Mick Patrick - A Career Cut Short

David E. Langford continues his series on Oxfordshire motorsport heroes who have inspired his work.

The illustrations on this page show the diverse talents of one of Oxford's most promising stars of motorcycle road racing during the 1970s. Mick Patrick was well on his way to stardom when a freak accident at the Cadwell Park Circuit, Lincolnshire, ended his life.

The picture of him riding his Bultaco trials bike (right) was inspired by some movie film I took of him around 1971, when the Cowley rider was practising near Port Meadow.

Earlier that day I had been filming the celebrated artist David Shepherd, while he was driving his own steam railway locomotive The Black Prince through Oxford.

After filming David Shepherd, my attention was diverted by someone riding a motorcycle on the steep banking on the side of Walton Well Road Railway Bridge. Many local riders had made the banking into a motorcycle trials section, and to see an expert perform on it was an opportunity not to be missed.

I recognised the rider as Mick Patrick. I explained to him about making the film, and he obliged with some spectacular stunt riding which I now have on videotape. Some friends and I had used this course on the odd occasion in the past, after purchasing a small trials bike for winter practice. But to see it being used by an expert was worth filming.

The course today is completely overgrown with trees and totally unrecognisable. From an environmental point of view probably a change for the better but society is paying a high price for overprotecting the young from 'the dangers' of motorcycling for example.

Mick Patrick

The road race study shows Mick Patrick in a much more serious pose, riding the Harold Coppock-sponsored 700cc Yamaha. Harold's previously-mentioned status as Carterton chicken farmer turned race sponsor, led to his protégé Mick Patrick becoming widely known as Super Chick.

His friend Ian Beacham, the editor of Motorcycle Racing magazine, gave us the following account of Mick's outstanding career in the February/March issue of his journal in 1977, headlined 'Superchick wants to rule the roost.'

"Mick had started competing as a schoolboy scrambler and in 1966 came third in the championship. His road racing career did not take off until he was 19, after he had saved up enough money from working as a mechanic to buy his first road racers - a watercooled 125cc Bultaco and a 250cc Ducati."

"He later opted for a TD250 Yamaha, which brought him his first taste of success with the Midland Motorcycle Racing Club 250cc championship."

"He was approached by Harold Coppock in 1975 after Mick had teamed up with South African Alan North in the production TT on the Isle of Man."

"Mike Wheeler motorcycles of Witney sponsored the pair with a 250 RD Yamaha, and on their first visit to the Island they came third in their class and fifth overall, a tremendous achievement."

"Harold Coppock included Mick Patrick in his team for the 1975 season after this TT win. His team mates were Steve Parrish and Wayne Dinham. Tony Smith, of Brize Norton, supplied the team with a TZ 350 Yamaha, on which Mick won the 'Bemsee' (British Motorcycle Racing Club) Championship."

"Parrish and Dinham eventually left to join other teams, leaving Mick on his own. Later in 1975, Harold unveiled a new 700 Yamaha for the following 1976 season. Contesting the British 500cc championship on a 500 Suzuki twin, he came third at the end of the '76 season, adding impetus for the larger capacity challenges which lay ahead."

In the June 1977 issue of Motorcycle Racing, Ian Beacham wrote the following obituary "The loss of a friend is always heartbreaking. I considered Mick Patrick a friend. Only hours before his unfortunate crash at Cadwell Park I was joking, drinking tea and chatting happily with the Oxford rider in the caravan. I had a lot of time for Mick Patrick - he knew how to ride a bike and seemed to enjoy life without too many apparent worries."

"He was always polite, he tried hard to improve - although it appeared he took very few risks - and was always unnecessarily modest about his racing ability."

"Mick, 25, was anxious to receive his ordered Suzuki 500-4 which had been delayed in delivery, so that he could compete in a few more races at each meeting and he may well have progressed further. A happy go lucky lad, just before that bad April day... he was one of the sport's nice guys. Racing will be the poorer without him."

There is a website (www.tz350.net) dedicated to riders who lost their lives participating in the sport they loved. I found it by tapping in Mick Patrick's name on Google.

A rider following Mick when he came off at Cadwell said the yellow flags - to slow down competitors - were being waved and he took avoiding action. Unfortunately, the rider behind him failed to see the flags and attempted to overtake. In the process, Mick was struck and died as he lay on the ground.


• If you have memories of you own racing experiences, contact David E Langford, 90 Great Clarendon Street, Oxford 0X2 6AT or call 01865 434359.
June 2007 Oxfordshire Limited Edition