Minter was the master, says Colin Seeley

Minter and Seeley (left) in the fifties
Minter and Seeley (left) in the fifties Picture: Seeley Family Archive

Derek Minter, the King of Brands, will be buried at Barham Crematorium in Kent next Friday, January 30. He died on January 2, at the age of 82, having been in a nursing home for some time.

For a decade commencing in the mid-fifties, Minter dominated British short circuit racing and won more races at Brands Hatch than any other rider - with a line into Paddock Bend not copied by anybody - including a famous victory over John Surtees and the works MV in 1958.

Colin Seeley writes: “It was a race long duel, was one of his greatest successes and he was proclaimed the King of Brands by commentator Murray Walker and was known to this day by that title. But he made history in the Isle of Man by being the first rider to lap the TT course at 100mph on a single cylinder Norton in 1960. And was the winner of the 250cc race on a Honda 4 in 1962.”

A year later he was recruited by Geoff Duke to ride with John Hartle in the works Gilera team in an attempt to wrest the world 500cc championship from Mike Hailwood and MV. A crash at Brands Hatch in which he was injured and Norton Dominator rider Dave Downer killed put paid to his challenge.

Seeley continues: “In the mid-sixties Derek was at the cross roads of his career. This was just at the time when Colin Seeley Racing Developments was being established with the aim of building Seeley Matchless and AJS race bikes. Derek made a brave move and joined us for the 1966 race season, no pay just prize money.

“It gave us great credibility and it was to Derek’s credit that he took such a chance with not a bike built. By the second national event, on the long circuit at Brands, we would post our first victory with the fastest lap. And he won again at Oulton against John Cooper, Griff Jenkins, Malcolm Uphill, Bill Ivy and Stuart Graham.

“As a Kent boy, like myself, Derek was outspoken and would not think twice before criticising any product suppliers, including Dunlop. And by mid season I sensed he was unhappy with his overall performance. Certainly we had suffered teething problems but through no lack of effort with my BMW outfit taking second place. Frustratingly, it was to be the end of our partnership, Derek returning to his beloved Nortons with Ray Petty.

“We were honoured by Derek’s presence, often at our home where my first wife Joan provided bed and breakfast prior to a meeting.He was a good friend who helped set us up on the road to success, playing his part more than fairly. He will be sorely missed. His death, on January 2nd, was also my 79th birthday. Perhaps he had the last laugh.”

Derek Minter is survived by his daughters Leanne and Michelle. He will be buried beside his wife Jenny, who died some months earlier, at The Cemetery, Barham, near Canterbury,
on Friday January 30 at 1.20pm.

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