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Brands Hatch honours local motorcycling legend

Thursday, January 28 2010

Brands Hatch paid tribute to local motorcycle racer and engine tuner Freddie Cooper today (Friday) as the 84-year-old received a final lap of honour around his home circuit on the way to his funeral.

Meopham-based Cooper, who sadly passed away earlier this month, was a cornerstone of the vintage motorcycle racing community and began his career competing at Brands Hatch in the 1950s, racing against famous names such as John Surtees.

"Fred used to ride to Brands Hatch on his bike and race all day, hoping not to drop it as he had to ride his bike home again!" recounted his son Stuart Cooper, who races sidecars himself. "One time at the circuit he even loaned a part from his motorcycle engine to Stirling Moss, and Stirling lent him his crash helmet in return."

Cooper's main racing success came in the 1960s, when he fought against George Brown and Alfie Hagon on a 500cc supercharged Hermes Triumph sprinter.

During this time, he also established a successful motorcycle mechanic shop and became known for his engine tuning skills. In the mid 1960s, Motorcycle News challenged Freddie to build a race bike for under £100 to compete in the Isle of Man TT, which was eventually ridden by eminent journalist Robin Miller.

Perhaps Cooper's greatest motorcycling achievement occurred in 1972, when he became the first person in the UK to officially exceed 200mph, riding a twin engine supercharged Triumph Cyclotron that he built himself with help from his brother Jack.

Although Triumphs were his first love, Freddie was also a Lamborghini engine specialist and worked with Bernie Ecclestone in the 1970s, helping to build his Brabham Formula One engines.

"Fred's likeability, friendliness, his extreme knowledge and talent will be sadly missed by all of those who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him," added his son.