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John Goodall

Author: David (Jack) Hobbs
Posted on: Thursday, Sep 11 2008



John began his competition career in 1967while serving in the Far East in the Royal Air Force. While waiting for his 350 Gold Star to be shipped out from UK he got involved with the local competition scene. Riding a 500cc Triumph he proved to be a very capable scrambler, hill climber, grass tracker etc.

When the Goldie arrived it was soon put into use for the local Grand Prix events in Singapore, Johore and Kuala Lumpur. The standard of machinery in these events was very high with works machines and riders being entered by the major Japanese factories. As a leading light of the Far East Air Force Motor Sports Team, John soon gained a reputation as not only a very hard rider, but also a meticulous preparation engineer.

On returning to UK in 1970, John bought an AJS 7R from Bill Smith and began to find his way around the UK circuits. When the two-strokes began to dominate the 350 class, John moved up to G50 power with an ex-Derek Woodman engine purchased from Denis Trollope. Always a supporter of the four-stroke machine against the dreaded stink-wheel, John was virtually unbeatable in his class for many years at circuits like Gaydon and Mallory Park. In the unlimited finals he was usually to be found giving the leading 750ís a hard time. Many of the spectators would be listening for the bark of the Matchless in amongst the screech of the two-strokes and applauding the ability and efforts that kept him in amongst them.

In 1972 the Manx GP beckoned. The Matchless frame was considered to have too many limitations for the Island, so Mr Seeley received the mortgage deposit savings in exchange for a Mark III frame kit. The IOM debut was nothing spectacular, finishing 29th in the Senior, but apparently a trip up and over the bank at the Gooseneck in practice surprised a few spectators.

The following year showed how much he had learnt. With an early start number he led on the roads for the whole race, finishing 3rd behind RAF colleague Paddy Reid and veteran hard man Joe Thornton.

From then until 1979 John built up an enviable record for reliability and high placings. As well as his own machines, he also rode a 350 Aermacchi for Sid Lawton. There was a Production TT outing on a 250 Yamaha, paired with Wayne Dinham, and another on a 750 S3 Moto Guzzi with Dave Featherstone. On short circuits he rode a 900SS Ducati and a Moto Guzzi Le Mans for Alec Hammond. And his rides on Alex Duguidís 250 Ducati are still vividly remembered by those who witnessed them

On leaving the Air Force, and losing the associated sponsorship, plus the problems of setting up his own engineering business, the racing had to cease. But the announcement of a Classic Manx in 1983 proved irresistible. John won it in a very close finish from the late Bob Hirst.

From there until the present day It has been business as usual. After having spent a year rarely riding a motorcycle, let alone racing one, he would fire the Matchless or the AJS off down Glencrutchery Road and be instantly competitive. In practice this year he has lapped as fast as, if not faster than he has ever done.

I have had the privilege of being associated with John since 1967 as a competitor, a team mate, a co-conspirator on various projects and as a mechanic, although nobody needed a mechanic less than John. His machines always came to meetings ready to race, and mechanical problems were rare.

His engineering talents were evident once more when he produced a four valve, twin cam version of the Matchless engine. It was run in the Classic Manx for two years and proved to be fast and reliable, Unfortunately development had to stop when it was protested and refused as an entry.

The other member of the Goodall team has been Johnís wife, Rose. She kept us fed and watered and was the voice of reason when things got out of hand. But you could not mistake her fierce pride in Johnís ability and achievements and that pride is shared by the rest of the family. It will remain as strong as ever after the pain of his loss is dulled.


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