Jump to content


Photo

Alan Aspel, Editor of 'Motor Cyclist Illustrated'


  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 robinrimbaud

robinrimbaud
  • New Member

  • 6 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 08 April 2010 - 17:26

Hello

I hope this is not too much of intrusion.

My late father, Alan Aspel, was the editor of Motor Cyclist Illustrated and Two Wheeler Dealer amongst other publications and a very keen motorcyclist. Sadly he died during a crash at the Guild of Motoring Writers'/Institute of Motor Cycling Test Day in May 1979. I am currently trying to track down photographs of him as well as any anecdotes, press, anything relating to his life and work. I've been in touch with a couple of people who once worked with him but though you would be the best community to help support me in my private exploration of a well-liked and loved man who sadly I never got to know as a young adult.

I welcome any responses and comments and hope that his love of bikes and everything that entailed has continued to resonate with him wherever he slipped off to :-)

Thanks so much


Robin :)

r.rimbaud@btinternet.com

Advertisement

#2 john winfield

john winfield
  • Member

  • 1,027 posts
  • Joined: July 02

Posted 08 April 2010 - 17:36


Hello Robin; welcome to TNF. Good luck with your search and I wonder whether you might have most success on the motorcycling sub-forum. Twinny our moderator might move this there or you could copy and paste on a new post of your own. 'Motorcycle Racing Nostalgia' is sitting at the top of the TNF page.


#3 robinrimbaud

robinrimbaud
  • New Member

  • 6 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 08 April 2010 - 17:42

Thanks John

I wasn't quite sure where to publish this so will pop it over there too. Thanks for that suggestion.

Keep your fingers crossed for me :-)

Best wishes


Robin

#4 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,609 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 08 April 2010 - 17:45

I wasn't quite sure where to publish this so will pop it over there too.

No need - I'm moving it!

 ;)

#5 BobGoddard

BobGoddard
  • New Member

  • 3 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 08 April 2010 - 21:46

Hi Robin,

I knew your father. Not very well, but I was features editor on Motorcycle Mechanics at the same time he was editor of MC Illustrated and we chatted at various press gigs we attended together.

I remember him as a thoughtful and considerate man, highly professional in his approach to motorcycle journalism.

Motorcycle Mechanics used the test track at Chobham for quite some time before your father's accident. I always considered it a very dangerous place to test motorcycles, as there was little or no run-off on the corners. The track was set in a small area of woodland and trees lined most of the track.

In addition, it was an MOD test facility and we shared the track with tanks! Light and medium tanks with rubber tracks were clattering round as we tried to get a decent run to measure speeds etc. It was crazy.

I wasn't present on the test day. When I heard the news that Alan had been killed I was angry. Angry at the loss of such a nice bloke. Angry at the track and at the decision to hold a test day there. And angry at myself for not speaking up about the dangers that were obvious to me every time I visited the place.

I don't know if I've got anything featuring your father from that time. I will have a look in my collection of yellowing magazines in the garage to see if I can find something of use to you.

Good luck with your quest.
Bob Goddard

#6 fil2.8

fil2.8
  • Member

  • 19,368 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 08 April 2010 - 21:49

Nicely said , Bob :up:

#7 Marticelli

Marticelli
  • Member

  • 281 posts
  • Joined: January 10

Posted 08 April 2010 - 22:35

I can confirm the dangers of the Chobham test track, as it was and still is lined with trees, as can be seen from the aerial view on Google maps. Take a look at http://maps.google.c...r...mp;t=h&z=15 The test track is clearly visible The group of buildings north west of the track on the other side of the M3 which runs just north of the test track is the Military Vehicle Experimental Establishment, MVEE, and the test track was usually called Longcross. I went there to test tanks and other military vehicles which was what it was built for, not fast road vehicles, so using for the latter was indeed dangerous.

I was also a fan of Alan's writings in MCI, and was saddened to learn of his death, one of several similar incidents around that time.

Martin Shelley


#8 robinrimbaud

robinrimbaud
  • New Member

  • 6 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 08 April 2010 - 23:24

Thanks Bob

Touching words and if you find the time to search through any yellowing old magazines that would be dearly welcomed. I've so enjoyed reading articles he wrote in a few old copies of Motor Cycle Illustrated that I picked up on eBay too. I clearly have no idea of the dates he worked for the magazines either so that's another challenge :-)

I'm really moved by these memories though. Safety was and should remain a priority of course for everyone in these situations too.

Best wishes


Robin

#9 P. Dron

P. Dron
  • Member

  • 99 posts
  • Joined: June 08

Posted 09 April 2010 - 10:02

Hello Robin,

I met your father only once or twice, but I knew your uncle quite well - not your Very Famous Uncle, but the one who worked for IPC's motorbike paper (Motorcycling Weekly?) in the late 1970s and 1980s. Geoff, I think. From what I heard, your father was a skilled and experienced rider. I have always regarded Chobham/Longcross as a very dangerous place for cars and I can remember, after your father's tragic accident, thinking that it was a most unsuitable venue for a bike test day.

And as for the tanks...


http://www.telegraph...-Longcross.html

Incidentally, the track is still operating, and I should think still just as dangerous.

Edited by P. Dron, 09 April 2010 - 10:03.


#10 robinrimbaud

robinrimbaud
  • New Member

  • 6 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 09 April 2010 - 11:09

Thank P.

Curiously I spoke with Geoff at the weekend, my father's younger brother and we'd not spoken since the funeral. He was also a keen motorcyclist and wrote a fair bit too so he shared some amazing stories over the phone already.

I SO appreciate any responses here from you guys, it's wonderful to colour in what feels like a black and white painting!

Best wishes


Robin

#11 GD66

GD66
  • Member

  • 2,170 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 09 April 2010 - 13:12

Cheers, Robin. As a youngster, of course I never met your dad. But as a keen MCI reader, naturally I followed his writings with interest. In those days, I thought MCI to be the pick of the British mags available. Growing up in New Zealand, we received all the UK mags THREE months after publication, due to sea mail, yet we awaited them keenly. When Alan took over as editor, he laid it on the line, and openly admitted he wasn't a racer, wasn't a speed demon, and wasn't an expert in all things mechanical, whereas many Birmingham-based journos of the day suggested they were all three. If anything, when Alan took the job on, he seemed to be to be a bit naive, and lacking in "street smarts". But part of his allure was in writing his columns and reports, we joined him in his indoctrination and intoxication with the world of the motorcycle press, even as the British industry was on a downward spiral. With each new test adventure, Alan's initially-amazed stance became slightly tempered, and after a time he was at ease with his surroundings, and his place in the world of the motorcycle journo. Yes, he may not have been a racer, but he couldn't disguise his unbridled love for motorcycling, and this shone through in each and every article he penned .
I recall even now being shocked at his loss, and in all honesty, every time I see brother Michael on tv, even all these years later, I find myself saying, "good old Alan." I think that legacy speaks for itself.
Regards, GD

#12 robinrimbaud

robinrimbaud
  • New Member

  • 6 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 12 April 2010 - 07:18

GD, thanks for that very personal response and I was really moved by your closing line too.

I'm still trying to fill out the picture of what years exactly my father edited the magazines MCI for example and any other mags or journals so if you or anyone has any advice that would be warmly welcome.

Once again, you've all been amazing, thank you so much.

Best wishes


Robin

#13 BRS

BRS
  • New Member

  • 15 posts
  • Joined: May 10

Posted 02 June 2010 - 09:24

GD, thanks for that very personal response and I was really moved by your closing line too.

I'm still trying to fill out the picture of what years exactly my father edited the magazines MCI for example and any other mags or journals so if you or anyone has any advice that would be warmly welcome.

Once again, you've all been amazing, thank you so much.

Best wishes


Robin


Hi Robin

I too new both Alan and Geoff the latter lived near me outside Dorking. I would like to echo the sentiments listed here Alan was also very interested in the and if I remember correctly had been appointed Honda UK Press officer, as such he used to visit the race team which then was based in the old Rambler building on the Chiswick roundabout at the start of the North circular Road, needless to say we were all very shocked when we heard the tragic news

#14 BRS

BRS
  • New Member

  • 15 posts
  • Joined: May 10

Posted 02 June 2010 - 09:36

GD, thanks for that very personal response and I was really moved by your closing line too.

I'm still trying to fill out the picture of what years exactly my father edited the magazines MCI for example and any other mags or journals so if you or anyone has any advice that would be warmly welcome.

Once again, you've all been amazing, thank you so much.

Best wishes


Robin


Hi Robin

I too new both Alan and Geoff the latter lived near me outside Dorking. I would like to echo the sentiments listed here Alan was also very interested in the Honda Britain Racing Team and if I remember correctly had been appointed Honda UK Press officer, as such he used to visit the race team which then was based in the old Rambler building on the Chiswick roundabout at the start of the North circular Road, needless to say we were all very shocked when we heard the tragic news

Edited by BRS, 02 June 2010 - 09:37.


#15 fil2.8

fil2.8
  • Member

  • 19,368 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 14 June 2010 - 18:56

Robin , I came across this the other day , and after much thought decided you would like to see it , taken from MotorCycle Weekly










Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us
































#16 rotrax

rotrax
  • Member

  • 176 posts
  • Joined: July 10

Posted 25 August 2010 - 18:07

Robin , I came across this the other day , and after much thought decided you would like to see it , taken from MotorCycle Weekly



Hi Robin,I worked for Kawasaki Motors U.K. Ltd. and met Alan several times. All the technical staff had a great respect for the sensible way in which he carried out his testing of motorcycles-not only Kawasaki products. Some testers-who shall remain nameless- only worshiped at the temple of top speed and their writings were diminished because of this.His loss was deeply felt at Deal Avenue and motorcycle journalism lost a top man.The circuit,as others have said, was a desparate place to get it wrong and in todays health and safety mad world would not be considered for running high speed bikes.






Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us



#17 ligger

ligger
  • New Member

  • 1 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 21 October 2010 - 21:29

I remember Alan well. I worked with him from 1973 to 1975 at BMW Concessionaires. He was a lovely man, very funny but with a dry sardonic wit, good rider and good fun to be with. I kept in touch with him up until his very premature death, is it thirty one years ago - half a lifetime ago. Sebastian Mills

#18 billbomann

billbomann
  • Member

  • 80 posts
  • Joined: November 10

Posted 13 November 2010 - 09:28

Greetings

I rode in MCC long-distance trials at the same time as Alan and his good friend Dave Minton. Dave is still hale and hearty in Herefordshire. I think you could make contact with him through Real Classics; he writes a monthly column in there. This is a subscription-only motorcycle magazine which does what it says on the cover.
Contacts for the magazine are Frank Westworth and Rowena Hoseason, they can be contacted on: RealClassic Magazine <rchq@realclassic.net>