Ask Dennis Teasdale

I am delighted to ask Dennis some questions, relating to his outstanding career, during “The Golden Age” of Grasstrack.

1:  Dennis, you come from that ‘hotbed’ of Sidecar Grasstrack Riders, East Yorkshire, which has produced so many good riders over the years. How did you first get into the sport and when?

A: I met Tony MacLean at work back in 1967 he said he had just built his brother Niel a grasstrack outfit and needed a passenger, I had never heard of grasstrack racing but said I’d have a go.

We had a few good races but were usually midfield placing’s behind Mick Webster, Dave Hunter etc At the end of the season Niel got married and I bought the outfit and it all started from there.

The first day after buying it there was a lot of snow on the ground, I tried it up the farm track, as driver this time, and went straight through a barbed wire fence, but it didn’t put me off and I never stopped crashing from that day on, ha ha ….

2: You first came to fame in the early 1970’s with John Arkle in the chair. How did you two meet up and get on?

A: John was one of my drinking mates and he was the only one daft or brave enough to have a go when I first bought it.

We both started together and learned a lot together, we were a very good team that just jelled.

3: The first podium that you got in the British Grass Track Drivers Championship was in 1972, when you finished third behind Cecil Taylor and Geoff Rawlings. The final round was the first National Final to be held on your ‘ home track’ at Burton Constable; on September 17th what do you recall about that day?

A: We had a very good start to the day, I think we went into the last race with the highest point score but got a bad position on the gate and when the tapes went the front wheel reared up above my head and I shut it off and stalled the engine but Cecil Taylor was one of the better drivers at the meeting and deserved the win.

4: You went one better,  seven years later when in 1979, you got a second, with Keith Chapman now in the chair, beaten by Dave Heath over the multi round series. Several riders did not like a multi-round championship; others believed that it was a fairer way to decide the outcome. Which camp were you in, and why?

A: For the riders the three rounds were best with a variety of different tracks and conditions, for the economics and the spectators the one day final is the best. So when riding I was in favour of the 3 rounds but now as a spectator the one day is best for me.

5: Your year was undoubtedly 1981, when you won the title under the then new, (Second year) of the three Finals System at Coxwold in July, Clyst St Mary in August, and the final at Uckington in the September, beating Steve Smith and Ted Tucker. How hard was it to maintain a winning streak throughout three months of the season?

A: It was no different to normal racing, I always used to go out to win and enjoy myself.

6: Your racing number was ’69’, why did you choose that number, is it lucky, or was there another reason that you chose it?

A: I used to crash a lot and it was the same upside down, (!) no other reason, honest.

7: In 1975 you maintained the East Yorkshire Teams’ winning ways at the ‘Inter Centre Meeting’ with yourself/Ted Scott & Ken Smith, scoring 21 pts. from the Midlands on 23pts and Wessex on 32. This added to the triple Centre wins 65/66/67 and subsequent wins in 76/83/84/09, makes eight in total. What do you put it down to that creates such good ‘Team Spirit’ in the East Yorkshire lads?

A: I guess it could be that guys in this area do not like being second.

8: At this time in your career, you were on the awesome 1000cc Comet Vincent. What was the ‘Comet influence’, and was the brute difficult to ride?

A: I was very lucky to get Gordon May to build the one and only Comet sidecar, it was a beautifully built outfit that handled really well, the trouble was the Weslake engined outfits were all starting to go faster so we had to change.

9: There have been some truly great crews for Yorkshire, Mick Webster & John Justice/Dave Hunter & Ivan Kitching/Dave Lofthouse & Eddie Crawford/ and Nigel Mead to name just a few. Who did you try and emulate in your style of riding?

A: I did not try and emulate anyone as I didn’t know anything about grasstrack before I started racing, it was all totally new to me, out of the names you gave me, I respected Mick Webster the most as he was very relaxed and laid back and very FAST.

10:  It was around your time that left hand chicanes were being dropped. Were you a fan of them or not?

A: I loved them, it was sad to see them disappear.

I used to go into the left hander and hit the throttle; the outfit just went round as if on ‘tram lines’, as long as the passenger was in the right place.

11: You used to come down to the East Midland Centre to ride at some of the Club meetings. There was a good crop of local riders from the Centre, Mick Humberstone & Hayden Gavey/Colin Banks & Wally Brammer/Ted Tucker & Dave Ward and Paddy Lynch, who could be relied upon to give you a good run for your money, but which one did you most fear, and which club did you enjoy riding for most?

A: I used to enjoy my trips to the East Midlands so much as there was so much depth in the opposition, I think Paddy Lynch was the hardest rider but I also had some very good dices with John Whittaker and Wally Brammer, in fact we all went to Dick Cravens museum last September and all had a ride on Johns old outfit from 40 years ago which was bought and stored by Dick. It was great fun and brought back lots of good memories to us all. I think Navenby was my favourite club with Bill Barrand in charge, he was always smiling.

12: I believe it was down to you that four times British Masters Champion Rob Bradley got into the sport. Tell us how that came about.

A: When Rob left school he came to work for me for six months work experience at my motorbike shop. It was the year I won the British title, on one occasion we needed a field to try out some modifications on the outfit and Rob found us a field near his village, so we all went up there and he had a go in the chair and he has loved it ever since.

13: Who was the best passenger that you ever rode with, and what did they bring to the art of being a good passenger, that others didn’t?

A: All my passengers were good but John Atkinson stands out in my memory as being 110% reliable of being in the right place, at the right time.

14: Do you follow Grasstrack racing any more, or are you the type who only wants to ‘race’ and not be a spectator?

A: Not as much as I should or would like to. My son was riding motocross in a fairly big way so that has taken most of my time and attention for the last 20 years or so.

15: Do you think that the record of six British Sidecar Championships, (Four won consecutively 1954 – 57) by the late Bill Evans & Roy Jones, will ever be matched by crews riding nowadays?

A: I don’t think so Steve Smith was getting close but if Rob keeps going, you never know!!!!

Thank you Dennis for sparing us the time to answer some questions, for your many fans, who still remember your ‘All Action’ riding style, it certainly brought back happy memories, for me.

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