Before you read any further through this column please go and find a road map of Great Britain and open the page on which Scarborough appears (top right of the UK, North Yorks for the geographically challenged!)
Done that? Now what do you notice? Here’s a clue, it’s miles from anywhere, and anywhere else is miles from Scarborough. So what you may ask, and that’s a fair question, so let me explain why.
Last Sunday I went to Olivers Mount for the Cock of the North road races, one of the parkland track’s main events of the year, and several times during the course of the day over the public address system, spectators were urged to sign a petition being touted that pleaded to the Government not to close the local Accident and Emergency unit at Scarborough’s hospital.
I am not one to get into politics, especially local politics, but purely from a motorcycle point of view, who on earth comes up with a decision to close the A and E of the only major hospital for miles?
Inevitably riders crash road racing, inevitably riders take tumbles at trials and scrambles and Low North Park just outside Scarborough is a major venue for off-road events, so not only are the road racers going to be deprived of local A and E facilities, so too are the off-road boys.
Mick Grant, now a cracking good pre 65 trials rider and one time the circuit record holder at Olivers Mount, made his personal plea over the PA, to the powers that be not to close the local A and E. Apparently, being a holiday resort, more holiday makers visit the A and E than do locals through the course of a year. And if the closure takes place, those who need the service will have to travel to York, Hull or Newcastle for a similar facility.
Now look on your map and see how far away those cities are from Scarborough. I don’t suppose for one minute that this little piece on an obscure specialist website will make the slightest difference, but I felt that you needed to know. Personally, I was horrified.
Honestly, you couldn’t make it up, could you?
It was whilst I was at Scarborough that I learnt of the helicopter crash that took the life of Colin McRae, the UK’s first World Rally Champion in 1995.
It’s not commonly known that as a youngster Colin was a cracking young trials rider, and like so many top class sportsmen in the world of motorsport, continued to enjoy the world of motorbikes long after he became famous as the best rally driver in the world. He started on a Honda XR75 and won several Scottish Schoolperson Championships, including the Intermediate class on a 200 Montesa before the car scene took over once he was old enough to drive.
However, his love of bikes continued and I believe that he privately tested Suzuki superbikes at Knockhill, putting in lap times that were incredibly fast for a rider with little experience of bike racing. He also rode enduros and one of his great friends, Robbie Head, almost persuaded Colin to ride the Manx Two Day trial a few years ago – he got as far as entering but other commitments prevented him from fulfilling the ride.
The only time I saw him drive was in an RAC Rally in the mid nineties during which one of the service halts was at Killington on the southbound M6. Before continuing into the night, Colin performed several very rapid, very smokey doughnuts in the service area car park, much to the delight of the fans who were following his progress.
A star has been lost. He was “one of us” and our thoughts should be with his family and friends.
It seems as if we are losing a number of events due to concerns over Foot and Mouth. The Travers, Hipwell and OK Supreme trials have all been cancelled and I’m not one to question those decisions. However, at the time of writing, the concerns over a possible outbreak in the Solihull area have not been confirmed and the surveillance area has been lifted, which leaves the zone in Surrey as the one small area in which there is a problem.
Containment seems to have been achieved, so hopefully no further events will be cancelled, particularly as we are entering a time of the year with many big trials coming up.
I shall be at the Trial des Nations next weekend, so at the moment I don’t quite know when the next column will be, so if it doesn’t appear as usual on Sunday night, it won’t be far away.