Marcus McCormick

The story starts not so many years ago when I was five years old when my Dad bought myself and my brother a monkey bike and took us to Morecambe beach for a day out. Today I’d end up with a S59 warning and have the bike confiscated but it was ok back then honest albeit I scared the c**p out of the donkeys!
I was hooked from that moment and had a succession of off roaders to play on until I was old enough to get my first road bike a Yamaha FS1M DX moped. Not a real Fizzie but a strangled restricted modern moped with a disc brake. God knows why because you could put your feet down to stop! I crashed a fair bit in those days but I bounced well.
I’ve lost track of the number of bikes I’ve owned but they included several 250 Superdreams, a Honda 400/4 supersport, a Honda CB750KZ, and a Kawasaki Z1000J. I never did get my hands on a Z650 or a Z900 which were my ultimate bikes along with a CBX1000, Z1000MK2 or the monster Z1300.
At that stage I wasn’t bothered with two strokes so none of the RDs or LCs floated my boat albeit I was strangely drawn to Katanas (yes I was the one).
Our massive weekend ride outs from Halesowen (the Littleton Cinema at Hasbury to be precise) were to the fun fair at….Stourport (about 17 miles)! The ultimate ‘sticky’ tyre of the day was a Pirelli Phantom and the ultimate helmet was made by Griffin. We wore Lewis Leathers calf length boots with white fisherman’s socks rolled over the top and our leather jackets sported denim waistcoats on top with our favourite bands badges sewn all over. Oh and we stank to high heaven of patchouly oil.
Believe it or not our gang also contained a little snotty nosed kid riding an immaculate blue Kawasaki Z250, his name was Quentin! (yes the very same one). At 17 years old I joined West Midlands Police as a cadet weighing in at 9 ½ stones with a six pack (I still have a six pack but its Carling nowadays). I spent five years on a Panda in Handsworth from 1982 whilst I got all my police driving grades both bike and car before going to traffic at Park Lane in Aston. Myself and Examiner Charlie Perry were on the bikes together and had years of fun on patrol and doing royal / ambulance escorts before I managed to get onto the Driving Marcus McCormick – Vice President In The Spotlight School as an instructor. (More about the route to this career move and the adventures whilst there in another article one day). Whilst we were at Park Lane (1987 – 1994) we were approached by the IAM to see if we wanted to start an advanced club for bikers. A car group existed but no bike group. Myself, Charlie Perry, Bryan Davis and a guy called John Brookes, all traffic bikers decided to give it a go. It was only advertised via word of mouth as we didn’t think there would be too much interest, over 100 bikers turned up that first night! We were staggered and had no training material at all, not even an OHP with acetates!
It’s fantastic that we still have such a vibrant club to this day over 25 years later. Not long after that I became an examiner for the IAM and later for RoSPA too. About that time I decided that the current range of bikes didn’t handle quite well enough and so I bought and built a Harris Magnum 2 with a Kawasaki Z1R engine as the power plant. In my wisdom I decided to turbocharge the 1000cc engine! Problem was in a racing chassis there was no room where the turbo should have gone because it was designed for carbs. I had to put the turbo above the engine and inside a specially designed fuel tank and body work lagged with heat resistant foil asbestos blanket! Problem I had was it would wheelspin and wheelie at the same time at 100mph due to the short wheelbase and it kept blowing head gaskets. Eventually I took it apart and had it converted to an 1100 with Wiesco high compression pistons and smoothbore carbs. It went like stink but I eventually p/x’d it for a Yamaha Exup. Craig Jones the stunt rider bought my Magnum and that’s what he started his stunt career on.
The exup got swapped for a ZZR1100 of which I had two (the C1 and D1 models) then I had one of the very first Triumph T595s which got flattened by a fire engine (another long story!). Three Yamaha R1s followed and during that time I also decided to have a go at racing so I joined New Era and later Thurdersports to race a CB500. What a culture shock that was! From mixing it in the ‘fast group’ on track days to proper racing. Trust me there is absolutely nothing like it particularly when you’ve foolishly (in a drunken moment) decided to pick No. 46 as your race number. We raced at Cadwell, Mallory, Pembrey, Donnington, Castle Coombe, Anglesey, Brands Hatch Snetterton and Oulton Park. I realized fairly quickly that I had ‘missed the boat’ to be a racer despite finishing overall 7th in the season. The fast guys were just worlds ahead so I gave it up and came back to a world I understand.
After my spell on the driving school I came back to a pro active bike squad at Chelmsley Wood / Solihull. What a riot! Imagine riding with a team of 10 exceptional riders who (to a man) ride like the wind. Going out on a daily basis as a gang with the sole purpose of taking on the undesirables in society. Its job satisfaction on an epic scale. It was also about that time that I was on a force off road squad both combating anti social behaviour and teaching police riders how to ride the machines we had, We eventually blagged the force into buying us KTMs and sending us to the Yamaha off road school with Geraint Jones to show us how to teach properly. That guy is just stunning to watch. Our bikes were EXC200, EXC 450 and EXC525s all of which are awesome. They also crash extremely well as several club members will attest to! Whilst I still owned an R1 I test rode my first (of two so far)
BMWS1000RRs. Words cannot describe how good this bike is in terms of performance and handling albeit the build quality leaves a bit to be desired with sub standard paintwork and too many parts failing at 18000 miles including switch gear, exhaust header valves and steering dampers.
Bikesafe is a massive driving force for biker road safety in this country and Im proud to say that I started the West Midlands version of it over 15 years ago and for most of that time have had ex Sgt Richard Breeze as my right hand man. The new guy taking over the reigns is Stu Allen and he’s mad keen also so it’s in safe hands still. Myself and Charlie believe that we started one of the best groups in the country and I can assure all of you that you have one of the largest collection of police riders of any club to call on and long may that continue.

Kevin Songhurst

kevin songhurst

The website design team working with BAM, from UK Design Group. Also do work with Thomson Holidays and First Choice holidays.

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