Words and photos by Dave Barry
Motorcycle racing returns to the Oliver’s Mount circuit in Scarborough this year.
A newly-formed body run by bike-race veterans Eddie Roberts and Mick Grant has picked up the gauntlet dropped by the ailing Auto 66 Club.
Auto 66 screeched to a sudden halt last year when it was forced to cancel races after a run-in with the Auto Cycle Union (ACU) over safety measures. During the last race at Oliver’s Mount, in September 2017, three spectators were seriously injured and 10 others hurt when a bike ploughed into the crowd.
Last year, the club scheduled at least three races which were cancelled, leaving countless fans and participants out of pocket.
The club, which has now folded, said it had spent £550,000 on upgrading the circuit and that it had never received support, financial or otherwise, from Scarborough Council - which is giving its “full backing” to the new kids on the block.
The ACU, the governing body of motorcycle sport in Britain, has also given its blessing to the two meetings confirmed for the challenging and undulating 2.4-mile mini-TT. The Barry Sheene Classic, on 27 and 28 July, will be followed by the Gold Cup from 27-29 September.
The council is giving a lease to GrantRoberts Ltd to operate at Oliver’s Mount as Two Four Three Road Racing Association. Eddie Roberts is a former Grand Prix and Isle of Man TT racer and supplier of Pirelli tyres to the British superbike grid. Mick Grant is a seven times Isle of Man TT winner and multiple winner at Oliver’s Mount.
Roberts said: “Behind the scenes, there have been months and months of planning to get us to this stage. We are working side by side with the ACU and work is already under way to improve the safety of the track for both riders and spectators”.
Grant added: “I watched my first road race at Oliver’s Mount in short pants back in the early ‘50s and it ignited my passion for it. We couldn’t let this historic track crumble into the history books. We need road racing in England. It’s one of the finest tracks in the world and is unique. I can’t wait to hear and witness classic and modern bikes race around this demanding track once again”.
Oliver’s Mount hosted its first motorcycle race in 1946. The narrow and twisty circuit, with its hairpin corners and short straights, has challenged the nerves of a multitude of racing stars throughout the decades, including John Surtees, Giacomo Agostini, Barry Sheene and Carl Fogarty. Huge crowds have boosted the local economy. The biggest crowd is thought to have been 58,000.