Ask Martin ‘Spud’ Tatum

Thank you Spud for agreeing to answer a few questions about your illustrious career:

1:      You first came into the world of Grass Tracking 1950, when you were 24 yrs old, after a season Scrambling. What attracted you to the sport rather than the ‘rough stuff’?

A:  The bikes we used in those days were either Ex W.D. or Pre-War and fell to pieces in Scrambles!

2:      You won four S.E. Centre Championships between 1950 – 1954. Who were your main rivals in those early years?

A:  Hagon from the Eastern Centre, Colver & Hendriksen, from the S.E. Cresswell from the Midlands, and Goodacre & Nourish from the East Midlands.

3:      You rode A.J.S bikes to third place in the 350 & 500 National Finals, on September 5th 1954 at Kirkby Mallory. Both titles went to Alf Hagon (BSA’s) from Syd Mintey  (Burdett Specials) In the 500 final Alf had to move very quickly, to set the lap record at 71mph, which still stands to-day. How did you enjoy those sweeping bends at Kirkby?

A:  The BIG Tracks always suited me and Kirkby was THE Place. What a pity that they put tarmac down.

4:      The first time I saw you ride was on September 4th 1955 at the Nationals at Sywell Aerodrome, when you won your first National Title. What do you recall of that day, and your main rivals Arne Hendriksen, Austin Creswell, Dave Nourish, Denys Goodacre and Syd Mintey?

A:  The only thing that I remember from that meeting is the 500 final. I started in second gear and as the rider inside me changed gear, he disappeared! That was a nice win. 

5:      The following year you rode in the SE Centre Championships at Brands, on a 250 Velocette and a ‘Tatum-Ruddle Special’. Was that your first purpose built bike?

A:  Yes, the’ special’ was purpose built.

6:      You did the ‘double’ at the Nationals on September 8th 1957 at the fabulous Stockenchurch Track.  At the time there were rumours that you top boys were touching the ‘ton’. How true was that?

A:  I don’t think that was so, as the bikes had no Speedo’s or Rev Counters.

7:      You spent allot of your time in the late ‘50s & early ‘60s riding abroad in the Grass Track ‘Circus’. At the time how did those continental venues rate against English tracks?

A:  Most of the continental tracks were better laid out and much smoother. They were made for ‘speed’, which is what racing is all about.

8:      I believe that you rated Hoffmiester, Seidle, and Funden as the best rider that you raced against during this period. What qualities did they bring to the racetrack?

A:  The first thing that they came with was horsepower, and riding technique, as their tracks were laid out for speed, and ours were not.            

9:      Tell us about your experiences of riding at the famous Tetrow Track?

A:  Fabulous, and bloody frightening, WONDERFULL! After a day there, you realised what racing was all about.

10:      In 1958, you were part of the Winning SE Team at the Inter Centre National. How did you enjoy the kidney shaped track at Willoughby Hedge?

A:  You know, I cannot remember, I am sorry but it was a long time ago.

11:      According to my programme collection, you rode at the Spalding Clubs big end of season meetings in 1958/59/60 at North Luffenham. How did you enjoy riding against the local ‘big boys’ from other centres?

A:  All that I remember is that when you met people on their home ground, they all seemed very quick!

12:      I think that you are now as well known as the father of the Multi Award Winning rider Kelvin, (Longtrack Champion of the world 1995/98/2000) as you are a rider of bygone years. What has made you the most proud, his Longtrack Wins or him being awarded the MBE?

A:  I think that both of these achievements are about the same, I was very proud of both. Being involved in the racing side, you know the effort required to win World Championships.

Thank you Spud for spending the time to remind us all of yesteryear.

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