Tony Jefferies, multiple TT winner and prominent member of a great Yorkshire motorcycling dynasty, has died.
He was 72, had been seriously ill for some time but insisted, against medical advice, on attending the recent funerals of his two great friends Paul Smart and Peggy Appleyard.
It was typical of a man whose life was a mixture of triumph and tragedy, the former his success on the Isle of Man and short circuits including the famous Transatlantic series; the latter a tragic accident during TT practice in 2003 which killed his son David; few years later, the death of his wife Pauline; and his own paralysing handicap from a crash in 1973 at Mallory Park.
As the tributes poured in to daughter Louise who now runs the BMW dealership, his younger brother Nick, also a TT winner, told bikesportnews.com: "His visits to those funerals knocked him back a fair bit but he was determined to live as ordinary life as he could. But for the last 12 months Louise had been looking after him with us doing our share. He had a problem with his aesophagus but didn’t like the idea of intravenous feeding saying ‘No, I want to eat normally’. If anyone had half the resolve he had they would be better people.
“He was a tremendous rider but he never really had the big chance and if he had got the opportunity of riding a TZ700, which he just missed, he’d have shown how good he was. He was a big lad and big lads needed the 700s. What happened was an absolute tragedy.
“I last saw him on Sunday in Bradford Royal Infirmary. He had fallen out of bed but wanted some eggs and I had to go out to Tesco’s. In the next two days he was lapsing into unconsciousness and the end came suddenly. It was a great shock but I think both Louise and I would not have wanted him to go through the indignity of being force fed etc.
“He was no shrinking violet and after his racing days he took the business forward. He was very brave with lots of new ideas. We didn’t agree on all of them but there is now a great business with the best BMW showroom in the country. He was also a great speech maker and was President of the TT Riders Association and the Bradford Motor Club among others. He put a lot back into the sport.
“And, of course, it came from the great name of Allan Jefferies who was known throughout Europe for his succcess in the Six Day Trials. In the thirties the biggest event was the TT but the International Six Day trial came next.”
Fellow Yorkshireman Mick Grant said: ”Tony and I started racing together and we enjoyed many hilarious moments when Jim Lee was my first sponsor. He had a great sense of humour. When he broke his back at Mallory I came away thinking why has this happened to such strong man, this lovely, lovely man. Life, in many ways, hasn’t been kind to him.
“In our early days we both did a bit of trialling and one time Tony did the Scot Trial, the hardest in the world, and lied to me by telling me he had won a Scot spoon by finishing in the top ten or fifteen. The year after Tony’s accident I did the Scot, although I was never good enough anyhow, and after about half an hour one of the spectators held up a placard saying ‘Scot Spoon twenty quid’ and this went on all through the trial until it got to about two hundred quid. I then discovered that Tony had set it all up, he had never won a Scot spoon. He had an amazing sense of humour.
“And as rider he was very good. In those days to win one TT was a real achievement, to win two in the same week was amazing. A great man.”
Robin Appleyard added: ”People shouldn’t forget the part he played in the industry and the sport. Nor that after winning that double in the TT he went to the Ulster and won there. Our families were very close, we saw a lot of each other and it was so sad to see him bed ridden for the last two years. Yes, remarkable man in many ways.”