Cove Juniors.

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Never one for sitting polishing his machines, Peter weighs in his well used 240 Fantic for the 1984 Scottish Six Days Trial

Peter was a member of the Bon Accord MCC for over 50 years, and other various clubs through Scotland and England from Rogart in the north of Scotland to Somerset in the south of England. He took part in scrambles, grass track racing, trials, enduro and also stock car racing.

Music:

Peter loved country music and also loved to go to the speedway racing, especially Cradley Heath when on holidays in the south.
Peters motto in life was “Love me, love my bike – have bike will travel” and so the whole family joined in for many happy and enjoyable years, trekking up and down the country and making lots of friends along the way.

John Dickinson, formerly Editor of T&MX News: “I was minding my own business one day at home when I looked out of my window and suddenly there was Peter Mitchell and family walking outside my house, he had called into Kendal on holiday, knowing I lived there and began searching for me just to say hello”.

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Hard riding Peter on his BSA B40 on Cameron Hill in the 2009 Pre’65 Scottish – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Duncan: “In 2009 we had a great holiday, we flew to Birmingham, hired a car and went to Cardiff to the world speed way cup and also visited the Sammy Miller Museum which was a place my Dad wanted to visit for a long time. We then watched the speedway racing at Eastbourne and then on to a meeting at Wolverhampton before handing back the hired car with over 1,000 miles on it”.
“We had a great holiday, but little did we know what laid ahead of us. Sadly in the following April, Dad was diagnosed with cancer the week before we were heading up to Fort William. He rode the Pre-65 trial at Kinlochleven, but sadly this would be his last. He loved the area and loved the events there, after a long battle, he passed away on the 13th February 2011”.

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Peter Mitchell enjoys a post event chat (and beer!) at the Scottish Six Days with (from left): Rab Paterson, Derek Mitchell, Peter, Duncan Mitchell and Alan Johnston.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat: “I was extremely privileged to be invited by the Mitchell family to speak at Peter’s funeral in 2011. I had known of Peter and his brother Colin before I started riding trials in 1974. Peter was a great character, he always greeted you with a broad smile and was always keen to chat about the sport whenever he met you. Never a shrinking violet, he was a hard rider, but had a heart of gold. The kind of guy that you could rely upon”.

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No time to look at the scenery in 1984, Peter Mitchell tackles Laggan Locks in the morning sunshine of the Tuesday, 8th May on his 240cc Fantic.

Peter took part in many events and won many trophies over the years. He was Best up to 250cc in the SSDT, best Scottish rider in the Pre’65, Best over 350cc in the Pre’65 trial.
Peter had ridden the Pre-65, then the SSDT, followed by the Lochaber Invaders trial which was the equivalent to nine one-day trials on the trot.

Duncan: “He was proud to show me the way around the hills of the SSDT course, not many people get the chance to do things like this with their fathers. I was so proud to have known this man for the time I did, I have so many experiences and great fun with him. He was to me a great man, missed by us all”.
Peter also was one of a few that rode all of the Loch Lomond Dan Stewart Two-Day Trial up to the events’ 25 years celebration. It is believed that it was Ian Abbot and Peter were the only two to have ridden them all.

He annually rode the Forfar & Perth & District Club’s Aberfeldy Two-Day trial and along with a few others received a long-time rider award, this was a special motorcycle trophy made by a local artist, constructed from spark plugs, gears and bolts.
In 2008, Peter received a life time achievers award for services to motorcycle sport from the Scottish ACU.

When undergoing treatment for cancer, Peter had numerous chemotherapy sessions but he still managed to ride the Scottish AMCA Over-40 series and finished the season by winning the championship. Sadly, he died while he was a reigning champion and never got the chance to defend this title.

Peter Mitchell’s career highlights:
Pre 65 Scottish:  1989-2010
Started the event as number 1 in 1994
Best finish was 4th overall in 1995
SSDT: 1978-1997
Started the trial as number 1 in 1998.
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Getting his time-card from the official guest starter in the 1988 Scottish Six Days, Peter on his Yamaha TY250R at the start in Fort William, issued with number 1 – Photo: Anthony MacMillan, Fort William*
Peter rode for the Aberdeen based Yamscot team in 1978 won the ‘Eigg Cup’ for best performance on a motorcycle under 250cc, riding a TY 175 Yamaha, he rode with Jock Fraser and John Winthrop.
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Peter Mitchell in his first SSDT in 1978 on the TY175 Yamaha on Blackwater
Peter rode a variety of machines in the SSDT, Yamaha TY 175, TY 250, Beamish Suzuki, Bultaco, Fantic, Yamaha TY 250R Mono, TYZ, Gas Gas, and completed his last SSDT on a TYZ model Yamaha.
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A fantastic shot of Peter Mitchell on his Yamaha TYZ climbing ‘Garbh Bheinn’ in the 1997 Scottish Six Days Trial, watched by Richmond clubmen, John Fraser and Andrew Kearton – Photo: Worldwide copyright – ERIC KITCHEN – (all rights reserved).
In 1994 Peter was in the winning team which were awarded the ‘Jackie Williamson’ trophy for the best Scottish team with Duncan Mitchell and Neil McGregor for the Bon Accord club, this was the first time the trophy was presented.
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Grimacing with the effort of concentration in the 1998 Scottish Six Days, Peter Mitchell on the 250 Gas Gas at Piper’s Burn.
On the lighter side, Peter raced in the ‘Team Kwackersaki’ for McGowan Motorcycles with son Duncan from 1991 -1995 where they won the Scottish moped racing crown on several occasions.
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Peter enjoys a pint and some grub after a hard day on the bike!

Peter Mitchell Memorial Trophy:

 

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The Peter Mitchell Memorial Trophy, the trophy which was made by Inverness artisan, Richi Foss, the base was made by Peter’s eldest son Stuart.

After his death, Isobel Mitchell approached the Inverness based welder/fabricator and artisan, Richi Foss to commission a special trophy in Peter’s memory. It was to be presented to the Edinburgh & District Motor Club Pre’65 committee for the oldest finisher award at the annual Pre’65 Scottish Trial.

Foss undertook the commission and the first winner was none other than seven times TT winner, Mick Grant. Foss was delighted to hear that news, being a motorcyclist himself.

If you look at the Peter Mitchell trophy you will see that the rider is climbing his machine over a large granite out-crop, this is significant, as it represents the granite from Peter’s homeland of Aberdeen and also that he was always regarded as a ‘hard rider’.

Being an artisan, Foss contacted a ‘person’ who knew Peter Mitchell well and questioned him closely about Peter’s life and his career as a trials rider. Foss took all this information he had gleaned from the fellow enthusiast and thought about it long and hard before forming his ideas as to how the trophy would look. He also studied some photos of Mitchell in action, noticing that he rarely rode with a crash helmet with a peak fitted for example.

Foss wanted to capture the ‘spirit’ of Peter Mitchell in the finished article. This he achieved and the trophy was greeted with great pleasure by the Mitchell family when it was handed over to them by its’ creator.

Richi Foss has achieved the impossible when you realise that the wheels carry no visible spokes as they are spinning too fast for the eye to see, thus giving the piece the impression of ‘motion’.

 

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The specially commissioned trophy for the oldest finisher in the Pre’65 Scottish Trial in memory of Peter Mitchell. Made by the Inverness artisan, Richi Foss of Foss Fabrication and Welding

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The Peter Mitchell trophy rear view – Photo: Richi Foss

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Detail of the tank – Photo: Richi Foss

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Nearside view – Photo: Richi Foss

More on Foss Fabrication’s work: HERE

Trials Guru is indebted to the Mitchell family for their assistance in compiling this tribute to a true character and sportsman of Scottish motorcycle trials.

* Alistair MacMillan / West Highland News Agency, Fort William (with permission of current copyright holder: Anthony MacMillan, Fort William – All rights reserved)

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The Yamscot Team in the 1985 SSDT – from left: Peter Mitchell; Alan Fender and the late Ian Fender who lost his life in a road accident during the 1991 event.

Article copyright: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing 2016

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Dave’s Yamaha Time-warp

Recently, we came across a real nice little story. From time to time, we are sure that stories are told of a brand new, unused motorcycle still in the manufacturer’s packaging crate – they do exist!

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What is in this box? – Photo: Dave Smith

Dave Smith from Buckinghamshire recently had a look inside a box he has had for the last 25 years.

What is inside it? – A brand new unused Yamaha TY250R ‘Pinky’ model!

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Surely not, is the box empty or? – it can’t be, can it? – Photo: Dave Smith

Bought brand new in it’s Yamaha box from John Lee Motorcycles, it was one of the very last batch made in 1992 and Dave thought because it was such an important machine in trials history he would get one of the last and keep it wrapped up.  Smith recounted: “I seem to remember at the time they had gone well out of fashion and they were discounted down to about £2,000. I’m sure I’ve got the original sales invoice somewhere. Judging by the reaction I have had, a lot of people remember them with fondness”.

The TY250R ‘Pinky’ was the last of the TY250 range which began with the twinshock Yamaha Trials machine in 1974. The TY250S and R models were developed with the direct input of Nigel Birkett and of course were monoshock (Yamaha Mono-cross system) suspension on the rear. The TY250R ‘Pinky’ was produced in 1992 as a single batch, just before the factory commenced production of the Yamaha TYZ, water-cooled, aluminium perimeter frame model.

The TYZ model signalled Yamaha’s ongoing committment to the sport of trials but ended the production run of the air-cooled TY250R which ran from 1984 – 1992.

So let us unwrap the time warp from 1993…

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Brand new in box, they do exist! The original owner’s manual, handlebars and propstand – Photo: Dave Smith

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Factory fresh, zero miles on the odometer – Photo: Dave Smith

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Unused, with factory disclaimer decals on the rear fender – Photo: Dave Smith

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Still in the original box, the Yamaha sees daylight from it’s time capsule! – Photo: Dave Smith

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The caution decals on the plastic tank, completely empty and unused – Photo: Dave Smith

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Not many left in original condition as this TY250R – Photo: Dave Smith

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The front mudguard nestles on the rear tyre, still unfitted since being packed away by the factory dispatchers – Photo: Dave Smith

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Many thanks to owner Dave Smith for allowing us to look at his unused Yamaha TY250R

Many thanks to owner Dave Smith for allowing Trials Guru feature his quite unique Yamaha, the big question now must be… will he ride this precious time warp machine or simply return it to its’ slumbers for posterity?

Text: Copyright: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing 2016

Images: Dave Smith, Buckinghamshire

Trials Guru – we always bring you something new old!

Nick’s YamTYZ

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Richmond clubman, Nick Hunt on his ‘Barry Watson Tuned’ Yamaha TYZ250 – Photo: Lorenzo Burnet


Richmond forester, Nick Hunt rode the Richmond trial at Marske on Sunday, 30th October, 2016 on a Barry Watson Racing prepared TYZ Yamaha instead of his usual Montesa 4RT.
The 1999 machine has been ‘resting’ in Jack Watson’s garage since 2006 after being prepared for the 2006 Scott Trial.

Gary Watson, Barry’s youngest son, wisely decided his knees would not stand another hammering so did not ride. Nick fired the Yam up and opted to give it a whirl at Marske on Sunday.

But for stalling the engine in the seventh section on the last lap he would have been top three or four in the Over 40’s class.

Team Watson are seeking another TYZ despite the fact that the current model will just not wear out.

Coverdale farmer Steve Lambert is an authority on TYZ cow bikes which are a sought-after commodity in the Scott Trial localities. Steve takes it to the extreme though has he has and eras the original Team Yamaha riding clothing.

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Steve Lambert on his Yamaha TYZ – Photo: Lorenzo Burnet

Report and photos: Lorenzo Burnet, 2016

SSDT – Where are they now?

Where are they now?

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1966 Weigh-In at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa 252cc (EAA60D) – Photo courtesy: Kenny McNamee, Motherwell

The Scottish Six Days Trial is one of those events that every trials rider not only wants to take part in at least once in their lifetime, but to win it, well that is something really special.

Motorcycle manufacturers have entered works machines to the event with the sole aim of achieving victory, pure and simple.

Tommy Sandham, who has written four books on the subject, has asked me to undertake a tricky task – to find out how many SSDT winning machines still exist!

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SSDT Centenary 2011 – Two of the most famous trials machines, of all time – 187BLF (350 AJS) which won the 1961 SSDT ridden by Gordon Jackson losing only one mark. GOV132 (500 Ariel) Sammy Miller’s famous machine that won the SSDT (1962 & 1964) – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

We know of a few that are still around, these are as follows:

1946/47/48 – HughViney’s 350 AJS (HXF641)

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Hugh Viney’s AJS with some details painted on the front plate of HXF641 as it is to this day – Photo: David Lewis, London

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Hugh Viney’s factory AJS HXF641 on which he won three successive SSDTs post-war – Photo: David Lewis, London

1957 – Johnny Brittain’s 500 Royal Enfield Bullet (HNP331) – National Motorcycle Museum.

1962/64 – Sammy Miller’s 500 Ariel (GOV132) – Sammy Miller Trust.

1961 – Gordon Jackson’s 350 AJS (187BLF) – Sammy Miller Trust.

1963 – Arthur J. Lampkin’s 249 BSA C15 (XON688) – Owned by A.J. Lampkin.

1965 – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa (669 NHO) – Owned by Sammy Miller Trust.

1966 – Alan R.C. Lampkin’s 249 BSA C15 (748MOE) – Owned by A.R.C. Lampkin.

1967/1968 – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa (EAA60D) – Owned by Yrjo Vesterinen.

1969 – Bill Wilkinson’s 250 Greeves – (WWC 169F) – Owned by Bill Wilkinson.

1981 – Yrjo Vesterinen’s 349 Montesa Cota – Owned by Yrjo Vesterinen.

2005 – Sam Conner’s 290 Sherco – Owned by Paul Rays

So where are the rest?

Some SSDT winning machines – but where are they?

1954: Artie Ratcliffe’s 350 Matchless (OLH721)

1959: Roy Peplow’s Triumph Cub (RUE923)

1970-1971 : Mick Andrews’ Ossa (B775073 – Barcelona registration)

1972 : Mick Andrews’ Ossa (B-1681-C – Barcelona registration)

1973: Malcolm Rathmell’s 250 Bultaco (XWW34L)

1974: Mick Andrews’ 250 Yamaha (CRA33L)

1975: Mick Andrews’ Yamaha (JGF729N)

 

Use the Trials Guru CONTACT page to let us known – HERE

Five Minutes with Nikita Smith – Trials Rider

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Nikita Smith (Gas Gas UK)

Nikita Smith is 19 year of age and comes from a family with trials connections.

“My Dad and his brothers rode a few trials back in their day.” says Nikita.

“The Middlesbrough & District MCC national Cleveland Trial runs just above our farm. When I was around two years of age, I heard the sound of trials bikes and was pointing, so my Mum and Dad took me up to have a look. It all really started from that moment, I just wouldn’t shut up about bikes. My Nan and Grandad bought me a battery bike that I could ride around the farm, but I wanted to go faster so at four, my parents bought my a Honda QR 50. I then progressed on to a Yamaha TY 80 and started to ride trials at the age of six”.

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Nikita on the Yamaha TY80

“I just moved through the classes, my parents were always supporting me and I can’t thank them enough! When I was ready to move to B class, I joined ‘Ace Trials Team’ run and financed by the Kilhams family. For me this was a dream come true at such a young age. They gave me brilliant support and they introduced me to the European and World trials scene. They showed me how everything worked, as it’s a bit different than entering a club trial! Unfortunately the Ace Trials Team didn’t continue, so I joined up with John Shirt at Gas Gas UK which was fantastic help as I progressed in my riding career.

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Nikita’s FIM Women’s Trial GP of Andorra riding bib from 2013 – Photo: Sallyann Smith

“My cousins also rode a few trials we all live quite close so we would go practising together”.

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Nikita shows her all action style on the Gas Gas – Photo: Kacey Smith

“Unfortunately, I suffered a road traffic accident which involved head, chest and leg injuries. This has been a big set-back to me, but my goals still remain the same to ride at the top level. I am currently undergoing physio with my leg and working hard to get where I want to be, on a trials motorcycle”.

 

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Nikita Smith doing what she likes best, riding trials

Mark Kilhams, Owner of the Ace Trial Team commented: “I approached the Smith family at the final ladies round in the Isle Of Wight as I saw great potential that was not being fully accessed. I knew that Joanne Coles would be the best mentor for Nikita and would make a great team mate. Thankfully the family agreed to compete abroad if supported in the world and European paddocks by Ace Trials Team. This was a very successful arrangement for all involved and Nikita’s achievements and potential brought in a lot of new interest and sponsorship to the team. We have kept in constant contact with the Smith family since Nikita’s terrible accident and I know that the strong-will and single mindedness that bought her so many top podium finishes, will get her back to the top of ladies trials again”.

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Nikita getting back in the groove on her Gas Gas in July 2016 – Photo: Sallyann Smith

2017 Update:

Now fully recovered from her horrific road accident, and at the ripe old age of twenty years, Nikita Smith makes a comeback on the world stage with her first appearance since 2013 when she was fifteen.

Nikita will take part on a Gas Gas machine and compete in the newly launched ‘Trial2 Women’ class in the World trial series in Kingman, USA in August 2017.

Article Text Copyright: Trials Guru / Moffat Racing – John Moffat 2017

Photos:

  • Courtesy of Nikita Smith, all rights reserved.
  • Kacey Smith
  • Sallyann Smith

Magical Chase 220 for the Highlands!

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The Yamaha ‘Magical-Chase 220’ – Photo: Ricky Wood, Derbyshire

Mick Andrews will debut a Yamaha ‘Magical-Chase 220’ at the Inverness & District MC Ltd, Highland Classic Two-Day trial at Aviemore on 11th June.

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Former European Trials Champion and multiple SSDT winner, Mick Andrews will be guest of honour at the Highland Classic 2 Day in June 2016 – Photo: Ricky Wood

The bike has been developed by Colin Leese with direct input by Mick Andrews and now owned by Derbyshire rider, Ricky Wood who will also take part in the annual classic trial on Alvie Estate on the Saturday and Sunday 11/12th June.

Mick told Trials Guru that the machine has been built with ideas that were used on his factory 0W10 machines from the mid-1970s when he took the honours twice at the SSDT.

Andrews: “We have put a lot of effort into this little bike which runs very well and the first to ride it was its owner, Ricky Wood who has allowed me to ride it competitively at the Highland Two Day. Colin Leese of ‘Chase TY’ has done all the hard work with my advice and guidance. He builds the TY220 to order and there is quite a waiting list”.

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Based loosely on the factory oW10 concept, the Yamaha ‘Magical-Chase 220’ looks purposeful – Photo: Ricky Wood

Mick Andrews is this year’s guest of honour, a feature of the Highland Classic which now boasts 150 riders competing on a shooting estate which lies four miles south of Aviemore.

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Mick Andrews samples Colin Leese’s handiwork in a pre-season testing session – Photo: Ricky Wood

The theme this year is ‘The Yamscot Edition’ which not only pays homage to Magical Mick Andrews when he rode for the Japanese company, but also Shirlaws Motorcycles of Aberdeen which used the ‘Yamscot’ moniker back in the 1970s to promote the Yamaha off-road and racing brand in Scotland.

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Mick Andrews puts the Yamaha Magical-Chase 220 through its paces – Photo: Ricky Wood

Photos courtesy and copyright of Ricky Wood, Derbyshire.

 

Highland Classic 2016 update

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‘Magical’ Mick Andrews is the guest of honour at the Highland Classic 2016 on 11/12 June – Photo copyright: Rainer Heise, Germany

The Inverness & District MCC have announced that their special guest of honour for the 2016 Highland Classic Two Day Trial on June 11 & 12 – ‘THE YAMSCOT EDITION’ will be former Yamaha factory trials rider, MICK ANDREWS. They will be paying homage not only to the ‘YamScot’ effort from the mid 1970s by Shirlaws Motorcycles, but also to the rider who won five Scottish Six Days Trials, two of them Yamaha mounted. Having moved from the Spanish Ossa factory, Andrews rode special factory OW series machines, which led to the development of the production TY series twin-shock bikes that were used by ‘YamScot’ riders in Scottish events. Shirlaws’ owner Leslie Shirlaw formed the YamScot team to promote Yamaha machines in Trials, Motocross and Road Racing. Mick Andrews will enter into the spirit of the trial by riding a suitably prepared Yamaha machine at Alvie. – Entry forms will be released and available on 20th February, 2016.

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Mick Andrews was a factory rider for Yamaha Motor Co on their factory ‘OW’ series machines which were reserved only for contracted to factory riders. Seen here in the SSDT on the OW11 – Photo: Rainer Heise, Germany

The Highland Classic was started in 2004 as a one day event for pre’65 machines at the highland shooting estate, Alvie. The second year entries were increased by the addition of twin-shock classes and finally in 2006 it was extended to a two-day event. The event has gained popularity, but entries became very sought after from the 2013 event, with the introduction of the special guest of honour feature, which is very popular with riders and the estate management who always have a representative present for the ‘address of the trial’ with some short introductions and speeches led by a welcome from the owner of Alvie & Dalraddy Estates himself, Laird Jamie Williamson. The event has been over-subscribed since 2013.

Previous Highland Classic guests of honour include Yrjo Vesterinen (2013); Dave Thorpe (2014) and Bill Wilkinson (2015).

Entry forms and regulations will be released by event secretary, Rick Lound on Saturday 20th February. Last year’s competitors will be sent forms by post, but they will also be available at Telford on the Classic Trial/Trial Magazine UK stand, The Putoline Oils stand and the Inverness & District club website (www.idmcc.co.uk).

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The Highland Classic 2 Day Trial 2016 event secretary is Rick Lound, seen here on his Yamaha Majesty

Support for the event has been promised by both Classic Trial Magazine and Putoline Oils UK.

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Classic Trial Magazine is supporting the Highland Classic 2016
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Putoline Oils are supporting the 2016 Highland Classic 2 Day Trial at Alvie in June
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Study of Mick Andrews, former Ossa and Yamaha factory rider – Photo copyright: Claudio Trial Pictures

Tommy Robb, not just a road racer

Tommy Robb Bultaco
Tommy Robb was a keen trials rider in his youth and also in later life as a racer to keep fit over the winter months

Tommy Robb is a well-known Ulsterman who rode for Honda, Yamaha, Seeley, Bultaco and a whole host of private sponsors, including Terry Hill in a career that started in 1950 and went on until the mid 1970s.

1st Ever Trophy
Tommy Robb’s first ever trophy, won on 3rd November 1951 a time trial in Ireland

In 1962, Robb was the first non-Japanese factory rider to be signed by Honda, the year he was runner-up in the 350cc World Championships. He is a five times winner of the North-West 200 and has won the Lightweight 125cc TT in 1973.

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Tommy Robb in the Hurst Cup Trial of 1953 on his DOT

He wrote an autobiography called ‘From TT to Tokyo’ a fascinating recount of a works riders life on the ‘Continental Circus’

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From TT to Tokyo – Tommy Robb’s autobiography

Tommy been friends with Trials Guru representative John Moffat for some years now, having been interviewed by Trials Guru at the Scottish Motorcycle Show near Edinburgh.

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Part of Tommy Robb’s impressive collection of trophies, yes those are Isle of Man TT replicas! – Photo copyright: Tommy Robb

What is not generally known is that Tommy was also a keen trials competitor both in his youth and in later years to keep fit when not travelling the world racing motorcycles.

Tommy Robb in 1967 on Bultaco Scrambler
Tommy Robb on a Bultaco Pursang in 1967 at an Irish International motocross event – Photo courtesy: Tommy Robb Private Archive

Recently Tommy had a very pleasant surprise and contacted Trials Guru.

Here is what Tommy sent Trials Guru:

“Hi Big John, – A very happy New Year to you, your family and Trials Guru’s everywhere! 

I thought the attached Certificate (Factory Rider) would be of interest to you. This arrived on the 2nd January 2016, from the DOT Motorcycle Club, whilst all the major personalities were getting their Knighthoods, MBE’s, and OBE’s I was delighted to receive this award, from 1954 -1958 and inscribed:

‘Special Award made to Tommy Robb, from the DOT Motorcycle Club in recognition of your Achievements as a rider representing the DOT Motorcycle Factory in the Golden age of British Motorcycle Competition’.

This, believe it or not, dates back to the mid-fifties when I rode factory 196cc and 250cc DOTS in grass tracks, scrambles (in those days) and trials in Northern and Southern Ireland. When Burnard Scott Wade was the MD of the Company.
It was a pleasure to receive this recognition some 62 years after the period concerned when I was 18 or 19 years old at the time. To have it in my trophy cabinet at 81 years of age, amongst my TT Replicas is indeed a surprise and an honour”.
 
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The certificate presented to Tommy Robb by the Dot Motorcycle Club in 2016
We are always looking for something different, special or  unusual at Trials Guru, so we thought Trials Guru readers would enjoy this.
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Trials Guru’s John Moffat (left) with great friend, Tommy Robb at the Scottish Motorcycle Show at Ingliston, Edinburgh – Photo: Trials Guru/Jean Moffat
Words – Copyright: Trials Guru & Tommy Robb – 2016
Images – Copyright: Tommy Robb Private Archive & Trials Guru/Jean Moffat – 2016.

Alfred John “Buttons” Button – 1955 – 2015

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“Buttons” on the left with John Moffat at the 2015 Scottish Six Days Trial during the daily Nevis Radio outside broadcast – Photo courtesy of Tony Jones

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of a true character of the sport of motorcycle trials, “Buttons” or John Button as he was known.

Buttons attended the Scottish Six Days Trial many times in his capacity as a mechanic, whose training went back to the days of the Bultaco tuning wizard, Reg May of Comerfords.

During the 2015 Scottish, Buttons popped in almost daily to visit the Outside Broadcasts of Nevis Radio where he kept listeners and the radio presenters in stitches with his quick wit and humour during the week.

Buttons had battled with cancer for some years and had planned to spectate at the recent Scott Trial, but illness prevented him from doing so.

Trials Guru conveys sincere condolences to his family at this difficult time.

Funeral Arrangements: The funeral service for Alfred John Button (Buttons) will held on Thursday 12th November 2015 at 12.30pm at Rainsbrook Crematorium. Ash Lawn Road. Rugby. Warwickshire. CV22 5ET. please no flowers, donations to Macmillan nurses are welcome.

Alfred John ‘Buttons’ Button 1955 – 2015

Debbie Evans – Not just a Stunt Performer

Trials Guru tells the story of a trials rider turned movie stunt performer …

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Debbie Evans number 112 (Yamaha 175) at the 1978 Scottish Six Days, this is the final machine inspection in down-town Fort William parc ferme. Number 109 is Mick Wilkinson (Ossa).

Over the years there have been numerous female riders compete in the annual Scottish Six Days Trial, which had traditionally been a male dominated sport. Times have now changed with female competitors very much the norm.

Before the Second World War, there was Louie McLean, Edyth Foley and Marjorie Cottle. Post-war, the 1950’s had Mollie Briggs, Lesley Blackburn, Olga Kevelos and Gwen Wickham; the 1960’s had Jill Savage and Renee Bennett. They had one thing in common, they were all British, but in the late seventies a female rider emerged who inspired even more women to compete in trials and the ‘Scottish’ than ever before, and she was the first female rider from overseas to compete in the SSDT, an American called Debbie Evans.

Trials Guru was fortunate to catch up with Debbie, now Evans-Leavitt having married her trials riding boyfriend Lane Leavitt, during a hectic schedule in Glasgow city centre, Scotland in September 2012 when filming for ‘The Fast & the Furious 6’ an action-packed movie which was released in May 2013.

Debbie refuses to slow down in an amazingly tight schedule which took her to England, twice, Scotland and Tenerife for filming plus a short break to go home to the United States to see her first grandchild born. I still couldn’t believe that I was talking with a stunt-performing grand-mother!

Born in 1958, Debbie, originally from Lakewood, now resident in Santa Clarita, California has been in the movie business for just over thirty-three years. She has stunt-doubled for some of the world’s best known superstars including Carrie-Ann Moss in ‘Matrix Reloaded’ – 2003; Linda Hamilton in ‘The Terminator: Judgement Day’ – 1991 and many more. Have a look at the credits of some of the world’s most famous action-packed films and you will see the name ‘Debbie Evans’ appear in more than just a few. Her speciality is car and motorcycle stunt performance and she has appeared in over two-hundred movies and TV programmes which included ‘CHiPS’ & ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’.

The Scottish connection…

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Debbie Evans on Blackwater sections in 1978 on her 175cc TY175 Yamaha. Debbie came 109th position on 473 marks. Photo copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland.

Having followed the history of the SSDT and watched Lane in action at the Six Days, I got to know Debbie and her three time AMA National Trials Champion husband back in 2007, when I put together an audio-visual presentation of the SSDT in the February of that year for the Fort William Mountain Film Festival.

Permission was sought to use material from Debbie’s website as part of the presentation, just for a bit of extra interest for the audience, which she willingly gave.

Debbie had entered the 1978 Scottish Six Days Trial on a TY175 Yamaha supplied by Gordon Farley Motorcycles, Aldershot, Hmpshire, England and her airline ticket was paid for by Yamaha USA. Lane had also competed in previous Scottish Six Days his first being 1973, as a supported rider for both the Spanish Bultaco and laterly Montesa factories.

Sunday lunch…

Having discovered that she would be in the UK during filming for the forthcoming ‘Fast 6’ movie, Debbie sent me a message via Lane through facebook which read: “Hi John, I’m sending my wife to Scotland in a few days. Maybe you guys can get together? She may have some cool stuff for you!”

On making contact upon her arrival in England, she suggested that we meet up with her one Sunday afternoon, when she was between filming schedules in Glasgow. Part of the car chase footage was shot late at night in city-centre Glasgow, including the famous George Square area.

After a pleasant lunch in Glasgow’s Princes Square, we all go back to Debbie’s hotel and ‘Skype call’ Lane in the USA, who takes us a virtual tour around the couple’s home. Lane picks out their Scottish Six Days trophies and Debbie’s stunt trophies and awards; culminating in a quick tour of their impressive garage.

Debbie was an accomplished trials rider when she began motion picture stunt performing at the age of twenty. I asked her how she entered into the movie business.

She explained: “I wondered why so many stunts involving women were carried out by male performers dressed to look like females? I thought… hey, I could do that… I researched it further and eventually obtained the necessary regulatory permissions and began training for my new chosen career with established professional stunt performers.”

The rest is history, Evans-Leavitt is a multiple award winner obtaining seven Red Bull Stunt ‘Taurus awards’ and was inducted into the American Motorcycle Association – Motorcyclist Hall of Fame in 2003.

Unique…

Debbie is probably the only competitor world-wide who can static balance a trials motorcycle upside down with her head on the seat, the bike is not supported in any way and the only extra piece of equipment is a rubber band on the front brake lever! Eric Kitchen was on hand in 1978 to photograph this very stunt, right in the middle of the traffic roundabout at the West End of Fort William, now an iconic SSDT photo.

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Debbie performing her world famous ‘head-stand’ on the roundabout in down-town Fort William, Scotland, prior to the 1978 Scottish Six Days. Photo: Worldwide copyright, Eric Kitchen. All rights reserved.

In movies, she is best known for the 2001 award-winning scene where she doubled for actress Michelle Rodriguez in the Fast & the Furious. Debbie drove a tuned Honda Civic hatch-back under an artic semi-trailer at high speed, ending in a barrel-roll when emerging out the other side.

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“…being a stunt-woman is that you get to ride fast motorcycles and drive real cool cars” – Debbie in a classic Jaguar with son Daniel – Photo: Lane Leavitt Archive – All rights reserved.

Debbie says: “I have to keep physically fit and in shape but the real neat part about being a stunt-woman is that you get to ride fast motorcycles and drive real cool cars!”

Dreaming…

Back to that Scottish Six Days ride at Fort William in May 1978, it was for Debbie the event of her lifetime. Debbie takes up the story:

“I had harboured a secret wish to ride in the ‘Scottish’ when I was quite young. I got into trials at the age of six with the help of my father Dave Evans, who was already an established trials and enduro rider in the USA and it was he who taught me all I know about bike control. I then read all about the Scottish Six Days in the American motorcycle press. I never really thought it was possible until an Englishman called Bill Emmison of BERM Specialities, a UK company which imported US off-road products. Bill on a visit to source parts asked me what I really wanted to do and on hearing my crazy wish said he could arrange the trip to Scotland and make it all happen. I was overjoyed at the thought of actually competing in the Six Days, for me it was truly a real dream come true. I hadn’t told anyone previously, because I believed it to be too wild to ever come true!

I packed my heavy bags and took a pair of handlebars, grips, foot-pegs and my Bell helmet and spent a few days sight-seeing in London on my own, before heading north to Fort William.

Bill supplied me with some riding suits, my riding number was one-hundred and twelve and so I rode all week in the company of Mick Wilkinson and Rob Shepherd, two of the best riders in Britain at the time and guys who knew their way around Scotland. The whole experience for a nineteen year old girl was really awesome; the Scottish was a great adventure!”

She continued: “Riding over the tracks and moors with Mick as my guide was great fun, Lane told me to ‘stick to this guy like glue’, which I did! However, I probably stuck to him too well and one day when hauling across a moor, Mick suddenly pulled up, I sat and waited for a little while, then he turned around and said, ‘Debbie! Can you sort of disappear for a minute, the call of nature beckons’ – or words to that effect?”

Wilkinson…

Mick Wilkinson remembers all too well the 1978 event with Debbie Evans in tow!

Mick recounts: “Soon after the trial started, I said to Rob (Shepherd), come on Rob let’s have a bit of fun, let’s leave this American lass on’t moor. We took off at a cracking rate as we knew where we were going and after a few miles we looked round. To our surprise, there she was, slap bang on our back mudguards. We didn’t try to pull that trick again!”

After their marriage Lane and Debbie had planned to ride once more in the 1980 Scottish together, but when they discovered that she was expecting their first child, Steve, this put paid to that idea and she reluctantly but sensibly withdrew her entry. The couple had another son, Daniel born in 1994.

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On the left is Alan Wright, former Suzuki team rider and Telford Show organiser. On the right, Debbie Evans-Leavitt, the American trials rider turned movie stunt perfomer. Photographed here at the Scottish Six Days Trial on Pipeline in May 1978 by Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland. (All rights reserved.)

Inspiration…

But by then, Evans had already unwittingly captivated a whole new generation of women trials riders, one of which was Lisa Bayley (then Lisa Jones) from Sutton, Surrey who herself was inspired by reading about Debbie’s 1978 ride to compete herself in the 1981 Scottish at the tender age of eighteen on a 200cc SWM modified from a 125cc by her Father, Derek Jones.

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Lisa Jones was so inspired by Debbie’s SSDT ride in 1978 that she trained hard and entered the 1981 event on a 200cc SWM prepared by her father Derek. – Photo: Derek Jones, Surrey, England.

Having read and been inspired by Evans, Lisa never actually met Debbie in person, although she did get to know former US National and World Champion, Bernie Schreiber during his time at Comerfords, Thames Ditton in 1979 and later, when on trips to the US riding Fantic.

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Debbie on Town Hall Brae in down-town Fort William in 1978 – Photo: Iain C Clark, Fort William, Scotland (All rights reserved)

Fitness coach Lisa commented: “I was truly inspired by Debbie Evans’ 1978 ride at the Scottish which I did twice. For me it is the most brilliant event in the world. I have run in both the New York & London Marathons in 2005 and 2006; they were far easier by a long shot than the 600 miles and 180 Scottish sections of fantastic challenging and on some-days, impossible terrain. In my lifetime I have risen to the challenge of the hardest marathon and finished New York in three hours forty-eight minutes and London in three hours thirty-eight minutes, well within a veterans’ respectable timeframe, but still the SSDT was the hardest ever human achievement and the most enjoyable I have ever undertaken.”

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Debbie in the 1978 Scottish Six Days. Photo copyright: Jimmy Young, Armadale, Scotland. (All rights reserved)

Bloodline…

Motorcycle observed trials is in Debbie’s blood, her father, Dave Evans is the guy who wheelies a Bultaco Sherpa for miles near the beginning of the Bruce Brown film ‘On Any Sunday’ the definitive bike-sport movie of all time. Her sister, Donna Evans is also a stunt performer, having worked with Debbie in a number of motion pictures.

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Debbie in 1979. The top right image is Debbie doubling for Lynda Carter in the TV series, Wonder Woman – Photo copyright: Michael Vendrel, USA.

Debbie: “Being a trials rider really helped me throughout my stunt career, because you walk the section and memorise in your head many things, like when to go up or down a gear, where to brake, where to make the turn or change direction, which part is slippery and so on. The same thing applies when performing a motion picture stunt; you walk the set and plan everything, very carefully. It’s technical, just like trials. However, I knew that I would never make a living from just riding trials, at that time there were very few who were professional riders world-wide, whereas I could at movie stunt-performing. I grew up with trials riding ‘no-stop’; stop-allowed was alien to me. We do stunts no-stop too!”

Dukes of Hazard
Debbie in a scene from the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ a CBS network TV series. She doubled for the postmistress and Hazzard Gazette reporter, Miz “Emma” Tisdale who delivered parcels by motorcycle.

Debbie stayed fairly loyal to the Yamaha brand during her riding years, having gained support from the company via their USA importers and promoted the brand wherever she rode.

After a eighteen years away from the sport, Debbie made a brief return to competitive trials in 1998, when she rode in the Women’s World Trials Championships. She was now forty years of age, but came a creditable eighth place overall, riding a 250cc Gas Gas.

Today…

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Debbie tries out Lane’s Bultaco for size in his office. Photo: Lane Leavitt.

Lane, now a respected stunt technician in the US movie business still has a collection of interesting Bultaco trials machines and some modern road bikes to hand, as the area in which the Leavitts live is ‘canyon country’ and a Sunday afternoon ride out with the family is very much the order of the day.

Leavitt reckons Debbie would still be riding in trials competitively today had she not suffered a very serious accident when stunt doubling for the 2008 movie “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey in which she was hit by a car when riding a bike during a sequence which went horribly wrong.

British actress Amanda Holden was trained by Debbie and Lane to do stunts for the UK TV series ‘Amanda Holden – Fantasy Lives’ in 2010 in which Debbie and Lane both appeared.

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Debbie, Dick Mann and Lane at Dick Mann’s house discussing a Matchless build. Bike is one of Dick’s creations, a Triel (Triumph engined Ariel)

Return…

Debbie really enjoyed her film work in Glasgow; she even cultivated a Scots accent during her stay. Both she and Lane are planning a return trip to spectate at the SSDT in a few years time, once their youngest child, daughter Rebecca, graduates from high-school. It will be really nice to have the couple back at the SSDT where they have so many happy memories of competing many years ago.

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Debbie Evans-Leavitt and Trials Guru’s John Moffat taken in Glasgow, during a break from filming ‘Fast 6’ in Glasgow, September 2012. Photo: Trials Guru copyright, all rights reserved.

Both Debbie and Lane felt honoured to be asked to write a few lines each for the one-hundred years celebration book on the SSDT that the Edinburgh Club produced in 2011. Only problem was they didn’t get a copy, as the limited edition book was quickly sold out! However, after a plea, Kinlochleven trials enthusiasts David & Lorna Dougan who had a pristine copy, came to the rescue and gifted their copy to Lane and Debbie. The photo of Debbie in the book was taken by Eric Kitchen on Grey Mare’s Ridge, only half a mile from the Dougan’s home.

Finally…

Oh yes and finally, the ‘cool stuff’ she gave me as a memento of our Glasgow meeting? A commemorative tee-shirt and poster from the ‘On Any Sunday Re-union’, all signed by some of the all-time greats of USA bike-sport – now that’s what I call neat!

© – Copyright Information:

© – Words: Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2015.

© – Photographic Copyrights & acknowledgements:

– Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland.

– Eric Kitchen, Cumbria, England.

– Lane Leavitt, California, USA.

– Michael Vendrel, USA.

– Iain C. Clark, Fort William, Scotland.

– Derek Jones, Sutton, Surrey, England.

– Jimmy Young, Armadale, Scotland.

With special thanks to John Hulme and Trial Magazine, England as part of this article appeared in Issue 41, 2013.