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Old 09-07-2017, 06:36 PM   #1
twowheeler
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Default Roger Barker's Norton

Roger Barker raced GP and other bikes in the 1950s. He was part of the Aussie contingent who went to Europe, bought old trucks/buses, loaded them with race bikes and spent the season driving all over Europe entering as many events as possible.

Don Cox's terrific book "Circus Life" details these riders' experiences.

I recently learned that Roger Barker was my Uncle Roger's uncle, after whom he was named.
Roger Barker was killed in a 1957 East German race. A bio - http://www.motorsportretro.com/2010/...harmed-a-town/




In 1957 Roger campaigned two bikes, both Nortons - a 350cc and a 500cc. The 350cc has disappeared, but through extensive detective work by another branch of the family, his 500cc bike has been tracked down.
All that was needed on my part was to join a couple of dots then contact the current owner, Ian, who lives in Southampton, England, to try to arrange a visit.

Despite being in the midst of chemo , Ian was more than happy to let me see the bike . It's as original as possible except for the dustbin fairing.
















Ian still rides it in charity-race type events from time to time -




Roger's bikes were shipped back to Britain after the accident. Nothing then is known until 1961 when the 500cc reemerged from, it's thought, the back of either a dealer's or the factory's shed. Here's its bill of sale (9 days before I was born btw) -




Owner Ian is a life-long Norton tragic, buying his first Norton as a teenager - a Dominator, which he still has, along with many others besides. His shed is an Aladdin's cave of Nortons. He machines his own parts when they're unavailable.
His favourite bike is his first Dominator and his least favourite is a Norton Rotary. The Rotary is physically massive - it wouldn't be much smaller than an original Goldwing - but the main issue is that, besides hair-raising fuel economy, its rotary engine takes ages to warm up and very quickly cools down. So the first few miles of any ride consists of bad-temperedness, pig-rooting, etc, then all is good until the next set of traffic lights. 1/2 a minute of idling is all it takes for it to cool off, then the whole process starts again !


















Unfortunately the quality of my photos aren't great, but I'm really grateful for the opportunity to see the bike.


Roger Barker raced the 1957 Isle of Man TT. He finished 10th in the Senior (500cc) at an average speed of 90.79mph, and was a DNF in the Junior (350cc).
When I was on the IOM a couple of weeks later I scoured its museums for memorabilia, but they're like hen's teeth for that period -

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Last edited by twowheeler; 10-07-2017 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 09-07-2017, 06:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Roger Barker's Norton

Wow!!!!
That is awesome, Peter. How on earth did you find out about your uncle's uncle in the first place?
...and goodonya for following it up and going to see the bike and current owner. You must be over the moon
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Old 09-07-2017, 07:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: Roger Barker's Norton

Quote:
Originally Posted by twowheeler View Post
Unfortunately the quality of my photos aren't great, but I'm really grateful for the opportunity to see the bike.
They are just perfect Peter.
Seeing all those Norton's reminded me of the film Quadrophenia.
Released 1979.
What a great story too.
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Old 09-07-2017, 07:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Roger Barker's Norton

Hiya Goodie, I knew of Roger Barker, in the same way as I know of John Surtees and other racers of that era.
But it was only last year, when my Uncle Roger learned I was visiting the IOM TT, that he told me that Roger Barker was his mum's brother. I had no idea.
So I dug a bit and with the help of google found a letter written to a bike magazine a decade ago from a guy, Brenley, who turned out to be a distant cousin-by-marriage. Via more google/white pages located his address and number, then talked to him to find that he and his brother Antony had tracked down the 500cc bike.
As total tragics , they had somehow obtained the part number listing for Roger Barker's bikes and had the word out amongst contacts and parts makers. Eventually, when a Norton parts supplier in New Zealand received an order for some parts which matched these numbers, they were able to trace the bike to the current owner Ian .
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Old 09-07-2017, 08:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Roger Barker's Norton

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougman1 View Post
Seeing all those Norton's reminded me of the film Quadrophenia.
Released 1979.

Last edited by twowheeler; 10-07-2017 at 09:15 AM.
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