Herbertson Racing is a family concern which currently has two members of the family which race motorbikes, one family member that has a Yamaha R6 road bike and one member that has a road legal quad. The mother of the family worries a lot but has learnt to live and help a family that has the ‘need for speed’.
Mark Herbertson was the first to start this ball rolling and he had help from his father Dennis as well.
We all live in Hexham a market town just off the A69, 5 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall in the beautiful County of Northumberland and 20 miles west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Mark began his road racing career in 1979 at a local race track called Albermarle Barracks close to Newcastle upon Tyne. It was a meeting entered by many famous names such as Joey Dunlop, Steve Hislop and Ron Haslam and the race bug was embedded from this point onwards.
Marks first bike was a Yamaha air-cooled TD3 250cc Yamaha which was often difficult to start due to carburation set-up in the days when all races were push starts with dead engines. The next step up was when he purchased a YamahaTZ350G from Steve Hislop himself when he still lived with his mother in Bonchester Bridge just over the Scottish Border from England.
On the TZ350 success came with many race wins and top three finishes and in 1988 Mark won the North East Clubman’s Championship but unfortunately in the following year having made plans to enter his first Manx Grand Prix and big crash destroyed the bike and due to lack of funds for bike repairs or a replacement the rest of the season and the MGP had to be cancelled.
Several years passed due to job relocations to Cumbria then Suffolk due to work and the arrival of three children Joanne, Samantha and Dominic from his marriage to Libby Herbertson who has always fully supported him in his racing career. Racing motorbikes was financially difficult but the introduction to the early years of Classic club racing on a 650 Triumph Triton put together by his father was the only racing he could afford for several years while bringing up his family.
Dennis Herbertson Marks father is a BSA DBD34 Goldstar enthusiast and after purchasing a couple of DBD34 in standard trim it was decided to remove the 650 Triumph engine from the race prepared Triton frame and replace the engine in the featherbed frame with a 500 single Goldstar engine and enter the Manx Grand Prix in 1994. Mark and his father had been to the TT and the MGP as spectators many times and after encouragement from friends and members of the Goldstar Owners Club the decision to compete at the MGP was made.
1994 was the first taste of racing the TT Mountain Course and after finishing 30th from 120 starters in his first race he says the love affair has never gone away. Mark has raced every year on the Island other than 2001 due to foot and mouth and 2012 due to leg injuries sustained after a crash at Oulton Park.
Highlight of his career to date was a third place podium finish in the Senior 500cc Classic MGP 2011 at an average speed of 102 mph on a G50 Matchless prepared by Alan Hermiston from Brinsworth, South Yorkshire and help from Fred Walmsley with engine preparation. Seven silver replicas and competing in the world famous TT in 2010, 2011 and 2013 on a R1 Yamaha are also highlights of his current career. Mark has also raced at the Ulster GP, Cookstown, Billown and most of the major race circuits in the UK at National and club level in his active racing portfolio.
Dominic Herbertson is following in his father’s racing tracks with a promising start to his race career. He got his first ACU licence in 2010 and after only his third season of racing has a good haul of wins and top three finishers and he gained his national licence in 2013 which enabled Dominic to make his MGP debut in the Supertwin class both as a Newcomer and in the full race on the final Friday in 2013.
Having had a bumpy start to his 2013 racing season with an unfortunate last race crash at Croft Circuit which he walked away from unhurt however his motorcycle suffered considerable damage which took him time and money in order to save for the repairs.
The early part of his race season was on hold but this did not deter him, he had a plan to enter the Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man and to assist with this he took part in the Mike Hailwood Foundation event and he attended a weekend event on the Isle of Man to assist Newcomers understand how things work, administration and regulations along with tours of the famous 37.74 mile course with previous winners of the TT and MGP.
Dominic got some additional TT circuit knowledge when he returned to the Isle of Man in June to pit crew and mechanic for his father at the TT.
Dominic says “pit crewing for my dad was a great help and the chance to get around the circuit with him who has raced around the TT course since 1994 was a great help to learn difficult sections of the course”.
Dominic currently races a Suzuki SV650 twin, which is basically a road bike with some race part modifications. The Suzuki was eligible for the Newcomers B class along with the Supertwin race at the MGP.
His entry was accepted by the MGP club and all the team and family arrived on the Isle of Man mid-August to start practice week. This went well with a slow build up and improving lap speeds. By the end of practice week he had qualified in sixth place on the start grid in the Newcomers race with an average speed of 103 mph.
Newcomers race day came and the weather was perfect dry and warm. After getting off to a good start Dominic was up to fourth place by the end of lap one (4 lap race) during his refuelling pit stop at the end of lap two a pit lane speeding penalty dropped him back to sixth place and this is where he finished overall after his first ever race around the TT course.
His best lap speed was just short of 107 mph and his sixth place achieved him his first Silver Replica of the week.
Dominic’s second race of the week took place on the last day (Friday) of the MGP which was the full Supertwins race.
Weather had taken a turn for the worse with rain and fog over the mountain sections and around other parts of the whole circuit made the pre-race nerves even worse for him. With eighty other competitors and a start position on the grid of 21st against many of the regular top riders at the Manx Grand Prix it was going to be a race for the brave. After one lap the race was red flagged due to the worsening weather and a rescheduled two lap race was announced by the race officials.
After refuelling and checking the bike, the weather had improved slightly so the officials got the race restarted. At the end of a difficult two lap race with constantly changing weather conditions Dominic finished a very creditable 18th place, being the second Newcomer home in a very strong field in very poor conditions.
This result achieved Dominic’s second Silver Replica of the week and ended his first TT course experience with a vast amount of knowledge and respect for the most demanding racing circuit in the world.
Post the Manx GP Dominic returned to short circuit racing achieving his first race win and several top three finishes at race events at Mallory Park and Three Sisters ending his season at Cadwell Park aboard a loaned Yamaha R1 1000cc on which he did very well.
Dominic says “My plans for the future are to follow in my father’s footsteps and enter TT 2014 on a Superstock 1000 and select other relevant road race meetings such as the N.W.200. This is to increase my experience in the1000cc class which I have already done in 2013 with several events on a loaned R1 Yamaha.
It would appear that the family legacy has certainly passed onto Dominic and it looks like he has a bright future ahead of him in the sport of motorcycle racing.
Mark is looking forward to returning to racing in 2014 after his leg injuries are all healed and he intends to compete at the TT in June and the inaugural Classic TT in August.
Here is a little info about the Matchless G50 from the owner of the bike Alan Hermiston
Model– Matchless G50 produced by AMC and developed by Jack Williams from the AJS 7R
Engine– 500cc 1962 single cylinder, o.h.c, four stroke replica engine 90mm Bore x 75mm stroke
Power– 50 B.H.P @ 7,000 RPM top speed 130 MPH
Price– Over the counter price in 1958 was £516.17s.4d. Current approximate value as it looks today is between £20,000-£25,000.
Frame– A Colin Seeley 1968 MK2 frame enclosing the engine, Brian Richards 6 speed gearbox, drum/disc braking system and Maxton suspension components.
Owner– Mr Alan Hermiston a former racer himself on BSA Goldstars, original 7R and G50’s with many successes at Cadwell, Mallory Park and other British circuits.
Current Rider- Mark Herbertson from Hexham in Northumberland has been a racer since 1979. He started on a Yamaha TD3 250 and then onto a TZ 350 Yamaha. In 1988 he also moved into classic racing on a 750 Triton and 500 BSA Goldstar before joining Alan to ride his Seeley 7R and Matchless G50. Mark races regularly with his local North East Motorcycle Racing Club Classic. Since 1994 Mark has been a regular competitor at the Isle of Man Manx Grand Prix which is now the Classic TT still around the famous 37.76-mile TT course. Mark has also competed at the TT on a Yamaha R1 and a Kawasaki ER6. Mark’s fastest lap on the G50 Matchless is currently 103 mph and has been clocked along Sulby Straight race speed trap at 131 mph on the G50.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP US BY MEANS OF SUPPORT OR SPONSORSHIP PLEASE MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN TO MARK OR ALAN. WE WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO TALK TO YOU.
IF YOU ARE PLANNING A TRIP TO THE ISLE OF MAN DURING TT OR CLASSIC TT PLEASE COME AND SEE US IN THE PADDOCK WERE TEA AND BISCUITS ARE ALWAYS AVAILABLE FOR GUESTS, FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS.
More to follow on the next update.