This is the second in the My First Scooter Rally series and features my husband, Lee Richards. Like me, Lee was a teenager in the 1980s and got into the scooter scene via the post-Quadrophenia mod route. He’s originally from Bedworth, in the midlands, then lived in Nuneaton. He has built many scooters over the years, and this is the story of how his passion for Italian shopping bikes started.
For Lee’s 40th birthday I arranged for his scooter to be on the front of Scootering magazine (thanks Andy G!) and the Warmwell patch (thanks Andy SWS!).
Now it’s ten years later and I’m marking the milestone of Lee’s 50th by turning back the clock to tell the story of his first scooter rally. It’s not quite in the same league as a magazine cover or patch, but I think he’ll be pleased to be in the stellar company of Norrie Kerr, the first subject of this series.
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I’ve known Lee for over 17 years now, having met him across the breakfast table when we were staying in the same B&B at the Isle of Wight in 2001. We got together at the same rally the following year, after I hopped on the back of his PX for the rideout. The rest, as they say, is history…
Lee Richards : My first rally
How did you first get into scooters?
I caught the tail end of the mod revival in 81/82, and along with my mates at school became a little mod. After watching Quadrophenia I was hooked.
My older brother Paul had a few scooters before he joined the army, and a friend of ours who lived in the same street, Neil Thay, also had a scooter.
What was your first scooter rally?
It was Torquay 1984, and I was 15. Me and my mates were all too young to ride scooters so we pestered Neil to take his car. It was a bright yellow Mk2 Ford Escort. There was me, Neil, his brother Tony and two others but I can’t recall who they were.
I knew my dad wouldn’t let me go to a scooter rally, so I told him we were going camping locally. He wasn’t happy when I came back with my Paddy Smith patch!
I remember we stopped at a cider farm on the way to get some scrumpy, all chipping in for a flagon or two. We finally got to Torquay and I was blown away by what I saw. Cutdown scooters, scooter boys… It was amazing.
What job were you doing at the time? How much money did you spend at the rally?
I was still at school, so it was probably about a fiver max.
Where did you stay when you were there?
We decided it would be a good idea to sleep rough and noticed that the seats on the prom had a roof space above them, so at the end of the night we opened a hatch and climbed up. Unbeknownst to us, somebody else had had the same idea and after realising that it was just ever so slightly cramped, and also very dusty, we climbed back down and dossed on the seats out in the open.
Were you in a club at the time?
No, but Neil and the older lads we looked up to were in the Bedworth Saints. I joined the Coventry Wipeouts in 1985, then Cecil Drives a Combine SC, named after a Meteors album track. I went on to join Bad Company SC, from Nuneaton, in the late 80s, or early 90s, and then finally Nuneaton Pacemakers SC in the early 2000s.
Do you have any memories of the rally itself? Any funny moments?
While we were in the town centre we parked up a little side road. We obviously pissed off some locals because when we got back to the car we had been boxed in. Not to be outdone, we bounced the car out of the space and drove off up to the campsite.
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That was where my head was turned by seeing the chopper Exile and other quality custom scoots. After I got back home, my mod gear was slowly replaced by scooter boy garb.
Was the journey home eventful?
I can’t remember much of the journey home, just shitting myself about when my old man found out that I’d lied to him. He was cool about it though, and once he saw that I was still in one piece he just let me get on with it.
Do you remember what your favourite rally anthem of that period was? What type of music were you into?
I loved any music that was associated with the scene. I couldn’t get enough of northern soul and loved the fact that you weren’t judged by your music taste. I know nobody else liked it but my favourite was The Flasher. Anything went, from punk and heavy metal to Motown, I loved it all.
If you’d like to see the dance troupe who preceded Pans People doing a surreal interpretation of The Flasher by Mistura then look no further!
What was your favourite custom scooter of that era?
I loved the chopper Exile, and Dazzle too. Little Rascal was also a favourite.
Do you still have a scooter now? What do you ride?
Yes, I’ve always had a scooter since 84, although I had a break from national rallies between 1992 and 2000.
I built the Meat Is Murder Lambretta chopper, inspired by the Smiths album. I came off it on the way home from the Isle of Wight this year but luckily the 3″ pike nuts saved the paintwork and engraving from serious damage!
I’m currently building a Vespa chopper with a Springer front end and lengthened frame.
What do scooters mean to you now?
I’ve loved scooters since the early 80s, and I feel very privileged to have been part of the scooter scene and to have experienced everything with some great friends.
I could never get my head around the normal people who didn’t have what we had. The fact that the highlight of their lives was going out locally at the weekend, while we were travelling the length and breadth of the country having a great time.
I also met my lovely wife on the Isle of Wight scooter rally.
Thanks to Lee for sharing his memories and photos in this post
If you’d like to read more from my First Rally series, here are the other scooterists I’ve featured
With Christmas fast approaching, here are some ideas for the scooter lover in your life!
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