To kick off a special exhibition dedicated to their racing champions, the Triumph factory visitor experience put on an exclusive event hosted by Steve (Stavros) Parrish which featured collector / restorer Dick Shepherd and two-times TT winner and 675 pilot Gary Johnson among members of the company’s factory staff. Amazingly, we had a secret agent on the scene…
‘Aches and pains respect no man, nor any worthy intention.’
Population demographics will ensure that in times to come the above wise words will be recognised as an accurate, memorable, overused stalwart of self-declared wisdom, but for now we can all celebrate it as just another of my shallow and trite platitudes.
Thus it came to pass that, in spite of best intentions and plans and preparations, at 16:50 hours, Tuesday, 11 September 2018, I grabbed my non-motorcycling leather jacket, my walking stick, my prepaid ticket and gingerly eased myself into my trusty MG Rocketship and headed West on A 14. How sad that one now has to venture onto M1 North (or else cross-country-ise) to get to A5 North.
My destination was the Triumph Motorcycles Factory Visitor Experience at Hinckley to take part in an event to celebrate Triumph’s racing heritage, from the very first GP winner to the new 765 GP2 engines that will be standard for the next three seasons’ racing.
I arrived early to find at least a dozen other visitors already there sat outside in the balmy late summer evening air, but surprisingly little hot air being talked. I made a valiant effort to correct this situation with little success. It was more like a morbid doctor’s surgery than a motorcycle event. Scanning the near horizon, I spotted Henry Cole sat at the next set of benches but not looking particularly keen to circulate beyond the two or three people he was talking to.
Then, as the doors were opened to allow the increasing and thankfully more talkative throng access to the building, Stavros and Gary appeared with some Triumph officials who appeared to be rehearsing them for an audition for Strictly Come Dancing. Once done, Stavros immediately began to circulate and chat to all present.
Tea and coffee were served and a fabulous finger buffet was displayed but only sampled by a few impatient visitors as we were being marshalled into the theatre area in the café (or is it a bistro?)
Steve Parrish then did an excellent job of organising a presentation by each of the guests followed by an open Q&A session for audience members. This was a real high value event with lots of revelations and information flying around the room; I’m so glad I was there.
We all went outside again to be greeted by the unseen sound of two Triumph engines, 70 years betwixt them – pure music. Steve and Gary came into view doing a lap of honour of the car park finishing for photos at the entrance. Steve revealed that he was tempted to head for the exit on the beautifully restored original GP racer as he rode.
The ample buffet was enjoyed by all present and we were invited to the official opening of the new visitor centre, shop and upstairs displays. The scissors for the ceremonial ribbon cutting were fittingly passed to Dick Sheppard.
Notwithstanding the fact that this is a stunningly well prepared and well-presented facility entirely appropriate to one of the UK’s leading engineering facilities and without doubt the most accessible market leading company in the country and probably beyond, it was given out that Triumph are already planning further innovation and upgrades.
Throughout the event the enthusiasm and commitment of all of the Triumph employees present was perhaps almost as delightful as the new 765.
Suddenly, 21:00 hours was upon us and I somewhat reluctantly headed for home. It was a fantastic evening of information and entertainment and a source of many treasured memories.
The Triumph Racing Champions exhibition is a temporary display until 30th November 2018, so catch it while you can. It showcases the rarest and most valuable Triumph Grand Prix racers in history including Ernie Lyons’ 1946 Tiger 100 (the first twin engine to win at the Isle of Man), six immaculately restored original Triumph Grand Prix race motorcycles and, on public display for the first time anywhere, Triumph’s Moto2TM engine development prototype.
Words by A65Bill
Photos by Bill and Triumph Motorcycles
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