FTR Bio: The speedy joker
Name: Steve Parrish
Profession: Former motorcycle racer, now a motorsport commentator
Career highlight: Winner of the 1976 British Solo Championship
Other career highlight: Being pranked on Beadle's About
Always carries in his pocket: Fake cat poo and wind-up mouse
“The day you stop trying something new is the day you may as well pack it all in.”
That’s the mantra of motorcycle racing commentator and renowned practical joker Steve Parrish, who ticked off another unforgettable first in his career on the Isle of Man Classic TT course.
The former racer, Barry Sheene’s teammate in the 1977 500cc world championships where Parrish finished fifth, was lost for words – clean ones anyway – after his ride out on two classic Triumphs old and new.
The commentator, now 64 and “older but not necessarily more grown up”, was invited to put an original 1947 Grand Prix Triumph and a new Thruxton R through their paces in front of a crowd-lined course at the TT spin-off event, for bikes that would otherwise be confined to museums and private collections..
Triumph collector Dick Shepherd explains: “We collected the Thruxton from the factory and Steve jumped on with no new tyres or faring and he ripped around at an average speed of 109mph, beating some experienced riders on fully prepped four-cylinder race bikes.
“I met him at the podium and his reaction was so laden with expletives that you couldn’t report on it here. He was absolutely buzzing and genuinely felt that with a faring, he could have done even better.”
Steve lined up alongside some of the sport’s greats, including John McGuinness, Freddie Spencer and Gary Johnson, for the TT Parade lap.
“I’d never ridden around a track without a screen and it surprised me that after 37 miles and 19 minutes my neck muscles were killing me the next day,” says Steve.
“It felt so good, and just got quicker and quicker. The handling and braking was as good as any race bike I’ve ever sat on. I knew I was doing well because I was keeping up with some of the best modern-day racers out there.”
Despite the exhilaration of the Thruxton, he was equally in awe of its 1947 Mark 1 predecessor, one of only nine in existence and bought from Sweden by his UK collector pal.
“It was incredible to ride something so beautiful in front of a crowd on a sunny day, and amazing that it rode so well considering its age,” says Steve.
“This really is a stunning bike that must have brought brightness to the gloom after the war.”
Watch the pair tell us about it here: