Spare-time Challenge-Dick Greasley talks to John Brown

WITH THE YAMAHA powered outfit he has raced for the last two seasons Britain's top spare time man of sidecar racing Dick Greasley will be out to give the full time professionals of the continent another world title challenge in just under four months time.

Still with the feeling of contentment after taking a joint second place in this year's conventional B2A world series with West German full timer Rolf Steinhausen, the driver from Great Haywood Staffs, who has no alternative then to treat sidecar racing as a hobby has already made up his mind what he will be out to do next season.

“ It is going to much the same as last season but it would, of course, be nice to bring the sidecar world championship back to England ” , said Dick who set out this year with intention of finishing in the first three.

“I suppose some might think that was a tall order but if you are going racing you have to set your sights pretty high,” he added.

While agreeing, that he really should have won at least one of the seven rounds in the series to make the placing more acceptable, Dick admits to being “quite chuffed” with the outcome. “You know with a little bit more luck at the beginning of the season we might have slipped in a victory that could have made all the difference,” he said.

That victory almost came in the opening Austrian round but while in the lead a piston broke up and 15 points vanished from view.

From then on Dick never failed to score and in the very last round in CZECHOSLOVAKIA he grabbed his best placing of the season to haul himself up on to the same points tally as Steinhausen who failed to finish the race.

“That was a great race as far as I am concerned,” said Dick. “We had a good do with Rolf Biland and to be honest I did not mind in the least finishing second to him. Although he possibly gets the best sponsorship in our branch of the sport he is in book anyway the best sidecar racer in the world at the present time. He's got that all important something extra as well as superb outfit.”

The second man in this year's top British sidecar team is John Parkins who joined Dick for a test race from Bill Hodgkins at the end of the 1978 season and is now set to be a regular.

John has been with me all last year and he will certainly be with me again next season,” said Dick. “He has been a great help to me this year and I certainly have to thank him a lot for the position we found ourselves in at the end of the season.”

On the home front the pair dominated the British championship clinching the deal in no uncertain manner with a second place at Cadwell in September with two rounds of the series still to be run.

The man they finished behind was Jock Taylor he will be the main opposition as far as Dick is concerned during the coming season when he will be out to retain the title he won for the first time in 1976, for the second year running. “Jock knocks us back a peg or two from time to time but of course it has to be remembered that he is full time racer with strong backing from Fowlers of Bristol,” said Dick. “But just the same like our continental rivals, he is a very good driver.”

Dick also reckons on getting good competition from Mick Boddice and the former British champion he dethroned Derek Jones.

Although it is quite amazing that Dick and John managed their world championship placing with a two year old Dieter Busch outfit even more interesting for the record is that their home successes have been achieved with a five year old ex Charlie Williams 700cc Yamaha engine.

“We have been using the engine for all the home 750 events since we bought it,” said Dick. “We put new barrels and some 750cc top end stuff on it but the bottom and is virtually the same as the day it came our way.”

Never regretting the day he bought the lightweight Busch chassis which he thinks has helped to get him onto level terms with the continentals through its excellent power to weight ratio, Dick does feel that a replacement could be needed.

“I think the existing chassis is good enough at least for another season but during the coming year Dieter has promised a new one. This certainly will not be ready for the opening rounds so of course we shall be relying on the existing one ,” he said.

Thirty-four-year-old Dick who works full time as a servise manager for his sponsor Cyril Chell at his motorcycle showroom in Stafford, has little time to work on his outfit. “In fact most of the work is done at the race meetings,” he said. “I get little spare time during the season and of course it's great on the part of the gaffer who gives me the time off to go grand prix racing.”

Because there is little workshop time before the racing Dick and John have little chance to be prepare and test modifications but their plan to seek reliability and stay with it has certainly paid off.

Like so many sidecar drivers Dick started with a Triumph outfit. “It belonged to a chap in the town where I live and I thought I would like to have a go to see what it was all about,” he grinned.

That was eight seasons ago and from there with the help of Cyril Chell's Honda-4 powered outfits Dick progressed through club meetings to national level and then got the required points to get his international licence.

It was then that the Honda power ceased to be acceptable because as Dick puts it. “We kept blowing the thing up every time we got it wound on.”

It was then the Yamaha engines were purchased with of course a 500 being added for the world championship events.

“It is about time we had a 500 limit for British racing as well,” says Dick. “If we did I feel our riders would stand more chance in world title events because they would be more used to the characteristics of a 500 engine.”

Although racing is a hobby for Dick and he is sincere when he says that once it stops being an enjoyment he will pack up, he has to make sure that he can at least pay his way. “I am grateful to the help we get from Cyril but of course we have to make ends meet in true privateer fashion,” he said.

“For each grand prix I reckon the outlay is £500 so the cost to do the series is in the region of £4.000,” he said.

“When you take the possible return into consideration it is a big expense alone just to do that series.”

Although the home meetings do not cost so much to contest the quiet spoken Dick cannot be lured into racing for nothing.

In fact he was prepared to give the Cadwell round where he clinched the title a miss until almost the last minute when circuit boss Charles Wilkinson finally came up with the money offer Dick considered to be reasonable.

“I reckon it coasts us about £20.000 to go racing,” he said. “We have got four engines worth around £3.500 each for a start so we must have a sensible income to keep things competetive.”

In no way does Dick begrudge the financial backing that that his richer continental rivals gather in. “They spend lots of money. It would be nice to do that,” he smiles. “The chaps over in Germany in particular spend more money than me even before the season starts so when we can go over there and lick them it is very satisfying.”

Addmiting that he would love to be a full time sidecar racer but happier to keep things as they are without the backing of a wealthy sponsor, Dick does feel that sidecar racing is considered second class to the solos in Britain. “It has been like that ever since I started racing but it is no use worrying because there is nothing that can be done about that,” he reasons.

He readily understands that for a dealer/sponsor the solo class is a far better bet because the machines being raced at least some resemblance to the bikes he is trying to sell.

“The solo riders certainly have things easier as far as I am concerned,” he said. “They can take a bike from crate and once it is sorted out they go racing. The main sponsors obviously prefer solos because chairs don’t sell bikes. But I don’t moan because I suppose I could go solo racing if I wanted to. Sidecar racing is just that little bit more special and to be honest that’s why I enjoy it.”

It is the enjoyment and competition – especially the fierce variety on the continent – that keeps Dick interested in his hobby.

“I certainly would never think of doing it just for the brass,” he said. “I couldn’t anyway because I do have a wife and three children, and even if I were single and could possibly afford to be a full timer it would only be a maybe situation for me.”

For his hobby Dick gets the patient backing of his wife Vivienne. “I don’t suppose she likes me racing all that much but she is very good about it,” he addmits. “There must be other less hazardous things she would rather I took an interest in.”

One thing Dick is certain about and that is if sidecar racing ceased to be enjoyable he would pack up.

“Once it ceases to give pleasure that’s it,” he declared. “Also once that I felt that I was on my way down and had reached my peak it would be time to call a halt. I certainly would not like to keep going knowing there was no chance of winning. Once I go off the boil, that is it. I want to finish on a good note.”

For Dick it would no doubt mean a return to the hobbies like fishing and shooting that he had to give up to make room for the current one.

At the moment there is no sign of this happening and who knows that the chap sitting quietly fishing on the banks of the river a few years hence could be former world champion Dick Greasley.