9. Peter Inchley
Road racing is full of unsung heroes, the dedicated backroom boys, whose efforts were responsible for many of the legendary successes, and achievements of the racing stars.
But Peter Inchley; with his work on two-stroke engine-performance; allied to his admirable riding skill; bought him, right to the fore.
Peter Inchley and the Starmaker powered Villiers Special
Before his 16th birthday, he was the very proud owner of his first motorcycle, much to the distress of his parents; he had saved his own money to buy it, from his job as a delivery boy, for the local grocer.
It was an Excelsior Trial’s and on his 16th birthday he rode it to school, and parked it alongside his teachers car.
Later, “Who’s that piece of junk in the car park”, the teacher inquired, looking out the window. “Mine!” replied Peter, insulted, he then donned his cap and goggles, said goodbye to his friends, and duly rode out of the front gates, never to return.
He was sufficiently confident that he had done enough to secure his place as an apprentice at the BSA motorcycle factory in Small Heath, Birmingham, along side his life long friend, Bob Trigg, it was September 1955. He soon entered trials, with assistance from his friend, Sammy Miller, winning on his first outing. Then he bought a James, which he soon followed with a brand new Tiger Cub, he immediately dismembered it, removing all the unnecessary weight, which his father thought was an act of sheer vandalism.
Peter Inchley / Ariel Arrow / Thruxton 1961
He moved from BSA to work for Ariel, he liked the potential of the Arrow, which had just been launched, and in 1961, on his self-tuned version won the Ragley Hall Hill Climb. The Arrow was very quick but was beset by mechanical failures; the plain roller bearings in the big end would give numerous problems. Nevertheless, he recorded many victories, with podium finishes. He recorded the first ever sub 14s standing quarter mile for a 250cc machine, demonstrating his ability to develop and ride. He then rode the Arrow, teamed with Robin Good to victory, in the Barcelona 24 hour race, the Thruxton 500 and the Silverstone 100.
Towards the end of the 1962 season, he fitted the conrod from a Lambretta engine, with its caged needle roller bearing, big end, into his Ariel Arrow. Extra power was obtained and the engines Achilles’ heel cured. Robin Good, with this engine in a Ducati frame, beat Ducati mounted Mike Hailwood, at Mallory Park.
Then unexpectedly at the end of the 1962 season, Peter left Ariel, to ride for the EMC works team, on their two-stroke 125cc road racer.
EMC 125cc Spanish GP / 1963
There was no doubt this was a very fast machine, but also unreliable, it would break down, race after race, and after leading the Spanish GP, ahead of the works Suzuki’s, a cracked expansion chamber ended his race. He threw in his helmet and walked out, unemployed, after the 1963 season.
The year at EMC had further developed his engine knowledge and the development of the expansion chamber at EMC had shown great potential. He now wished to exploit these enhanced skills, by running his own show, taking full control of his own engineering team.
The Villiers Engineering Company soon approached him with an offer to develop their new 247cc two-stroke Starmaker engine, this was to be his perfect opportunity, and he got straight to work. Villiers were supplying the engine to Cotton and DMW among others, so to preserve neutrality Inchley slotted one into a 125 Bultaco frame. This would prove to be a very fruitful match of engine, frame and rider; it would perfectly demontrate his new skills.
Peter Inchley / Villiers Special / Brands Hatch 1966
During the 1964 and 1965 season he shared the Cotton Conquest with Derek Minter, and they dominated the Thruxton 500 races. In 1965 he won the British Championship Race, as it was then known, and the British Championship Series in 1966.
Then in the Isle of Man TT, he finished in an incredible third place, on his Bultaco framed Special, an achievement of which he was justifiably very proud, this was the Starmaker’s, coming of age. His average speed of nearly 92 mph is even more impressive when he only had 36 bhp available, and a record for a 250cc single engine, which still survives to this day, a real tribute to his engineering skills but also to his abilities as a true road-racer.