MotoXwords is starting out as a business venture, making Crosswords for Motorcycle publications of all varieties. I am hoping, however, that making this blog and keeping a good online presence will also kick off the “words” part of the business title, as writing features and articles for those magazines is also an aim for my business. Hopefully I can get good enough at it to get enough work to quit the day job!
So! Who am I to be putting out my opinions and views on the motorcycle world? Well, my name is Ben Rumbold, and I was only born because of motorbikes! An Army motorcycle ace called Norman Rumbold became Manager of Bristol-based dealership Westbury Motorcycles in the 1950s. Competing in local Grass Track races and Scrambles he became friends with the Hudson family from South Bristol. Brian Hudson was a solid scrambler himself, and with similarly-aged offspring the two families became good friends, the Hudson boys Neil and Garry racing with Norman’s son David through the 1970s. The eldest Hudson child, their daughter Liese (pronounced Lisa, the spelling an homage to the family’s Scandinavian roots), clapped eyes on David’s blue Y-front-clad backside whilst he was getting ready to race, and the rest is history!
Just as Dave was “getting the message” as Grandad Norm put it (starting to win), he was sideswiped by a drunk driver on the way back from the Hudson homestead to the central Bristol Rumbold residence, and left in a crumpled heap in the road. There followed an entire year of hospital care to repair leg injuries comparable to Barry Sheene’s, as well as facing a life-changing destruction of the right elbow joint that would leave the arm permanently stuck at a near-right angle. Despite this, my amazing Dad continued to race at Motocross (with a Norm-adapted half-Harley handlebar set-up), and then go on to be a British Championship level Enduro man and ultimately a Classic Bike road racer of national championship level pace. Together with Mum running the official Club merchandise stand, those years of road racing were the best they enjoyed, and it was a great paddock for a little bike-mad kid!
The Hudson boys of course became much more famous. Garry reached National Championship level and has had a long career working for Yamaha. Neil was world class almost from the moment he could race with the men. On one occasion, he borrowed Dad’s lovingly-sprayed white goggles (they were all a dull plastic grey in those days). At the end of the race he looked rather odd, with the paint wind-blasted off and what was left of it hanging in tatters to the frame all around his face! He was so fast, fourth in his first Grand Prix race, and eventually the winner of 7 Grands Prix and the 1981 World 250cc Championship, defeating all-time great Georges Jobe in the process. With the factory Yamaha he took the British 500cc Championship in 1982 and finished 3rd in the world in his first go at the 500c world title. His rivalry with Graham Noyce re-lit the fire under British Motocross and with Japanese factory interest surrounding the domestic series a young Dave Thorpe got serious support from a young age and got set on the path to his awesome career. In short, my uncle Nellie is one of the best riders this island has ever produced.
I grew up around the paddocks of the British Championship (apparently able to name the whole top 35 at the age of six or seven), and as soon as Dad packed in the road racing I started begging for a bike. Naturally I was going to emulate my famous uncle and carry on the dynasty just as my new favourite rider Stefan Everts was doing during my first year of racing in 1991. OK, so I got as far as the AMCA Championship, getting top tens in my only go at it in 1999. The money ran out however, and I realised that I was never gonna “do a Nellie”. I was just never fast enough, and anything less was just not of interest! I packed it in rather than lead myself and my folks to financial ruin chasing a dream I was never going to achieve.
I’ve had a few more bites at it, racing AMCA Experts between 2006 and 2009 before thieves took my lovely Suzuki on the same day that I lost my job! Then at the age of 38 I had another couple of years at it until a disastrous go at the AMCA Vets Championship in 2018 … 3 races attended, a broken collarbone at Norley, a massive prang at Hawkstone, and a blown motor at Brookthorpe! A total of about 8 laps for the year, no finishes, zero points! So from here on in I might do the odd race for fun, but my awesome fiancée Sam, this fledgling business and a new baby boy have to take priority over the need for this old fart to get his kicks on a scrambles track.
I love this sport of Motocross, and the world of MotoGP and road racing is a very close second. All things two-wheeled grab my attention, it’s in my blood and I want it to move forward and capture the imaginations of every kid who experiences it, just as it did for me. So this blog and this business has one agenda – sharing the love of motorcycles and pushing it forward, as well as the small concern of paying for the roof over my family’s head.
15 second board’s up! Eyes on the gate, two fingers on the clutch. Let’s go!