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Birth of the Pembleton - part 1

Phil Gregory and the birth of the Pembleton Part 1

Methanol, Nitrous Oxide, Castrol R and ‘The Worcester Wild Man’


Albert Crackleport

Albert Crackleport here……well would you believe it, P.A.G. digitally enhanced and posted on the Pembleton website. Past tales from Pembletoneers beamed around the world for all to enjoy. Eeeh lad ! back then in’t old days… An email from David Tocher our new webmaster wondered if I could contribute to No30. Was it possible to stir the now retired Crackleport into once more recounting exciting tales of ‘daring do’ ? Of course…..What an honour! “ How did the Pembleton come to being?” “ You were there, how did it happen ?” he asked

Once more let’s look into my old racing notebooks and see when and how I came to meet Phil Gregory aptly named ‘The Worcester Wild Man’ (on more than one occasion by the Motorcycle Press) and how the building and racing of record breaking machines finally lead to the creation of the Pembleton Super Sport and then the Pembleton Brooklands.

Newspaper cuttings, race results, action photographs of every Motorcycle Speed Hill Climb I entered during my own racing career were all pasted in huge scrapbooks. They are now a valuable source of information for this article. Slowly turning the pages on a journey back in time I find the first reference to Phil and myself being in the same place on the same day…….12th April 1981….. Baitings Dam (just above Ripponden). Phil had entered his 500cc RSJ and I was on the newly created Y.Z. Special. Both of us committed to giving all and both of us confident that we were one of the best riders there. Ahhh the immaturity of youth !!! Little did we know that a step learning curve had to be navigated before the silverware would sit proudly on the sideboard. Phil’s route to creating a winner would involve tuning the Rickman framed Jawa to within an inch of its life… wild cams, cosworth piston, huge MK2 Amal feeding masses of methanol into the high compression four valve motor, driving through a Norton box to Dunlop race rubber.

My route was slightly different…..Of course I wanted power and a professional tuning job on the 2 stroke Y.Z. motor gave me that, but I also had reliability and the latest suspension system (monoshock…old hat now I know but then…revolutionary) Once again I too would use the softest compound Dunlop tyres to great effect.

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Phil (seating with hair) and Crackleport discuss tactics.
Baitings Dam 1982

This sport of Hill Climbing !….a funny old game…..Flat out blasts up twisty tarmac courses lasting anything from 27 seconds to just over a minute. 2 practice runs and 2 race runs in the day obviously means a lot of standing around. Chatting about fellow competitors machines and general socialising with fellow racers takes up a good percentage of the remaining time. So that’s how it happened…. A friendship was born over 26 years ago and remains to this day…… and so too started our apprenticeship of building race machines that were ‘fit for purpose’ Strong but light, powerful enough to win but reliable, predictable handling but with plenty of rider feedback and already I guess you can see some of the thinking and similarities to the Pembleton Super Sport and Pembleton Brooklands..

No information availableAhh…..’The Worcester Wild Man’ ……slight journalist exaggeration but fitting all the same. Imagine…. races can be won or lost by 100th of a second , there are no other competitors on the track to gauge speed by so it’s a case of flat out at all times, it’s bound to be a wild ride. A balancing leg out on the corners, last minute braking approaching every bend and full throttle in between. Be under no illusion though the RSJ did take some taming but Phil was up to the job.

It didn’t take long before our apprenticeships were served and class wins were almost now expected by organisers, spectators and of course fellow competitors. Strange thing about engineers though…have you noticed ? Their projects are never finished ! So it was with the highly tuned RSJ becoming an engineering test bed for the installation of NITROUS OXIDE. Nothing in the rules Mr ! ! ! ! Phil’s measure of success would be the track times he’d set previously. Oh how the feathers were ruffled with the Hill Climbing old guard ! Discussed at committee level and unfortunately banned the following year. Anyone would have though there was huge amounts of prize money at stake.

Innovation and outside the box thinking?.another connection to the design of the Pembleton Super Sport and Pembleton Brooklands dropping subconsciously into place?

But Banned !!!!! Against the whole ethos of Speed Hill Climbing. A sport where homebuilt specials have been dominant and encouraged since the birth of motorsport !

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Back home in Bayton this wasn’t taken lightly……..A special to attack outright course records was being planned. Nobody would be forgetting Phil Gregory in a hurry. Using all the knowledge gained from experiments on the 500cc RSJ Phil built a bespoke 1000cc methanol burning V Twin engine from scratch. (Can’t buy a record breaker) Housed in his own designed chassis/frame, driving once more through the long suffering Norton box and fitted with the latest motorcycle technological breakthrough. radial tyres This really was a ‘Fit for Purpose’ motorcycle in the purest form.

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Successful ? You bet !

Setting track records at many of the famous Hill Climb tracks throughout the UK became Phil’s focus. Once set the need to ride there again wasn’t necessary until the record was broken by another competitor. (Not dissimilar to the old Donald Campbell days). The need to travel the length and breadth of the country every weekend had gone. So famous is the 1000cc bike in Hill Climbing circles that Phil was invited to attend the Centenary meeting at Shelsely Walsh and do a couple of demonstration runs Unfortunately the long suffering Norton box cried enough when Phil accidentally changed down instead of up. The potential record breaking run spoilt ! Regretted to this day (A common mistake for any motorcyclist swapping between foreign and old British bikes.) And that’s how we leave this story for now….The Gregory 1000 needing a new 3rd gear..

But what has all this to do with Pembletons Well….plenty….the first clues to the thinking behind the design of the chassis are in the experiments and racing successes all those years ago. Learning ones craft the hard way….How light can I make it ? How strong does this have to be ? Which tyres ? Which shocker ? Which jet in the carb ? Knowledge gained through race experiences. Along with having a gut feeling for what’s right……(and wrong) . Best bit though….It’s all built into your chassis too ! Enjoy !!!!!

Carry on Pembling
Albert Crackleport

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