MotoGP stalwart Mike Trimby was presented with the Royal Automobile Club’s prestigious Torrens Trophy at the Pall Mall clubhouse in London last night. The award citation paid tribute to Trimby’s tireless work to improve circuit safety and represent the riders, teams and commercial side of MotoGP.
“Last year was another superb year for motorcycle racing and selecting a winner was no easy task,’ said former racer Barrie Baxter, Chairman of the Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee. ‘Steve Holcombe clinched his seventh World FIM EnduroGP Championship, Brad Ray was crowned British Superbike Champion, and Jane Daniels won the World Enduro Championship for the third time, making her Team GB’s best and most successful enduro racer.
“Finally we decided to honour the man known as ‘the King of the MotoGP paddock’. The Torrens Trophy celebrates an individual or organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to motorcycling in Britain. It therefore gives us enormous pleasure to award the 2022 Torrens Trophy to one of the biggest unsung heroes of British motorcycle racing.”
Trimby’s love affair with motorcycles and motorcycle racing started when he was a teenager in the 1960s. He started working as a mechanic for famed tuner Syd Lawton to fund the start of his own racing career, which included rides in the Isle of Man TT and the F750 world championship. In 1978 he was asked to organise the Macau motorcycle Grand Prix, a job he continued doing until 2011. He also launched the Racing and Sporting Show at Alexandra Palace, London, which became a must-do event for race fans.
Trimby became a major force in the world of Grand Prix racing following a long period of rider unrest in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which included rider strikes at the Austrian and French GPs and an attempt by three-times MotoGP world champion Kenny Roberts and others to organise a rival world championship. The main issues were safety and money.
In 1982 the top riders asked Trimby to represent them in their fight for better conditions. Four years later IRTA (the International Roadracing Team Association) was established to oversee GP racing’s next steps into the modern world. Trimby’s job changed from running a riders’ trade union to a body representing the teams. Today IRTA is still responsible for numerous areas of MotoGP. It works with rights-holder Dorna to contract the teams, organises the paddock and the grid and looks after facilities for non-European races.
From a technical, commercial and safety point of view, MotoGP has never been in a better place, largely thanks to the herculean efforts of Mike Trimby and his wife Irene. For four decades Trimby and IRTA have represented riders and teams in Grand Prix racing, while improving circuit safety, putting the races on TV, organising teams and making sure everyone gets paid. Quite simply, he’s the man who helped make MotoGP the hugely popular spectacle that it is today.
“I am surprised but honoured to receive this award,” said Trimby. “My achievements were made possible only by the initial support from the leading Grand Prix riders and subsequently the unity of the teams within IRTA, but none of this would have been possible without the partnership with Dorna, which started in 1992. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and his staff are equally passionate about rider safety.
“I also want to share this award with my wife Irene, who has worked with me at Grands Prix since 1982. Whatever achievements I am credited with would not have been possible without her support.”
Numerous racing luminaries were in attendance on the night, from great riders, including John McGuinness, Cal Crutchlow, Niall Mackenzie, James Toseland and Eugene Laverty through to Dorna executives, team owners and team principles.
“Mike is a key pillar in our sport and a very deserving recipient of this award,’ commented Ezpeleta. “He has been part of Grand Prix motorcycle racing for decades and in our time working together, I have seen the dedication he’s given to the paddock, which has made the sport better and safer than ever. I’m very happy to see his achievements recognised by the Royal Automobile Club and proud to continue working together to keep making MotoGP the best it possibly can be, for everyone – on track, in the paddock and for our millions of fans.’
Three-times World Champion Freddie Spencer was one of many racers to offer his congratulations. “It is truly great news about the well-deserved recognition the Royal Automobile Club is giving to Mike Trimby for all he has contributed to our great sport,” said Spencer. “I started working with Mike 40 years ago and today, as Chairman of the MotoGP Steward Panel as the IRTA representative, it’s a privilege to work alongside him in our mutual goal of providing riders and teams the opportunity to give the fans the safest, most exciting and enjoyable show in motorsport.”
Among those members of racing management offering their good wishes was Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha. “This is a much-deserved reward for Mike’s enormous contribution as the CEO of IRTA,” said Jarvis. “Mike and IRTA have done a great deal towards the safety of the riders, the organisation of the paddock and putting in place a real structure behind the scenes of the MotoGP world. It’s the real backbone of the Championship.”
Previous Torrens Trophy winners
- 2021 The Crescent Yamaha team for winning the riders’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles in the FIM World Superbike Championship.
- 2020 Emma Bristow for claiming her seventh consecutive FIM Women’s Trial World Championship.
- 2019 Peter Hickman for his three Isle of Man TT victories and for setting the world’s fastest road race lap record of 136.415mph at the Ulster GP.
- 2018 Tai Woffinden for being the most successful British speedway rider in history.
- 2017 Jonathan Rea MBE for being the first rider to win three consecutive World Superbike Championships.
- 2016 MotoGP racer Cal Crutchlow for being first British rider to win a premier class World Championship Motorcycle Grand Prix in 35 years.
- 2015 Eleven-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson for his outstanding determination, courage and overcoming adversity to win multiple TTs.
- 2014 Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne for becoming the first man in history to be crowned British Superbike Championship on four occasions (2003, 2008, 2012 and 2014).
- 2013 Tom Sykes for being crowned the 15th World Superbike Champion, the fourth from Great Britain and only the second rider to win for Kawasaki in the series for 20 years.
- 2008 World Superbike Champion James Toseland was awarded the Trophy for his immense contribution to raising the profile of motorcycle racing in this country.
- 1998 Ian Kerr of the Metropolitan Police for 20 years of tireless work in promoting safe and responsible motorcycling.
- 1989 BMW in recognition for its contribution to motorcycle safety through the development of its anti-lock braking system.
- 1981 Dave Taylor MBE for his vast contribution to motorcycle road safety.
- 1980 Transport and Road Laboratory.
- 1979 Lieutenant-Colonel Fredrick Lovegrove OBE.
The Torrens Trophy
The Royal Automobile Club has always had a close association with the motorcycling world. The Club formed the Auto Cycle Club in 1903, which went on to become the Auto Cycle Union in 1947. The first motorcycle race was held on the Isle of Man in 1905 for cars – two years before the first Tourist Trophy for motorcycles.
The Torrens Trophy recognises an individual or organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of safe and skillful motorcycling in the United Kingdom, or to have made an outstanding contribution of technical excellence to further the cause of motorcycling in the UK, or to have shown outstanding skill in international motorcycling sporting events in the United Kingdom.
The Torrens Trophy was first awarded in 1978 in memory of Arthur Bourne, a motorcycling journalist who wrote a column under the name ‘Torrens’. Arthur Bourne was also a Vice-Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club. It is awarded only when the Club feels that the achievement justifies it.
The Club’s Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee consists of Chairman and ex-bike racer Barrie Baxter, Royal Automobile Club Chairman Ben Cussons, double World Champion and past Torrens winner James Toseland, well-respected motorcycle journalist and TT winner Mat Oxley, commentator and former racer Steve Parrish, Club member Robert Bourne (son of motorcycle journalist Arthur Bourne, in whose memory the Trophy is awarded) and Queen of Bikers Maria Costello MBE, who has held the Guinness World Record for being the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man TT course.
About the Royal Automobile Club
The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 and its distinguished history mirrors that of motoring itself. In 1907, the Club was awarded its Royal title by King Edward VII, sealing the Club’s status as Britain’s oldest and most influential motoring organisation.
The Club’s early years were focused on promoting the motor car and its place in society, which developed into motoring events such as the 1000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900. In 1905, the Club held the first Tourist Trophy, which remains the oldest continuously competed for motor sports event. The Club promoted the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix at Brooklands in 1926 and Silverstone in 1948 respectively, whilst continuing to campaign for the rights of the motorist, including introducing the first driving licences.
Today, the Club continues to develop and support automobilism through representation on the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the RAC Foundation while promoting its own motoring events including the Club’s London Motor Week and the RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
The Club also awards a series of internationally recognised trophies and medals celebrating motoring achievements. These include the Segrave Trophy, the Torrens Trophy, the Simms Medal, the Dewar Trophy and the oldest trophy in motorsport, the Tourist Trophy.
Main Image: Ben Cussons, Mike Trimby and Barrie Baxter