Ian Lougher: From Racer to Manager
The next guest on the TT Podcast is a Welshman who’s been involved in the TT for nearly 40 years. Ian Lougher has had 136 starts, 10 wins and 29 podiums at the TT. Today, he’s a team manager and still rides in the Classic TT.
Ian tells Chris Pritchard and Steve Plater about his somewhat questionable journey into motorbike racing. Ian’s dad and brother both had road bikes, but didn’t race them. One day as a thirteen year old, Ian “pinched” his brother’s, and was riding around the narrow lanes of rural Wales when he was caught by a police officer and handed a fine for three years: “when I got my licence, I already had four endorsements on it… you’re only allowed to have three in those days”. Despite this, he says his family have always been very supportive of his career.
How did he get into racing competitively? One of Ian’s friends took him along to the Llandow circuit in south Wales where he was lent some leathers. Sent off to get his licence from the ACU, Ian was told: “it’s like a bug, you won’t get rid of it once you start”. Ian first raced on a short circuit in 1982, and says he’d never heard of the Isle of Man back then. Ian talks the guys through how he built up a relationship with Raymond Cowels, who took him round 26 meetings a year and introduced him to the Isle of Man with the Southern 100 (the Southern suited Ian because of his familiarity with narrow country lanes back home in Wales) where he became the most successful rider at the Southern 100 ever, with 32 wins to Joey Dunlop’s 31.
Whilst at the Southern 100 in 1983, Raymond took Ian on a few laps of the TT Course. Ian wasn’t particularly daunted by the scale of the course: “it didn’t bother me too much”.
Ian’s first TT win came in 1990. He tells Chris and Steve the unlikely story of how he went from a frustrated finisher at the European Championships, to two podiums at the North West 200 - where his bike began misbehaving. Then the bike issues were sorted by the end of TT Practice Week, and he went on to claim victory in the junior class finishing ahead of Steve Hislop, Eddie Laycock and Carl Fogarty.
Asked whether the changes he’s experienced at the TT in almost 40 years have all been for good, Ian says he’s not convinced everything has been. He was a fan of early morning practices and says he’s sad about the absence of 2-stroke machines from short circuits and road races today.
Today, as a team manager, Ian gets satisfaction from passing his knowledge of motorsport onto younger riders. He tells the guys how satisfying he finds it when the youngsters he works with improve: “Especially BSB … they go out and all of a sudden you see them go green or purple on the timing board … and you think ‘yes’ you’ve got it right now”. Ian’s last TT start was in 2013. He says we won’t see him on the startline at the TT again, but he’s still competing at the Classic.
Also in this episode of the TT Podcast, Ian shares his memories of Joey and Robert Dunlop - including tales of New Zealand and Macau, and he tells Chris and Steve about why he could never get his head around Philip McCallen.
Listen to Part One:
Listen to Part Two: