3:00pm Saturday 25th January 2014
By Alex Bysouth
A MOTORCYCLE legend is to return to racing at one of the world’s oldest circuits after a 30-year absence.
Charlie Williams, who lives in Oakmere near Northwich, dominated the Isle of Man TT’s mountain course in the 1970s and early 80s, collecting a total of nine wins and 21 podium finishes.
Now 63, he has been persuaded by friends to ride a Works Racing Motorcycles-prepared Manx Norton in this year’s Bennetts 500cc Classic TT.
“The worst thing you can do is get back on a bike,” he quipped.
“It was always so enjoyable, but initially I had no intention of returning and this is probably a one-off so we’ll see how it goes.
“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous; as far as I’m concerned it’s going to be fun and I still know the course quite well as I’ve regularly had the chance to ride in parade laps for past winners.
“I don’t expect to be anywhere near as quick as the current riders; I know a lot of them through radio work and commentaries I have done, so I’ve told them to give me a honk as they fly past!”
Williams’ last race was in 1984, finishing second to Graeme McGregor in the junior 250cc category and fifth overall in the 250cc production race.
He made a name for himself at the Manx Grand Prix back in 1971 when he won in the lightweight category, going on to enjoy a prize-laden career as well as racing professionally for Yamaha.
However his remains a familiar face on the island as a breakfast show presenter on Radio TT as well as a trackside commentator.
He returns to action as part of a three-man team with classic racing stalwart Bill Swallow and John Leigh Pemberton.
“Initially I missed it like hell,” said Williams.
“I had a professional career alongside the TT so it was very hard, but then I started doing other stuff like Radio TT, commentaries and chat shows.
“I stopped racing completely but I did Goodwood Revival, then had a go at Silverstone and raced at the Lansdowne Classic Championship and discovered that I enjoyed it.”
Alongside radio, commentaries and after dinner talks, Williams ran Chester-based shop Everything But Bikes and, despite retiring last year, confesses motorcycling has been his life.
“I’m still very much involved with bikes,” he added.
“They are my life, just like they were when I started riding at about 12 or 13. I grew up next door to Oulton Park after all!”
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