Trevor made his TT debut in
1980 and performed very creditably, finishing 14th in
the Formula 1 race on a Kawasaki and 21st in the Senior
on a Suzuki. These were promising performances, especially
as he had chosen to go straight to the TT rather than
starting with the MGP.
His results in 1981 were a little disappointing after
this encouraging start, but in 1982 Trevor gave the
first sign of his future talents with a fine 6th place
in the Senior 350 race. (This was the year in which
the somewhat bizarre decision was taken to split the
Senior race into two categories, 350cc and 500cc).
In 1983 Trevor really announced himself as one of the
leading young road racers of the era with more excellent
performances at the TT including 5th place in the Formula
1, and his first podium place after finishing 2nd to
Phil Mellor in the Junior 350. Trevor also produced
a fine performance in the Formula 1 race at the Ulster
GP, challenging Roger Marshall for 4th place before
sliding off at the Hairpin in tricky conditions.
It was in 1984 that Trevor arrived in the 'big time'
with a vengeance with his first TT win, and several
other magnificent performances. He retired in the Classic
TT race, but finished a good 5th (for the second year
in a row) in the Formula 1 race on a Ducati. He followed
this with a 3rd place in the Formula 2 race on a Ducati-Cagiva
(how strange it is to think of Trevor racing anything
other than a Superbike!) before the highlight of his
week - the Production 750 race. This was a thrilling
battle between Honda-mounted Trevor and West German
legend Helmut Dahne, which Trevor won by just 2.2 seconds
after three hectic laps to give him a richly deserved
maiden TT win. This wasn't the end of his week either,
as he was back on the rostrum after finishing 3rd in
the Senior race behind Rob McElnea and Roger Marshall.
Trevor also recorded top-six finishes at the Ulster
GP in the Formula 2 and 500cc races.
By comparison, 1985 proved to be a leaner year during
which he campaigned a variety of machinery. At the TT
he finished 11th in the Formula 1 and 13th in the 750
Production, his other races ending in retirement. He
also failed to shine in Ireland that year.
In 1986, however, Trevor again confirmed himself as
one of the leading road racers with outstanding performances
at both the North West 200 and the TT. He was a winner
at 'the Triangle' for the first time, powering his Suzuki
to victory in the Superstock race by just 0.1 of a second
from Kenny Irons - one of the closest finishes in the
history of the event after early leader Phil Mellor
had broken down. He also achieved a solid 5th place
in the NW200 race itself.
It was then onto the Isle of Man with his collection
of Suzukis, where a 6th place in the shortened Formula
1 race was followed by 4th in the Production B class.
These races were just the warm-up, though. Trevor started
as favourite for the 'big' Proddy race and led from
the start from Canadian Kevin Wilson, being especially
spectacular at Ago's Leap. He continued to pull away
throughout the first 2 laps, but following the pit stops
Wilson began to claw back Trevor's advantage and closed
to within 2 seconds at the end of lap 3. On the final
circuit Trevor upped the pace again on his Skoal Bandit
GSXR Suzuki to record his second TT win by a margin
of 8 seconds from Wilson, setting lap and race records
in the process.
The Senior Race was even more exciting, and so nearly
provided the highlight of Trevor's racing career. He
took the RG500 Suzuki into the lead by Ballaugh on the
first lap after early leader Steve Cull retired, and
soon overtook Joey Dunlop on the road on his way to
a cracking lap of 116.55mph. Joey emerged from the lap
2 pit stops just ahead on the road, but Trevor soon
passed him again to lead Roger Marshall by a slender
2 seconds in the race. A great dice on the roads between
Trevor and Joey then followed during laps 3 and 4, but
as Trevor pulled away he appeared to be in command,
leading the race by 13 seconds, when disaster struck.
At the 32nd Milestone on lap 4 the bike suddenly expired,
apparently out of fuel, and Trevor could only look on
in despair as Roger Burnett took advantage of problems
for Marshall and Dunlop to take the win.
He switched to Loctite Yamaha for the 1987 season,
and was quickly back in the groove with another victory
at the North West 200, this time in the 1300 Production
event. This was a sensational race involving Trevor,
Dave Leach, Brian Morrison and Geoff Johnson. Trevor
and Geoff were almost touching fairings throughout the
last lap, with Trevor just getting his nose in front
to win by 0.1 of a second - his second victory by such
a margin in consecutive years.
The battle with Geoff Johnson continued at the TT
in a dramatic Production B race. Trevor led from the
flag from Phil Mellor and was once again in high-flying
form at Ballaugh Bridge. He went even faster on lap
2, setting a new lap record of over 111mph before coming
in for a 'splash and dash' pit stop before the third
and final lap. Phil Mellor began to claw back some of
Trevor's advantage on the last lap but then broke down,
leaving Trevor with a clear advantage. Agonizingly,
the machine began to splutter on the approach to Hillberry
and it became clear that the fuel stop had been just
a bit too hurried. As Trevor coaxed the big Yamaha to
the finish, Loctite teammate Geoff Johnson roared past
to take the victory by 4 seconds from Brian Morrison
with Trevor just 4 seconds further down in 3rd place.
The Formula 1 race proved to be somewhat problematic,
but after a slow start Trevor was really flying until
a loose chain forced a longer-than-planned pit stop
after lap 4. Considering this he did well to finish
He briefly led the Senior Race, which had been shortened
to 4 laps in dreadful weather conditions, and was 3rd
at the end of lap 1. He sensibly backed off a little
after this and finished in a creditable 6th place.
1988 was to mark a significant change of direction
in Trevor's career. He was signed up by the newly formed
JPS Norton squad to ride the experimental Rotary engine
machine, albeit with limited expectations in that first
year. That was how it was to prove, as Trevor's only
success on the roads that year was on the Suzuki in
the Production 1300 race at the North West 200. This
was another cracking race involving Kevin Mawdsley,
Barry Woodland, John Lofthouse and Kenny Irons. Trevor
and Kenny diced for the lead all through the last lap,
with Kenny just edging Trevor out in a thrilling sprint
to the flag despite Trevor setting the fastest lap.
The TT that year was a disaster, as three of his four
races ended in retirement, and his one finish on the
Norton was in a lowly 44th place in the Senior.
From 1989 onwards, Trevor abandoned the Production
racing at which he excelled and concentrated all his
efforts on the main 'Superbike' races.
The Nortons (and their riders) now sported the distinctive
black and silver colours of JPS, which made them unmistakable,
as did the fabulous music of their Rotary engines.
Practice for the TT was a disaster, as every mechanical
problem in the book seemed to affect the team who could
only hope for better fortunes in the races. In the Formula
1 Trevor started 10 seconds ahead of his new teammate
Steve Cull, and by Laurel Bank the two Nortons were
together on the road thrilling the crowds all around
the circuit. The noise of the two Rotary engines in
unison on the mountain section of the course was quite
superb. Sadly it was not to last as Trevor retired at
the Mountain Box on lap 2 with a suspected seizure having
held 10th position at the end of the first lap.
In the Senior race things went better and Trevor was
up to 3rd position at the end of lap 1, just ahead of
Carl Fogarty. On the second circuit he set the fastest
lap recorded by a British bike at that stage despite
dropping to 5th place. Following the pit stops he and
Fogarty had an entertaining dice on the roads for the
next 2 laps, but on lap 5 Trevor went through Quarter
Bridge with the bike leaking fuel, which forced him
out at Crosby.
It was a similar story at Dundrod, where Trevor was
the early leader of the King of the Road 1000cc race
only to suffer another mechanical failure.
The experienced and astute Barry Symmons took over
the management of the JPS team in 1990 and with much
technical improvement having been made to the bikes
and Robert Dunlop having been signed up to partner Trevor
on the roads, great things were expected of the team.
This was confirmed at the North West 200 where Robert
scored a great double victory in the two Superbike races.
Things didn't go quite so well for Trevor although he
did briefly lead the first race before being forced
out with gearbox trouble.
At the TT Trevor was somewhat hampered by a rib injury
which caused him a few problems in practice, but the
team was in confident mood come Formula 1 race day.
He certainly wasn't hanging about as he flew through
the Milntown section on the first lap - somehow the
Nortons seemed to convey an even greater impression
of speed than all the other bikes. By the end of lap
4 he was in a comfortable 5th place, having passed Joey
Dunlop on the road. As he tired on the last two laps
as a result of his injury Trevor was caught by his teammate
Robert Dunlop who had a grandstand view of a massive
'moment' at the 33rd on the final lap. Trevor drifted
wide on the exit from the corner, and actually flattened
a couple of the concrete posts at the side of the road
- but amazingly managed to get the bike back under control
and stay on! He finished in a creditable 6th place while
Robert took 3rd.
The delayed Senior race was held in extremely difficult,
changeable weather conditions, but Trevor got off to
an absolute flyer to lead Carl Fogarty by 5 seconds
early in the race. An inspired Foggy soon took the lead,
which he was to hold throughout the race, but Trevor
was still riding brilliantly to hold onto 3rd place
at the first pit stop just behind Phillip McCallen.
An excellent stop put him back in front of Phillip,
and as the conditions improved the pace quickened. The
unfortunate McCallen then crashed out leaving Trevor
in a comfortable 2nd position, which he held to the
chequered flag. This was the best performance at the
TT by a British bike for many years and a testimony
to Trevor's great bravery and skill in extremely dodgy
conditions - anyone who witnessed his massive slide
as he went past the Grandstand on lap 5 would vouch
for his courage.
Hopes were high for even better things in 1991, and
the optimism proved to be justified at the North West
200. In the first Superbike race the JPS Nortons took
1st and 2nd, with Robert Dunlop winning after Joey Dunlop,
who had led for most of the race, stopped with a broken
chain. This allowed Trevor to storm through into 2nd
In the NW200 race itself, Trevor and Robert again led
the way in the early stages, but Robert broke down on
lap 3. Trevor then had a titanic battle with Joey Dunlop
for the remainder of the race, and just held on for
a brilliant win, recording the fastest lap of the race
The Nortons were really flying and the team was in
confident mood going into the TT, although nobody expected
them to live with the fabulous Honda RVFs. Unfortunately
Trevor stalled the bike on the start line in the Formula
1 race, but soon got into his stride and by Ramsey had
caught the Dunlop brothers on the road. Going over the
mountain the two Nortons were flying in formation, treating
the spectators to a wonderful Rotary rhapsody. Trevor
was 4th at the end of lap 2 despite pulling in at Sulby
Bridge to check his rear tyre, but Robert retired due
to the pain of a rib injury. Trevor held onto 4th place
during the next two laps but was gradually closing the
gap on Brian Morrison, and on the last lap succeeded
in forcing his way into a magnificent 3rd place behind
Hislop and Fogarty.
Unfortunately, though, this joy was short-lived. At
the post-race scrutineering it was discovered that the
petrol tank, which had been of legal size at the start
of the race, had expanded to exceed the permitted volume,
meaning that Trevor was disqualified - a really cruel
The JPS team used the 6 days before the Senior race
to strengthen the petrol tank, and Trevor got off to
a real flyer. He soon passed his struggling teammate
and was 3rd at the end of lap 1. He held a comfortable
4th position at the first pit stop, but was then forced
to retire with mechanical problems.
At the end of 1991 it was announced that Trevor and
Norton had decided to part company following a highly
successful partnership, and he arrived at the 1992 TT
with an 888 Ducati sponsored by Oxford Products. The
bike never really adjusted to the demands of the Mountain
Circuit, and Trevor's 8th place in the Formula 1 race
was a decent effort. He retired from the Senior Race,
but not without treating the spectators to a typically
Nation-esque wheelie at Ballacrye!
Trevor recorded a very creditable 5th place in the
1993 Formula 1 TT aboard a private Yamaha after an entertaining
dice with Jim Moodie, but this proved to be his final
TT finish. He retired from the Senior Race, and missed
the 1994 event. He returned in 1995 but after two weeks
of constant mechanical problems, and retirements from
both his races, he decided to bring down the curtain
on a highly successful career as a road racer. He had
been one of the most spectacular and committed riders
of his day and was hugely popular with race fans of
both the roads and the short circuits. A genuine hero
if ever there was one.
Some random thoughts and memories
- The flapping leathers he wore in his Norton days
- somehow they seemed to add to the impression of
speed on the fast sections. He wasn't the most graceful
rider around, but his all-action style thrilled the
crowds wherever he raced.
- His unique braking technique. Because of his long
legs he found the easiest way of braking was to slide
his foot right off the footrest and onto the brake
pedal - and then back again.
- The number 5 plate, which he made his own for many
- His spectacular style over the jumps, such as Ballacrye
and Ballaugh Bridge.
- His superb performances on the short circuits.
Trevor was much, much more than simply a top road
- His less-than-superb performance of 'A Hard Day's
Night' in the TT Karaoke in 1991. He sounded as if
he was being strangled!
- His personalized car registration plate NAT10N!
- He has kept a fairly low profile since his retirement
from racing, but was a popular participant in the
Suzuki parade lap during TT2000. He has also distinguished
himself on several occasions in the Weston-Super-Mare
Beach Race in recent years, proving that he is an
equally skilful rider away from the track! He is currently
living in Cornwall, and having got married last year
is soon to become a father.
- His friendly and approachable nature, which made
him so popular with the fans. I recall being at the
Black Hut during Practice week in 1995 when Trevor
broke down - he spent the rest of the afternoon happily
chatting with the spectators and signing autographs.
Truly one of the nicest guys in racing.
- Above all, I will always look back on Trevor's years
on the Norton at the TT as being amongst my outstanding
road racing memories. I still get a tingle down my
spine just thinking about him screaming through Milntown
on full chat, black leathers flapping in the wind!
Words byDavid Griffiths