The incorrigible Croxford.
By Peter Dodson. Excerpts from Classic Racer, Summer 1990
Dave Croxford was the crowd's favourite. His endearing qualities were his riding talent and irrepressible desire to enjoy his work.
Dave Croxford is probably remembered more for his crashes than the races he won but this is partly his own fault for consciously fostering such a carefree image. "I had 189 crashes, mate," he told me, "and I never broke a bone. The worst I ever got was stitches, and a busted tooth."
Croxford drifted into racing after losing his licence in the early Sixties for indecent haste on his Manx framed Triton. In fact, he lost it three times! "It was always on the North Circ. on the way to the Ace Café," the Mecca for young rockers being just a few miles from his home.
A brief spell as a sidecar passenger soon convinced him solos were perhaps a better bet. The first solo excursion on his Triton was not exactly local but 422 miles away at Charterhall in Scotland . "I towed the bike up there behind the Commer van which took forever, but I didn't care. I was young and keen and it was the only place that I could get a ride."
"1965 was my first time in the Island. I hated riding there as I couldn't learn the course, but in practice on the Matchless I got around at 97mph by following Tarquinio Provini on his Benelli-4, which was only a 250!
"In the Junior the 7R packed up but in the lightweight I was 18th on Alan Pacey's Norton Special. In the Senior race it rained which slowed things up a bit so my lack of knowledge didn't show so much and I finished 11th .
"After that I started looking for a sponsor. The G50 kept on cracking crankcases and new ones cost a hundred quid. I advertised in MCN and Charlie Oakley rang me up. Charlie had a butchers shop in Newark and without him I could not have gone racing.
"Colin Seeley sponsored me in 1968 and that was my good year. I won everything there was to win." He said. Just as well. Croxford had turned professional. "I didn't do a lot abroad. I was a short circuit scratcher. I liked the cut and thrust. And I preferred to stay at home and earn the money while the competition was away."
The next couple of seasons on a Gus Kuhn Norton and latterly on his own BSA triple saw the Croxford crash total piling up. He kept count by cutting notches on his walking stick!
The JPN works ride came about by chance when he blew his triple up at Mallory in 1972 and Frank Perris agreed to his request for a bike. He went out and won, beating Grant and Read on the other works bikes.
By the time Norton Villiers were on their uppers, Croxford's last race for them was at Brands where he was involved in the 14 rider crash in which Pat Mahoney was seriously injured.
"For 1976 I borrowed a Suzuki 4 and did a few events on that. The performance was fantastic. Later on that year the enthusiasm drained and I gave up altogether. I can't say I've missed it. But once you've raced a bike nothing can compete. Not even fishing!"