Tom leads his Suzuki team-mates Steve Parrish and Barry Sheene round Brands Hatch during an official Texaco Heron Team Suzuki track day in March 1979. 

Or is it Tom? ......................

There are clues in the photo - the Kangol 'Herron Replica' helmet, the ill-fitting leathers, even the boots.

I asked Ray Battersby Service Manager at Suzuki GB in 1979 and author of the excellent book Team Suzuki to perhaps shed some light on the mystery:

"Curious thing how one little question can open up memories previously forgotten. 
So thanks for asking because I DO vaguely recall this incident. 

Chaz Blay was the best Press Fleet mechanic we ever had. 

He was the son of a master butcher and in fact had been a butcher before joining Suzuki. Just like a butcher too, at the end of each day, Chas would pick up a large broom and sweep the huge workshop floor clean. Butchers used to do this with sawdust spread around the floor. 

Chaz was also a keen road racer - especially at Brands Hatch - and I'm sure that it was Chaz who stood in for Tom that day. I recall him doing similar stand-in stunts for Barry Sheene too." 

Chaz himself recalls the occasion vividly: 
"I do remember this day at Brands and you were quite right; those leathers and helmet were very poor fitting as can be seen in the photo. 
On that day we were asked to ride around the track for photos which we duly did, then we came in for a stop, had a cup of tea, and Gary Taylor from the then company brand mark asked if we could we go faster - much to my delight, although bearing in mind that I would never overtake Barry on this track out of respect for him as a rider. 

I was on a bike with different tyres ie slick and wet tyres. 
Think the slick on the front, wet on the rear, the team were all standing looking at us from the bottom straight, this is where the camera was also. 
So I thought this is where I could overtake Steve Parrish which I did sideways (due to the tyres) with the team thinking I would crash the bike which of course I did not. 

The look on Steve's face was amazing he could not believe what was happening, if you speak to Martin Ogbourne and Gary Taylor they will tell you what they saw as well. 
But I guess they got their pictures and I had overtaken Steve Parrish on a day that's never forgotten by me." 
Chaz Blay 
29th September 2009.

Nick Hudson takes up the story: 
"Yes I do remember that day; it was right at the beginning of the season and was to be my first 'face to face' meeting with Tom, as up until then we had only spoken on the phone. 
Big Dave (Johnson) and I had been preparing Tom's bikes for a couple of weeks at Beddington Lane and this was the photo shoot to launch the 1979 team.

I do remember the guy standing behind Steve, although I don't recall his name but I am fairly sure he was helping Martin Brookman with Steve's bikes. 

I also seem to remember that he didn't stay with Steve for long, and for most of the season Martin had a large Aussie fellow [Mick I think] helping him. (Yes, this would be Aussie Mick Smith who later looked after Graeme Crosby's GP machines - Ray) 

Hope this is of interest, and thank you for the picture, I was never very photogenic (as this picture proves) but it is always nice to get a picture from the good old days.' 



As Ray rightly points out, Chaz was a keen road racer and therefore a natural replacement when such an occasion arose. 

Tom was indeed absent from the Heron Suzuki track day, as the team including riders Barry Sheene and Steve Parrish gathered at Brands Hatch on that crisp spring morning in March 1979. 

October 2009

Main Photos
Chaz Blay aka Tom Herron, Steve Parrish and Barry Sheene at Brands Hatch.
Photo: © Suzuki GB
By Kind Permission
Pictured at Brands Hatch in March 1979 are, Nick Hudson, (Sheene mechanic), Chaz Blay, Martyn Ogbourne (Sheene team co-ordinator), Kevin? Steve Parrish, Barry Sheene and Ken Fletcher (Sheene mechanic).
Photo: Suzuki GB
By Kind Permission