When I first met him in the late 1960s he was working as a motorcycle breaker from a large barn-like building at the bottom of his garden in Brox Road, Ottershaw.
First to catch my eye, surrounded by the remains of dismantled machines, were two Grand Prix (or so I thought) New Imperial racers being prepared for Simon Grigson to ride in the newly formed post-vintage racing class. Pre-war, I understand, Frank Pearce had been quite a useful grasstrack rider and had also raced at Donington and Brooklands in the late 1930s. He was seriously injured in a road accident during the war, when he lost the sight in one eye; he rode again on a Grand Prix Triumph at an early postwar meeting at Blandford Camp. Frank’s New Imperials were actually, as Simon recently informed me, genuine ex-Les Archer works machines and not the so-called ‘Grand Prix’ production racers. While physically very similar, the difference was about 15mph, a decent gearbox and lubrication system and magnesium crankcases.
Frank was a large, stockily built man with a blunt, irascible nature, summed up by the sign on the workshop door: No credit. While certainly a character, he was no Francis Beart when it came to engine preparation and I remember cringing as he crudely clamped an engine in a huge leg vice. Simon Grigson, who provided the photographs and information, is pictured riding the earlier ex-works New Imp at the first 1967 Brooklands Reunion.
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