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John Brown (1934-2012)

The world of motor cycle sport was saddened at the weekend to learn of the death of John Brown, one of its most respected writers and columnists, who died at the age of 76. John, who lived in Kettering, had been ill for some time.

It was in the mid-sixties when his name started to attract attention , both as a reporter for Motor Cycle News and Editor of the famous Paddock Gossip. He started life in Kent and was inspired by going to Brands Hatch. including an encounter with Bernie Ecclestone when the infamous F1 entrepreneur, a dealer in Sidcup at the time, crashed his Manx Norton at the feet of Brown the marshal.

But being a reporter was always an ambition and the idea of getting paid for what you really liked doing attracted him. He spent the early years of his career working on local newspapers in Derbyshire, particularly in Chesterfield, and this proved valuable training for his future career.


It was in 1967 that he spotted an advertisement for a reporters job in MCN, applied for the job and got it. He was tossed into the hectic world of Grand Prix racing a year later and became the face of MCN and probably the best connected and most popular race reporter the publication had ever employed.

Later he became Editor of another EMAP publication, Motor Cycle Racing, and was prominent as a freelance for several daily papers. Then with the growth of classic racing storming ahead he helped with the relaunch of Classic Racer and his column Brownie’s Beat, a kind of trip down memory lane, attracted readers from all over the world.

John Brown was the kind of journalist that people liked talking to. He was trusted and his dry sense of humour made him popular with riders and team owners alike. He was equally at ease with the likes of Barry Sheene to your average club racer. In 2008 he was awarded a "certificate of recognition" by the Manx Government for services to the Isle of Man TT, an event he had been attending since the fifties.

He leaves wife Annette and son Tony.

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