Untitled Document

Untitled Document

Road Racing Hero - Eddie Laycock

Pic : Dave Collister - PhotoCycles.Com

Eddie Laycock was born in 1961 and raised in Dublin, Ireland. During his school years he always liked engines. In 1977 during his teenage years, like most young men Eddie was interested in 'getting his leg over' for the first time. But his chosen ride was an RD 400, a real little scratcher, and the most popular scratcher of its day. And a young Eddie scratched his way to and from all the race meetings he could get to.

In 1979 he purchased his "pride and joy" a GS 1000 Suzuki, and travelled to all the road races. One day at the Mondello circuit, in County Kildare, while watching the 'Streetbike' race he noticed a pal participating and finishing 2nd. Eddie said to himself "well I am as good as that" and so he applied himself to getting a licence, and the start of a brilliant career began.

His first race was at the annual Christy Clarke Memorial Meeting at Mondello in 1979 in the 'Streetbike Class'. That year he won seven out of eight of his races, and eventually claimed the Southern Centre Streetbike Championship. Unfortunately 1980 was to put Eddie on the sidelines, having been involved in a bad road bike accident, but Eddie as determined as ever used the compensation money to purchase a new TZ 350 Yamaha for the rest of the 1980 season.

Eddie remembers that bike with a smile "it was a bugger to get started, but once it got going, she went well." He finished 3rd mostly behind Conor McGinn and Geoff Cronin during those Southern races. Later the same year, Eddie was refused an entry for the Skerries road races but undeterred, Eddie entered races in Carrick-on-Suir and Fore, Co. Meath, resulting in two great 3rd place finishes.

For 1981/1982, Eddie started off with two Yamaha's, a 250 TZ and 350 TZ, sponsored by Ola Oils and Danfay, who later let him ride Conor McGinn's 350, after Conor had his terrible accident at the Laurel Bank section of the T.T circuit. Eddie completed 1982 by winning both the Southern Centre and the Loughshinny MCSC Road Race Championships.

In 1983 he had two machines a 350 sponsored by Kevin Cotter Motorcycles and a 250 sponsored by Poplar Matches, this was the year Eddie made his T.T. debut, which unfortunately ended in disappointment. After lapping in 250 practice at over 102 mph, placing him in the top twelve, he wasn't as successful in the race and did not complete a full lap. He also retired in the 350 Senior race.

To make up for the disappointment, Eddie had his first win at Skerries in the 350 race. He also won at Carrick-on-Suir and Fore and finished a great fourth at the Ulster Grand Prix. He then rode Joe Millar's 500 Yamaha in the 'Prix', after lying 4th in the race he slowed and finished 8th as a result of rear wheel trouble. He finished the year winning the Southern Centre and Loughshinney Championships again.

1984 promised to be a good year with many engine seizures, and it took until the Ulster Grand Prix to get all the problems sorted. In the 350 race, he stormed off into the lead with Mark Farmer in pursuit. But by mid distance after breaking away from Farmer, disaster struck! Eddie on the flying 350 misjudged the top of the Deer's Leap and crashed heavily. He was very lucky to get away with only a broken foot, which put him out for the rest of the season.

For 1985 Eddie still had the 250 Yamaha but it was getting on a bit. He retired at the Northwest after finding it too slow to be competitive. At the time he was looking for something more reliable and competitive when along came Nicky Callaghan from Drogheda, Co. Louth with a Len Manchester 350 F2 Yamaha earmarked for Greame McGregor. However, Herron Suzuki signed Greame and Nicky kindly loaned the bike to Eddie for the Ulster Grand Prix.

Eddie romped to victory on his favourite circuit in the Formula II race, only challenged by Johnny Rea but was left to win unchallenged when Johnny fell off at Tournagrough. Brian Reid finished 2nd on Mick Mooney's 350 to be crowned Formula II World Champion, a very young Steve Hislop finished 3rd. Eddie also won the 350 race that day with over a minute to spare over Gary Cowan and Denis Todd 3rd. and a new English rider called Dave Leach finished 4th.

Eddie then rode at the last race of the season at Killalane, Skerries, Co. Dublin, only to finish 2nd to Gene McDonnell who won three races that day. At this time it was revealed that Eddie's sponsors Poplar Matches were to secure the McDonnell EMC for the following season in 1986.

The first outing for this competitive machine resulted in it being in the gravel trap at a short circuit meeting the week before the Northwest 200, so with Con Law wielding the spanners, the EMC was fettelled for the ultra fast Portrush, Portstewart circuit.

In the first 250 race the line up was formidable with the front row containing Joey Dunlop, Mark Farmer, Gary Cowan, Steven Cull and popular visitor Andy Watts. From the start riding No. 28 Eddie stormed into the lead on the EMC, only Joey posed a threat to Eddie getting his maiden win at the Northwest. In the latter part of their hectic dice, Joey unfortunately fell off at the chicane and retired. Eddie wasn't aware of Joey's misfortune and pressed on to the end, to be the first Southern rider in 31 years to win a race at the Northwest 200. Eddie said afterwards, "I thought Joey was still behind me, and I nearly lost it after a big slide, it's a pity Joey didn't keep going as it would have been a great finish".

Andy Watts commented later "Eddie had the right tyre selection on for the first race, with intermediates front and rear. Joey and I had a mix of wets and intermediates."

In the second 250 race, with Joey out nursing a gashed knee, Eddie and Andy Watts provided the fireworks, with them swapping the lead several times. Andy overtook Eddie on the last lap denying the young Dubliner a double win. Gary Cowan was 3rd again and Courtney Junk 4th. All first four finishers lapped in the 107 mph bracket.

Next, was the T.T. and Eddie rode the Callaghan FII machine, he rode well in practice setting the 5th fastest time at 106.77 mph. In the race, starting at No.10, Eddie was 8th after the first lap and rode a steady race to finish 5th at the flag. His average race speed was 107.22 mph. An unknown S. Hislop finished an excellent 6th. The race was won by Brian Reid on a Yamaha, with an average speed of 109.72 mph.

This was an excellent result for Eddie in his first T.T. finish. Unfortunately lady luck deserted him in the 250 race as it ended abruptly at Ballacrane with fuel starvation problems. Later, Eddie rode in Spain in the FII series and finished a fine 6th.

After his European trip Eddie returned to dominate proceedings in the south. At the popular Skerries 100 races he scored a fine double in the 250 and 350 races, and then proceeded to repeat this achievement at the very fast Fore road races in Co. Meath.

Around this time with his fast and stylish riding style, Eddie had caught the eye of Joe Miller, who had previously sponsored Gene McDonnell and Con Law. Eddie had ridden for him in the past, so Joe gave him the use of his 350 Yamaha, and a 500 Suzuki from the Albano concern in Craigavon.

It was at the Ulster Grand Prix that the flying Dubliner arrived on the International scene, with an easy win in the FII race, and later in the day he dominated the 350 also. Eddie remembers " It also went a long way to paying my expenses as it turned into a very nice pay day! The 350 was the quickest I've ever ridden, and I knew if I got away and was first on the run down to Leathemstown, I could pull away, Joe's (Miller) bike was a real flyer!"

Unfortunately, in the Classic big race aboard the 500 Suzuki he crashed at the hairpin, while lying in a great 4th place. This accident resulted in Eddie receiving 18 stitches in his arm, of which he still has the scar today to remind him.

When his arm had healed, to round off the year, Eddie scored the first ever treble at the Killalane road races, with wins in the 350, the unlimited and the grand final. Another fine payday to finish off the year. To cap it all Eddie was voted second in the Irish Motorcyclist of the year award for his outstanding wins at the NW200 and the UGP coupled with dominating all the southern road races. The winner was "Yer Maun" after being crowned F1 world champion for the fifth time.

For 1987 Eddie turned "professional road racer" and was one of the first southern riders to attend the Daytona 100 speed bowl event in Florida,U.S.A. This was part of the Joe Miller tradition, with Joe having been there before with Con Law. This year in close attendance was Dr. Joe Erlich and "the angry ant" Paul Lewis.

Eddie did well on his first visit to the banked circuit to qualify the 250 on the front row alongside Kork Ballington. Unfortunately it lashed rain prior to the race and left the track very slippery in places. As the race unfolded, Eddie was midfield to start with, and by mid distance was making inroads on the leaders. As the track dried out Eddie increased his pace and due to the heat the bike started to misfire caused by fuel shortage. At the end, he coasted over the line with the tank empty to finish 4th. The race was won by Kork Ballington.

Next on the cards for Eddie after returning home was the NW200. With over 60,000 eager fans in attendance, including his own Supporters club, which at the time was run by Mick O'Neil, (now of Monopic.com fame.) The action was fast and furious in between the showers.

Both Eddie and Brian Reid had the choice of using 250 EMC and FII 350 Yamaha machinery for the event. Eddie failed to finish in the first 250/350 event due to mechanical trouble, but made amends, in the second junior 250/350 by winning with over a minute to spare on his very quick 350 Yamaha. Second home was Gary Cowan on his Honda with Brian Reid 3rd on his EMC. Both Eddie and Brian were credited with the fastest lap at 119.94 mph. earlier in the day Eddie finished a creditable 5th on the 750 Yamaha. Joey won the race with Alan Irwin 2nd, Robert 3rd and Stephen Cull 4th.

With the winning ways back in focus, team Miller set their sights on a return to the T.T., which that year was celebrating its 80th year. The T.T. was a place Eddie said he "Treated with a lot of respect after Conors' accident" but thought, "it was a real riders circuit" and "loved to compete over the mountain circuit". At Eddie's disposal this year was the trusty 250 EMC, F1 750 Yamaha, FII Yamaha and a Kawasaki for the Production class B race.

Starting with practice in the usual mixed conditions, Eddie qualified well in all classes, and topped the Junior practice leader board. On the Thursday of practice week, he had a big blow up of the F1 race engine. He spent all of Friday night prior to the F1 race rebuilding his race engine from a standard one.

In the race riding at no. 29, he had a lot of traffic to get through and rode a safe and steady race to finish a great 12th aboard Joe Millar's near standard 750 Yamaha. The race was won by over 51.8 seconds by Joey with Phil Mellor 2nd and Geoff Johnson joining them in 3rd place on the podium. But greater things were to come for the Dubliner on the Monday.

In the Junior 201-350 race, Eddie was riding No. 7 and was leading the practice on his 250 Millar EMC. He was in good company, with the likes of Joey, Steven Cull, Johnny Rea and Brian Reid, all in the top ten. It looked like an Irish victory was definitely on the cards, but the virtually unknown "flying haggis" Steve Hislop nearly stole the show on his 350 Yamaha. Steve tore into the lead from the drop of the flag, and such was Hizzy's pace, he was leading by 10 seconds at Ballaugh on the first lap, followed by Johnny Rea. After four laps and two pit stops for fuel, the race ended for Hislop on the 5th lap at Glen Helen with ignition problems. This left Eddie who was then 2nd, to battle with Brian Reid in 3rd. On the last lap, they were only separated by four seconds. Eddie rode well to win by 5.6 secs and finished ahead of Brian. Johnny Rea finished 5th and Joey 8th.

This win gave Eddie the privilege of being the first southern rider since Reg Armstrong in 1952 to win a TT race. On his triumphant return to Dublin, Eddie was honoured by the then Lord Mayor of Dublin, Bertie Ahearne with a civic reception in Dublin's Mansion House. He was presented with a beautiful piece of Dublin Crystal with details of his historic win engraved on it.

In the Formula II race Eddie again started at no. 7. Brian Reid set off with the mission of repeating his Formula II win of 1986. Reid set a blistering pace, leaving Hislop, McGregor and Eddie in his wake. Then Reid retired in Ramsey, and left the flying Scotsman to earn his first win, finishing over 42 secs over Eddie who pushed the flying Scot by breaking the lap record and setting the fastest lap of the race.

Eddie rode a standard 750 Kawasaki in the Production B and D race and finished 23rd, just behind Joey in 18th. The race was won for a third time by Geoff Johnson. Who incidentally won each time on a different machine.

By the end of the week, the weather was appalling. It was the first time the Senior had been held on a Saturday since Tom Heron won in 1976. Despite the appalling conditions, Eddie riding no. 26 finished a creditable 10th out of 47 finishers, on his 750 Yamaha. In Eddie's estimation it was a great TT, but to the fans that witnessed it, a new star of the TT had been born.

Eddie then rode at the traditional post TT Irish meeting, the Killinchy 150 that is run over the UGP Dundrod Circuit. Eddie won the 250 CC race from Brian Reid and Geoff McConnell. Brian returned the compliment in the 350 FII race and won from Eddie with Alan Irwin in 2nd, Robert Dunlop and Mark Farmer a good 4th and 5th respectively. Eddie also rode the 750 F1 Yamaha in the 1000 CC and invitation races. He finished 7th in the first race and then a better 4th in the Kevin Martin Memorial Invitation race. Both races were won by non other than Joey Dunlop.

In1987 the Skerries road races almost didn't go ahead, for after 41 years the organisers of the popular southern meeting, the Dublin & District MCC, decided they would not be running the event. This was due to the loss of their main sponsor Shell. Fortunately the local Loughshinny M.C.S.C. who ran the successful Killalane Races stepped in with the support of a new sponsor Norton insurances, and ran the meeting under the name "The Milverton Road races"

With the weather for Skerries perfect as usual, a feast of racing was served up to the crowd of over 15,000 fans who lined the 2.9-mile circuit. The first race was the Westview service station 250. And as I recall it was a cracker. Eddie on his EMC, fresh from his T.T. and Killinchy wins, was dicing with Stephen cull on his Honda.

By half distance Robert Dunlop, also riding a very quick EMC was making up for a very poor start and started to reel in the leading dice. He quickly caught the swapping Cull and Laycock, and on the last three laps was involved in a terrific three-way battle for the lead. On the last lap, with the leaders all together at the hairpin, "Big D" announced "First man up through the tunnel will be the winner". I'll always remember waiting in the silence with hundreds of others at the exit of the Shady lane to see who would emerge first. To the surprise of all who witnessed it, all three riders emerged side by side over the jump with front wheels in the air, in a frantic dash to the line. Roberts EMC just had the power past the cricket club entrance to beat Eddie and Stephen by half a wheel's length.

In the 350 race Eddie turned the tables on the opposition, having been disappointed in not winning the 250. He stamped his authority from the start and Robert finished 2nd with Johnny Rea 3rd. Again the lap record was smashed.

They say the best is kept until last, and the grand final lived up to all expectations. In a field that included Eddie, Robert Dunlop, Stephen Cull, Mark Farmer, Johnny Rea, Sam Mc Clements, and Eric Galbraith, the scene was set for a scorcher to match the weather. Mark Farmer led the first lap with Cull, Laycock, Rea and Dunlop all hard on his heels. As the race unfolded, Dunlop and Rea's machines cried enough at the fast pace, and they both retired with mechanical failure. This left Eddie, Cull and Farmer to fight it out over the last few laps. With a whopping great prize of £750.00 up for grabs, Cull on his 500 Honda shattered the course record on the last lap to record the first ever 100 mph lap at the 2.9-mile circuit. Eddie out powered on the 350 settled for third behind Farmer on another 500. The riders were mobbed by the crowd during the slowing down lap, and everyone agreed it was one of the most memorable days racing seen at Skerries for a number of years.

The following week, Eddie raced at Fore in Co. Meath, and won both the 250 and 350 races beating the likes of Joey, Robert and Sam Mc Clements.

The Ill-fated U.G.P. was next on the race calendar and even in practice the event had its problems. Virginio Ferrari who was riding in the F1 race, pulled out of the event after five laps in practice, saying it was too dangerous. Joey fell at the Quarry Bends after the track flooded, and Eddie broke a collarbone after crashing at Quaterlands.

This eliminated him from the event and racing was abandoned on the race day, after the death of the popular German Klaus Klein in the Formula 1 race.

Eddie rode at the end of the year in the Killalane Races, and finished 3rd in the 250 after a poor start behind Michael Swann and Phillip Mc Callen. He retired after highsiding the 350 in the warm up, adding further pain to the shoulder injury from the U.G.P.

It was also during 1987 that Eddie made the transition to short circuit racing in the UK, with some creditable performances at Brands Hatch and Donnington Park riding Joe Millers 500 Honda.

At some time or other the thought of riding in the cut and thrust of GP's crosses the mind of every rider. So with Joe Miller realising Eddies potential, and wanting to contest and make an impression on the international scene. The Miller squad set their sights on the Blue Riband class of 500 Grand Prix racing. So from this point onwards with the backing of the Miller haulage business, Eddie started to mix his road race appearances with rides at selected GP's in Europe.

Riding the ex-Richard Scott 500 triple, Eddie embarked on the trail of Tom Herron, Graham Young and at the time Gary Cowan. This was at a time affectionately known as the Golden Era '88-'92, and Eddie mixed it over the years in races that included the cream of GP greats, such as Schwantz, Lawson, Gardiner, Mamola, and Doohan.

Eddie constantly strived for top privateer status, riding the Honda triple for the first three seasons, and then he rode a YZR 500 V4 Yamaha for two more. All this time he was gaining valuable experience and scoring points along the way, but that's another story, perhaps a book or film, or as Eddie says even a musical!. So for the rest of this hero's profile I've focused on Eddie's performances at the three big road race events.

It was a very difficult task to race GP's one week and a TT the next, coupled with all the driving and jetting around. As Eddie remembers "Sometimes I just felt wrecked, but just got on with the job in hand, and I hope I lived up to the expectations of everyone who had put their faith in me " To the casual observer all this travelling never seemed to show as the Miller machines were always immaculate. However Eddie's style also remained smooth and fast on the bikes whether he was flying through Black Hill, Budore, Black Dub, or the bottom of Au Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps.

To start 1988 Team Miller made their annual appearance at the Daytona in March, and after finishing in 11th place decided that the EMC wasn't as fast as last years model. Team Miller decided to obtain one of the new fast Yamaha's that were making a comeback into 250 racing. Luckily for Eddie the 500 Honda proved a worthy tool on the GP trail and more so on the roads as Eddie was to find out.

After riding in the transatlantic races in the UK at Easter weekend, Eddie rode in his first GP in Spain on the 24th of April, and a week later fell off at Jarama and broke his collarbone. This had to be plated in time for the North West 200.

Riding the 500 in the first superbike race Eddie finished a great 2nd to Stephen Cull after Joey who was 2nd retired at Mathers cross. Later in the day Eddie was to be involved in one of the best NW 200 Junior races. This involved a great six way dice on the opening lap with Stephen Cull, Brian Reid, Alan Irwin, Carl Fogarty, and Woolsey Coulter. After Reid retired on the second lap, the five way dice for the lead went right to the flag, and kept everyone on their toes right till the end. As I recall to witness this spectacle through Station Corner was breathtaking, with all five riders flat out, nose to tail and only a foot or two apart!!.

On the last lap all five were line abreast into Metropole corner, and after Church Corner it was Fogarty, Cull and Irwin who made the break along the coast road. At the flag it was Cull who snatched victory from Foggy at the last corner, Irwin was 3rd and Coulter 4th. Eddie finished a very tired 5th. Later due to the shoulder causing him discomfort, he decided to retire from the rest of the meeting, and rest the shoulder for the upcoming TT.

Eddie started his TT with a ride in the Production D race aboard a Danfay Yamaha FZR 400R. In the race he was lying second initially to Barry Woodland, but after a lengthy pitstop he finished a good 5th behind winner Woodland, Mc Gregor, Reid, and Mat Oxley.

In the Junior where he was one of the favourites, Eddie was No. 1 and always knew he was going to be the mouse to be chased. He remarked afterwards "I did not like starting at No.1, and when Joey and Brian Reid came by me so early in the race, I just lost heart, but not to worry I had a good run". Eddie was credited with a lap of over 110mph, and was happy to finish on the rostrum in 3rd. In the senior that gave Joey his 13th win, he finished 8th on the Honda, and the race is most remembered for Stephen Cull's outright lap record on lap two at 19 mins .06 secs only for his Honda to hole an exhaust and catch fire at Brandish, in his chase of "Yer Maun".

Eddie then returned to the GP circus to try and score his first points. He was always in the top twenty, but to score points he had to push for a top fifteen finish.

In the Killinchy meeting after the TT, Eddie fired his first warning shot across the bows of Joey and others, to show how much he loved the sweeps and curves of the Dundrod circuit. In the 1000cc race he beat Joey and then finished a great third behind Brian Reid and Joey after a wheel-to-wheel dice in the 250/350 race.

In the final race of the day Joey had to push the lap record to 120.03 to beat the flying Dubliner, the evergreen Sam Mc Clements was third. This was an early showing of just what Eddie was capable of around the Dundrod hills, and later in the year he returned to make his claim on the absolute lap record.

At the "Prix" the weather was playing its usual games during practice, and again on race day morning. Thankfully it cleared to give everyone what they had come to see..... Great racing. TT star Nick Jefferies won the Superstock race on his RC30.

In the first 250/350 race Brian Reid repeated his Killinchy 150 form with a start to finish win, with Eddie getting the better of a close race with Steve Williams, who was fastest in practice. However Williams machine cried enough at the Hairpin on the last lap, and he retired. This left Eddie in 2nd, over Wollsey Coulter in 3rd. A great dice for fourth between Joey and Ian Newton followed which went in Joey's favour.

Joey lost out to Carl Fogarty in the F1 race, after a disastrous tyre choice and Eddie finished in a lowly 17th. In the second 250/350 Coulter showed what a fine road racer he was becoming, in a wheel-to-wheel dice with Joey. After the race long duel, the pair crossed the line side by side, and the nod was given to "Yer Maun". Williams claimed third after his disappointing first outing, and Eddie was 4th after a terrific scrap with Brian Reid and Phillip McCallen.

The meeting was then rounded off with a memorable and record breaking Senior race. The question was, could the ever-improving RC30's of Joey, Hislop, and Jefferies take on the ageing 500's of Laycock, Irwin, and Cull? The answer was about to be played out in front of the eager crowd lining the 7.5-mile Dundrod circuit.

At the start of the nine lapper, Cull took off like a scalded cat on his recently rebuilt 500 triple, with Eddie, Joey, Hizzy, and Irwin in tow. By the start of lap two Cull was flying and extending his lead over Eddie and Hislop, Joey followed with Irwin on his tail. On the next lap Irwin fell off his 500 at the Hairpin, but by then Cull was starting to have trouble with a sticking throttle and decided to get the ailing Honda home safely. Now the question was .....Could Eddie catch Cull and pass him for the lead?.

On the eight lap Eddie, Hislop and Joey all relegated Cull to 4th and as Eddie passed his pit he was given the "Hurry up" as Joey had passed Hislop and was on his way.

Eddie duly upped his pace and shattered the absolute course record with a 121.39mph lap to win, leaving Joey 2nd, Hislop 3rd,Cull 4th, Jefferies 5th, and Dave Leach 6th.

After being presented with the Tom Herron trophy for the A.L.R., Eddie remarked "I could have gone quicker had I been pushed, and only had one close shave with backmarker Doug Fairbrother on the last lap, otherwise I'm delighted".

Later in August Eddie rode in what could best be described as his home GP at Donnington and finished 17th. With the shoulder plate still giving him trouble, he decided to have it removed and with recuperation could not ride in the season closer at Killalane. He did ride much later on in the Neil Robinson memorial races in Kirkistown, and had two good finishes in the Junior races.

In summary 1988 was a good year for Eddie and team Miller, with good performances in all three major road races and the A.L.R at Dundrod.

His results in the GP's did not reflect just how hard he was riding at times, but after all he was on a major learning curve and things could only improve for 1989.

With a busy season ahead for '89, Joe Miller again purchased new machinery for Eddie. An ex-Roger Burnett RC30 was added to the stable alongside the 250 Yamaha and the 500 Honda. At the annual trip to Daytona in March, the Yamaha seized during the race when Eddie was lying in third place.

A disappointed team Miller returned and Eddie did some coaching at mondello with the MCUI, and enjoyed passing on his experiance. He then rode the ex-Burnett RC30 at the Donnington Eurolantic races, and it dropped a valve. Left with a hefty repair bill, Eddie headed to the Mettet races in Belgium to ride in the "King of the roads" series scoring 4th and 2nd in the two legs.

Eddie returned to the NW200 which this year was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee (60 years). It was also notable for the absence of Joey, who could not attend due to his accident at Brands Hatch with Stephane Mertens. In practice Eddie was looking good for a top spot in the junior, and the 500 was clocked at 183mph on the run down to Metropole.

So for the race on Saturday, it was looking like it was to be another cracker. With 50,000 spectators waiting along the 8.9 mile circuit the first race on the cards was the "Prince of the Roads" 250/350. The favourite Woolsey Coulter was out at the start with a broken handlebar! .Lucky for Woolsey it was discovered at the line rather than flat out at Station Corner! Steve Hislop was also out of contention with ignition problems.

So when the flag dropped it was obvious the race was between Brian Reid, Kevin Mitchell, Johnny Rea and Eddie. All three led the race at different points and after three laps Eddie retired with a broken clutch while in third. The race was won by Mitchell with a new lap record of 111.83 mph with Reid 2nd and Rea 3rd.

Bitterly disappointed Eddie was fired up for the" King of the Roads" superbike race and aboard the 500 Honda, blasted off the line leaving Steve Hislop, Robert Dunlop on their RC30's ahead of Stephen Cull this time on the new JPS Norton. Also at the front of this race was NW200 debutant Darren Dixon on another very fast 500 Honda.

Eddie led into Metropole on the first lap and along the coast road, but ran wide at the chicane to let Hislop through to lead, followed by Eddie, Dunlop, Dixon, and Dave Leach. At the Metropole on the next lap Dixon out braked the leaders to take up the running, and then it was announced that Laycock had stopped.

Cull retired at the end of the lap. After adjustments on a loose wire Eddie got started again and was clocked through the speed trap at 177mph! In an effort to catch the leaders. At the start /finish Hislop regained the lead from Dixon with Dunlop third. By then Eddie had caught and passed Sam Mc Clements to move back up to fourth. On the next lap Dixon's Honda cried enough and he retired with a seized engine. By now the question on everyone's lips was could Eddie catch and pass the flying Haggis? As they entered the last lap Eddie was up to third after passing Dunlop through the speed trap even faster at 179mph! On his way to recording the fastest lap of the race and a new lap record 118.35mph.

At the flag it was Hislop with Eddie 12 seconds down in 2nd, Dunlop was third, Leach 4th. Robert admitted later he was suffering from fuel starvation, but Eddie was still the fastest on the day.

So for the second 250 race, Eddie wanted to make up for his disappointment in the first. Also wanting to make amends was Wollsey Coulter who took off at the start and was never headed, Coulter led from flag to flag with Mitchell 2nd, and Eddie getting on the rostrum after a race long duel with Brian Reid.

Eddies hopes were high for the featureNW200 Superbike race. But after a downpour the whole grid changed to wets. Eddie tore off into the lead and led Hislop by eight seconds after the first lap, followed by Dave Griffiths, Jamie Witham, and Nick Jefferies with the only JPS Norton of Steve Spray in sixth. Spray took over second spot on the second lap wit Eddie disappearing into the distance lapping in the 118 mph bracket. Un fortunately for Eddie on the fourth lap the Honda triple cried enough on the run to Metropole and he retired with a split crank. With the chance of Spray winning on the Norton the crowd was kept entertained till the end, with Hislop tacking the flag first, Witham 2nd, Spray 3rd. A disappointed Eddie had the consolation of the A.L.R. at 118.35 mph.

Next on the agenda was the TT of 1989 and as usual brought triumphs and tragedy. It's most remembered for the emergence of new TT star Steve Hislop and for the loss of TT stalwarts Phill Mellor and Steve Henshaw in the ill-fated Production race.

But at the start of the week on the Friday evening June 2nd, Irish eyes were smiling at a great performance from Eddie aboard an RGV 250 Suzuki in the Supersport 400 class. In the race he stormed to a start to finish win and averaged a great 105.27 mph for the four-lap race. He dominated proceedings from the start with an opening lap of 106.78 mph, and on lap two he increased his pace to 106.90 mph, a new lap record.

Greame Mc Gregor was 2nd on another Suzuki, third was Barry Woodland who was fastest in practice on his 250 Yamaha. Eddie recalled afterwards "the little Suzuki was just flying, the only problem I had was the slagging over the CONDOMS sponsorship and the Rabbit I nearly ran over at Governors Bridge!!"

In the F1 race dominated by Steve Hislop, Eddie on the RC30 was lying in twelfth on the last lap when he retired with mechanical trouble. With one win under his belt Eddie felt he had a good chance in the Junior, but Hislop had other ideas after taking 7.2 secs off Joey's lap record. And so it was that after lap two when Hislop was leading by eight seconds over Johnny Rea disaster struck. At the Quarry Bends at over 135 mph Hizzy went down right in front of Eddie, this shook Eddie as he recalled "Hizzy was sliding down the road in front of me and I did not see where he stopped, on the next lap I spotted him sitting on the wall and was relieved he was up and ok

After stopping for fuel and a new battery, Eddie then shaken and stirred got his head down and chased Johnny Rea home to his first TT win. In chasing Rea, Eddie set a new lap record of 114.04 mph and only finished 2.8 secs behind the winner as Rea admitted later, his machine was losing revs on the last lap. Steve Haszlet finished 3rd to give it an Irish 1-2-3. My own favourite memory of this race was the superb wheelies across Ballacry on every lap.

In the Senior won by Steve Hislop, Eddie had brake problems on the 500. And coming from twelfth on the first lap he was happy to finish 5th after the mixed emotions from the tragedy's in the Big Proddy race.

The following post TT Killinchy meeting was a mixed bag for team Miller. First Eddie had to overcome a sticking throttle to win the first Junior 250 race, and had to reel in and pass recent TT winner Johnny Rea. In the second he broke down to leave the win to Rea. In the big race Eddie finished a great 4th after a race long battle with Sam Mc Clements who finished 2nd and Robert Dunlop who finished 3rd. It was a delighted Dave leach who won having decided to live in Ireland. It wasn't to be his last!

Eddie then returned to his GP campaign, and at Assen he was knocked off his Honda by Ron Haslam in the closing stages of the race. After other mixed fortunes in Belgium and France, where he finished outside the top fifteen, he returned to ride in the British GP at Donnington. He crashed at McCleans in practice and hurt his wrist and ankle, nearly putting himself out of the 60th Diamond Jubilee Ulster Grand Prix.

After practice Eddie was looking forward to the racing after qualifying second to Brian Reid in the 250 at 109.63 mph. As expected Eddie topped the Supersport 400 leader board riding the TT winning Suzuki. Junior TT and Killinchy winner Johnny Rea was drafted into the team by former TT winner Mick Grant, to back up Eddie in the 400 race riding another little Suzuki.

With the Supersport race first up, Eddie put in a storming lap of 107 mph to lead over Johnny Rea, with Dave Leach, Steve Ward, and Ian Lougher it tow. Eddie eventually won by 21.6 seconds over Rea. Lougher was third after a great dice on the road with Leach and only 0.15 secs separated them as they crossed the line. Eddie also got the fastest lap of the race on lap two at 110.14 mph.

Eddie then completed a double by winning the Prince of the roads 250 with another fastest lap of the race at 111.66 mph, Reid was 2nd, Coulter 3rd, and Rea was 4th. Eddie remarked afterwards "I had an easy run in the Supersport, but the conditions were very slippy in the 250, I took it steady for a few laps and then speeded it up after getting the signals that Brian was reeling me in ". Eddie also finished 11th in the F1 race won by Carl Fogarty giving Carl his second F1 World Championship. Eddie said " I was pleased with 11th in the mixed conditions as I'd only ridden the RC30 twice and was still getting used to the bikes limits".

Carl Fogarty also won the Superbike race, Hislop was second after a great dice with Eddie throughout, Robert Dunlop was fourth and Phillip Mc Callen fifth. Eddie later commented on the great race with Hizzy "In the King of the Roads race Steve just pipped me for second place after a great dice, it was a real cracker from where I was watching!

Our bikes were dead equal on speed, though I think Steve's pulled better out of the corners. It was pretty scary on the last lap on the climb to Jordan's when we almost touched, and I was nearly out through the hedge!"

To round off a great 1989 season Eddie returned to Mondello for the Christy Clarke memorial races and won both 250 Junior races from Phillip Mc Callen, he also finished 6th in the EBC superstocks race won by Robert Holden after dicing with Andy Mc Gladdery and Colin Gable. Eddie and team Miller also made the trek to Macau in November for the first time and were rewarded with a great 4th behind Dunlop, Mc Callen and Hislop. Not a bad year for the Miller team with a TT win, two UGP wins, The King and Prince of the Road titles and a few GP points.

For the following year 1990 the team returned to the GP trail with the ageing Honda and finished 11th in Jerez, 12th in Assen, 13th in Spa, 14th in Brno, and 14th in Hungary.

In April of 1990 the Miller team took part in the 50th running of the Grand Trophy at Mettet in Belgium. The circuit Jules Tacheny is an extremely fast one set into the Belgian countryside. In the two-leg race Eddie was up against Michel Simul on an RC30 and the current Belgian champ Michael Simeon on his GSXR 750 Suzuki, other familiar names in attendance were TT regular Steve Ward and Mark Lindscott. In the first leg Eddie finished a great second to Simul with Lindscott third and Ward in tow. For the second it looked like a cracker was on the cards, when with all first leg finishers in contention, the heavens opened with Hailstones!. Eddie remembers "On the straight at speed it was like being hit with Buckshot I couldn't see a thing " The organisers wisely stopped the race and took the standings from lap four giving Eddie fourth overall behind winner Simul, Delaby, and Lindscot. Eddie said, " It was a pity it ended so soon but I loved the experience, but beware of those Belgian beers".

Later in May the 1990 North West 200 was dominated by Robert Dunlop on his black JPS Norton, this was Micro's Norton debut and wanting to impress, Robert was clocked at an amazing 185 mph through the speed trap in practice. Robert reckoned the 190 mark could be reached under the right conditions on race day. Also in practice Woolsey Coulter headed the 250 class with a lap of 106.75 mph with Eddie second at 105.80 mph.

Brian Reid and Steve Hislop were both out due to ill health and mechanical trouble.
In their absence Eddie felt good for a win until he fell off in the Thursday practice at Black Hill, the result of someone's oil spill.

On race day in the 250, Eddie started from the fifth row and chased an eight-man freight train for the first lap, led by Wollsey Coulter. It included Ian Newton, Phillip Mc Callen, Kevin Mitchell, Johnny Rea, Ian Lougher and Alan Irwin. Coulter fell off at the chicane on the third lap after running on to the grass taking Mitchell with him, and Mc Callen took over at the front.

By this time Eddie had got his head down and by the third lap had caught and passed the others to take second place. On the last lap going into Metropole Mc Callen ran wide and the Dubliner took over at the front and led along the coast road to cross the line to a tremendous cheer. Lougher also caught Mc Callen napping and finished second. Rea was 4th and Irwin 5th, amazingly only two seconds covered the top five at the end. Lougher was credited with the fastest lap at 113.64 mph.

In the Extravision Superbike race Robert and the Norton demolished the opposition relegating Fogarty to second and Eddie a great third after another slow start. Phillip Mc Callen was 4th. Roberts win on the Norton was the first in twenty-five years since Dick Creith in 1965.

In the second 250 race Eddie made no mistake in getting away first and then proceeded to disappear. He remembers " There were too many very quick men there that day so I cleared off like a scalded cat to see who would follow" At the flag Eddie finished a clear eight seconds ahead of Newton, Lougher, Rea, Mc Callen and Rob Orme.

In the final race of the day, the Hutchinson Tiles NW200 Robert repeated his earlier performance to overtake a determined Fogarty on the second lap, and then proceeded to smash the lap record to 121.04 mph. Fogarty and Nation retired at half distance to leave Mc Callen 2nd, Eddie pipped Joey on the last lap for third and Nick Jefferies finished a fine fifth.
With his two wins under his belt Eddie was on top form, and felt he could repeat his 400cc win at the TT, again riding the RGV Suzuki, and so headed for the Isle of Man.
With the new rules in the Senior he decided to ride the RC30 having lapped in the 117 mph bracket the previous year.

First up was the F1 race, dominated by Carl Fogarty on his RC30, Nick Jefferies was second on his Loctite Yamaha, and Robert Dunlop finished third on the JPS Norton. Eddie only managed two laps on the Miller RC30 and had to retire with a broken clutch lever.

In the much anticipated Supersport 400 race, which incidentally was the showdown of the new Honda VRR 400 R. Eddie's race was over as it started, as the little Suzuki seized going down Bray Hill on the first lap. A dejected Eddie pulled in at Quaterbridge and made his way to the Beer tent to drown his sorrows. The race was won by Dave Leach aboard his V&M Yamaha with eight seconds to spare from Fogarty in 2nd, and Steve Ward 3rd. Just for good measure Leach broke Eddie's lap record of 106.90 mph with a lap of 108.12 mph.

And so after a terrible hangover Eddie set his sights on the Junior 250 race. The race itself became a hangover as its effect lasted for a very long time after the race was over, many years in fact. In this memorable race was the likes of Joey, Hislop, Reid, Rea, Fogarty, and McCallen. By Ballaugh on the first lap the flying Hislop had caught and passed Eddie who started ten seconds ahead of him. Hislop was leading on corrected time but only just from the sensation of the race, Welshman Ian Lougher. By completion of the first lap Hislop led Lougher by 1.8 secs, Reid was 11 seconds down in third followed by Ian Newton, Carl Fogarty, and the Irish quartet of Rea, Joey, Eddie and McCallen.

By Ballacraine on lap two Hislop only led by one second over the flying Welshman with Reid still a steady third and all the others holding station. Like all TT winners you need a little bit of luck and unfortunately for Hislop during the pit stop his filler cap was dropped into the fairing and lost him vital seconds. By Ballacraine on lap three Lougher led Hislop on corrected time with Reid still third, Rea 4th, and Eddie now 5th. Joey and Newton retired.

By Ballacraine on the last lap Lougher was still leading but only just, then Reid retired with a seized engine and let the flying Dubliner into third as Rea also slowed. However Lougher on his last lap put in a flyer and lapped at 19 mins 13 secs to beat Hislop down the mountain to win by 1.8 secs. Eddie completed the hero's up on the rostrum by finishing in third. Fogarty finished 4th, Rea 5th. Lougher's new lap record of 117.80 mph hung over for a very long time after.

The Senior was delayed by bad weather and was dominated by Fogarty again, Trevor Nation was 2nd, Leach 3rd, Steve Ward an excellent 4th. Eddie finished a steady 7th.

Eddie missed the post TT Killinchy meeting as he attended his sister Carolyn's wedding. In fact Eddie lost his own "Singles race" the following year when he married the lovely Helen on the 9th of February.

Sadly this was Eddie's last TT and sadly for Irish fans we never saw him race on the public roads again. For 1991 Eddie decided with team Miller to contest a full GP season with no road race appearances, and on completition of the season finished a career best 12th with 57 hard earned points, aboard Joe Millers V4 500 Yamaha. The following year Eddie also rode the 500 Yamaha to 20th place with 4 points.

Eddie retired at the end of 1992, and Jeremy Mc Williams took over the 500 Yamaha for 1993. He now lives in Templeogue with his wife Helen and their two boys, and runs a successful pet shop at Cornellscourt in south Dublin.

So in summary Little did Eddie Laycock know, when he got his first so called "Leg over" that this first ride on two wheels would lead him to Irish road and circuit championships, lap records and wins at the Ulster Grand Prix, North West 200, and Isle of Man TT races, eventually culminating in him representing Ireland at Grand Prix level with very creditable performances, at a time enthusiasts call the golden era. To ultimately become to us all here on Real Road Racing.com -A road racing Hero.


Words by Myles Lally
Untitled Document
Copyright © 2001-2014 realroadracing.Com. All Rights Reserved.