The passing of Alec Wright following a heart attack just after the start of the New Year will have come as a shock to many people, for even though he was in his late seventies, he was the type of guy one expects to go on forever, especially as he had overcome a serious illness a good many years ago.
Whilst the modern trials world may know little about Alec Wright, it was as a first class sidecar trials rider that I first met Alec in the early 'sixties when he rode a Greeves sidecar outfit with John Gazeley as his passenger.
Until a few years ago I had a small black and white picture in my drawer of the pair in action which I took in either 1961 or perhaps ’62 at the Clayton Trophy Trial, organised by the Wood Green Club in the Brecon Beacons – and of course now that I want it, I can’t find it.
But it was as the Team Manager for the Team Green Kawasaki squad that Alec became best known, a post that he held for much of his life. In fact some have said that he had green blood running through his veins, so devoted was he to the Kawasaki marque.
Even though I had taken his picture all those years ago, it wasn’t until 1984 that I first got to know Alec in person. I was at a Kawasaki motocross test day in early March at Hawkstone Park and in addition to the motocross bikes that were there to be ridden, there was also an air-cooled KDX 200 enduro bike which I thrashed around the back woods of Hawkstone that day.
Alec knew that I had been riding sidecars for the previous few years and at the end of the day he asked me if I would like to have a go at enduros and there and then, offered me the loan of the bike I had been test riding for the rest of the year.
With a loaned bike and the support of Trials and Motocross News, I broke into the world of enduros and for the next seven years Alec loaned me a brand new KDX at the start of every season. He asked for nothing more than I give it my best and there was always a supply of spare parts whenever I needed them and it was only when the KDX model was dropped did the sponsorship come to an end.
Motocross in those days was as cut throat as I imagine it is now and no matter what anybody else might say about Alec Wright, as far as I am concerned, he was a bloke who was 110% with me and you can’t ask for more. I last saw him about four years ago at a Victory Trial Reunion dinner, and he was as interested in how I was getting on then as he had been all those years ago. His passing is a sad loss, and my personal condolences go to his family.
With trialing back on the agenda this weekend now that the snow up this way has melted, a number of my trials riding pals have made comments to me about Sheffield, and without exception they all considered the new running format to be an absolute disaster. It would be wrong of me to put names to those who made their critical remarks, but it seems as if the race format has gone down like a lead balloon and if Toni Bou had gone out when he was involved in the last chance section, it seems likely many would have left the stadium in disgust.
I watched the first 45 minutes of the transmission on Eurosport on Saturday night and fair play to commentator Jack Burnicle, he did a pretty good job of explaining what was happening. And the TV pictures showed in graphic detail the dismay on Fujigas’s face when he realised that he was out of the running.
But after three quarters of an hour, I had seen enough as there simply wasn’t the atmosphere coming through to make me want to watch it all again. My wife also watched a fair bit of the programme, and whilst she has little enthusiasm for the sport, she does understand what it is all about and she couldn’t see the attraction of the show. She wanted to see more difficult sections and all the riders riding the entire lap one after another with a running score displayed so that she could understand who had been best and what the current rider had to beat.
So what will happen in Marseille this weekend I can’t say, but from my limited communications, change is needed if spectators are to return to Sheffield next year.