Observer appeal finds new racing stars

Tom Branston is the new recruit for veteran drag racer Martin Joy
Tom Branston is the new recruit for veteran drag racer Martin Joy

Tom Branston usually rides a 50cc motorbike from his Stedham home to Brinsbury College every day.

So climbing aboard an 1100cc drag bike and racing at speeds of more than 100mph was a bit of a change of pace for him.

But Tom, who will be 17 in July, is enjoying every minute of his new apprenticeship with veteran drag racer Martin Joy, from Midhurst.

He is Martin’s latest recruit after an appeal in the Observer last year for someone to take on the riding so he could concentrate on the mechanics of the monster bikes.

“At 43 I reckoned it was time to hang up my racing helmet,” said Martin.

“It would have been easier to just sell the bike and the motor-home we lived in while racing and just move on, but I really wanted to carry on having an input in this great sport.”

He was looking for someone whose idea of heaven was jumping on a heavily-modified 1000c bike and rocketing from 0 to 100mph in four seconds.

Steve Pooley from Heyshott was the first candidate to step up to the mark.

“He has exceeded all expectations,” said Martin.

“He has ridden from a standing start to 160mph in 800 yards – and to think we would never have found him if it wasn’t for the Observer!”

Meanwhile Tom, a former Midhurst Rother College student, rode for Team Martin for the first time at RAF Odiham where, Martin said: “He rode really well and improved as the day went on.”