Meet the legendary riders who have made history at Oliver’s Mount…
A multiple World Champion and Isle of Man TT winner, Duke was one of the first International stars to embrace the challenge of Oliver’s Mount making his debut in 1950 when he immediately won the Gold Cup event, the first year it was awarded.
The circuit’s popularity soared during this time as more and more Grand Prix stars flocked to the event but Duke remained the man to beat and ended up with five Gold Cup titles to his name, the first coming on a works Norton and then four in succession between 1953 and 1956 on the mighty Italian Gilera.
Barry Sheene made his Scarborough debut in 1970 and immediately rose to the occasion with a record-breaking victory in the 125cc race. He went on to become a household name during the 1970s culminating in two 500cc World Championships in 1976 and 1977 and he remained loyal to Oliver’s Mount throughout this time.
Despite his World Championship commitments and fame, he was an almost ever present at the Gold Cup meeting, winning the feature race four times in 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1984, with the latter being his final race victory before retiring from the sport.
Ian Bell’s career started off in solos towards the end of the 1970s and, after a number of podiums, he took his first win at Scarborough in the 1982 Spring National. However, two crashes elsewhere during the decade left him with a badly broken foot and he was ultimately forced to retire at the end of 1988.
With brother Geoff continuing to score good results in the Formula Two sidecar class, it was here where the Bedlington man made his return in 1994 and he’s since gone on to become the most successful driver ever on three wheels with 63 wins to his name.
Yorkshire’s Phil Mellor may never have won any of the feature events at Oliver’s Mount but for more than a decade he was regular race winner particularly in the 125cc, 250cc and 350cc categories where he made his name. He took no less than 23 race wins between 1979 and 1987 which, at the time, made him the most successful rider in the history of the venue.
By the mid 1980s, he moved into the four-stroke classes and took second place in the 1988 Gold Cup race. A multiple British Champion Mellor was tragically killed at the 1989 Isle of Man TT races but ever since a trophy has been awarded in his memory at September’s International meeting.
Welshman Lougher made a low key debut at Oliver’s Mount during the mid 1980s and it wasn’t until 1989 that he took his first race win. However, since then he barely missed a meeting and kept racking up the victories in relentless fashion, something he’s still doing now despite going into semi-retirement.
Initially, his victories were confined to the 125cc and 250cc classes but as the 1990s progressed, he started to enjoy great fortune in the four stroke races too and ultimately took wins in both the Gold Cup and Cock o’ the North events. And if he wasn’t winning races, he was finishing on the podium and his win count is now well in excess of 130 – without doubt, the most successful rider ever to have competed at Oliver’s Mount.
If it hadn’t been for Ian Lougher, Chris Palmer would have won countless more races at Oliver’s Mount as there battles in the 125cc class kept the fans entertained for the best part of 25 years! As it stands though, the Carlisle man was still victorious on 98 occasions, the third highest total ever, with those wins coming between 1991 and 2013.
A 125cc British Champion in 1998 and a double TT winner, Palmer also took numerous race wins in the 250cc and Classic races at Oliver’s Mount and was one of the most popular riders ever to have competed at the venue.
Yorkshire’s Jefferies made his Oliver’s Mount debut as a teenager in 1991, immediately tasting success in the Supersport 400cc class, and he soon moved onto the bigger bikes taking his first Gold Cup victory just a year later. As the decade progresses, his road racing credentials soared, none more so than at the Isle of Man TT, North West 200 and Ulster GP but he remained loyal to the Scarborough meetings.
Indeed, he went on to take further Gold Cup victories in 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2001. At the time, he had the record number of wins in the event (five) with Geoff Duke and he would surely have won more had he not been tragically killed in practice for the 2003 Isle of Man TT races.
Northern Ireland’s Farquhar didn’t make his Oliver’s Mount debut until 2001, the year of the Foot and Mouth epidemic, but since then he’s been relentless in his pursuit of victories and he’s now the third most successful rider ever at the venue.
Just like everywhere else the Dungannon man has ridden, victories have come in all the classes and his tally now reads an impressive 109 despite a brief 18-month retirement. Although he’s scaled down his racing upon his return, he’s still a Scarborough regular so that total will continue to increase.
The man who arguably gave Oliver’s Mount the shot in the arm it needed, Martin’s first ever real road race came at Scarborough in July 2002 and just a year later he upset the established guard with victory in both the Cock o’ the North and Gold Cup events.
As his popularity rose through the decade so too did his success and he took an unprecedented seven successive Gold Cup victories between 2003 and 2009, adding an eighth in 2012 to comfortably make him the most successful rider ever in the history of the prestigious event.
The Lincolnshire rider now has 63 wins to his name although only time will tell if he adds to that figure given his 2016 hiatus.
With Martin’s career moving into a different direction, Dean Harrison has been the rider to step into his boots and the Bradford rider is now the dominant force around Oliver’s Mount. The Bradford rider made his debut at the circuit in 2010 as a fresh-faced 21-year old and is already the fourth most successful rider ever with 68 wins to his name, 42 of those coming in the last two seasons, 2016 and 2017, alone.
He’s also the outright lap record holder, beating the old mark by almost a second in 2017, and it’s hard to see anyone getting the better of him in the foreseeable future.
Words by Phil Wain.
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