BARRY SYMMONS Organiser
Who is Barry Symmons? I thought a little personal history for some of the young ones here might answer a few questions. I started in Motorcycling as a gofer (Go for this go for that) to a sidecar team in around 1969 “The Boret brothers” started as clubmen progressed through the ranks won the British Sidecar championship and went on to race in World GP’s their best result 2nd at Assen. At the time I was working for the Milk Marketing Board looking after the Milk Race which they sponsored. I started producing stick on numbers which got me known around the paddocks I supplied the Works Kawasaki’s, Texaco Heron Suzuki, Barry’s No 7 was one of mine. I then started doing jobs as a freelance, delivering trucks, bikes etc for amongst others the MV Factory in the UK, Phil Read, and Barry Sheen. I was responsible for all the Transport and crew personnel for the USA teams in the Old Transatlantic trophy series in the days of Kenny Roberts, Gene Romero, and David Aldana, This I did for about 5 years. Finally I became Heron Suzuki’s professional Gofer which encompassed every thing from cooking the meals to being the wheel man, to driving the motor home and looking after Rex White the then team Manager.
When the job of Honda Britain Team Co-ordinator came up Honda tried to poach Rex White he did not wish to change and recommended me. I worked for Gerald Davidson at Honda UK for about 5 years during which we did the endurance world championship and the TT F1 we started the Honda 125 championship in the UK then we he left I was appointed race Team Manager responsible Initially for the Trails Team, MotorX and Road Racing team. Including the TTF 1 world championships my riders included Stan Woods, Charlie Williams, Garry Green, Alex George, Bernard Murray, Roger Burnett, Roger Marshall, Ron Haslam and Wayne Gardner In 1984 we became Rothmans Honda Britain and then in 1986 Rothmans Honda. The Team was lucky enough to win all of the UK Championships on short circuits and the TTF1. Ron, Wayne and I did 1985 World Championships season. We were the only team on Dunlop Tyres in the 500 and both riders beat the works HRC Michelin shod of Randy Mamola. Wayne Gardner was 7th In 1985 World championships. Wayne went to HRC where he of course won the 1987 World 500 cc Championship, whilst we ran Roger Burnet in the 1987 World championships and Joe in The TTF1 his last world championship win under my managership of the team.
At the end of 1987 Rothmans decided to reduce the team and as Honda UK had withdrawn from racing at the end of 1986 I left to take up the position of manager at Snetterton, which is the busiest racing circuit in the world! Amongst other things I was responsible for the Building of the new cafeteria and the remodelling of Russel’s chicane, (Not so popular but much safer)
At the end of 1989 I was head hunted by Philip LaRue the then owner of Norton. I was appointed Race Director and together with Ron Williams and Chris Mehew (Both of whom were with me at Honda UK) we developed the NRS 588cc JPS Norton with the likes of Ron Haslam Robert Dunlop Terry Rymer Steve Spray and Trevor Nation and during the final year 1992 we won the TT with Steve Hislop, The first win by a british machine for 35years. This race was voted no 1 in the 100 best moments of the TT up until the arrival of the NRS 588 no rotary Norton had ever won or even finishes on the podium of a road race. Ron Haslam also gained Norton’s only World championship point when he finished 15th at Donington in 1992. And following his accident at Snetterton we gave the first works rides of their careers to Jim Moodie, Ian Simpson and David Jefferies. In 1993 Norton went bust sadly JPS could not risk continuing and withdrew their backing. Sir john Harvey-Jones’s book on his TV series described the JPS Norton Team as the only bit of Norton worth saving. In 1993 I retired to Northern Ireland and got drunk - well a little bit.
LORNA SYMMONS Secretary of the meeting
I have a long association with bikes, my brother had several and used to take my friends and me to trials, scrambles and races. I used to read the weekly papers and when I saw a photo of Agostini and that he was coming to the Ulster Grand Prix, my fate was sealed! I HAD to be there, and I was – watching in a field in the pouring rain, I think it was 1969, many years before most of you were born! Sadly, Ago never raced at Dundrod again, but I am thrilled that I have met him on many occasions since. I began selling tickets in the UGP race office in the early70’s and eventually took over the admin. In 1978, Barry brought his team over and, always on the scrounge, he was sent to me to get more passes for his mechanics. I was in the Scrutineering bay behind the toilet block, checking licences, insurance etc, so he always says we met “in a bog, behind the bog at the Ulster Grand Prix!” Barry travelled the world with Honda, but eventually we hooked up again and he came to live in Belfast in 1993 “and the rest is history”. My first trip to Cartagena was in 2006 and I look forward to it so much, especially as so many of you return year after year, and we really appreciate your support.