Murray Walker: Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken

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Bathurst Cradle of Australian Motor Racing Please note that this example has the previous owner's name written on the front end paper.


  • Murray Walker: Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken.
  • Murray Walker: Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken : Walker, : : Blackwell's.
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Paddock to Podium The Mechanics View Automotive Posters Brochures Magazines. She created a wonderful home for me to grow up in, I loved her dearly and suspect that her influence resulted in me marrying as late as I did. The son of William Walker of Aberdeen, Company Secretary of the Union Castle shipping line, and his wife Jessie, this young, attractive man most attractive, even in hospital blues, according to my mother was potty about motor bikes. His father, Grandpa Walker, I remember as a kind, gentle man with a fine white beard.

His wife, who produced four sons and two daughters, was a dominant woman who ruled her family with a rod of iron and adored my father, her youngest son, probably because he was the only one who stood up to her. And, the way these things happen, their marriage was followed by the arrival of 9lb 12oz Graeme Murray Walker on 10 October Fortunately both of us survived, but my parents never tried for another.

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My mother had always made the running and was keen to have another, but the fear of losing her had well and truly put him off. I worshipped my father for he was a wonderful man. He was kind, generous, as honest as the day is long, a brilliant communicator and an immensely hard worker. Not a demonstrative man but a pillar of support if ever one was needed and never deviating in his loyalty to his beloved wife and son. But he was a terrible worrier. His passion was motor bikes. He joined the Royal Engineers as a despatch rider in World War One because of it and they dominated his life.

But motor cycles were looked on very differently in those days. Cars were rare and for the wealthy.

There were no interesting and exotic foreign foods, no wine-drinking and no credit cards. You were somebody if you had a motor bike and very much somebody if you had a motor bike and sidecar.

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Murray Walker

So, as my Dad made an increasingly successful living through racing them and tuning them for others, I grew up in a very comfortable atmosphere dominated by motor bikes. It was certainly an unusual childhood. Where the fathers of other children went to work in the morning, came home in the evening and were home at the weekends, mine was forever disappearing to race on the Continent, soon to reappear with some massive trophy, for he was very much one of the top men of his day. He wore himself out editing a motor-cycle magazine and recruiting despatch riders for the army in World War Two, smoked too much and died in at only 66 years of age.

Conversely, my mother lived until she was a spirited She had a home in the New Forest fairly near us and not long before she died I went to see her on one of my regular visits. To the extent that I thought about it at all, racing motor cycles was what he did for a living. None of my friends did that. France and Germany were more foreign then than Russia is now.

People had neither the time nor the money to travel far from home.

When I was born my father was a works rider for the fabled Norton motor-cycle company with its legendary Bracebridge Street address which, in truth, was anything but inspiring, being a typically drab s Birmingham factory site. In my study I have the actual piston from his side-valve engine. It makes me feel quite spooky when I look at it.

And that was where my father really came good. The promotional benefits, both at home and overseas, that came from sporting supremacy were immense, so racing success was vital. In he came within an ace of winning what was then by far the most important race in the world, the Senior TT, retiring in the lead with only 14 of the miles to go after a titanic scrap with the great Charlie Dodson.

Just two months later he got his revenge by becoming the first man to win a motor cycle Grand Prix at an average speed of over 80mph. It was the Ulster Grand Prix and this time he beat Charlie, after an even more epic duel, by 11 seconds in a race where they were wheel-to-wheel for over two and a half hours.

And this on the bumpy, gruelling Clady Circuit riding a bike with no rear suspension, almost solid girder forks, hand-operated gear change and skimpy, narrow, bone-hard tyres. No disrespect to the modern superstars but they made them tough in those days. With the sales office in London and the factory in Coventry my father had constantly to commute from one to the other by way of the A5 in his mighty 4. It was a stunning motor car. Off we went then to Enfield in Middlesex, which is where I spent most of my time from the age of five until I married at the ripe old age of Father raced on for Rudge on bikes whose constant development by the brilliant chief designer George Hack had made them the class of the field.

Murray Walker to retire; unless I'm very much mistaken

In , Hack masterminded a new cc which had never even turned a wheel until it got to the Isle of Man, but the three works entries finished first, second and third with all three team members, my father, Ernie Nott and Tyrrell Smith, breaking the race and lap records. Mighty days! Had there been World Championships in those days, my father would undoubtedly have won at least one of them.


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  5. In the meantime I grew up. If my mother had an idyllic youth then I most certainly did. On one occasion he got me out in front of the class to beat me as they did in those days for something trivial like putting sticky seccotine on the board rubber. I really enjoyed school. I was no great scholar, but a steady grafter; I got School Certificate with Credits the equivalent of A-levels today including, believe it or not, a Distinction in Divinity.