With the Isle of Man TT races presently in progress it brings the reminder, as it always does, of the many riders who have paid the ultimate price of trying to tame the mountain. They came from all countries and cultures and, amongst the fallen, are many Australians. All are remembered and revered, whether champion or privateer, but few are remembered with more affection than Kenny Blake, who lost his life 34 years ago, the 9th of June, in a rain-interrupted race. The bike hit a wet patch on the road, lost adhesion and crashed, Kenny was flung against the scenery and died instantly.
Such are the facts; what the facts don’t tell you is what a shattering loss to the world of motorcycling and to Australian motorcycling in particular that day was. Of any rider who has every raced, you will find few who are remembered with more affection than Kenny Blake. I have never heard anybody say a bad word about him, either in life or in death. Universally admired for his skill and his personality, Kenny’s death left a hole that the progress of time would never fill.
Yesterday the faithful would have gathered at a hotel in Melbourne, as they have done so every year since that fateful day, and renewed acquaintances, told tall stories, drank a great deal and paused to remember their great friend.
This is not the place for a detailed discussion of Ken’s career or his character. That is covered in great detail on the Kenny Blake Memorial web site. This entry is my small tribute, as I try to do every year, to a man who was one of the greatest and yet who was, at heart, a quiet, shy country boy from a tiny town in the Adelaide Hills.
They say that time heals all wounds and it does. But it doesn’t dull the memories and, in Kenny’s case I am glad that it’s so. I want to continue to remember him as I knew him.
In a wall behind the starting line at the Isle of Man is collection of plaques commemorating all who have died there and there is one for Kenny which pretty much sums him up.
If you’d like to read more, please got to the web site.