Shropshire scrambling ace "TC" dies at 81

Ace Shropshire scrambling star Terry Challinor, who after a successful career came back from retirement to achieve further triumphs on the classic racing scene, has died at the age of 81.

Terry with his 1964 650cc Triumph Metisse and some of his trophies
Terry with his 1964 650cc Triumph Metisse and some of his trophies

Terry, who attracted the nicknames Top Cat, TC, and Flash – a reference to him being a flash of yellow as he went past in his distinctive golden yellow gear and yellow helmet with black stripes – took part in his last event in April 2015.

"He was very successful, a very good moto cross rider, and was really well liked in the moto cross scene," said former Star motorcycling correspondent John Simcock.

And in a tribute on its website the Auto Cycle Union said: "Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, he was the man to beat in moto cross in Wales and the Midlands. After a brief retirement, Terry took to pre-65 scrambling, mainly on a Triumph Metisse – again being the man to beat."

Away from racing Terry, from Pontesbury, was an insurance broker. The funeral will be at St George's Church, Pontesbury, on February 3 at 1pm.

Shrewsbury born and bred, his motorcycling interest started young and on his 16th birthday his father took him to Jack Meredith's motorcycling shop in the county town, and bought him his first motorcycle, a Francis-Barnett. His first win came in 1957, and his last big award was in 2011, when he won the European Classic Moto Cross event.

Widow Maggie said: "He won that in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and would have undoubtedly won it in 2012 as well except he went over a tabletop hump and the throttle stuck open. He had a big crash, ripping his shoulder and requiring surgery. That was in Italy, and he would have won the championship for the fourth time. He was bitterly disappointed."

Terry's career comprised two distinct eras, during which he rode a variety of machines from a Kyffen Dot, Sprite, Greeves, DMW, Triumph Metisse, Maico, Husqvarna and Yamaha, mostly under the riding number of 11 or 111.

Twin influences of bringing up a family and quite a bad crash in 1982 saw him take a break of about nine years, before getting into competitive action again with the classic motorcycle scene, buying a Triumph Metisse.

"He loved it. We travelled all over Europe as a family. We had a camper van, put the bike on the back, and off we would go. There was a wonderful family atmosphere when we went to a meeting," said Maggie.

He travelled further afield too – in 1995 Terry took second and third places at the big Daytona 200 classic scramble in Florida, the American version of the Isle of Man TT.

Between 1996 and 2003 Maggie and Terry ran the Hawkstone Classic Moto Cross. The pair also organised a round of the European championship there.

"We have been told by lots of sources that it was considered the premier event of the classic racing calendar."

The couple had first met in 1969 when Maggie was working at the White Horse pub in Pulverbatch. He invited her out to lunch in the week, but said he had a "little job" to do first. Maggie, who at this stage knew nothing about motorcycles, got dressed up for the meal but found herself taken off to the slagheaps of Brownhills on a freezing November day to watch him testing motorcycles – although in fairness she did get the lunch afterwards.

The couple married in 1980 and have three sons – all of whom have raced motorcycles – and a daughter, and 12 grandchildren.

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