Banbury’s racing ace — Dan Shorey

David E Langford Continues his series on heroes who have inspired his work Oxfordshire motorsport

In Grand Prix racing, few manufacturers have been able to produce effective competition for the Big Three' - Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki. In the 1960s one of the most competitive was the Spanish Bultaco company, founded in the 1950s by Francisco Bulto.

Dan Shorey was the first to import Bultaco machines into Britain from Spain and was a works rider for the company in the European Grand Prix road racing championships.

Being a works rider for the Spanish factory was no easy ride, yes they provided the machines and spares but all the preparation and maintenance had to be carried out by the rider, or his own mechanics.

For Dan Shorey, this was no problem.

He was a first class motorcycle engineer who prepared and repaired motorcycles for a living. Dan was born into a motorcycling family in 1938 and left school in 1954 to work in his father's motorcycle business, North Bar garage in Banbury.

Dan's father, Bert, was a road racer and grass track rider who won the red Marley Hill climb in 1938 riding a 250 Rudge. Dan followed in his father's footsteps and started grass tracking and scrambling in 1954. During 1955 his entry into road racing began, like many before him, in the Motor Cycling Club (MCC) speed trials at Silverstone. His mount at the time was a 200cc Triumph Tiger Cub which gave him first place in the 200cc class.

When I met Dan for the first time in May 2007, I explained that I had seen him racing at Mallory Park in 1966. I was 17, and completely overawed with the whole atmosphere of motorcycle road racing.

By coincidence, Mallory Park was the venue for Dan Shorey's first real road race in 1956 where he finished mid-field on the 250 Rudge. As his success grew he was chosen by Stan Hailwood to partner his son Mike in the Thruxton 500-mile race. Both riders shared a Triumph T110, and gained one of their most significant victories in June 1958.

In Stan Hailwood's book, My Son Mike, he recalls the event in detail: "From my experience of driving in three 500-mile races at Brooklands, I knew how vital the seconds were and we had everything set up. I had a line drawn. Mike had to pull up to this, get off the bike on the left and let his partner Dan Shorey get on the machine from the right while I refilled. We got the stops down to seconds..."

This magnificent win for Mike and Dan made other teams think the bike itself had been the real winning force, and some rivals had made this known to Stan. However, it was only a short while after this race that everyone involved in the sport began to realise that the win in reality was down to the pure riding skills of these two great Oxfordshire riders.

This was an indication of future events. After purchasing the ex-Mike Hailwood 125 M. V. Agusta in 1958, Dan went on to win the Pinhard Prize, awarded to the best all-round club racer aged under-21.

His career took off with lap records at circuits all over the country, winning the 125 ACU (Auto Cycle Union) Gold Star in 1961, and the 125 and 250 ACU Gold Stars in 1962; the same year he started in all five solo races at the Isle of Man TT; 50 cc with a German Kreidler, 125 and 250cc Bultacos and 350 and 500 Nortons.

Dan's racing continued using Manx Nortons which became the favoured mount of many road racers throughout the 1960s. Using the same Norton machines he won the 500cc Austrian Grand Prix at Saltzburgring in 1965, the same year he won the 350 British championship.

In 1968 he was second in the 500 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. With many silver TT replica wins under his belt, Dan was still racing up until the late 1980s in various classic races and parades on his beloved 350 Manx Norton.

Dan's enthusiasm for his chosen career has never diminished and, talking to him, I got the impression that the faintest suggestion would have seen him get on the bike and ride it with as much skill as ever, regardless of his advancing years.

If you have any memories of your own experiences in motor sport, please write to me at 90 Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6AT or telephone 01865 434359. Commissions accepted.December 2007 Oxfordshire Limited Edition 57