Obituary: Tony Jefferies, motorcycle racer and dealer

Tony Jefferies, who has died at 73, was a British Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and a three-time winner at the Isle of Man TT races. He was also part of a Yorkshire motorcycling dynasty, with his father and son both notable racing champions.

Tony Jefferies
Tony Jefferies

Tony Jefferies, who has died at 73, was a British Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and a three-time winner at the Isle of Man TT races. He was also part of a Yorkshire motorcycling dynasty, with his father and son both notable racing champions.

It was a lineage that began with his grandfather, Joseph Jefferies. Having lost part of a leg in a football accident, he became a pioneer motorist and in 1901 entered into an arrangement with like-minded friends to form the Ross Motor and Cycle Company in Shipley’s old steam tram shed, near the Ross Hotel.

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Not long afterwards, Joseph broke away and started his own operation just down the road, repairing cars, motorcycles and bikes. During the First World War, the firm’s company car, a de Dion Bouton, was used as a stretcher-bearer for taking wounded soldiers from Shipley station to Saltaire hospital.

But it was Joseph’s son, Allan, who took the family into racing business, winning the first of six gold medals in 1928 as part of the British team at the International Six Day Trial in Harrogate. The family business still bears his name.

Tony, his elder son, was born in 1948. He left school at 17 to take up a BSA Group apprenticeship before going on to work for Triumph, whose bikes his dad had long been selling.

By the time he joined the family firm in December 1970 he was already a road racer, having acquired a Tiger 100 with a home-made frame.

His first TT victory came in 1971, but two years later his racing career was ended came by a crash at the Mallory Park circuit in the Midlands. It left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Although it meant the end of his facing career, his business life flourished, and he added a BMW franchise to the Triumph, Yamaha and Suzuki ranges in the showroom. The BMW operation continues today, selling around 800 new and used bikes a year.

Meanwhile, he became more involved in the racing career of his son, David, which was going from strength to strength. David was a British Championship who became the first man to set the 125, 126 and 127mph lap speed records on the TT circuit and the only man ever to win three TTs in three successive years, making him one of the top national and international racers. He competed in both the World Superbike and Grand Prix championships.

But with family success came tragedy, and in 2003, at age 30, David died after crashing during practice for the Isle of Man races. His loss was a devastating blow to Tony, who set about ensuring his son’s achievements would continue to be celebrated within the motorcycling world. A charity fund now exists in his memory.

Having also lost his wife, Pauline, Tony is survived by his younger brother, Nick, also a TT winner, and by his daughter, Louise, who now runs the family business.