A  History of Classic Racing  50cc Motorcycles


Rodney Gooch: 1960s and 70s Motorcycle Racer and latterly The Organiser of all Meetings at Castle Combe

I must start this page with a farewell note as 'Rodders' has passed the last chequered flag. I have taken this obituary from BikeSport News : 

Castle Combe legend Rodney Gooch has died. Mr Gooch passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. A statement from the circuit reads:

The management and staff of the Castle Combe circuit are in shock as they absorb the news of the untimely death of Rodney Gooch. A full obituary will follow, but anyone who knew this hugely significant stalwart of the circuit team will already be aware of his huge achievements, both as a motorcycle racer, and over the last three decades, as a man who worked tirelessly for the circuit he loved.  Rodney’s self effacing manner and tremendous humour built him a reputation far beyond the Wiltshire track. His semi-retirement from the circuit in 2018 turned into an inequitable battle with cancer to which he succumbed yesterday (10 April). The thoughts and commiserations of the circuit are with his family at this sad time.

Rodney, 'Rodders' to his friends, who competed in motorcycle racing during the late 1960s and early 1970s, worked with the management team at the Castle Combe Circuit for over 22 years as the sales and marketing director responsible for most sales and marketing activities including promoting the exposure of the circuit. This included being involved, on a part-time basis, in the activities that went on in the use of the track.

This new part-time role will give the circuit a dedicated motorcycle specialist for the first time. The annual Castle Combe Circuit race meeting will take place next year on Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22, and it is hoped will develop into one of the largest motorcycle race meetings outside of the British Superbike Championship. The circuit is thought to have been the first to organise directly-run motorcycle track days almost 20 years ago and has developed rider safety training days, the now well established BikeSafe and Castle Combe Track Day event in April and also plays host to various manufacturer and major dealer private track events and specialist race development days.

As a former TT rider and with a wealth of motorcycle experience, Rodney was, on the 19th Dec 2013, appointed Motorcycle Co-ordinator at Castle Combe Circuit, which is near Chippenham, Wiltshire. England. Already backed by partners including Fowlers Motorcycles, MCD Insurance, BLD, Somerset Road Safety and Avon Tyres, one of Rodney's responsibilities was to to strengthen these ties and to bring in new partners.

''Rodders' said in the course of conversation: "It will be ten years since we ran the Castle Combe Superbike Grand National, the biggest event in Castle Combe's history, and I will be working hard to make the 2014 two day event run by the NG Road Racing Club an event that riders want to come to compete in and spectators will want to come to join in the excitement of the racing helping to grow the event into the largest race meeting outside of BSB. He also commented that "We are fortunate in having a great range of motorcycle partners and I am already in discussion with others to further widen the motorcycle activities at the circuit."

Rodney Gooch further hyped the appeal of the track’s new motorcycle club, by stating: “Castle Combe Circuit has a long and rich motorcycle history, we pioneered the running of motorcycle track days direct back in 1994 and any customer will be hard pressed to find a more knowledgeable and experienced bunch of instructors to get them out on track". “With the NG Road Racing Club reintroducing the Past Masters Classic Parade for our bike meeting we are all really excited about the forthcoming race meeting and all our motorcycle events in general".

The Racing Years.

It was in the early 60s that Rodney joined the Bantam Racing Club and so began a life revolving around 'Motorcycles'. He was an active member of the club and would try his hand at anything that needed doing for the good running of the South East Section. He took over the job of club magazine editor. he was a fierce competitor, being a regular competitor in the 125cc class at national and international meetings in the late Sixties and early 70s on a Bantam (the White BSA bantam using Todd tuning advice and Todd developed parts.) and then the White-SONDELL Yamaha. Rodney dipped his toe in the water of another motorised sport, the world of lawnmower racing. He also raced Citroen 2CVs for a while! 

Editors note: I had stopped racing in 1967, selling the bikes to fund another project. During the early 70s I was working for I.C.I at Fernhurst West Sussex and Yalding in Kent and so my travelling route was the A272. I lived in Ifold, a small village close to Wisborough Green which is on the A272 and the Cricketers Arms public house was my stop-off on the way home. I used to talk with the regulars about motorcycle racing and when lawnmower racing kicked-off I visited a few races. I met 'Rodders' Gooch, who I had known at the bike meetings in the 60s, at some of these meetings. It was good to re-make the acquaintance but as I moved away in the late 70s I lost contact again. Low and behold in 1998 when I was racing the 50cc mounts I met Rodders again at Castle Combe and relived a few of the memories I had of the "Flying Grasscutters"   The pub is still worth going to and the Lawnmower racing is very much alive and worth watching. Jeep Elton-Payne.


The TT Races

Although not in chronological order and as this is a 50cc History page perhaps we should consider Rod's involvement in the 1968 50cc T.T. first and move on to his other involvements in motorcycle racing a bit further down. The 68 T.T. saw the end of this class as an item in the program of the Isle of man Tourist Trophy Races: "The WASPS", a name given to the competitors bikes in a newspaper article covering the 1962 inaugural race, due to their exhaust sound and never, to date in 1968, has the swarming sound been heard in the Isle of Man T.T. races since.

The mass start of the 1968 Isle of Man 50cc Ultra-Lightweight T.T. race

 Other competitors in the picture:

1. Barry Smith..............DERBI
9. Chris Walpole..........HONDA
18. Rodney Gooch.......Vic Camp DUCATI
26. T. P. Payne,,,,,,,,,,HONDA
4. Angle Nieto.............DERBI
10. Stuart Aspin.......   ITOM

 27. John Lawley....... HONDA

5. R Kunz................... KREIDLER
11. Brian Gleed..........HONDA
32. Nick Mayo...........HELDUN HAWK
28. D. L. Rider...........HONDA
16. Arthur Lawn........HONDA
7. Robin M. Udall......HONDA 

Using most of his own words during a conversation I had with Rodders, the following is his view of the race: "it was the last year there was a 50cc race at the TT, I think 1968, the bike was owned by the then Ducati importer, Vic Camp Motorcycles, they loaned it to me for the season, mainly to race at Brands Hatch and Lydden, it handled very well and so could get me into the top 5 as we passed under the chequered flag". The model was the Ducati 50cc SL-1 Sports Moped" (more of this later).

I have a few clear memories of the first lap of the 1968 50cc T.T. on the Ducati, it had big 19" wheels and 125cc tyres, once at Snetterton the Scrutineer waved us away saying we are only doing the 50's now, he had looked up and thought it a 125. So, on some of the flat-out twisting bits like Ballacraine to the Cronk ne Voody straight it had a bit of an advantage as it was very stable over the bumps compared to some of the other bikes with their tiny rims and narrow tyres.

There were 3 or 4 bikes, including Canadian Nick Mayo on his Heldun very close all the way to Ramsey, one would take ages to overtake another and then lose the place again.

"But this was the TT and with the road ratio gearbox it was another story. It most certainly did not like going up the mountain and I had to stay in the two lower gears to make the climb. It took me ages to get it into the little engines power-band. Bear in mind that this race was a mass start and on the opening lap, as far as Ramsey it went very well and I was ahead of quite a few of the other bikes".

"At Baarregarroo on the first lap, at the bottom of the fast descent from to the cross-road, only 13 miles cut, there was a bike really smashed up and no sign of the rider. I thought no one could crash there and live." "It was Nieto's bike and of course he did live to tell the tale as sometime last year at a Moto-GP the commentator said "there is Nieto talking to Alonso".

"But then at Ramsey the bike lost out as it was impossible to get it into the powerband from I think 2nd to 3rd, it might have been 3rd to 4th until up on the mountain mile".

"However it was mainly after the Gooseneck that it was hopeless until the course flattened out and the revs would rise easily, you could then get it into 3rd gear and then fourth. So whilst the engine was labouring loads of bikes came by. But this was still fun and I was still racing".

So the race ended with a clear-cut win for Barry Smith with Chris Walpole second nearly 8 mins later and with 54 year old Ernie Griffiths out-pacing David Lock on the last lap to take third place in his last Isle of Man ride. Second to seventh places went to riders of Honda CR110, over-the-counter racers. Close behind these were Rodney Gooch on his Ducati and Harold Cosgrove on the Foster Kreidler taking 11th and 12th respectively.

We had to give it back to Vic Camp at the end of the season and at that time, he was talking about the factory supplying a special cylinder and close ratio gear box for the following year but he didn’t sell enough of the road bikes to warrant it and he lost interest.

"Jeep, you mention you know of the bike"; he commented and then said "I was in contact about 25 years ago with a guy in Kent who had one but I was unsure if it was the one I rode. My recollection is that it was sold as a racer to a guy in North London who then put 18" wheels on it but the guy in Kent was sure it was converted back into a road bike and sold. I don’t think anyone else raced one at the time".

I was able to say "Yes, I did  know who purchased the bike some years ago and it was converted back. Fortunately he had contacted me".  (More of this later).

When I asked him about other bikes he replied: "The only other 50 I had was a Maserati which I sold for I think 20 quid. I did also try to buy one of the Simmonds brothers framed Itoms from Brian Kettle who had bought a CR 110. I'd agreed to buy it drove to Guildford to pick it up, got there, to be told it wasn’t for sale after all. That would have been quite special".

Rodney was not very effusive about himself on the track but I have included the following paragraphs as they refer to the '50s' and formed part of a report on a trip to Assen, in Holland for a 4 hour '50'cc race: this was written by Chris Gregory, who was an attendee at the meeting. 

"I'd almost forgotten the sounds of screaming tiny two-strokes like the Itoms, Kreidlers, Suzukis and the roaring of four-stroke such as the Honda CR110s of the 1960s'. To hear once again those sounds pulled back memories of Luigi Taveri, Naomi Taniguchi, Angelo Nieto, Ernst Degner, Rodney Gooch, Beryl Swain, Roy Bacon. 

Of the last three mentioned, "Rodney Gooch was simply a brilliant exponent of 50cc riding, high corner speeds and a refusal to scrub off any hard earned speed by easing the throttle". 

"Beryl Swain has the distinction of being the first woman to compete in the Isle of man TT her debut on a 50cc Itom landed her 22nd place in the inaugural race meeting in the Isle of Man TT during 1962. Roy Bacon, also on an Itom, has the dubious honour of being last in the same race as Beryl.

Although at a later date Roy went on to become Racing Bantam Club Champion, no mean feat being in the company of such riders as Mole Benn, Fred Launchbury, Alan Blundell etc. If the above list of names means little to you, don't worry they are just the mental ramblings of a bygone era". C Gregory.

A few notes on the basic bike that was used to give R.G. his 11th place in the 50cc TT.

The chap that had owned the bike for the past few years was Kevin Allsop and he had maintained it in the 'Street Sports' mode as manufactured and as bought at auction. It was the pride of his collection.  He had amassed a fair amount of data about it and drew down some from the old web page to expand it.

Unfortunately Kevin lost a battle with Cancer and is no longer with us. His collection was put up for sale and I do not know who owns the Ducati SL1 now. (Pete Scott, a motorcycle restorer has built a replica of the Gooch-Vic Camp race bike and this video is from Youtube). Click on the YouTube logo for a full picture. 

The look of the 50 Sport SL1 might not tickle the taste buds of today’s generation, but back in its day, this road-runner was a bonafide stud on the road.  

The 50 Sport SL-1 was one of the last 50cc Ducati Sports mopeds ever built. The previous model, the Sport 50, can be seen in this picture. Quite frankly, the SL-1 was one of the most elegant of this variant, boasting of a design that became popular in its time. On top of that, it also carried a moderate 50cc single cylinder, two-stroke engine that was mated to a four speed transmission.

It also weighed only 100 lbs, which means that it was capable of hitting a top speed of 50 mph. It also had twin fuel fillers on the petrol tank, (this variation was not fitted to all SL-1s that were imported into the UK) a full year before the 350 'Desmo' Mark 3 would have the same feature. A 50cc Street Sport SL-1 that was auctioned off at the 2012 RM Auctions, ended up being bid on feverishly by a number of bidders. It was sold at a price of €10,530 (£8,924.18), well above the listed auction price range of €2,500 - €3,500 (£2,118 - £2,966).

Competing in Other Isle of Man T.T.'s

'Rodders' started riding in the Isle of Man TT races in 1967 and campaigned the 125cc WHITE-Bantam from then until 1969. You can see from the chart that his bikes have been reliable with only one, the Yamaha in 1970, causing him to retire. However it was another Yamaha that did prove sound and gave him a good placement of 9th, at a speed of 82.22 mph in the 1974 Ultra-Lightweight TT.

Although not a 50cc race this and following reviews of the 125cc T.T. races, from the Motor Cyclist Illustrated and other media, are given to complete the picture of Rodney Gooch and his racing interest.

The first Isle of Man ride was in the 1967 Ultra-Lightweight 125cc race where he campaigned the Brian White BSA Bantam. This bike started as a ‘Post Office’ 125cc Bantam and with tuning accompanied by George Todd equipment, became a real contender for the tin ware.  There were six other BSA Bantams entered for this race including the Todd Bantam ridden by Fred Launchbury who finished 20th. Rod (No. 60) came in 28th with 2 other Bantams behind him in 30th and 33rd place. Out of the 7 Bantams entered only one Did Not Finish

Editors note: A "White" Bantam is still around in Auckland NZ, Howard helped brother Roy re-build it mid 80s. (If the owner sees this, I would appreciate a picture for this section)

In the 1968 125cc Ultra-Lightweight T.T., Rodney Gooch was again riding the 125cc "White Bantam" wearing the number 43. This bike was one of only three of that BSA model running in this years race as compared with seven plus in previous years.  The competition had grown to include machines from many countries in Europe, Japan and the continued development of the British Specials: The Brown Special, the TSR (Terry Shepherd Racing) with Bultaco engine, The Fahron, based on a Yamaha and the New Zealand MOHR Special. Against all this competition Rodney finished in 20th place.

The 1967 Isle of Man T.T. race:

With 11 non-starters there were 51 competitors on the grid for the 11a.m. start of the international three-lap 125 cc T.T. on Wednesday morning, June l4. The glorious weather still held with a fresh breeze to temper the heat and perhaps save the tar from bubbling through the road surface at is was the previous afternoon in some places. The little machines are often more fickle on starting than the big-uns and even Phil Read's Yamaha cost him a good 5 sec before it burst into action. Kevin Cass's Bultaco was even more sluggish and, near the back of the grid both J. B. Jackson (Ducati) and M. Allen (Honda) had to wheel back to their pits for a plug change before getting under way.

Fred Launchbury with his TODD bantam at a previous Ultra-Lightweight T.T.

In The program for the 125cc Ultra-Lightweight Race the BSA Bantams were grouped together at the end of the listing and so went off from the line as if in a separate race and were the last of the riders to go. This was with the exception of Fred Launchbury who, riding the Todd BSA was not classed as a 'Bantam' and went off from position #41.  

Several members of the Bantam Racing Club took part, among them Bob Newby, here seen passing Cronk-ny-Mona on his first lap.

The start of the race was at 11.00 with the riders, going off in pairs at 10 second intervals for their 3 laps totalling  113.2 Miles. 

11.03.20     41     Fred Launchbury
11.04.40    58    Bob Newby
11.04.50    59    F M Cripps
11.04.50    60   Rodney Gooch
11.05.00    61    R J Ware
11.05.00    62    Chris Gregory 

Chris Gregory and Chris Rogers 1967 

R J Ware 1967 Ultra-Lightweight TT

As Fred Launchbury was released, from the start line with E. Kaye riding his Honda, the leaders on the road were well past Ballacraine - where unofficial timing made Bill Ivy (Yamaha) leader of the race by 3 sec from his team-mate Yoshimi Katayama. with the third Yamaha man, Phil Read, 9 sec farther back. Then, 3 secs behind Phil, came the Suzuki pair. Stuart Graham and Akiyasu Motohashi.

Graham, No. 2 and joint first man away with No. 1 Peter Inchley (TSR), still led on the road at Ballaugh, where it looked as if Read was rapidly pulling back some of the seconds which separated him from the other works Yamaha's. But the amateur timekeeping at Ballacraine and Ballaugh must surely have been at variance, for Ballaugh—only another 10 miles round the course—reported Graham and Motohashi as joint leaders of the race, 8 seconds up on Read, who was ahead of his team-mate Ivy.

Ramsey confirmed this. Graham was leading by a narrow margin from Read who, riding No.10, was already in front of Ivy, No.6 on the road. At the Bungalow Graham had a 2sec lead over Read. Ivy was, in due course reported as touring past that point and, if it was any consolation for Ivy, Suzuki's Katayama was also “ touring.”

Graham rasped through at the end of his first lap and when Read followed him there was very little in it, just 1.4 seconds to be precise, in favour of Read. The Yamaha man had lapped in 23 min 31.6sec (96.23 mph): his Suzuki rival in 23 min 33 sec (96.13 mph). The only other rider to do a standing lap in under 24 min was Motohashi, third after getting round in 23 min 46.2 sec.

Although his Kawasaki twin took some time to fire on both pots at the start, Dave Simmonds had wasted no time on his opening lap and was fourth on the leader-board, ahead of Ivy who came in at the end of a 25 min 55.8 second “touring" lap, spent some time at the pit, got his machine just about running on all four, had it puff out again and so paddled towards retirement.

Sixth place at the end of the first lap was occupied by Kel Carruthers (Honda) and the order behind him was Fred Curry (Honda).Peter Inchley on the Bultaco-powered Terry Sheperd "special." Tommy Robb (Bultaco), Bo Gustafsson (Honda). Gary Dickinson (Honda) and Malcolm Carney (Bultaco). Picture: Approaching Crank-ny-Mona, J. R. Hudson (125Honda) and R. Hardy (125 Bultaco), with another rider sandwiched between them.

On the second lap. Graham was a couple of seconds up on Read at Ballaugh, 1 second at Ramsey and still in front at the Bungalow. Third man Motohashi was steadily losing ground. On the chase down the Mountain, Read again pulled back some of his disadvantage, but just not enough. After getting round for the second time in 23 min 6.4 sec (97.94 mph) Stuart Graham was leading the race-BY A MERE ONE-FIFTH OF A SECOND!-from Phil Read.

And again the Suzuki was the faster machine along the road towards Ballacraine, for by the time the two rivals had passed there, Stuart was 3 sec to the good. Phil snatched back one of those seconds by Ballaugh. And at Ramsey, Read was clocked through exactly 40 sec after Graham, their starting interval: so they were dead-heating as they started on the long mountain climb. At the Bungalow, almost at the top of the climb, Read appeared to have the advantage by 1.6 sec. And on the long chase down to the finish the four-cylinder Yamaha was just a little too good for the twin-cylinder Suzuki. Graham was first man home, but Read had narrowed the gap a little more to win by a margin of 3.4 seconds, after turning the fastest lap of the race in 23 min 0.8 sec (98.36 mph—a little below Bill Ivy’s 1966 record of 98.55 mph).                                                                                                                                                   Winner of the race. Phil Read (Yamaha, 10)

Motohashi, on the second surviving Yamaha, was third; Dave Simmonds was fourth on the Kawasaki. And a long, long way farther back, fifth and sixth places were taken by Kel Carruthers on the single-cylinder, Gates Honda and Jim Curry on another little Honda. Bad luck for Gary Dickinson. In the running for 10th place, he had to push home and eventually finished last but one.

With regard to Rodney Gooch, he had a great ride on the White BSA Bantam finishing 28th at 1hr 39min 48.8secs. giving an average speed of 68.06 mph for the race. A good achievement for his first Isle of Man T.T. For the record he was behind: 

43 Fred Launchbury on the Todd BSA Bantam:             20th at 1hr 31min 50.4sec at a speed of 73.96mph.
63 C. J. Rodgers BSA Bantam:                                                26 at 1hr 35min 13.6sec at a speed of 71.23mph
61 R. J. Ware BSA Bantam:                                                       27 at 1hr 36min 13.6sec at a speed of 70.59mph
And in front of:
58 R. W. Newby BSA Bantam:                                                 30 at 1hr 40min 15.6sec at a speed of 67.75mph
59 F. M. Cripps BSA Bantam:                                                  33 at 1hr 42min 27.8sec at a speed of 66.3mph
62 Chris Gregory was, unfortunately a non-finisher. He rode two very slow laps and then the bike gave out.

The results Listing for the 1967 IoM Ultra-Lightweight 125 T.T.

Program Listing


The 1968 Ultra Lightweight 125 cc T.T. (Researched from Motor Cyclist Illustrated with additions)

In the 1968 125cc Ultra-Lightweight T.T., Rodney Gooch was again riding the 125cc "White Bantam" (Howard White built the engine for this mount using George Todd's highly developed parts and using some of Georges knowledge.). This year he was wearing the number 43. This bike was one of only three BSA Bantams running in this years race as compared with previous years.  The competition had grown to include machines from many countries in Europe, Japan and the continued development of the British Specials: the Brown Special, TSR with Bultaco engine, The Fahron and the New Zealand MOHR Special. Against all this competition Rodney finished in 20th place.

Assumption: One of the works YAMAHAs, it is assumed, will win its race and the other will retire, as is their history. However both finished in the three-lap 125 cc T.T., held Friday morning, June 15, 1968. This was in beautiful sunshine which for a second year running has made the word 'fickle' a most inappropriate adjective to apply to the Manx weather. Even the Mountain forgot to wear its veil and visibility was very good. Pictured at Waterworks, Phil Read ran second to Yamaha team-mate Bill Ivy for two laps but then went on to win the race at a record speed. (See below)

Bill Ivy led in the early stages, and second time round repeated the ‘100’plus lap he had turned during practice by lapping in 22 min 34 sec to raise the record to 100.32 mph. Picture: Bill Ivy riding the YAMAHA 4 cylinder 125cc.

Read was also circulating at above record speed and when Ivy experienced inexplicable engine trouble which reduced his lead over Read from 15 sec to 1 sec in the 10 miles between Ballacraine and Ballaugh and had him 5 sec down on Read in the next seven miles to Ramsey - shades of Bruno Ruffo protesting at Moto Guzzi team orders some years ago? - his senior partner carried on to win the race at a record average speed of 99.12 mph. Even with his engine trouble, Ivy finished second at 97.78 mph, still above his own 1966 race record of 97.66 mph.

That covers the admittedly impressive performance of the two men on four cylinder YAMAHA's. What of the rest of the field? From Heinz Rosner starting near the back (No.53) on the lone MZ two-stroke to the gallant trio of home tuners entered by the Bantam Racing Club consisting of No.26 Fred Launchbury, No.43 Rodney Gooch and No.44 Chris Gregory. 

There were 47 starters from an original entry of 58. At the end of one lap they had been reduced to 34 and a total of 21 reached the chequered flag. Because of Rosner’s later number Read and Ivy were Nos. 2 and 9, it took some time to sort out positions around the course but at Ballacraine they made Rosner third, some 25 sec behind the Yamaha pair. Chris Rogers Bultaco and Pat Walsh (Honda) appeared to be making good time and this was confirmed by Ballaugh. Ramsey had Ivy leading Read by 5sec, it was the same at the Bungalow and by there, Rosner was already 1 min 53 sec behind the second Yamaha. Kel Carruthers (Honda) was 48sec down on Rosner.

Picture: Chris Rogers (41), Bantam Club member mounted for a change on a Mondial, passes club mate Fred Launchbury No.26 (Mounted on the 125cc Todd Bantam) on the veranda. On the other side of the Mountain Chris crashed at Keppel Gate. Fred finished in 13th place at an astounding 76.93 mph - which suggests that his little BSA must have a -100 mph top speed.

Then the leaders were through the start and away on their second lap and the first official times were being announced. Ivy had done his opening lap in 22 min 58 sec (98.57 mph-a record] and was 4 sec ahead of Read. Carruthers, almost half a minute behind Rosner, held fourth place by a fairly narrow margin from Tommy Robb (Bultaco), Gordon Keith (Brown Special], Canadian Dave Lloyd (Honda), Bo Gustafsson (Honda) and Martin Carney (Bultaco}.

Among the first lap retirements were Jean Louis Pasquier from Monaco. who pushed his Bultaco all the way from the start to Bray Hill without persuading it to fire; John Wetherall from Malta, who dropped his Mondial in Ramsey and similarly mounted Derek Chatterton who came unstuck at the Bungalow; Dave Simmonds {Kawasaki},who was among those early smitten by engine trouble and after his promising start, Chris Rogers misjudged the fast curves at Keppel Gate and was whisked to hospital with leg and arm injuries.

Ivy's second lap time was 22 min 34 sec. the first-ever lap at over 100 mph in the 125cc race (100.32 mph) and Read's was 22 min 41.6 sec (99.76 mph and well above the old record). Third man Rosner came in late being down to sixth place, behind Carruthers, Robb and Keith then changed a plug, got going again but had his engine fail altogether on the switchback Cronk-y-Voddee straight, 11 miles away. Also affected by engine failure was Martin Carney, the British 125 cc champion, who joined his friend Derek Chatterton. the 250 cc champion, to watch the racing from the Bungalow.

Sweden's Bo Gustafsson delayed himself by falling off on the slow Glen Helen turn, got going again but then had to retire. On the last lap there was the sudden change of positions for Read and Ivy. But with third man Carruthers nearly 9 min behind these two and around one minute intervals separating him from Robb. After Robb and Keith there was no great excitement from skirmishes for the other places and for once the usually reliable Bantams suffered a retirement, with Chris Gregory having his motor seize on the second lap.

The 1969 Ultra Lightweight 125 cc T.T.

Dave Simmonds had the works two-stroke Kawasaki; Barry Smith  was riding the Derbi factory’s model; Kel Carruthers, Monday’s' lightweight winner, knew his way around and was on the little Aermacchi two-stroke; there was Tommy Robb  (Honda) to reckon with; and the current British championship  leader in this class, young Charles Mortimer (Villa). 

As with other years, the start was staggered with two riders leaving the start line at 10 second intervals.

The first two away were Dave Simmonds on the Kawasaki and Kel Carruthers from Australia on the Aermacchi two-stroke twin. No.22 Fred Launchbury had forsaken the Todd Bantam for this year and was riding a Bultaco leaving the line about 2 minutes after Simmonds.

Rodney was riding No.37 and left the line at 11.03.20. He was possibly on the last BSA Bantam to race in the Ultra-Lightweight TT; 

Although the weather was still dry, warm, and sunny, there was a distinct layer of high cloud, with a weather forecast of occasional showers in the afternoon. Temperatures were rather lower than they had been earlier in the week-which took a load -off the minds of the “strokers" making up the majority of the entry. First man away was Simmonds, sharing the grid with Carruthers. The Middlesex rider, slipping the clutch to build up the revs of his maroon and white-faired machine, took advantage of the Aussie's ponderous start to build up an early lead.  But at Ballacraine, it was Londoner John Ringwood riding  Heinz Rosner’s MZ-who was second; Charles Mortimer was  third; Tommy Robb lay fourth, 2 sec behind; and 5 sec in  arrears, Barry Smith and Steve Murray (Honda) were inseparable. Rodney was still going well with the White Bantam giving him a smooth and enjoyable ride. Picture: Rodney takes Bedstead in practice for the 1969 125cc race on his White BSA Bantam. The full fairing was used in the race. 

There is more to this story and I will write another page to cover the 1969 TT but the end of this story is that Simmonds took the flag with a dead engine, only the tyres and chain making any sound other than the applause. It later transpired that Simmonds had stopped on his first lap with what he thought to be a piston seizure. In fact, it had been a loosened plug lead! So that explained Ringwood's sudden and apparent burst of speed on lap one! 

RESULTS: 1st. D. A. Simmonds (Kawasaki) 1 hr 14 min 34.6 sec. 91.08 mph.  2nd. K. Carruthers (Aermacchi) 1 hr 20 mins 27.2 secs. 84 43 mph.  3rd. G. J. Dickinson (Honda) 1 hr 21 min 10.6 sec. 83.67 mph.

22nd. R. J. Gooch (BSA Bantam) 1 hr 37 min 47 sec. 69.46 mph;  23. B. Kaye (Honda)  1 hr 39 min 14.2 sec. 68.-15mph;  24, S. G. W. Lawley (Bultaco) 1 hr 47 min  16 sec. 63.32 mph;  25. R. Udall (Honda) 1 hr 53 min 28.4 sec. 59.86 mph.

The 1970 Ultra Lightweight 125cc T.T.

It just didn‘t seem true that the weather could have lasted that long; two weeks sunshine, blistering at times, seemed much too good for Mona‘s Isle’s reputation from the past. The morning of Friday, June 12, was ideal for holidaymakers, but perhaps a shade too warm for the little ultra-lightweights which lined Glencrutchery Road. The forecast had said that the temperatures would reach 22-25.5 degrees centigrade which, as it transpired, was rather fortunate. Unknown in living memory, there was a delayed start; barriers were not in position on the road between Sulby and Kirkmichael, and they were a police constable short.

Eight minutes late, Charles Mortimer (Yamaha) got away as number one. it was fortunate that the weather was warm, for almost half an hour had transpired between the time of the “stop engines” The rest of the field went off in pairs at 10 sec intervals and as Rodney was riding No. 30, riding the White-Sondel Yamaha and he left the line two and a half minutes after Chas Mortimer. 

The YAMAHA started well, and he was off down the Glencrutchery Road for Bray Hill and then on to Quarter Bridge. The engine was running sweet and was responsive and he thought “All’s right with the World”.

He passed some stationary riders who had needed to pull out of the race due to bike trouble. Chas Mortimer 'was already missing, his engine seized after the wait, and he begin the long walk back to Douglas from the Highlander five and a half miles out. Lindsay Porter's Honda had broken its throttle cable at Laurel Bank and Rodney packed it in at the same point on the course being nine and a half miles out. His White-Sondel Yamaha tightened up and then seized solid, a job for the recovery team.

The final results for the race were: 1, Dieter Braun (Suzuki) 1 hr 16 min 5 sec.  89.27 mph. 2. Borje Jansson (Maico) 1 hr 18 min 28.4 sec, 86.56 mph; 3. Gunter Bartusch (MZ) 1 hr 19 min 2.8 see. 85.93 mph.

The final results for the race were: 1, Dieter Braun (Suzuki) 1 hr 16 min 5 sec.  89.27 mph. 2. Borje Jansson (Maico) 1 hr 18 min 28.4 sec, 86.56 mph; 3. Gunter Bartusch (MZ) 1 hr 19 min 2.8 see. 85.93 mph. Picture: 1970 IoM 125cc TT July Janssopn and Bartusch approaching Ramsey 

The 1974 Ultra Lightweight 125cc T.T.

More Information and Pictures required.

Chas Mortimer, riding the Danfar-Yamaha, the bookies favourite for this race, hit problems in the 125cc event, going out of the race on the first lap when his engine ceased operation. Austin Hockley took over, with Clive Horton breathing down his neck, and when Hockley retired Horton was an easy winner from Ivan Hodgkinson and Tom Herron.

Rodney Gooch, riding the White Yamaha came in 9th after a good ride where the bike behaved itself and gave whatever Rodders asked of it. His comment was that "I had an enjoyable ride, I love the circuit and the excitement it produces in me" he finished in a time of and at a speed of 82.22mph

The 1974 Production 250cc T.T.

In 1966, 67, and 1968 the ‘50’s class had moved away from the 10sec per pair approach to sending the riders off the line, to a massed start. In the Production races the start approach had also changed with the riders running across the track to their machines in a Le Mans style getaway.  

Rodney Gooch riding a T250cc Suzuki achieved 15th place out of 48 starters in the 1974 250cc Production Race. His time was at a speed of 76.7mph. Here he is approaching Bedstead Corner.

The Isle of Man TTRA Lap of Honour 1999.


Former Bantam racer Rodney Gooch on the Chris Gregory 125cc CR93 replica Honda, at Windy Corner and heading down to the 33rd milestone. 1999 Honda themed TTRA lap of Honour.


The Isle of Man TTRA Lap of Honour 2014.

Rodders Gooch at the front, with Chris Gregory together on Chris's replica 125cc CR 93’s Hondas, heading at speed to Kirk-Michael in the 2014 TTRA Lap of Honour parade. Picture to the right: Rodney still on the same Parade Lap in the 2014 Tourist Trophy races. Over Ballaugh Bridge and on to Quarry Bends.

When Rodney and I started ‘Racing Hire’ we offered 250cc Greeves Silverstones and 125cc CR93s and also a 50cc Dunkley Whippet for our students to ride. 

"I rode the Dunkley around Snetterton but my weight was an issue. One time we turned up for our session at Snetterton with our students, and was asked by the circuit officials if we would allow a race car to circulate with us. It seemed churlish to refuse. But the car on the same circuit as us was Jim Clark I can’t remember what Formula 1 car it was probably Lotus. It was terrifying when it went past!! Especially along the old Norwich straight, you don’t hear it coming".

Rodney's Short-Circuit Racing 

Years 1965/ 66 

Year 1967


Year 1968

Year 1969

For the moment, this closes Rodders page. If anyone had more information on 'The Gooch' and his racing, please let me know.

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