Racing the Velocettes on Seaton beach
Seaton's golden sands are a great place to be on a sunny day '“ but they had a very different appeal to a certain group of sportsmen almost 40 years ago.
The 1980s were the days when sand racing was all the rage in Hartlepoool and we asked for your memories of the sport.
It struck a particular chord with town man Alan Wilderspin because his dad was one of the best exponents of sand racing even further back in time.
His father Sammy Wilderspin was pretty good at it too. He even held records. Alan took up the story and explained more.
He said Sammy rode Velocette motor bikes and he also built his own.
And Alan remembers the day when his dad once asked him if he fancied making a bike part himself, handing over a block of steel and leaving Alan to do his thing.
“I don’t know how many days it took to do it, but I did it,” said Alan.
Sand racing was a big attraction in times gone by but it did come with some restrictions. It was held on a course which would be marked out by a series of wooden posts and ropes, and that meant volunteers coming along to give a helping hand.
Alan remembers chipping in with the course-creating from time to time – and also recalled another restriction to sand racing.
“You had to get it all done before the tides came in,” he remembered.
Sammy Wilderspin remained on the racing scene for a long time. Alan recalled: “He was either the oldest or the second oldest person in the world to be racing motor cycles at the time. He was certainly racing into his 80s. He did all sorts except speedway.”
Racing was a big sport and Alan remembered his youth was filled with visits to tracks all over the North.
“There was Newcastle on a Monday, Middlesbrough on a Thursday, Odsal on a Saturday and Manchester on Saturday nights.”
Other venue which became regular visiting spots included Redcar and Druridge Bay.
Visits to Scotland were not unusual and, just like Seaton sand racing, there was another venue – and another type of bike racing – in the Hartlepool area.
“There used to be a grass track for scramble meetings in Elwick,” said Alan.
He contacted the Mail after a Memory Lane story last week.
It talked about the Hartlepool and District Motor Cycle Club’s sand racing competition in 1980 when Kawasakis, Hondas and lots more besides went roaring across the Seaton sands.
Competitors came from as far as Crawley, and categories ranged from the solo 351-500cc section to the sidecars and the unlimited competition.
We would love to hear your recollections on this and all other aspects of nostalgia. Which are the Memory Lane topics you would like us to reflect on?
To get in touch, email [email protected] to tell us more.
Let’s share the memories of sand racing.