SRT Motorcycles Ltd
About The SRT Motorcycles Team
SRT arguably stands for many things but at the end of the day it is all about motorcycling be it on the road or on the track. When the SRT team are not in the workshop more often than not they're out touring or more likely road racing! Racing motorcycles & F1 sidecar outfits since the 70's the SRT workshop team between them bring decades of track & paddock experience back to their customers in Central Birkenhead...
Owner of SRT Motorcycles Limited
Entering a mechanics apprenticeship straight from school Ray’s exposure to racing cars, motorcycles, sidecars and race tuning came early thanks to Dick Blease’s Garage in Oxton. Ray wanted the work primarily to pay for his first bike an Ariel Arrow but during the late 60’s and early 70’s he also got a real taste for racing.
His first foray into motorcycle road racing came in 1972 prepping his own TriBSA at Kinmel Park a track then operated by The Wirral 100 Club. He was immediately hooked on racing and began searching for something a bit quicker. Ray narrowed his search down to a Triumph Trident but sadly racing solo’s and the vaunted Trident never came to be. Rays life was about to take a very different course as both circumstance and a much greater force intervened.
As is often the way of things it was a woman who brought new clarity and direction to Ray’s existence. She helped him to realise that two people working together in harmony was much better than one and that racing solo motorcycles was a selfish activity, one which only served to exclude her. And there was also the expense she reminded him. A Triumph Trident in 1973 was costly enough to buy even before the expense of race prepping it.
A surprising compromise was reached. They would both race and race together as a couple. His boss Dick Blease offered the perfect solution. Sidecar racing was in his blood and he was quick to offer his young apprentice free use of the workshop and free storage for a sidecar. Importantly he was also keen to share his own wealth of experience.
Their debut racing came in 1974 at Darley Moor where they raced their own BSA 830cc outfit. This was to be the start of a long and successful career in the mad world of F1 side cars and a lasting relationship with the Darley Moor Motorcycle Road Racing Club. It was also the start of something else altogether. As is often the way of things in sidecar racing Ray was married to his passenger and as is often the way of things in marriages, she fell pregnant!
By 1976 Ray was in his mid 20’s a time served mechanic with a safe job and a young family. As ambitious as he is competitive he left Blease’s to set up a motorcycle shop on Victoria Road, New Brighton and SRT Motorcycles Ltd was born. With their workshop close to the Empress Ballrooms and home of the Empress MCC Ray quickly built up a loyal customer base and an enviable reputation locally for the quality of workmanship.
Today Ray and his son Steve work together in SRT’s Central Birkenhead base. Boasting large modern workshops, tyre fitting bay and MOT testing station, upstairs is their shop selling a wide range of clothing, parts and accessories. They carry thousands of small parts for all machines and as the main Michelin tyre dealers for Wirral they carry huge stocks of tyres too. Having the capacity to offer a quick turnaround on servicing and most repairs, and with while u wait MOTs and tyres, SRT is now the first choice for motorcyclists across Merseyside
Ray’s love affair with sidecars has been enduring too. Now in his 41st season as racer and sponsor the SRT logo and the Thomas name are as well known and respected nationally and internationally in the world of F1 sidecar racing. Ray still races regularly at Darley Moor where he and sidecar 36 are now something of a legend. He and passenger Neil Aslaksen have been F1 Side Car Champions and Runner Up on numerous occasions at Darley. 62 year old Ray’s favourite side car power plants have all been F1 Suzuki engines but he has raced on over-bored BSA’s and even 1000cc Hillman Imp outfits. Sidecar No 36 is a Formula 1 GSXR 1000 LCR outfit.
SRT Workshop Manager
Steve was literally born into a sidecar racing team so there’s no surprise that he too has it in his blood! Both mum and dad were racing sidecars together right up until she discovered she was pregnant with Steve. It could be argued that Steve’s first race as a sidecar passenger happened before he was born!
His dad Ray would take him to all the race meetings and even got him a scaled down sidecar outfit as a 9th birthday present. After dad had tested it out for himself Steve got his first taste of sidecar racing around the park with his sister hanging on as passenger! Totally hooked it was inevitable that he would follow his dad into the workshop and onto the racetrack as soon as he could!
Steve began working at SRT in 1988 during his school holidays and at weekends. Finally in May 1991 at the age of 16 he was able to leave school and immediately joined his dad working full time as apprentice. Day release training out at Aigburth College saw him skilling up to NVQ 1 & 2 in the workshop with TEXA course for Dyno and IMI training to become an MOT tester.
Steve took to racing as naturally as following his dad into the bike shop. Although his first sidecar outfit came while he was still just a kid it wasn’t until 1996 that Steve really got his own career on track. Within a decade he had achieved a number of personal ambitions including his first Isle of Man TT in 2006.
Racing with Allan Schofield they hold numerous Formula 1 sidecar lap records at Darley Moor, Aintree, Anglesey, Pembray and Thruxton. A real winning partnership they have finished as champions at Darley, Aintree, Wirral Hundred and Euros. At Assen they finished runner up in European Championships after a spectacular crash. Steve was lucky to escape with a fractured collar bone. Together they also took 3rd in the British Championships and Best Private Team with a top finish in World Championships at 6th place!
The office at SRT is full of Steve’s and dad Ray’s wreaths trophies and shields from their many other club wins and national podium finishes over the decades. Although Allan has semi-retired the team do make an occasional appearance most recently at Aintree where they took Ray’s outfit to another victory. Their win came in spite of a collision and crashing out with Steve suffering a foot injury.
Steve is still racing regularly and actively at Formula 1 level having joined Rupert Archer and Team Hannafin for the 2015 season.
When not racing Steve works at SRT managing the workshop, MOT station and Michelin tyre dealership while his wife Gill manages the clothing parts and accessories shop upstairs as well as their online selling operation.
SRT Shop and Online Selling Manager
Gill came to the family business from a career in the NHS, bringing with her highly tuned customer care skills. She also brought a calming female presence to the SRT team while developing a ladies clothing and accessories section with a comfortable and private changing room.
More attuned to IT than her male colleagues and with a nurses eye for organisation Gill has played a pivotal role in developing SRT Motorcycles social media campaign which now boasts a Google + page with virtual tours, a thriving Facebook following and a growing presence on Twitter.
She was also pivotal in commissioning their new eCommerce site and Gill now manages and develops the online shop alongside managing their Birkenhead clothing and accessories outlet.
SRT Motorcycle Mechanic
An unusually mild mannered young man Dave Marsden came to SRT Motorcycles in 2006 as their workshop apprentice. Now time served and fully qualified he is very much a part of the SRT team. Dave has NVQ Level 2 in both Car and Motorcycle Mechanics & Repair and is a qualified TEXA Computer Diagnostics Technician.
Coming from a motorcycle racing family it’s not surprising that Dave also has the racing bug which SRT are obviously very keen to nurture. He started doing sprints and drag racing in 2006 on a Yamaha YBR 125 and later on a beautiful Norton Commando which his dad built.
Flushed with the success of podiums at Aintree and Hoghton Towers Sprint Races, 2010 saw Dave graduate to Formula 600 Motorcycle Road Racing. With several race wins at Darley Moor on a CBR 600 he’s now racing his GSXR 600 K7. His favourite track is Anglesey.
Dave is also gaining a reputation for race tuning. He prepped 3 engines this year for the Manx and went over to the island as mechanic for a friend who raced one of his RVF 400 engines to a podium in the newcomer’s class at the 2015 Manx GP.
Dave enjoys the same kind of practical and logistical support from SRT that Ray took from Dick Blease’s back in the 1970s. Ray has also tried to tempt him onto sidecars but in reality the cost of a competitive F1 chassis today is totally prohibitive.
As is often the way in these things history takes some unusual twists and turns in the making and only time will tell where Dave will go with both his racing and his career.