Sunday 7th September was a pretty significant day in more ways the one. A memorial services was held on Elstead Common in memory of Raymond Henry Collins. Ray was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, on July 16, 1920. He worked at Service Engineers (Fulham), Claude Rye’s (Fulham) and was Workshop Manager at London Scooters Ltd in West Ealing, W13, prior to being employed by the Lambretta Concessionaires in the late 1950s where he became one of the four mobile technical advisors. Ray was involved in sport competitions in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Probably one of the most memorable events that he was involved with would have the infamous Scottish Six Day Trials, where his technical knowledge showcased his engineering skills. Three Lambrettas used for the event were prepared by Ray and all three completed the event without any major mechanical problems, gaining award placings for their riders. Ray also participated in Speedway and Scootacross/Scrambling events.
Around the time Ray was poached by Don Noys, off-road was the only real competitive scooter sport, but it was pretty crude stuff, until Don and
Ray turned up! – Arthur Francis
Long forgotten events at venues like Elstead, Bray, Swanley Heights and Cheltenham are probably the best documented period of Ray’s life. There are countless reports of his antics and tussles with other well-known scooter personalities of the day, which often ended in tears for those involved (Ray himself is recorded as to having run into a bush on at least one occasion). Between races, be found wandering around and offering advice to novice racers – in every sense, he was a true sportsman.
Ray Collins was only 45 years old when he died on July 18, 1965 at the 6th Scootacross event held at Elstead Common.
The memorial service, conducted by Barry of the Bats SC, (Ray was a member of Bats SC from SE London) was attended by family and close friends included the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Ray and chance to see some of the original StingRay’s scramble around the track.
I was privileged to have been invited to take part in taking a few laps around the course. Which in fact hasn’t been ridden on since 1967. It was great to see the plumes of 2 stroke filled smoke coughing from the bikes, and to hear the bikes snarling in the distance as they blasted around the course. The day didn’t come without the usual hiccups that heavily modified vintage bikes present, but all in all a great day.
Read more about Ray Collins, Scooterist Extraordinaire