Sunday, March 18, 2012

MICK WALKER

Writer, racer, dealer, and sponsor Mick Walker
If you own a book about motorcycles, there's a good chance it was written by Mick Walker.  Author of 130 books on racing, marque history, biography, and an autobiography, Walker was an institution of the motorcycling press, and truly, a global authority on postwar motorcycling.
An advertisement for Mick Walker Motorcycles, the UK Ducati importer
 Mick Walker began riding at 17 - a Lambretta scooter - and purchased his first proper motorcycle in 1960, a 250cc Ducati Daytona, the hottest lightweight bike in the world at the time, and the first of many Ducatis he would own, race, and sell as a pioneering dealer for the marque.   Ownership of the Daytona must have inspired a competition career, as two years later he began racing motorcycles on the club and national level, and even the Manx Grand Prix, with some success for 11 years, until two-strokes began to overwhelm the lightweight racing series, in 1972.  He retired from racing and opened a dealership, Mick Walker Motorcycles, which specialized in Italian machines, especially Ducati, to whom he gave a great boost in England.
Mick Walker-sponsored rider Dave Cartwright at the Isle of Man Formula 1 TT, lapping at over 100mph on a standard 900SS Ducati in 1978
In his position as principal importer of several marques, he had access to factory racing specials, one-offs, and limited edition machines, and began sponsoring younger racers of considerable talent.  He also ran a motorcycle racing school for many years.
Mick Walker in 1976, flanked by Speedway star Terry Betts and Norton team racer Dave Croxford
After the closure of his dealerships in 1982, Walker turned to writing, first for Motorcycle Enthusiast magazine, where he was named Assistant Editor in 1983, and shortly focused on writing books, the first of which, naturally, was Ducati Singles (Osprey, 1985).  His prose was clear and always readable, and he did his homework to ensure the accuracy of the published information.  From the success of that first book, a stream of work on postwar motorcycles, restoration guides, and biographies flowed from his desk (writing his manuscripts longhand), 130 in all, ending appropriately with his autobiography, 'The Ride of My Life' (Redline, 2012), which was published two days after his death on Mar.8, 2012.
Mick Walker's autobiography, 'The Ride of My Life', published two days after his death from cancer
For those of us well-steeped in Motorcycling, Mick Walker was a force of nature, his books the wooden framework on which to build a library of knowledge.  We will be forever grateful for his work.
Mick Walker receiving a Lifetime Achievement award from the Ducati Owner's Club UK, with Vice Chairman Mick White, in 1999

5 comments:

WhitelinePsycho said...

A truly sad day, thankfully he'll live on through his vast literary works, great post, cheers. Vale MW

Anonymous said...

Just a quick glance at my shelf shows a couple of dozen books written by him.
All been read cover to cover.
One of my favourite authors, whom i was lucky enough to meet at Snetterton a year or to ago.
Will be greatly missed.

Ferdinand Edwards said...

Mick Walker treated me with kindness and administered professional advice as I, a 17 year old school boy and proud owner of a sharp-handling Mk3 250 Ducati who's top end had just disintegrated due to repeated over-revving only a few months after taking ownership. Unfortunately I could never ride it at anything other than flat out so maybe the meltdown was inevitable. Apart from expertly rebuilding the engine, his suggestion was to buy the 250 Desmo which could be safely revved mercilessly but the fundamental requirement for more naked power meant I eventually traded it in for a used GT 750 - another great handling machine. His numerous books appeared well-researched and full of excellent photographs, many of them from his own personal collection - RIP Mick.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

Thanks for the nice tribute to Mick,
One of my best memories is of riding Alan's brand new 750 SS out of Wisbeach, breaking it in on the ride to London, slapping number plates on it and doing the Brighton Speed trials that weekend. It took a lot to make a 750 SS competitive. Out of the box a well sorted Commando production racer had the legs on the Ducati.
We saw a lot of Mick Walker and Vick Camp in those days. Good memories.
Thanks for the wonderful job you do on the Blog. Its like unwrapping a present with each new posting.
All the best,
Jeff C

Anonymous said...

I met him years ago at Daytona. He was staying with a friend. He suddenly walked out and joined the party. He had been writing. He wrote for four hours a day long hand, every day.