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The year I rode with Martin Clark from Leeds, in the TT.

Cat Jenkins (Turner) - One Lady To Admire

The Cat's Gallery

I began racing in 1986 and since then have ridden in 8 TTs. Whilst I've enjoyed all the circuit racing I've done, roadracing has always been my favourite by far; there's nothing to touch coming over the Mountain with the sun on your back, I always think it's as if God had given motorcyclists a great big Scalextrix set to play in - and it would be rude not to!

At Parliament Square in 1991 with Richard Crossley

The whole saga began when I got talking to a chap in a pub - Tommy Bennett - who raced sidecars. The talk got more and more expensive, and eventually the gauntlet -"I bet you wouldn't come racing in a sidecar" - was thrown down (and promptly picked up). Consequently I found myself the next day, with a banging head and a complete absence of knowledge as to what I had let myself in for, on a wind-swept airfield at Jurby in the Isle of Man for the season's first practice day. Anyone who used to race there in those days will tell you that the runway was as rough as the surface of the moon and so my first test ride was bumpy to say the least. However I had a then-boyfriend watching on whom I was keen to impress ("OK, you can stop now - I'm impressed") so I managed not to whine too much about the knocks and bangs. In any event, I was hooked; bruised, but hooked

For the first couple of years Tommy and I worked our way up to our one-day internationals - the TT firmly in mind. In the meantime we raced at Jurby, as part of the Andreas Racing Club, and also made the odd foray across to the UK to compete in nationals. In 1988 we got our goal - an entry in the TT on a 1000cc Suzuki. At the time I was (I'm told) the first ever Manxwoman to compete in the IoM TT - a great honour, of which I wasn't even aware at the time. I do remember noticing that females were in the minority (by a long stretch) however - but there were several and with luck the numbers will continue to grow. Sadly Tommy and I didn't finish but the TT bug had struck.

I was also keen to improve my skills by getting more experience on UK short circuits. Consequently in 1989 I teamed up for the TT with Steve Judkins (no 89) for the first time. Again we didn't have too much luck, breaking down at Quarry Bends in the A-race (thank the Lord for the Sulby Glen pub!). Our luck in the B-race was even worse - we crashed on the last corner (Governors) of the last lap whilst lying 7th in the F2 class - thus within ¼ mile of a silver replica. Much gloom. Still, we decided the team was a potentially good one and campaigned the British F2 rounds and the Ulster (7th place) on Steve's 350cc Italian Ringhini. The Dundrod circuit probably pips the TT for my favourite circuit much as it pains me to admit it - but then, only because it's just like a mini-TT with better Guinness! Worse weather though…

1993 with Pete Krukowski

We had a mixed year with some successes but were dogged by problems; in early 1990 at the F2 awards we were pleased - sort of - to be awarded the Ron Coxon Rose Bowl for "perseverance in the face of adversity" - the try hard trophy! A definite consolation, but we'd have preferred to have better results! That same year I also rode the Southern 100 with Castletown's Ralph Knight Castletown (7th and 9th places) on his 1135 Derbyshire Suzuki, what a great circuit though for a passenger I think it's much harder than the TT - no nice rests going over the Mountain and catching your breath on the S100.

1990 saw me and Steve in the TT again and miracle of miracles finishing both legs (15th and 25th) with even a replica to show for it. Hurrah! As a result I was also awarded the Sue Jenness trophy for best performance by a woman in TT. We also tackled a few rounds of the UK British F2 championships, though it was fairly tough for me as living on the Island made the travel both mega-expensive and pretty tiring (finish work at 5 on Friday - jump on the IoM Ferry - land at midnight - get to wherever the UK rounds were in time for signing on next morning - race 2 days - back on midnight boat to IoM - land at 7am and into work at 9. To all the bosses to whom I wasn't much use during that period - sorry chaps!

Sadly Steve Judkins has since died in a roadbike accident. I often wonder how his family is, we had some real laughs together - Mitch if you read this give me a call sometime. That same year I teamed up with Steve Featherstone for the F1 S100; we didn't have much luck, but as it happened there was a bright side (for me anyway!). F2 rider Alan Warner was desperate for a passenger as the one he'd brought with him decided that he'd gone off public roads after the first practice session. Alan was about to pack up and go home and pleaded for a loan of a passenger - I think the sight of him on his knees on the start line tipped the balance. We had a lousy start in the first race (put it down to either lack of practice at starting together, or jelly-legs from the adrenaline!) but after being left on the line and bouncing off a few walls on the way round (that old red mist again) we battled our way up to 7th place. The second race went better - after getting away10th from the line, by lap 4 we were in 2nd place behind Artie Oates and Stuart Pitts. We spent the next couple of laps tailing them so closely that Stuie and I could probably have held hands! Alan snuck in under them on the very last corner and we won by 5th of a second; consequently I was the 1st Manxwoman to win a S100 (thanks Alan) and 1st woman ever to win the S100 F2; but only the 2nd woman to get a win in the Southern overall (I was pipped to the post by Janet Lowe the previous year - well done Janet, wherever you are these days).

In 1991 I teamed up with Richard Crossley on Colin Jacob's beeoootiful Suzuki. Disastrous A-race - because I was too busy making rude signs at another outfit which we passed at Schoolhouse, I managed to fall out of the chair at Parliament Square whilst we were lying 5th.. Mmmmm - bit of a lesson to be learned there. Richard unfortunately didn't notice anything at first and retired at Whitegates, presumably having found the handling a bit different at May Hill. Allegedly as I legged it up the road after him a marshall told him "don't worry mate, she's alright" to which he replied "She ***ing won't be when I get my hands on her!" Quite right too….He forgave me sufficiently for us to tackle the B-race and despite the fact that he was suffering from a broken collarbone we came in 7th (silver rep!!!)- I was delighted to get a top 10 placing.…..Dorky passengering notwithstanding, I was delighted to be awarded the Sue Jenness trophy again.

It's worth mentioning here that by my recollection this was the last year F1 sidecars raced at the TT; thereafter they were banned, citing safety reasons - too fast, apparently (why don't they just ban the top 20 riders to make it safer then?); my personal view is that I missed the F1s immensely and (without going over all the old arguments for and against) felt much safer on one. Colin's chassis ran like it was on rails round the Island. But there you go…

Since then I've had a great time racing with various folks, including S100 with Andy Thomas from Wheathampstead, Greg Lambert, Martin Clark and others - including the 93 TT with Pete Krukowski. This was Pete's last TT, and though we failed to finish we made it onto the leaderboard - temporarily at least - and knocked out a 99.99 mph lap. 99.99 is still my fastest lap round the Island - I'd still love to crack the 100! The last couple of TTs I've ridden (95 and 96) were with Helmut Lunemann from Berlin - with whom I also passengered the Classic on his 1967 500 BMW Rennsport. I hung my leathers up after this, having 10 years and 8 TTs under my belt, plus the usual shelf-full of assorted trophies including a handful of TT replicas; but I've still got them (the leathers, that is), and I still daydream about the 100mph lap!

The atmosphere of the TT has always been one of the most exciting anywhere and if any women out there are considering giving racing a go, then make the TT your goal - despite the (often rubbish) weather and the early morning starts, it's an unforgettable experience. Go out there and be the first woman to win a TT for me!

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Susan Jenness Trophy Winners
1990 Cat Jenkins
1991 Cat Jenkins
1992 Terri Salone
1993 Kate Parkinson
1994 Sandra Barnett
1995 Sandra Barnett
1996 Sadie Childs
1997 Wendy Davis
1998 Kate Harrington
1999 Wendy Davis
2000 Sandra Barnett
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