Norrie Kerr : My First Rally

This is the first post in a series which will run through the cold winter months and explores how we got into scootering and our memories of that first rally.  To kick things off I’m excited and thrilled that the legendary Norrie Kerr is sharing his early memories of the scooter scene.  As an 80s scooterist I first came across Norrie on the pages of various magazines, as a leading Vespa racer, tuner and and joint founder of Midland Scooter Centre with Dave Webster.

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Hotrod t-shirt
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Vespa scarf
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Vespa t-shirt
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Norrie won the British Scooter Championship in 1983 and still holds many track records.  His LC1, a liquid cooled 90SS, was groundbreaking at the time and he went on to build further LC machines.  He also produced the Scooter and Scooterist magazine for 14 years and wrote a book to share his knowledge of Vespa tuning.

Norrie Kerr in racing leathers on a Vespa racing scooter

These days Norrie owns VE-UK, a supplier of scooter parts and accessories, and distributor of many top brands including Malossi, Polini, Pinasco and Casa Lambretta.  What he doesn’t know about Vespas isn’t worth knowing and, when many would be putting their feet up and enjoying a slower pace of life, he’s still prominent on the scene as president of the British Scooter Sport Organisation (BSSO), sponsoring racers and running VE-UK.

Here are Norrie’s memories of his early days as a 1960s scooterist.

Norrie Kerr : My First Scooter Rally

How did you first get into scooters?

They were transport to get to work. I was a bus conductor in the 60s and when you are the first bus out of the garage, you need to be there on time. As you can imagine, there were no other buses to take me to work, so a wee scooter was ideal.

What was your first scooter rally?

All the real scooter rallies were going “down south” but then in Scotland everything is “down south”! My first venture was a weekend away to Girvan, a hotbed of grannies and tearooms. Not quite what you’d expect from a seaside town in Ayrshire. There was about 15 of us causing havoc, lots of 2 stroke smoke and playing footie on the park. After that we kept in touch by phone as there were no mobiles or social media in the 60s!

What did you ride, who with and how far away was it?

My choice of scooter was a Vespa 152L2, a 125cc, then I upgraded to a Sportique 150, both nice little scooters. Girvan was about 70 miles from Glasgow,  by trunk roads. I went with a pal Ricky Lawrence, who rode a Lambretta Series 2 150. We had lots of fun, a few breakdowns, and lots of laughs.

Black and white photo of two Vespa scooters with lights and mirrors. Taken by Norrie Kerr in Girvan, 1966.

Photo courtesy of Norrie Kerr

What job were you doing at the time and how much did you spend on the rally?

Bus conductor was my job, and we’d spend as little money as possible. I was married to Janet and she kept me under control.

Where did you stay when you were there?

Slept in a campsite under canvas….a tent!

Were you in a club at the time?

No, I didn’t join a club until later that year. I joined the famous Glasgow Vespa Club, well they thought they were “famous”.

Memories of the rally

Nothing springs to mind, it was after all over 50 years ago, just having fun, posing and riding the scooters round the town.

Norrie Kerr sitting on a Vespa scooter with flyscreen, lights and mirrors.

Photo courtesy of Norrie Kerr

Was the journey home eventful?

Just the normal, rain and a soaking wet army jacket.

Do you remember what your favourite rally anthem of that period was and what type of music were you into?

Glad All Over by the Dave Clark 5 was popular, cause we were… but back then there was just the Mersey sound, Beatles, etc

What was your favourite custom scooter of that era?

Was no such thing as a custom scooter in 1966.

Do you still have a scooter now?

Yes, of course. Vespa 90SS, a 50SS, a T5, a SS180, and a Vespa GTS 300

Green Vespa racer

What do scooters mean to you now?

Everything, it’s a way of life!

Norrie Kerr

Here is Norrie in more recent times, with Chuck Swonnell (aka Chuckles or Chuckie!)

If you want to learn more about Norrie then his website is here and you can visit the VE-UK website here.

Thanks to Norrie for sharing his memories and the photos in this post.

If you’d like to read more from my First Rally series, here are the other scooterists I’ve featured

  • Sticky, author, ace mechanic and scooter adventurer
  • Sean Robinson, chief Garagista
  • Lee Richards, owner of Meat Is Murder and the unfortunate guy who is married to me!
  • Jo Jackson, psychobilly queen and original Alcoholic Rat

You can check out the 2019 rallies here, with details of how to book each one with tips and links for where to stay.

Shop for scooter goodies!

Vespa scarf
Vespa scarf
Vespa t-shirt
Vespa t-shirt
Purse
Purse
Northern soul t-shirt
Northern soul t-shirt
Keyring
Keyring
Wedding card
Wedding card
Cramps t-shirt
Cramps t-shirt
Steve McQueen t-shirt
Steve McQueen t-shirt
Vespa lighter
Vespa lighter
Vespa print
Vespa print
Hotrod t-shirt
Hotrod t-shirt
Wallet
Wallet

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2 Comments

    • AliRichards
      Author
      September 16, 2018 / 11:11 am

      I have some amazing people lined up to tell their own stories!

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