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Competitor Profile: Tony Head

TT Career Summary

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Tony Head began racing in 1972 at RAF Gaydon, riding a home (bedroom!) built 750cc Triton. Tony’s inspiration was a picture of Mike Hailwood riding a MV Augusta, which caused considerable distraction during school mathematics lessons.

Tony’s heroes were Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini and Bill Ivy, whom he was honoured to meet during his career. During his club and national racing career, Tony raced the ex-Vic Camp/Alan Dunscombe 750cc Ducati (the first in the UK) and finished 3rd in the clubmans national championship. Tony quickly progressed to national and international events, riding a well used Yamaha TZ350A. Tony then formed a friendship with grass track racer, Paul Pinfold, and built the 'Pinfold' framed Yamaha 250cc and 350cc which were campaigned around England and Ulster.

Tony won the newcomers award at the NW200 in 1979. During the same period from 1976 to 1979, Tony rode the Devimead 125cc Hondas in the Honda Championship, winning many events and finishing 3rd overall.

During this time, Tony had started riding in international events in mainland Europe, and had notable successes at Heerlen, Ammerzoden, Tubbergen and Chimay. In 1979, Tony went semi-professional, taking unpaid leave from his job as a telephone engineer in Coventry. After purchasing a new, but year old TZ350E from Yamaha Amsterdam, he traveled to Salzburgring for the first European G.P. With no 'start' in the 350cc class, Tony managed to persuade the infamous Dr Bauer to give him a start in the 500cc event, but faced with only two remaining qualifying sessions and a wet track, he failed to qualify.

However, the next G.P was at Hockenheim, where the race organisers were more sympathetic. Tony qualified easily for the 350cc race and finished 14th, beating Grand Prix regular Chas Mortimer to be the best British rider. The organisers at the British G.P. proved even more reluctant to give the fledgling star a ride at Silverstone, but eventually relented. Tony finished 8th in the 350cc and 10th in the 250cc events, again by far the best British performance. With World Championship points in the bag, Tony continued for the rest of the season in the Grand Prix Circus.

Tony continued riding G.P.s until 1985, with 4th at the Swedish G.P., 5th in the French at Le Mans, and a host of Top Ten and nearly Top Ten places. During his career, Tony rode the Waddon Ehrlich 250 to 4th at Daytona in 1980, won the Bill Ivy Silver Helmet at Brands Hatch (where he held the 350cc lap record), the Armstrong 250 to 4th place at Anderstorp, and his own 750cc Yamaha to 15th place in the Daytona 200 (with a broken gearbox for the last five laps !). Winding down his professional racing career, Tony raced TT Formula II with the help of Terry Shephard, and finished 2nd in the British Championship. He also campaigned a Honda NS400R in the TT Formula 1 class over the same period, giving many a GSXR750 a big surprise!

Tony retired from full-time racing in 1986 to become a university student at the age of 34. He won his final professional race at Brands Hatch 'Race of the South'. He continued as a 'holiday racer', competing in the Ulster G.P. and NW200 until 1979, when he decided that he was an ageing rider riding far too quickly on ageing bikes, trying to keep up with nice new shiny ones! Permanent retirement was overdue.

Tony studied psychology and physical education achieving a BSc (Hons) in 1980, an MSc in Sport Sciences in 1992, and PhD in Medical Science in 1995, all at the University of Birmingham. Tony currently works at Cranfield University, where he specialises in Human Factors in Aviation. Tony flies gliders in competitions at RAF Bicester, and also holds a commercial pilots license with instructor and multi-engine ratings.

Tony still has his original 1978 TZ350E, which is in a permanent state of rebuild, and he rides a Honda VFR800i on warm days!

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