Bill Swallow

Words by Jim Reynolds

To use an Americanism, Bill is one of 'winningest' classic racers In the country. He's also part of a motorcycling tribe that goes back 90 years. "Grandpa came back from WWI with the chance to buy a big house in Doncaster for £500 but bought a Brough Superior instead! That was the first bike dad rode." Dad was Ken Swallow, who's first race was on his 1930s Scott, at Cadwell in 1946. Then he raced a 350cc Manx until he bought a Matchless G45 with leading link forks in 1954. All these bikes still exist.

Young Bill followed in dad's wheel tracks with a 500cc Velocette In 1968: "Dad got a special factory motor, one of eight they built after Nell Kelly won the 500 Production TT in 1967. "The bike evolved over the years, Including his own frame, and he won the 1986 Classic Bike Championship.

"In 1988's Manx GP I pushed in to finish and was sitting on the pit wall, when Fred Walmsley approached and asked if I'd like to ride his bike." Fred's Seeley-G50 was one of the best and Bill developed as a major force In the Classic Manx, with nine wins including five Seniors. The battles with Bob Heath are part of Manx racing legend.

► The third generation of Swallow racers emerged with sons David and Chris. David died of carbon monoxide poisoning, asleep in his van at the Bob Mdntyre Memorial Meeting last year. Chris debuted on the Velocette at Carnaby In 1999 winning first time out: "I've never seen anyone ride so well, so soon," says Bill. Invited to New Zealand over winter, Chris was soon winning on Neville Woodson's Gold Star (previously raced by the late Paul Dobbs). When dad returned home, he stayed on Down Under, to ride a Mcintosh Norton. He was unbeatable at the Bert Munro Memorial Week meetings at Teretonga and Wyndham.

► He hasn't hung his leathers up yet and turned out at Cadwell on son David's rebuilt Ducati to take a clear win in the wet. Then he turned out on Roger Moss's legendary Scott - deja vu or what for his own dad? - and won again "Really enjoyed it and I'm going to turn out again next year, racing with the Vintage Club on David's Ducati and Roger's Scott."

► 90 years on, the Swallow motorcycle habit is as strong as ever.

«MH)^ Achieving more

FURTHER ENTRIES NOW INVITED H&H Race Retro Classic Auction, Stoneleigh 26th February 2011

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment