British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Inductee: Team Pegasus

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2018 BRITISH DRAG RACING HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES ANNOUNCED

The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (BDRHoF) has just announced the names of the new members selected for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2018. They are the family of a pioneer racer and long time journalist and manager of Shakespeare County Raceway the Cooksons, Jet dragster pilot and founder of TSI Timing Systems Steve Horn, bike pioneers Team Pegasus, multiple Pro Mod champion and race car constructor Andy Robinson and Top Fuel Dragster racer and tuner Peter Lantz.

Their detailed Citations accompany this release and their names join those whose contributions to British drag racing are considered to have been extraordinary. The detailed Citations can also be found on www.britishdragracinghof.co.uk. The Induction Ceremonies will take place at the BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner being held at the historic Oatlands Park Hotel, Weybridge on November 17th when drag racing personalities and fans from around the world will celebrate the commitment shown by these all-too-often un-sung heroes and the influence they have had on drag racing.

On-going news about the Gala, sponsors and other events in which the BDRHoF is involved is regularly published on the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame website, www.britishdragracinghof.co.uk, www.eurodragster.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Team Pegasus – Profile by Keith Lee

Team Pegasus came about as three friends from the Bedford area, Derek Chinn, Mick Butler and Ian Messenger, decided to have a go at sprinting and drag racing in 1967. They started with an old 600cc single cylinder Panther powered bike, aptly named Long Rod, which still survives today, and they soon acquired an appetite to challenge the top racers of the day who mainly used vee-twin motors.

The first incarnation of Pegasus was an unblown 998cc Vincent in 1968. Taking it in turns to ride the bike, the elapsed times quickly improved. A Shorrock supercharger was fitted for 1969, and the bike started to fly. That year, Pegasus was the first drag bike to race in Sweden, and Mick Butler rode the bike to its first British Drag Bike Championship win, defeating John Hobbs in the final.

In 1970, the beautifully prepared Vincent was one of two British bikes on the first trip from the UK to race at the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indy. Despite transportation delays, the experience of competing at the sport’s number one drag race was a brilliant adventure for the young team. The bike joined the nine-second elite, recording best times of 9.83s/150mph.

In many smoky side by side charges, Pegasus notched up a good number of wins. It took the 1971 BDR&HRA and NDRC championships. Derek tried to extract more power for 1972, by upping the capacity to 1458cc, after which the original Pegasus was retired.

Mick Butler decided to strike out on his own after 1972, previously running a Norton powered bike alongside Pegasus, as he wanted to race more often. He built Super Cyclops, a 1000cc double Norton, which dipped down into the low nines, followed by a Weslake vee-twin, which Mick rode into the low eights.

In 1974, Derek and Ian unveiled the double-engined 1656cc Pegasus Norton – a true work of art. Early times were fraught due to an overworked motorcycle gearbox and clutch. Once the bike was fitted with a Lenco two speed and slipper clutch, the wins started coming again. Eddie Keightley joined them as a team crewman.

The Norton was a big hit on the show circuit, and won numerous Best Appearing and Best Engineered awards at the races, with several different airbrushed murals applied over the years.

Best times achieved by Pegasus were 8.39s/170mph. The bike was retired at the start of the ’80s but happily the bike was sold to the National Motorcycle Museum where, for many years it was the main attraction in the entrance foyer.

Derek built a replica of the original unblown Pegasus in the late 1980s in order to have some fun racing at sprints, and it still runs at Dragstalgia. Amazingly, in 2016, after the double Norton had spent some 33 years in the museum, Derek and Ian got the bike running again. It was quite something to see and hear the iconic Norton out on track, with Derek riding it for one last time.

The three original team members all shared the same values regarding quality and will always be linked together, after their time spent in establishing the Pegasus name.

Supplied Action Images By Roger Philips & Keith Lee