Colin Seeley, one of the greats of British motorcycle racing, has died. He was 84 and had been unwell for some time.
Mr Seeley’s early claim to fame was as one of our most successful sidecar racers in the sixties. Together with passenger Wally Rawlings they won many British and World Championship races, including the 1964 Dutch TT, on outfits powered by G50 and BMW engines.
But his true contribution came later with the design and construction of Seeley frames which took many top riders to victories, including John Cooper, many on his Yamsel.
Paul Smart spoke warmly of his friend: ”He was unique in his knowledge of every aspect of motorcycle racing as a rider, an engineer, an inventor and a businessman. There was nobody quite like him then and nobody now.”
Mr Seeley’s first ride was on his father’s Vincent Rapide, two years after he left school at 14, and his motorcycle apprenticeship at Harcourt Motorcycles near Bexleyheath where he got to know Bernie Ecclestone who ran a second hand motorbike shop nearby. Many years later they were to join forces when Ecclestone bought the Brabham F1 team.
Two years later, after being rejected for National Service as unfit, he decided that owning his own business was the way to go and he set up in Belvedere trading, with his father Percy, as C J Seeley (Sales) Ltd. His business career was on its way.
But he wanted to race having become a regular visitor to Brands Hatch. And in 1960 he coupled a Canterbury racing sidecar to a Matchless G50 and a year later finished sixth in the TT.
The next few years saw great success at home and abroad followed by his greatest achievements in changing the face of British racing, designing and constructing Seeley-framed racing motorcycles.
Riders from Tommy Robb to Barry Sheene benefitted from the great handling.
In the 1970s he started producing road bikes but also had an interesting reunion with Ecclestone and Brabham racing cars. It was not always an easy relationship between two single-minded individuals but not without success.
It was at this time that Colin became deeply involved in charity work as a result of his first wife, Joan, dying from cancer. He established The Joan Seeley Pain Relief Memorial Trust and ultimately, together with his second wife Eva, ran it raising
considerable amounts towards buying hospital equipment.
He also decided to chronicle his career with two prodigiously detailed tomes entitled “Colin Seeley, Racer and the `rest”. It is unlikely that a more detailed record of racing over the years has ever been produced. The money raised went to the charity, one of the many good causes that Colin Seeley supported in his later years.
Smart said: ”He will be seriously missed. And certainly by me.”