You’d expect to find a name like Ted Woof on the label of a £300 shirt in a designer boutique in London’s Covent Garden. But the real-life Ted Woof is a 68-year-old down-to-earth Yorkshireman who saved the 500cc Classic TT from turning into a procession.
Without Ted and his two-valve Manx Norton, Josh Brookes and the Winfield Racing Paton twin could have cantered to a two-minute victory. But the Paton had to refuel, while Jamie Coward rode the Norton straight through the four-lap race. He led going into the final lap, but suffered a top-end misfire and eventually lost by 34.03 seconds. It was a fantastic battle that could have seen Ted’s humble Norton rival bikes costing up to £200,000.
There are plenty of Manx Nortons in classic racing. So, Ted, what's the secret of your bike’s speed? “It's the Summerfield engine - they've been the quickest Manx Norton engines for 15 years,” he said modestly.
But other people can buy a Summerfield engine - they're built by two elderly brothers in Derbyshire - so just what is it that you do to your bike?
“We've got a different engine for this year. Lighter flywheels - leave it at that,” Ted said.
But that can't be all. “They need a good carburettor, exhaust and ignition system and a bloody good rider, and then we're in business,” he added.
Word in the paddock is that Ted - whose team’s name is Craven Classics - performs arcane rites with the Manx engine on his workshop dyno. But he says that he leaves the Summerfield motors standard, and just focuses on set-up. The Craven Manx is, frankly, a bit scruffy and there's no evidence of any trick lightweight pieces. “It's a working bike,” Ted says. “And weight doesn't matter in this race because you're always rolling.”
His bike weighs a hefty 137kg (301kg), with fluids. With a 92mm cylinder bore and some 55-ish bhp, it also had to carry Coward’s 13 stone 6lb frame. But Coward is a 26-year-old public-roads phenomenon who cracked the 110mph classic singles barrier for the TT Circuit with a lap at 110.057mph.
You couldn't find the Craven Classics pit among the glamour teams on the top rows of the Classic TT paddock - their DAF truck and awning were down in row four. Four of them sleep in the truck - no fancy motorhomes for these boys.
“We just set up our stall and go racing,” Ted said.
It's the kind of thing that only happens at the Classic TT.