Phil Read The prince of speed

by  Roy  and  Chris

Phil Read is the winner of 8 world championships between 1964 and 1977.  In this book he recalls his battles with the other riders of the time.

I first went to Brands Hatch racing circuit in Kent in 1960; I was part of a group of four.  I was the youngest by a few years and I popped along there on my two-stroke motorcycle.  Derek Minter was the “King of Brands” – he had won a lot of races there.  Phil was often either second or third, sometimes with only a tyre’s-width between those places.

This is a first-class book – again nearly 300 pages, but these are A4 size.  The crowds at British race circuits averaged at 50,000 for several years.  On one occasion we all went to a meeting at Brands and it was announced that there were 60,000 spectators at the track.  Looking across a sea of motorcycles in the parking area we spotted something glinting in the distance – two cars, and all the rest were bikes!!

Phil mentions the crowds in Eastern Europe for a Grand Prix – there could be a many as 100,000 for the practice and 300,000 for the race itself!!  In Britain the crowds were coming back to see a rising star – Mike Hailwood.

In this book he describes the glamour, the money (or lack of it), the politics and the Grand Prix “circus”.  Phil is notable for being the first competitor to win the 125, 250 and 500c classes.

The last time I saw Phil racing was at Reims in France; this was a Festival of Speed, and basically, they were doing parade laps.  The wife of one of the English riders told me that the word “parade” means that you go as fast as you can.  Agostini was also among the riders.  I was standing looking at their bikes when the riders started them up, warming up the engines, and then they moved off to the start line.  I did not move and they rode around me.  This was a much more relaxed event than on any British race circuit.  I nipped to the circuit to watch the parade and they were certainly going as fast as they could.

This book was printed in 2014, and it contains a list of the top ten riders, with all times and all classes given.  In this list Phil is placed “sixth” – however this may have changed by now.

At the end of the book there are 4 pages listing his FIM world championships:  top three race finishes.

Phil is Britain’s most successful living motorcycle road racer.