Ask John ‘Wellies Justice

John, as one of the most iconic and respected Passengers of all time, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us fans.

1: You first came to notice on the National scene, when you rode with Nigel Mead in the 1963 Nationals at Rhodes Minnis. For years there was speculation and press reports that Dave Reynolds was his passenger that day. Can you confirm that it was you, and who was passenger for Mick Webster that day, Dave Hunter?

A: Yes, it was me in the chair that day, and Dave Hunter was with Mick Webster. (ACU please note and amend records)

2: At the 1964 Sleaford Nationals the E. Yorks team of Webster/Justice, Mead/Reynolds, Lofthouse/Gabittas was awesome. You won your Championship and Centre heats, but did not finish in the Championship Semi. What Happened?

A: We broke down in that race due to the carburettor sticking when we were flat out, so we had to pull out of the semi-final:

3: Did you have to adopt a different passenger style when you rode with Mick after Nigel?  If so what was different?

A: When Nigel and I first started, Nigel sat up on the bike and I got well down the side of it, to ‘drift’ the back end round, which worked very well. Mick had a different style of riding as he hung down the side of the outfit, and I had to sit up behind him. I therefore asked him to sit up around the bends and let me go down the side, and then using my weight, I could slide the outfit round the bends, and the rest as they say is history

4: The 1965 National at Bocking stands out in my mind as the best S/C Final race that I ever saw, with you and Mick not able to get past Dave & Ivan, however hard you tried. Describe that race to those that weren’t there that day.

A: Mick and I had the faster start at Braintree that day, but Dave & Ivan past us going into the first corner due to him having more grip and power on the day. After that we followed them around and every time we got close they pulled away on the straights, and we caught then up going into the bends, however we could never get close enough to pass him.

5: 1966 was a confusing year, you and Mick came second to Dave Lofthouse & Eddie Crawford in the ‘new’ British Drivers Multi-Round Championship. From the information that I have been given, both crews scored 46 points the best 6 to count (Mick being injured for 3 rounds mid-season) but Dave won by adding in 3 additional rounds 54-47. You however won the National Finals Round 10, at Spofforth on Sept 4th. How confusing was it for the crews, as most fans did not understand the system?

A: To be honest, it confused me, and we got awarded the ACU Star along with Dave & Eddie, but went on to win the National British Championship at Spofforth.

6: The following year 1967, you won the third of your titles, again with Mick, in the now familiar ‘Multi-Round Championship at Folkestone on Sept 17th. By then did you consider Rhodes Minnis a ‘lucky’ track for you, and how much did you enjoy the ‘undulating’ nature of this track?

A: At that time I considered it to be the best course in the country as it had a good left-hander in it which sorted the passengers out, and made it extremely difficult and challenging for us passengers.

7: At the end of the 1967 season Mick went Road Racing, which he reckoned would be easier than the Grass. What did you do?

A: I caught up with the decorating at home and started a family.

8: I first saw you ride in the E. Midlands where you were a regular visitor. Which track/meeting in the E.M. did you enjoy riding at the most?

A: I used to enjoy the Saturday evening meetings at Clay Lake Spalding. The highlight for me was the after meeting party when I went into Spalding with the lads for a few beers, and then onto a dance.

9: Do you think that the Bill Evans/Roy Jones record of 6 wins (4 of them consecutively) will ever be matched or bettered?

A: No, I don’t think that it will ever be matched.

10: How did your trademark ‘Wellies’ come about?

A:  Most passengers then wore either baseball or boxing boots, which we flat soled. I originally started with them, but found that my foot kept slipping off the foot-peg. A following meeting that we raced in was a very wet one where I wore my wellies and found that I got superior grip and the heel stopped my foot slipping off the peg. At the next meeting I therefore decided to wear my wellies once more, and again found that I got better grip, and therefore carried on wearing them.

11: During your career on the grass, which crews did you consider to be your main rivals, and why?

A:  Without a doubt Dave Hunter and Dave Lofthouse were our biggest competitors, they were also great friends, that added to the rivalry.

12: We have seen you as a spectator at Rhodes Minnis in the past, will you and Mick be at this years Masters on August 1st?

A:  Maybe, I shall have to chat to Mick about it.

13: What’s the story about John Bingham, and the ex-Roy Cayborn outfit?

A:  Roy had a bad accident at Spalding one evening, after which he retired. At that time I was riding with Nigel (Mead) who rang John Bingham to ask if we could ride the outfit for him. John said that we were far to in-experienced to ride the outfit, and gave the ride to Ken Norcutt and Brian Peeling. This made us even more determined to beat him, which we did in the 1963 National Championships at Rhodes Minnis.

14: Which race in your long and distinguished career, do you remember the most?

A:  The win at Folkestone in 1963, as that was my first National Championship title.

15: Have you seen any of to-days crews race, and if so who, has the potential to make it to the top?

A:  I haven’t seen any Grasstrack racing for the last few years.

Thank you John for your answers.

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