Reso S P E C T I V E

By the time the 30 lap Race of the Year was lining up, the heavens opened, drenching the circuit and turning the spectator banking into a sea of orange mud - not to mention the fun, games and flaring tempers which came later as everyone made a dive for the limited exit gates!

The rain was the answer to Cooper's prayers, for he knew full well that the power of the MV would be negated by the slippery track and the slower revving single would have the traction advantage. So it proved to be, as on the drop of the flag, Cooper hit the front followed by Driver, Read, Ivy and then Hailwood. To be fair, the MV was suffering a misfire, which didn't help matters as it chimed in and out of sync' on the sodden circuit. A lap later, Read had edged his Yamaha to the front but Cooper was glued to his tail. Ivy and Driver filled the places to Hailwood who was struggling with grip and coming under pressure from Degens (Matchless), Stuart Graham (Matchless) and Martin Watson on an old but quick Norton.

The order remained unchanged until the stroke of two thirds distance when Read's Yamaha began to slow and he was powerless to stop Cooper's 500cc Norton going past. It was an enormously popular win by the local man and one which he would go on to repeat in 1970 on the 350cc Yamsel and in the legendary 1971 event, where he beat Ago's MV with the BSA Rocket Three.

It had been a pretty good month for Cooper, having also scooped £500 at Cadwell just two weeks earlier, plus cleaning up at Scarborough's Oliver's Mount in between times, netted him more or less the equivalent of thrice the yearly wage of the average mechanic. Not bad work if you could get it in 1965.

Unlike many who chose to live the high life, Cooper wisely invested his winnings into a successful garage business in his home town of Derby, from which he retired only a few years ago.

Though he wasn't to know at the time, John Cooper's lucrative day at Mallory Park's prestigious Race of the Year, in September 1965, was the first of three such days he was to have over the next few years.

Cooper, along with all the other regular national men on their various British singles, was given little chance of beating world champion Mike Hailwood, on the fire-breathing MV Agusta, nor come to that, the rapid two-stroke Yamaha of fellow world champion Phil Read. However, best laid plans...

The day's proceedings began with the 500cc heats, the first of which Hailwood won at a canter. The second heat saw a fantastic dice between Cooper (Norton) and Bill Ivy (Kirby Matchless), who swapped places at practically each and every corner. The photograph here shows Coops about to sweep around Ivy on the entrance to the Devil's Elbow. Ivy narrowly took the heat win and the pattern was repeated in the final as Hailwood was never headed. He set fastest lap at 90mph leaving Ivy and Cooper to slug it out for second spot. For a brief spell Derek Minter threatened to spoil their party but just as he began to make a nuisance of himself, he crashed his Norton on the fast, sweeping, Gerard's Bend, damaging a hand and putting himself out of the rest of the meeting.

Ivy held off Cooper to take runner-up place, with Paddy Driver (Matchless), Ron Chandler (Matchless) and Peter Williams (Dunstall Norton) filling the places behind. It looked a dead cert that Hailwood would go home with the very useful 1000 guinea (£1050), not that it worried the 40,000 plus crowd, they were more than happy to simply see the top men on the top machines in action on British short circuits.

Out on an alleged 251cc Yamaha, the 350cc final looked to be going Phil Read's way but after leading for eight laps, he had to pit the two-stroke to change plugs and lost a full lap. He restarted last but carved his way through to eventually finish seventh, setting an 80.73mph fastest lap in the process. Dave Degens (AJS) took the win from the like mounted Williams, with Cooper (Norton) third.

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