Les Rafferty the ace tuner of two stoke machines. He once
told me that during his days in the RAF he used to race an
Ariel Arrow round
Castle Coombe, this must of been the time he learned his
trade as a tuner. Les could transform a meek little Lambretta
into a howling beast, which would leap away with alarming speed
and many wheelies if you were not careful. In the
sixties he and
Ned Newman started the Wildcat tuning side of the Motorcyle business
in West Street Fareham.
The old workshops were situated where the Fareham bypass is
now, leading to the railway station, at the time I was
employed by Rafferty's as a workshop receptionist and tea
maker. Most every evening a few of us die hard racers would
congregate at the workshop for a chat, and to watch the master
at work, hoping that some of his skills would rub off. Les was
always there grinding away in his little tuning area, the old
workshop was a massive affair you could get about 50 bikes
lined up in two rows in the place. Les was a great bloke, gruff
on the outside, but he had a heart of gold and was really very
helpful to us lads. It's shocking to think that he died so
young only 45, at lot younger than I am
Les tried his hand at racing scooters, he had a nice
GP125 he would race, he lent this bike to me
once at Mallory when my 225 died.
At lydden hill when he was riding sidecar passinger
for Ginger George the steam (he used to keep steam traction
engines) they had a nasty
prang which put him in hospital. After that I believe June
his wife ended his racing days.
Les developed the five port barrel and the use of dykes pistons for the Lambretta's also
pluging crankshafts, a compression plate and
electronic ignition all helped to keep the Wildcats at the
cutting edge of scooter racing history.
Really we were so fortunate to be at the birth of Scooter
Racing in the UK, and to spend time with one of the Greats in
Scooter tuning. They were happy days we had no responsibilities
and life was sweet.