STEPHEN “CARGO” CARR #96 part one
Stephen and I met in a Carrickfergus hotel just before Christmas. We enjoyed a very informative and laid back chat. I was keen to make it very informal and relaxed and would now like to share the results with you all. Enjoy.
With regards to a motorbike, when and how did it all start for you?
Guys at school, when I was about 16, were getting SS50s and Fizzies and I really thought I want one of those. I had no real family history of bikes, although I did go to the UGP with my Dad in the 60s. He didn’t really have an interest in the bikes, it was more of a big event and we lived close by. My first bike was a Suzuki AP 50, a red one, a disaster of a motorbike. It wasn’t fast, the headlight was like a candle in a jam jar but there was whole gang of us who loved buzzing around Carrick.
So what took you from farting around on wee 50s to road racing?
Well it was a long long time. I am 51 now, got my first bike when I was 17 but I didn’t race until I was 35. When we had the 50s, we would have gone to watch the racing at Kirkistown, with grass growing up through the track. We watched from Fishermans and I thought, I could do that. But it was no more than a thought really. I grew an interest in road racing and of course Joey Dunlop was a big part of that. Joey looked like me, a scruffy biker, but he could go fast and win. When I was about 30 I was in Dobbins in Carrick having a pint and got chatting to an old friend, Jim Kelly, who was about to head off to the Manx GP. He was sharing a van with another rider and could do with a hand, so I volunteered to take a week off work and join him. After only one practice session Jim and the other rider had both crashed, wrecking both RGV 250s, Jim also sustaining a broken collar bone. I was devastated that both bikes were wrecked and it looked like I wouldn’t have anything to do. It was all gone in one day. However the next day Jims mate Ronny managed to haggle another crashed RGV 250 from Barry Wood. Between us we built one decent bike from the 3 crashed ones. I had always tinkered with bikes, it was the only way to afford to get anything done and now my skills were paying off. Ronny rode the bike in the GP. This had all been great fun for me, a holiday really, no money involved.
During that winter, Ronny bought an ex Wolsey Coulter 250B and contacted me just before the Cookstown 100 to ask me to spanner for him. We won the support championship that year and I worked with him a further 3 years. It was then that I felt that I should have a go at this road racing and picked up a 600 Honda from England. It was a crashed road bike which I fixed up, raced a Clubmans and 6 short circuits to get my A licence and then put in an entry for the Mid Antrim in the support class.
What is the definition of the support class?
Well the support class grew up out of the C group which is really the newcomers group. When you get a race licence now this is the class that you will go into. The class is split into two, 250/400 and 400/750 with 650 twins. If you do well in this class and championship you could get “promoted” to the senior races. There are some old timers like myself still in the support class, Adrian Logue, Bill Rice and George Scott are all old hands, but we have the same passion as the Ryan Farquhars of the world. So nowadays I try to enter as many road races as possible- my 400 in the junior support and 600 in the senior support. Work doesn’t allow me to get to them all but I do my best. My friend Ian, who refuses to be called a mechanic, helps me out. He prefers the title pit attendant J. Its perfectly possible to race on my own but nowadays with tyre warmers, generator and stands, another pair of hands is a great help.