Short in stature but long in experience, Derrick Edmondson has packed an awful lot into his 62 years. So when he appears as one of the guests of honour at September’s Classic Dirt Bike Show he won’t be short on stories.
The audience at the Hagon Shocks-sponsored event, which runs over the weekend of September 18 and 19 at Stafford Showground, will be spellbound by a man who has seen and done so much in the two-wheeled world.
Eldest son of Pete (manufacturer of Dalesmans in the 1960s) and elder brother to multi Enduro world champion Paul, Derrick is a nine-time class winner of the British Enduro Championship, BBC TV Kickstart trials rider, plus mechanic/mentor to two of the world’s greatest trials riders. His times with Steve Saunders and Eddy Lejeune, his journeys with HRC, his involvement with the British ISDT teams and his duties as a mechanic for Sylvain Geboers and Stefan Everts are breathtaking in their variety.
Then comes the Paris Dakar rally; how he was trained to change an engine in the desert, how he came to be the driver of one of the biggest trucks in the rally, and how he has built a truck to support TT star James Hillier in next year’s rally. Jack Burnicle will be asking the questions on stage at the Stafford Showground, so now’s the time to guarantee your place.
There’s perhaps no bigger character in the off-road scene than one of the guests of honour for this year’s Classic Dirt Bike Show, Arthur Browning.
Despite Covid-19 causing a ‘one year only’ change away from the usual Telford venue in February, this year’s Hagon Shocks-sponsored autumn show at Stafford Showground on September 18/19 is set to provide just as much interest and entertainment.
And perhaps no one is worth listening to more than the 6ft 2 in Brummie all-rounder, one of the real characters of the sport, who will regale all with his repertoire of one-liners and classic tales on stage each lunchtime at the event.
Tall in the saddle and big with the stories, Arthur has indeed done it all: One of the all-time great ‘Enduroists’ (nine golds over a 16-year span), a top-flight scrambler, a professional speedway rider for nine years, a British championship grass tracker and a pretty good trials rider who once got runner-up in a world championship round.
Then in later years, he became a supreme classic scrambler and multiple Red Marley hill climb winner – oh, plus Manx Grand Prix road racer.
John Giles won more ISDT golds and Jeff Smith more scrambles titles. Ron Langston was a better trials rider and road racer and many a star man who won more grass races, trials and speedway meetings, but nobody comes close to the sheer breadth of achievements as the charismatic Brummie.
“I suppose my best scrambles year was the winter of 1968 when I was runner up to Banksy [John Banks] in the BBC Grandstand series and then won the ITV World of Sport series in the same period.
“I came close to winning a 250 Grand Prix race at Donington Park in the late Sixties – leading the race on the last lap before four big jumps on the finishing straight saw Joel Robert squeeze past.
“But there was lots going on apart from racing. The Cadbury’s Milk Tray advert was a good example. I’d had a call from Illustra Films in the summer of 1974 to see if I would go to Spain to film this ad. At the time I had a contract with Norton Villiers riding the 410 Stormer. Apparently, their PR man Dave Joyce had told the director that he knew ‘just the man for the job!’ Trouble was they wanted me to jump over some Spanish ravine! But not only that. Because I was riding for Norton they were keen for the Cadbury’s ad to be performed on a Norton Commando!
“I wasn’t overly convinced. But the thought of a couple of weeks of Spanish sun and some decent money persuaded me to join the 15 strong film crew on the flight to Malaga. Anyway, we got there and I spent the next few days getting this dammed Commando up to the top of a mountain before it started to fall apart. I’d ridden this thing up a goat track next to a cliff face before they found this gap for me to jump over. But after a few jumps, the footrests were on the ground and the frame was not far above them!
“By that time it was clear that we needed a proper steed so they persuaded some guy to lend us his hardly-used Maico as the Norton had pretty much self-destructed. Anyway, with a far better bike, I thought we could do something a bit more spectacular for the cameras. Then I found a five-metre jump which looked quite spicy. We built a ramp and covered it with earth before everything was finally ready. It was quite a big drop if I didn’t make it but I didn’t see a problem until, as I hit the ramp, the damn thing jumped out of gear!
“Pretty quickly I got off it as it hit the other side, but I was a bit luckier than the bike which I last saw disappearing down the mountainside. I seem to recall its owner never thought it went as well after that!”