Hello my name is Michael Wilkinson.
I raced from 1970 to 1976, circuits included Brands Hatch, Crystal Palace, Lydden, Snetterton, Cadwell Park, Mallory Park, the old RAF airfield circuit's Keevil, Gaydon and Wroughton.
I started racing on a Norton framed Triumph engine with a Westlake 8 valve conversion which also doubled as my road bike.
I came second to last in my first race at Snetterton and only beat the guy behind me because he had a misfire, I couldn't believe how fast the riders are going on bikes that I felt were quite inferior to mine. It took me a while to realise that it's not the bike it's the rider :-)
Next up was Crystal Palace, I had entered every race I was eligible for and found myself on the grid alongside Peter Williams on the works Norton,Ray Pickerel and on the work's Triumph 3s to name just two of the national and international competitors,all people I had read about and admired.
Ray Pickerel was lapping me as we came round the bend onto the start finish straight and as he came up alongside I thought let's see how fast this works Triumph really goes and I gave mine full throttle and he simply disappeared, in front. Fantastic fun.
Although I loved the racing the highlight of my racing life was being asked to my fellow RAF motorcycle racer Paddy Reid to mechanic for him at the 1973 Senior Manx Grand Prix which he won.
The next year, in 74, I was mechanic for John Goodall also a colleague from the Royal Air Force when his regular guy Jack Hobbs could make it. John finished third in the 500 class but unlike my stint with Paddy where I was involved in all aspects of maintenance from fitting pistons to rebuilding the spoke wheels, John would do all his own meticulous work on his bike and I just handed him the spanners.
Apart from having the cylinder head gas flowed I did all my own work on my bike and enjoyed the modifications and testing different combinations like fitting a Norton crank to take it to 750 and another time a Greenwood crank and shorter barrels to make it a 500, swapping the Manx front brake for a pair of Dunstall discs and fitting it into a Matchless G50 frame (Big mistake) et cetera,all part of clubmans and national racing
Best days of my life.
My favourite circuit was Mallory Park, least favourite was Lydden.
Lots of wonderful memories from the time, the camaraderie in the paddock was fabulous. I once turned up at Brands Hatch having forgotten my riding kit and within minutes of the tannoy message going out in the paddock I had people approaching me to lend me everything, helmet leathers gloves and boots so was able to complete the races even though the boots were two sizes too big.
I was once black flagged off at brands when my seat fell off as I bump started the bike, at the time I wasn't concerned as the subframe was quite adequate for sitting on but clearly the marshals didn't agree with me.
Mum and Dad came to watch at Brands once and I got a great start and led for the first lap but ended up 3rd.
Afterwards my Dad asked why Id let the other two overtake me,I could only say "they were better riders Dad".
It was Dad who got me into motorcycling,the best thing he ever did for me.