When legends meet: Sammy Miller and Dougie Lampkin
Had they been from the same generation Sammy Miller and Dougie Lampkin would have been fierce rivals. But when they recently met they discovered a lot in common, especially a love of the Scottish Six Day Trial.
Aged 85, Sammy now spends his days looking after his Sammy Millar Motorcycle Museum in New Milton, Hampshire. In the 50s and 60s, he was known as the “Belfast Bombshell” and managed to accrue over 1,400 wins over the course of a spectacular career. His career reaches throughout the 20th century and even into the 21st, claiming his last major victory in 2007, well into his 70s. Legend may not even be a strong enough word to describe him.
Dougie Lampkin boasts a staggering five consecutive indoor and seven consecutive outdoor World Championships to his name and has become an elder statesman of the sport at just 43. With 12 world titles and an MBE to his name, Dougie is a true titan of English motorcycling and a man that doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down in middle age.
Two of a Kind
Dougie and Sammy met for the first time recently at Sammy’s museum and enjoyed an instant connection that could only exist between two men who had experienced similar career highs. They took a ride together on two of Sammy’s classic bikes, Dougie on a replica GOV 132 Ariel and Sammy on a BSA, and it marked the beginning of a significant friendship.
Both Sammy and Dougie possess the same spirit of competition and determination and a passion for vintage motorcycles. They also both have strong ties to the Belstaff International brand. In 1954, needing a suit for the Scottish Six Days Trial, Sammy wrote to Belstaff to see if they would support him. ‘Send us your measurements’ came the reply, starting a long-lasting affinity between Belstaff and Miller.
The Scottish Six Days Trial
As well as the BSA and Ariel the two also spent time looking at Gordon Jackson’s AJS, the bike he used to set a recond ‘one dab only’ during the whole of a Scottish Six Days observed trial – a record only equalled by Dougie himself.
The Scottish Six Days Trial competition binds the two legends perhaps more than any other with Sammy winning it five times and Dougie twelve. As the name suggests, it’s a gruelling contest held over six days, that covers at least 100 miles a day on both on and off-road routes in the Scottish Highlands. The event has been held for over 100 years, with the inaugural five-day trial first held in July 1909.
A trial that tests every element of a rider’s skill, consistency and endurance, the SSDT was so challenging that there actually wasn’t a definitive winner until 1932, when Bob MacGregor became the first man to claim the title. Prior to this, there was no set way to score trials and the route was so perilous that the hills and roads themselves were considered enough of a trial. Indeed, it worked by awarding medals to those who were able to pass time checks, with gold medals awarded to those that were able to complete the trial without incurring any penalties. Sammy and Dougie are amongst the most celebrated names in the SSDT, having won it a combined total of seventeen times.
The trial originally ran from Edinburgh to John O’Groats, but has been based at Fort William in Lochaber since the late 70s and still accepts 275 riders every year to this day (though many more apply). It’s an event that continues to represent the inimitable spirit of the sport and both Dougie Lampkin and Sammy Miller are two names that will forever be associated with it.
The next Scottish Six Days Trial starts 4th May 2020. From more information visit: https://www.ssdt.org/
For dates, details and prices for this and other motorcycling events around the UK, see the Biker & Bike Motorcycle Events Calander.
This article was produced in association with Belstaff International Ltd, whose motorcycle clothing range brings timeless, practical style to motorcycle adventures.