Rider Of The Week is a segment that looks into the career of a famous motorcyclist. There have been a lot of talented British riders, and Charles ‘Chas’ Mortimer ranks among them. During the 1970s, Mortimer became recognised as one of the most impressive Grand Prix racers. He won seven GPs and remains the only rider to have won GP races in the 125, 250, 350, 500 and 750 cc classes.
Mortimer was born in Shere, Surrey and he grew up around motorbikes, due to his family connections. His grandfather happened to be the chief test pilot for Vickers Armstrong and flew the first test flight on the Spitfire. His father, Charles Mortimer Senior, was also a former rider, so it seemed like Mortimer was destined for a speed-related career.
Charles Senior owned a racing school based in Kent at the Brands Hatch circuit. Originally called the Beart-Mortimer racing school, engineer tuner Francis Beart moved on to another business, leading to a change in name.
Mortimer began his riding career at Brands Hatch in 1965. His first racing bike was a 250 cc Greeves Silverstone and he applied himself well. At 18, Mortimer acted as an instructor at the school, with Paul Smart being another teacher. Both were sponsored by Charles Senior, which allowed Mortimer to use a variety of different machines, including a Bultaco 125 and Aermacchi 350.
Mortimer became successful in the 1970s, when he won the Production Lightweight event. In 1972, he competed in and won the 500 cc Spanish Grand Prix on a Yamaha. This marked the first 500 cc Grand Prix victory for the Japanese company. The next year he finished second in the 125 cc Grand Prix world championship. Mortimer achieved a unique accolade when he became the first British motorcyclist to win the Macau Grand Prix in 1976. Mortimer enjoyed plenty of success at the Isle of Man TT as well, taking eight victories.
While riding professionally, Mortimer also ran his own race school and a business in Reading, Berkshire importing motorcycle parts. Today, Mortimer still rides in classic motorbike events throughout Europe, proving that age is just a number. He also runs a motorbike transportation company that he’s overseen since 2013.
Mortimer has certainly established himself as one of the all-time greats. Is there any rider you’d like to see featured on Rider Of The Week? Let us know by commenting on our Inside Bikes Facebook page.