Ray Kennan, a childhood friend, remembers the origins of a racing career
The birth of a racer
It all began in 1960. Nobby went to Croft with two friends who had a 7R that one of the friends was down to ride. All the preparations made, the rider on the startline, ready to go, when he froze. Nobby was jumping up and down. They were reluctant to let the 17 year old Nobby ride the bike in a race, having never done it before, and perhaps frightened of his Mum and concerned about his exuberance, but they did let him ride round the carparks on it, and a fire was lit within him which would never be extinguished. He was a racer. And that was that.
A love affair with Yamaha
Nobby had always had a very strong interest in motorbikes and as kids, a gang of us all had trial bikes. Nobby decided he was going to have a racing bike and with some money saved through hard work (he worked two jobs – by day in one mill and by night in another, and then they went around looking for scrap metal and wire) His first racing bike was a Greeves. Not satisfied with the performance, Nobby swapped it for an Aermacchi, which seemed to be OK. But whilst leading a race at Croft, Peter Padgett passed him on a new Yamaha. Nobby said, “I thought I’d bloody broken down!” Next day he swapped the Aermacchi for a Yamaha and that’s where his love affair with Yamaha motorbikes began.
He has never sold any of his racing bikes, although when he went to India racing, he did sell the parts off the bike he took with him to one of the Indian competitors. They couldn’t get Yamaha parts in India at that time, and he wanted to help a fellow Yamaha rider. Then he came straight home and replaced them.
To be continued…