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|8th January 2010|
Reg Everett was a 1960s road racer who found himself up against the likes of Mike Hailwood and Derek Minter on works machines, when he was riding a home-built Greeves-powered special. Colin Sparrow recommends Everett's autobiography...
1960s road racer Reg Everett has teamed up with respected motorcycle writer Mick Walker to bring us his racing autobiography; 'From Rocker to Racer'. I first met Reg in the early 1990s. It was in the paddock at a CRMC meeting at Mallory Park where I was racing a Greeves Silverstone. Of course as soon as he introduced himself I recognised the name; the man whose home-built special gave Bert Greeves the idea to produce his successful little production racer. Reg is a friendly and articulate individual, and the Greeves connection has kept us in touch ever since.
The book, much of which is genuinely Reg's own words, covers his racing career in some detail. All his races are covered, but in an interesting and anecdotal manner which gives a fascinating insight into what it was actually like to compete in motorcycle road racing during the sixties.
A teenager in Essex in the 1950s, it was natural that Reg would adopt motorcycling as a means of getting about and to facilitate his social life. The purchase of a 500cc BSA Gold Star in 1958 and fast road riding with his mates decided him to have a go at racing. The learning curve needed and the difficulties experienced as he taught himself to race are vividly recalled. First impressions of the daunting Paddock Hill at Brands, of bump-starting a 500 (uphill) off a Snetterton grid and of his first top ten placing (at Silverstone) will resonate with anyone who has ever ventured down the road racing path.
The same accessible style continues into the account, as modest success on the Goldie brought a couple of dealer sponsored rides on a Greeves roadster twin in production races. It was these outings which set Reg thinking about a competitive replacement for the BSA. He'd experienced how well the light Greeves handled; why not try fitting a more powerful engine?
With help and advice from Bob Mills in the Greeves competition department, Reg was able to buy a roadster frame and a scrambler engine. The resultant special won first time out, and was raced with success throughout 1962. At Brands Hatch in June '62 he found himself on the grid with Derek Minter on a works Honda four - as Reg puts it: 'Imagine going to Brands now and finding Rossi on his Moto GP Yamaha and you on something you had built in your front room from parts!' And he finished seventh…
The success of the Reg Everett Special led to Greeves developing the Silverstone racer. Reg raced an example, privately entered by Brian Wooley, through 1963 with some good results, and took eighth place in the lightweight TT in 1964 - his final Greeves ride.
By this time it was clear that the new TD1A Yamaha twin was making the various British two-fifty singles obsolescent, so Reg was glad to be able to arrange to ride one for Ilford dealer Ted Broad. This led to successes (and trials and tribulations) throughout 1964 and '65, culminating in a memorable one-off ride on a works disc-valve 250 RD 56 Yamaha alongside Bill Ivy.
In 1966, on Ted Broad's TD1B Yamaha, Reg was at the top of his game in British short-circuit racing, with twenty-three podium finishes, including eleven wins, against the very best opposition. In 1967, handicapped by the accelerating cost of staying competitive, the results did not come so readily; inevitably after seven years of racing the decision had to be made to retire.
A successful career as a top marketing manager for an American compressor manufacturer followed. In later years Reg was able to buy and restore his Greeves Special (it can now be seen in the National Motorcycle Museum), and also his original ex-Ted Broad TD1A Yamaha. Retirement and a period of convalescence from serious illness gave him the time to set about writing his racing autobiography.
One of the outstanding features of 'Rocker to Racer' is the painstakingly researched record of Reg's racing. I'm glad to say I was able to help him with that. I have access to Blue 'Uns and Green 'Uns covering the sixties, so Reg and I spent a cheerful couple of days tracking down the contemporary reports of his races.
Each report triggered some memory or tale from Reg; many of these reminiscences have found their way into the book. This is far more than a dry list of race results. The reader genuinely gets a flavour of what it was like out there on the British short circuits of the 1960s, dicing with the likes of Hailwood and Minter.
Reviewed by Colin Sparrow
'From Rocker to Racer' by Reg Everett with Mick Walker is published by The Breedon Book Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-85983-679-8. Normal RRP £19.99 but available from Amazon at a discount. Buy from Amazon using this link, and help support RealClassic.co.uk
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