Tom Herron

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For the Northern Irish paramilitary leader, see Tommy Herron.
Tom Herron
Nationality British
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years 19701979
First race 1970 350cc Isle of Man TT
Last race 1979 500cc Spanish Grand Prix
First win 1976 250cc Isle of Man TT
Last win 1976 500cc Isle of Man TT
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
73 2 14 3 1 373

Tom Herron (14 December 1948 – 26 May 1979) was a Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from Lisburn, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. He specialised in road circuits such as the Isle of Man TT and the North West 200.

Career[edit]

The beginning[edit]

Herron's career started in 1965 when he competed in numerous events throughout Ireland, building up his experience along the way. In 1970, he won his first major race, the 350 class at the North West 200.

The 1970s[edit]

After winning the 1973 Irish 350cc championship, he moved up to the Grand Prix world championships. During these years, Herron competed as a privateer, against the factory backed riders, and it was a David vs Goliath struggle to compete. During this time, he met and eventually married Andrea, a sister of sometime Norton rider Peter Williams. They eventually had two girls, twins named Kim and Zoë.

At the close of 1976, he finished fourth in both the 250cc and 350cc world championships. Herron won the last Senior TT at the Isle of Man TT before the FIM stripped the event of its world championship status in 1976.[1] The following year, he finished runner-up in the 350cc world championship to Yamaha factory rider Takazumi Katayama.[2]

In 1978, Herron strengthened his position as one of the world's best riders on privateer machinery with fifth and sixth places in the 250cc and 350cc world championships respectively.

For the 1979 season, he finally got his big break, as a full works, manufacturer backed rider for the Texaco Heron Suzuki team in the 500cc world championship, alongside two-time world 500cc world champion Barry Sheene, and future Truck racer Steve Parrish.

The season started well, with a third in Venezuela and Italy, and a fourth in Austria. This left him in third place in the championship after three rounds. At the fourth round in Spain he crashed in practice and broke his right thumb, suffered third degree burns and was unable to race. He finished the season in tenth place.

Tragedy[edit]

After the fourth round of the 500cc world championship, Herron returned home to compete in the North West 200, where, in the previous year, he won 2 races, and he set a lap record of 127.63 mph. The course record still stands due to alterations made.

The 1979 North West 200 will always be remembered as "Black Saturday"; as it claimed the lives of Scotsman Brian Hamilton, Armoy man Frank Kennedy, who died of injuries months later, and Herron himself. In the last lap of the last race, Herron had been fighting for third place along with Jeff Sayle, Steve Parrish and Greg Johnstone, when he crashed at Juniper. He died later in Coleraine hospital, leaving behind his wife and two daughters.[3]

Grand Prix motorcycle racing results[edit]

Points system from 1969 onwards:

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Points 15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Class Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Points Rank Wins
1970 250cc Yamaha GER
-
FRA
-
YUG
-
IOM
13
NED
-
BEL
-
DDR
-
CZE
-
FIN
-
ULS
-
NAT
-
ESP
-
0 0
350cc Yamaha GER
-
YUG
-
IOM
NC
NED
-
DDR
-
CZE
-
FIN
-
ULS
-
NAT
-
ESP
-
0 0
1971 350cc Yamaha AUT
-
GER
-
IOM
-
NED
-
DDR
-
CZE
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ULS
9
NAT
-
ESP
-
2 49th 0
500cc Seeley AUT
-
GER
-
IOM
-
NED
-
BEL
-
DDR
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ULS
7
NAT
-
ESP
-
4 34th 0
1972 250cc Yamaha GER
-
FRA
-
AUT
-
NAT
-
IOM
NC
YUG
-
NED
-
BEL
-
DDR
-
CZE
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ESP
-
0 0
350cc Yamaha GER
-
FRA
-
AUT
-
NAT
-
IOM
NC
YUG
-
NED
-
DDR
-
CZE
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ESP
-
0 0
1973 250cc Yamaha FRA
-
AUT
-
GER
-
IOM
9
YUG
-
NED
-
BEL
-
CZE
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ESP
-
2 39th 0
350cc Yamaha FRA
-
AUT
-
GER
-
NAT
-
IOM
NC
YUG
-
NED
-
CZE
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ESP
-
0 0
1974 250cc Yamaha GER
-
NAT
-
IOM
4
NED
6
BEL
8
SWE
-
FIN
-
CZE
-
YUG
8
ESP
-
14 14th 0
350cc Yamaha FRA
-
GER
-
AUT
-
NAT
-
IOM
4
NED
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
YUG
9
ESP
-
10 22nd 0
500cc Yamaha FRA
-
GER
-
AUT
-
NAT
-
IOM
15
NED
-
BEL
-
SWE
9
FIN
-
CZE
-
2 31st 0
1975 250cc Yamaha FRA
9
ESP
7
GER
-
NAT
7
YUG
-
IOM
NC
NED
-
BEL
-
SWE
-
FIN
10
CZE
-
YUG
6
16 13th 0
350cc Yamaha FRA
-
ESP
-
AUT
-
GER
-
NAT
-
YUG
-
IOM
3
NED
-
FIN
-
CZE
4
YUG
4
26 9th 0
500cc Yamaha FRA
-
AUT
8
GER
-
NAT
-
IOM
21
NED
-
BEL
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
CZE
-
3 34th 0
1976 250cc Yamaha FRA
21
NAT
7
YUG
2
IOM
1
NED
7
BEL
10
SWE
6
FIN
5
CZE
6
GER
14
ESP
13
47 4th 1
350cc Yamaha FRA
9
AUT
6
NAT
5
YUG
5
IOM
26
NED
7
FIN
3
CZE
3
GER
-
ESP
9
41 4th 0
500cc Yamaha FRA
-
AUT
12
NAT
-
IOM
1
NED
-
BEL
12
SWE
9
FIN
-
CZE
-
GER
-
17 13th 1
1977 250cc Yamaha VEN
6
GER
7
NAT
4
ESP
7
FRA
7
YUG
3
NED
10
BEL
9
SWE
7
FIN
5
CZE
5
GBR
-
54 5th 0
350cc Yamaha VEN
5
GER
6
NAT
-
ESP
-
FRA
7
YUG
4
NED
4
SWE
6
FIN
4
CZE
2
GBR
-
56 2nd 0
1978 250cc Yamaha VEN
-
ESP
8
FRA
5
NAT
4
NED
-
BEL
-
SWE
5
FIN
8
GBR
2
GER
3
CZE
-
YUG
-
48 6th 0
350cc Yamaha VEN
-
AUT
-
FRA
4
NAT
-
NED
6
SWE
5
FIN
3
GBR
2
GER
5
CZE
8
YUG
-
50 5th 0
500cc Suzuki VEN
-
ESP
-
AUT
-
FRA
-
NAT
-
NED
-
BEL
9
SWE
-
FIN
-
GBR
-
GER
-
2 26th 0
1979 500cc Suzuki VEN
3
AUT
4
GER
-
NAT
3
ESP
-
YUG
-
NED
-
BEL
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
GBR
-
FRA
-
28 10th 0

References[edit]