TT Career Summary
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MGP Career Summary
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Alex was born in March 1949 and hails from Glasgow in Scotland but now resides in Norfolk where he runs Red Rocket Recovery with his wife Linda. He came to fame when he won the 1969 Lightweight Manx Grand Prix in a time of 220.127.116.11 and a speed of 90.63. He had a glittering career both at the TT and on the GP circuits when he raced in the World Championships notably in the famous Gold Hermetite colours. He was tenth in the 500 class in 1973 but his best year was in 1975 when he finished in seventh place in the 500cc Grand Prix world championship. He finished on the podium (in third place) at the 1975 500cc Czech GP, the 1975 350cc Dutch TT and the 1977 500cc Austrian GP, and had a number of other top six results in the 500, 350 and 250cc GP classes, in those days riders did more than one race a day, they had to earn their money. He also raced in the F750 World Championship and I certainly remember a great weekend at Zolder in Belgium spent with friends and a bottle of Asbach 5 star brandy when he was battling with the likes of the Australian Jack Findlay.
Alex also won three TT races of which his greatest win must be in 1979 when he beat Mike Hailwood by a mere 3.4 seconds after 6 hard fought laps around the famous Mountain Course. However he showed us all what a week it was going to be by starting out in the Formula 1 race with nothing less than a win and top step of the podium, he obviously developed a taste for the champagne! He is still very modest about beating Mike the Bike in what was a really first class race. His first win came in in the 1975 Production race when he rode the legendary Triumph Slippery Sam to victory with another legend, Dave "Crasher" Croxford, a hard race and a total of 10 laps distance, the race started with a Le Mans type start for the 3 classes, each group going in a separate start but Alex once told me that the bottom of Bray Hill was no place for the faint hearted with it being like a short circuit start and more than 30 bikes after the same bit of tarmac. He had his lows as well, I remember well the time when he crashed at the Ginger Hall pub, I think in 1977 when he rode for Honda receiving serious injuries. He was also part of Honda's black protest at 1981 TT when Honda protested against Suzuki. His career effectively came to an end with another crash in the 1982 TT, although he did return to take part in the 1992 Senior Classic Manx Grand Prix where he finished in a creditable 11th place on a 500 Manx Norton.
In 2009 he featured on the special 50th Honda anniversary stamp issue in the Isle of Man when he appeared on the stamp representing the 70s.
But every story has a beginning and for Alex it began by building a 200cc Tiger Cub in the workshop at his dad's motorcycle shop in Glasgow. A lot of hours were spent working after school to help raise money for his efforts on the race track and he made that first appearance shortly after his 14th birthday in March or April 1963 at Gask, near Perth, he can't remember the exact date but does remember that he was under age at the time. But no records were set that day nor were any signs shown of the true potential that was going to surface in the future, Alex finished last out of 40 starters! More hours were spent working to raise the princely sum of £4 17/6d old money for a high compression piston to get a bit more speed out of that bike. He started on a real shoestring, wearing a two piece PVC riding suit and of course a pudding basin crash helmet. As he put it when I asked if he had any photos of that day.........."Photos, hey man I could only just afford a gallon of 101 to use in the bike, no cameras, no food, no style, a bike made from bits........but the will to win was ignited that day!!!" And no doubt that steely eyed look that we have all come to know was there as well waiting to put fear into his opponents if not at that first meeting then shortly after. If ever a rider has shown determination it has to be this guy.
Alex set up Red Rocket Racing at Snetterton race Circuit when he finished riding at the top level and many of us who were racing soon found someone who would willingly pass on valuable advice learnt from his own time in the sport, not just someone who took your money and left you to it. Mind you at one very wet meeting at West Raynham he stopped me as I was heading out for the grid and taped up the inside on my visor to prevent steaming up.......as I was leaving after the meeting he called out to tell me I had to pay for a roll of gaffa tape as it was now secondhand, but I only paid a secondhand price for it because it had already been used!! Ever the Scot looking after the pennies!!!
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