Claim to Fame

What's your claim to fame?

Everyone's got one! One of mine is nearly killing DR Who. Yep, the one and only as far as I'm concerned, Jon Pertwee. Let me explain. Back in the 70's, I raced on a Motorcycle Sidecar (I was the lunatic passenger that hangs on by his fingertips whilst drifting sideways at ridiculous speeds around blind corners at Brands Hatch and many other racing circuits up and down the country) Well, at one particular race meeting I attended in the north of England Jon Pertwee was doing a photo-shoot for the DR Who series, and the scene called for him to start a Motorcycle Race with a big checkered flag. Now anyone who has watched bike racing in the past knows that years ago engine clutches were not up to full throttle standing starts. Most races were push starts, and devil take the hindmost if your engine never fired up first time. (At Brands Hatch in '76 I distinctly remember running over someone, but that's another story) Everyone got their engines warmed up in the parade lap, then we were instructed to wait on the start line with our engines running. Now, you've got to remember that we were racing for points in the British Sidecar Championship, and novelty though this was to have DR Who and a huge BBC camera crew in attendance, we were all taking this race seriously. Most of the bikes on the grid had air-cooled engines, and after several abortive attempts for DR Who to start the race,(I think he was having a bad hair day) the bikes and clutches were getting seriously overheated. Riders and passengers nerves were now getting seriously frayed, and an ultimatum was given to the camera crew that the next time Jon drops the flag, come what may, we go. Unfortunately, no-one told DR Who. Up went the flag, there was an ear splitting roar as 25 high powered racing engines were revved flat out, then just as he went to drop it a gust of wind almost blew it out of his hand. Too late! The 1000cc Laverda outfit in front of us had dumped his clutch big time. A plume of molten rubber showered our fairing as he rocketed off the line. Everyone followed suit, and within seconds we were all doing in excess of 100mph. Then disaster, the Laverda's engine seized solid. In a cloud of smoke, he shuddered to a halt, catapulting the passenger over the front on to the track. Everyone veered off to the left or right to try and avoid the injured rider. We took the left fork, and in the blink of an eye DR Who very nearly joined us for a lap of the circuit. His long coat actually blinded me for a second as it dragged over my head. Boy, was he lucky. Very few people survive an impact at that speed. After a lap of the circuit, as we rejoined the main straight we saw an ambulance dragging off the hapless passenger, and Jon Pertwee having a stiff drink to calm his nerves after his brush with death. He's not so hard!!! I was fully expecting the Daleks to be waiting for me on the next lap.

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