TCM’s January and February 2010 issues carried a two-part feature detailing the achievements and successes of Peter Valentine Harris, the son of 1920s TT racer Curley, a garage proprietor based in Wombourne, west of Birmingham.
Starting racing on a ‘bitsa’ (nominally Grindlay-Peerless) outfit, he soon swapped to a Manx Norton, and made his GP debut, at the 1950 Belgian race at Spa. He was to do various races on the continent, but concentrated on the home races, really, mainly due to cost. In an interesting episode, he campaigned the famous Vincent ‘Gunga Din’ though went back to Nortons, a Matchless G45, Norton again, then swapped to BMW for the remainder of his career, which lasted into the early 1970s.
Never quite a TT winner (his best result was a brace of seconds, in 1956 and 1960, while he also recorded two thirds) he was the winner of the 1960 Dutch TT and three times the British ACU Star champion. After racing, Harris concentrated on the family business, which incorporated a Mazda dealership, before selling up in 1987. He also built a 35ft concrete-hulled yacht, after his racing days were done.
Pip Harris is survived by his wife Ann, five children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. Pip’s daughter Caroline Skelton said: “Dad was appearing in print somewhere right up until his death and secretly quite liked his ‘legendary’ status.”