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The First Sprinter




The first 500cc Triumph-powered sprinter pictured in 1966.



The first unsupercharged Olympus 1967.


John and Olympus competing at a sprint at Ramsgate in 1967.

First run for Olympus at Santa Pod in 1967.

John at RAF Debden in 1968 with his younger brother Bob.

At Santa Pod in 1968, in the background is John's friend and fellow 350cc Triumph racer Les Julian.

Sprinting at Bassingborne in 1968.

1968 location unknown.
"What's going on 'ere then?"

Santa Pod 1968, from left to right John , Chris Bartram 500cc Norton and Dave "Just lost a race" Clee 650cc Triumph.

Les Patterson grappling with the clutch at Santa Pod in 1968.

Zandvoort, Holland 1968.

A familiar site in 1968 - broken gears on Olympus.

Location unknown 1969.

Duxford 1969.

BDR & HRA record certificate.
10.402 seconds at 135.87 mph.

Outside the workshop in 1970.

Damaged engine at the 1970 record attempt at Elvington.

Elvington 1968.

Olympus pictured in 1970 with Derek Chinn, Ray Law and Ian Messenger in the background.

John and Cheryl Hobbs taking a well earned rest, Rotterdam, Holland 1970.

Preparing to make a run at Rotterdam in 1970. Note how close the spectators are to the action.


1 August 1971, the meeting at which John beat Dave Lecoq in the final of Top Bike and . . .


. . . ran the first ever 9 second run by a bike under 750cc - 9.68 seconds at 137.74 mph.

John working on Olympus at Santa Pod.

Duxford 1971.

Racing Ian Messenger on the Vincent-powered Pegasus in 1971.

Santa Pod 1971.

Santa Pod 1971.

Charlie Harrison, the new owner of Olympus, Santa Pod 1972.
This picture courtesy of Steve Woollatt.

Olympus II Mark I

Santa Pod 1972.

On the Santa Pod start line rollers in 1972.

At the Paris Motor Show in 1972 with the Pegasus Vincent behind.

The odd couple!
1000cc Olympus II on the rollers at The Pod with Keith Lee's Split II 500cc scooter 1972.
(Picture kindly provided by Keith Lee)

Santa Pod 1972 with motorcycle scrutineer Trevor Jones in the background.

Santa Pod 1972 changing clutch plates again.

Santa Pod 1972.

Santa Pod 1972.

Racing Ray Feltell at Santa Pod in 1972.

Racing Ray Feltell at Santa Pod in 1972.

Santa Pod 1972.

Burning out at Santa Pod in 1972, Les Julian is running alongside to push Olympus back.

Olympus II Mark II

Close up view of the engines on Olympus II Mark II taken in 1973.

World Records meeting, Elvington 1973.

World Records meeting, Elvington 1973.

World Records meeting, Elvington 1973.

A rare colour shot of Olympus II Mark II, location unknown.

Santa Pod 1973.

Olympus II Mark III

A flame burn out at the 1974 Santa Pod Fireworks meeting.

The 1974 Santa Pod Fireworks meeting.

1974 Custom Car Show, winner of Best Competition Bike.

1974 on the Castrol stand at the Geneva Motor Show, and no, that is not John modeling the Castrol jacket!

Blackbushe 1974 with Ian Dentith and Peter Scales.

Blackbushe 1974.

RNAY Wroughton 1974.

Santa Pod 1974 racing Bob Webster on his 750cc Triumph.

1974 location unknown.

Silverstone 1974.

1974 location unknown.
This picture kindly made available by Dave Riswick.

Santa Pod 1974.




Chris Richards riding Olympus II Mark III after he purchased it from John in 1975.


The Hobbit

John's first run at Santa Pod on The Hobbit - July International meeting 1975.

With Brian Sweet in the pits at  Blackbushe in 1975.

Leaving the rollers at the Pod in 1975.

Santa Pod 1975.  Ian Dentith is cleaning the rear tyre, Keith Lee is kneeling and taking a picture.

Blackbushe 1975.

Santa Pod 1975 with Keith Lee still taking pictures of The Hobbit!

Ian Dentith has all the luck, here he is back on slick cleaning duties at the Pod this time in 1976.

Racing Pete Smith's 750cc Triumph at Snetterton in 1976.

The new frame for 1976 was much lower than the previous version.

A rolling burn out at Snetterton in 1976.  Pegasus can just be seen doing a static burn out against the van in the background.

This picture, taken at Snetterton in 1976, shows how much lower the new frame was.

John and Henk Vink at the 1976 Fireworks meeting at Santa Pod.
"It seemed bloody quick in the dark!"

The Hobbit is seen undergoing modifications in the Hobbs' garage Winter 1976/77.

Santa Pod 1977.

Santa Pod 1977.

Racing Jonny Munn on his double engined Norton at Snetterton in 1977.

Santa Pod 1978.

Santa Pod 1978.

Rolling burn out at Santa Pod 1978.  Jim Reynolds can be seen in the background protecting his ears.

Santa Pod 1978.

Santa Pod 1979, this was the year that John retired from racing.

Santa Pod 1979.

Santa Pod 1979 racing John Clift.

Santa Pod 1979, on the rollers with Kenny Annesley, Carl Ahlfeldt has his back to the camera and Chris Tee is on the right of shot.


Santa Pod 1979.


Preparing to do battle with Henk Vink at the Pod 1978.  The shot is interesting because Henk's team are on the other side of the crash barrier with cameras at the ready. Henk's runs were nearly always recorded in this way so that he could analyse his reaction times and improve his starting technique. He was one tough competitor.

John Hobbs Racing

All pictures in this section show Jonny Munn riding The Hobbit unless otherwise described.
Santa Pod 1980.

John Hobbs, Johnny Munn, Chris Tee and Bob Phelps at the Santa Pod World Finals 1980.

Santa Pod 1980.

The 1980 September World Finals meeting at the Pod which the team won.

Santa Pod 1980.

Santa Pod 1981, note that the fuel tank has been relocated at low level behind the front wheel.

Santa Pod 1981.

Burning out at Long Marston in 1981.

Santa Pod 1981, note the more relaxed riding position after the frame was modified to suit Jonny Munn.

Santa Pod 1981.

John launches hard at Santa Pod in 1981.

John again on board The Hobbit at the Pod in 1981.

Fending off the photographers Santa Pod 1981.

Santa Pod 1981.

Santa Pod 1981.

Santa Pod 1982, having trouble pushing back from the burn out, Chris Tee and Pete Holtom are pushing, John is running in on the right of shot.

Santa Pod 1982, note the tank has been relocated on top of the frame.

Santa Pod 1982, John Hobbs riding.




Santa Pod 1982, John Hobbs riding.


A Return to Sprinting

In the workshop after the 1993 rebuild.

Close up shot of The Hobbit's engines in 1993.

John seated on The Hobbit at home in 1993.

North Weald 1998.

North Weald 1998.

North Weald 1998.

North Weald 1998.

John and The Hobbit at North Weald in 2001.

North Weald 2001.

NSA 50th Anniversary Sprint held at Santa Pod Raceway on 19 October 2008

All of the pictures in this section are reproduced by kind permission of Peter Donaldson


Sundry Pictures

Alf Hagon at the South Wales Brecon Sprint in 1968.

At one year old Mark Hobbs takes the nitro fumes and noise of drag racing in his stride. Santa Pod 1974.

Fast forward thirty-ish years and Mark is pictured on the left of shot encouraging his father off the line at North Weald.

Ian Dentith, John and Brian Sweet pictured at Blackbushe.

John talking to his wife Cheryl in the pits at Blackbushe in 1975.  That is Pete Miller in the background.

With Ian Dentith at Santa Pod in 1975.

A newspaper clipping of Henk Vink presenting John with his trophy upon his retirement from competition in 1979.

Another 'mug' shot "A welcome cuppa", North Weald July 2001.

Having some fun on Dave Clee's 920cc Puma Triumph Shot Gun at Woodbridge on 9 April 2006.


A suited and booted John at the BDR&HRA Trophy Night in February 1975 receiving the Motorcycle Mechanics' Fastest Twin Engined Bike award from Mike Cazelet.  In the background is the wife of Radio I DJ Dave Lee Travis.


And last, but by no means least, a young Emma Hobbs pictured at Santa Pod in 1979 riding The Trundle.

Most of the pictures used in this article are clearly the work of professional photographers.
Unfortunately John has not been able to attribute the vast majority of them to individuals.
If you recognise your work and would like a credit,
or would like it removed, please get in touch.


All material on this site is copyright
and should not be reproduced without permission