At Lunch With… Nick & Charlie

Nick and Charlie

by classic-bike |
Published on


TT race week kicks off in June, so what better excuse to take a long lunch with road racing greats Charlie Williams and Nick Jefferies – a riveting TT double act with vast knowledge and no qualms about ruffling feathers…


After 20 minutes trying to steer the conversation of these two racing titans, I give up. It’s impossible.

One of them answers a question, and then the other, instead of answering it too, fires off on a fascinating and often hilarious tangent, never to be seen again.

And so, dear reader, pull up a comfy chair, set any hopes for coherent structure to one side, and enjoy the company of two genial mates who’ve won 10 TTs between them and a Manx GP each.

“The worst conditions I completed a race in was the 1987 Senior,” says Nick, as we sit down at our table after a brief discussion about the erratic weather at last year’s Manx. “Only Joey managed a 100mph lap – he was on a Honda 500 triple. I finished fifth. It was lashing with rain – I set off with a full wet front and intermediate rear. The conditions were atrocious.”

Nick and Charlie

‘I hit the bank and my body crunched like a dropped chandelier. That was all down to ego. I thought I could do no wrong. Turns out I could...’


“The 1974 125 race was my worst,” says Charlie, his laconic delivery somehow ill-fitting a man who was so blisteringly fast on both GP and road circuits. “I’m not exaggerating to say you couldn’t see across the road, the rain was that bad.” Nick gently interrupts with an “um” and Charlie pauses. “Do you mean 1972?” asks Nick, a TT encyclopaedia in human form.

“Oh yes, so I do,” says Charlie good-naturedly – the pair have been friends for years and he’s clearly used to Nick correcting him on his own racing history. “It was my first TT and it was terrible all the way round. It was enough for Ago [who refused to come back]. It should have been abandoned – the Italian rider Gilberto Parlotti crashed and died at the Verandah in thick fog. And of course Barry Sheene competed in the Lightweight the year before in terrible conditions, and that was enough for him too [Sheene slid off at Quarterbridge on the second lap].”

“Yeah, he was there to try and pick up a few world championship points,” says Nick. “But the bad weather really affected his asthma – he never felt well all week. Things could have been different if the weather was better or they cancelled the race. But it had to be so, so bad for them to abandon a race back then.

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