I'm sure it was pretty much the same routine for all the other competitors, at the end of a season thorough strip down of the bike and rebuild, new bearings, oil seals etc plus any mods to try and squeeze more performance out of the engine.The biggest difference to my bike for 1976 was mostly cosmetic, now painted black; it was going to be sprayed red but with no heating in the garage this proved troublesome and in one of those 'oh sod it' moments I brushed it black. For some reason I also fitted an LD tank (probably worth some money now). The MK I Amal Carb was an experiment but can't really remember why, however it was very soon replaced in favour of the 30mm Dellorto again.
1976 was a good year all round for Hampshire Union, we won the Club Championship, Graham Oliver finished top of Group 5 with an impressive tally of twelve race wins on the way and 2nd overall in the solo championship, I was top of Group 6 and 4th in the overall solo championship, Geoff Stephens finished 5th in Group 4 (obviously couldn't find top gear) and Alan Crickmore and Pete Hinsley finished 2nd in Group 7.This year we had raced at Lydden, Snetterton, Donington, Darley Moor and Croft. For those that remember, 1976 was the year we had a blistering summer and I remember it being a particularly hot day when we raced at Croft; couldn't wait to get those leathers off.Just as the year began it was now time to strip down the bike and go through the whole process again to ensure the bike would be in tip-top condition and there were also some ideas in the pipeline to generally improve performance plus a move away from using GPM pistons.
I was still using the Les Rafferty tuned 225 which if I remember correctly used a GPM piston, it certainly had a dykes top ring. These pistons (70mm) with dykes ring were becoming difficult to get hold of and they also had a tendency to crack; I remember one occasion when I could not get a replacement piston in time and had to race with a cracked one, fortunately it held out.One of the great events of the year was always the Festival of Speed held at Lydden. In 1976 I was one of those invited to race in this event and despite the almost traditional throw it down the track in practice, drag the bike back to the paddock for a change of handlebars in time for the race, I achieved a 2nd place in the second race. Here's a picture of Dick Wilfang, solo champion of 1975, about to put me in 2nd place; thanks Dick.
A great part of racing was life in the paddock, everyone was always very friendly and willing to help or lend you spares for your bike if you needed them. Here's a shot from the paddock of a few of the Hampshire Union mob. Extreme left is Pete Hinsley, 2nd in from the left is me saying my prayers, 3rd from left is Alan Crickmore, next is Geoff Stephens and finally Chris Town who sponsored Hampshire Union with Gedol 2 stroke oil.