Test of skill – and nerve – during two-wheeled competition at Brands Hatch, Kent.
Photograph: MORTONS ARCHIVE
During the August 1963 contest to find RoSPA’s (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) motorcyclist of the year, M Swift balances his 600cc AJS twin on the start-finish straight at Brands Hatch.
Alas, Mr Swift wasn’t among the award winners in what was the fifth running of the event; that honour went to 21-year-old Mike Pitson, who ran out overall top performer. Pitson had been the winner of the 250cc class in the event’s first year, but after a five year hiatus, he came back and this time took overall victory, aboard his 250cc BSA C15.
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The event’s conclusion saw 143 finalists congregated, with 36 preliminary heats having already weeded out a lot of the early contenders. They used a great variety of machines too, with even a number of bright red post office BSA Bantams among their number.
Originally the event had been restricted to the south-east but, for 1963, riders had come from far and wide, though it was the locals who did best. The day panned out thus: a 32-mile observed road run, before the afternoon being devoted to ‘field events.’ It played on riders’ nerves, with a 50-second time limit covering six tests of balance, braking and steering.
But Mike Pitson held his nerve best of all, the next best scorer accruing more than a third more marks.
John Morris, who’d won the year before, had to settle for second in the over-250cc class, while best RAC-ACU Training scheme pupil and best woman rider titles were both won by Sheila Grey, on her 150cc Lambretta.
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