…Sammy Miller won his first of five SSDTs and the quarter litre scrambles class gained world championship status.
It was inevitable once the 500cc class was granted world status the 250cc contest would also want to be recognised as a similarly important one. Here in the UK with new riders restricted to machines of 250cc it is no wonder future 500cc world champion Jeff Smith was often in action on a C15 BSA in both home and international contests.
As the contest began in 1962 the smart money was on Dave Bickers being the likely winner as he was the reigning European champion and riding well. However Greeves decreed Bickers would contest the UK home championship and was expected to bring the 250 title back to Greeves after Arthur Lampkin won it for BSA. This meant no Bickers in the world championship contest though both Jeff Smith and Arthur Lampkin were there for BSA.
Despite good showings with their C15s, Lampkin was the overall winner in the first round in Spain when all sorts of troubles beset the entry and few two-strokes finished the races. As the 250 contest went on there was little doubt the world was seeing superb racing and there was no clear favourite for the top spot and even with only three meetings left the title could go to one of three riders – they being Torsten Hallman, Arthur Lampkin and Jeff Smith.
In the end though, it was Sweden’s Torsten Hallman who was to be the first 250cc world champion but didn’t have it all his own way as the British 250 GP near Glastonbury provided a tantalising glimpse of what might have been had Bickers been in the world contest. Hallman couldn’t stay with Greeves-mounted Bickers on the Gloucestershire circuit.
While the majority of top line scrambles and trials riders concentrated on one discipline or the other, BSA’s two top men had to make an overnight dash from the Belgian 250 MX to Edinburgh for the start of the SSDT. Lampkin and Smith had their machines weighed in and grabbed a few hours’ sleep before setting out on the week’s feet-up duty. Though always on the leader board it was increasingly clear to Arthur and Jeff, the rest of the entry too, as each day passed Sammy Miller was on a mission and was further and further ahead of the opposition with only 1961 winner Gordon Jackson looking anywhere like staying with him. Due to the way the calendar falls and the tradition of the Scottish always being in the first full week in May – the weigh-in can happen on the last day of April but the trial proper starts in May – the event was slightly later in 1962 and was held in glorious sunshine which the spectators appreciated more than the riders.
There had been weeks of dry weather which competitors would find out made the going actually tougher in a lot of sections as the ground dried out and allowed normally well-settled rocks to move. However, at the weigh-in in Edinburgh enthusiasts could be forgiven for thinking they had arrived at a motorcycle show rather than the scrutineering day for a six-day event as the parc ferme glistened as sunshine was reflected off polished alloy, gleaming chrome and rich paintwork. So inspiring was the sight of gleaming machines Royal Enfield star Johnny Brittain fitted a new petrol tank to his 248cc machine for no better reason than to brighten it up.
Monday morning and the entry headed up to the Highlands with 150 miles and 24 observed sections to tackle as the weather made a pleasant change from riding into driving rain, sleet and snow. At the end of day one three riders were on clean – Miller, Jackson and Dot star Eric Adcock – it was to be the only day Miller shared the lead. After a single dab on Tuesday as the week wore on Miller kept his feet on the rests to hold the lead, Gordon Jackson was almost as frugal with dabs which meant the pair were the only two in single figures until Friday when both riders cast marks away leaving Miller on eight and Jackson on 18 by Friday night. Third place man Mike Ransom had been going up the leader board except on Wednesday when there was a slight hiccup in his progress, rectified on Thursday. With only the ride back to Edinburgh on Saturday the trial was as good as over on Friday night and Miller had his name on the Alexander Trophy at last.
The 1962 event was also notable for a young lad just setting out on his SSDT career… Mick Andrews would finish 29th in his first Scottish aboard a 347 AJS.
What else happened in…1962
In the wider world away from motorcycling John Glenn orbited Earth as America’s first astronaut and signalled the US’s intention to land a man on the moon before the decade was out.
Closer to the UK and in the entertainment world, musically The Beatles were riding high while the black and white TV sets of the day saw a sitcom based around a father and son rag and bone team called Steptoe and Son; it was to prove endearingly popular as both characters struck a chord with the public. On the big screen a former Edinburgh milkman stole the limelight – despite Ursula Andress walking out of the sea – when he gave movie life to Ian Fleming’s James Bond and Sean Connery’s portrayal of the secret agent gave impressionists and mimics a lifetime of work copying his accent.
It was also the year when Marilyn Monroe’s glittering life came to an end and spawned conspiracy theories which run to this day.