Pip Higham’s first introduction to Drag Racing was in 1964 when a round of the 'International Dragfest' took place at Woodvale. After crewing for Fred Whittle of 'Shutdown' competition altered fame at early UK drag races he switched to two wheels and in the early 1970s was competing as a rider with a selection of his own machines, a Rickman Triumph, a Honda and a triple Kawasaki.
There followed a series of giant killings with a Suzuki GS750 during 1977 as he made a name for himself in production drag racing and record breaking at Elvington the following year.
The quest for more performance saw the development of a Suzuki GS1000 followed by a GSX in subsequent years - racing across Europe and ultimately America, during which time he also campaigned a turbo-charged Suzuki 'Funny Bike' alongside his regular stable.
The background for all this success revolved around Pip's own business, the 'Village Bike Shop' in Manchester where he provided a service for those who wished to go that much quicker than the rest. Built following the successes of his previous Street class rides, where Pip had become first European into the 10 second bracket and then the first rider ever into the nines, 'The Deuce', a VBS development producing 160 bhp from Pip's own tuning parts, ran in the 9.0 second bracket many times at terminal speeds up to 154 mph for the quarter mile. With backing from Heron Suzuki GB, Texaco and Superbike Magazine, he did more than his fair share to establish Pro Stock Motorcycle racing in Europe.
The Brighton Speed Trials saw Pip take 'The Deuce' GSX1100 to an incredible 160mph through the beams. In the course of its competitive life this bike saw racing at Santa Pod, Brighton, York, Le Mans, Paul Ricard and Monza along with several regional events. The stablemate for the 'Deuce' at this time was the innovative 'Suzuperbike', a turbocharged B-class gasser which lay claim to a best ever 9.00 / 152mph from just 1,176 cc. Pip’s incredible career continued with winning the Pro Stock Bike class three years running at Le Mans, on board a VBS Suzuki. He also built and prepared the late Chris Hampson's ACU championship winning Turbo Suzuki.
He made a significant contribution to the future of drag racing in the North when he became the catalyst that brought together sponsors, workers, fund raisers and contractors to create a new quarter mile tarmac track at York Raceway capable of holding the best of Europe's racers. The result of his efforts has enabled PDRC and York Raceway to hold safe and successful Drag Racing events on the original strip to the present day. It is for his support and enthusiasm for bike drag racing as a competitor and a builder, plus his help in establishing drag racing in the North of England, that Pip Higham is inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Profile by Graham Beckwith
Photos by Keith Lee and Roger Gorringe