Dennis “Stormin” Norman

One of the true characters of British Drag Bike racing, Dennis originally started Sprinting back at the start of the 1960s, before moving on to the new world of Drag Racing.

Being older than most of his fellow competitors, Dennis’s natural riding skills were put to good use at the end of WW2 as a despatch-rider instructor. His teaching methods were interesting, to say the least, and quickly taught riders that staying on board was vital – especially when leading them through minefields that were still being cleared!

After the war Dennis settled in Hemel Hempstead and opened a motorcycle shop. Though toying with Speedway in the late fifties his interest turned to Sprinting in the early 1960s with an Ariel Square Four before moving on to the new sport of Drag Racing. With the opening of Santa Pod Raceway, Dennis was one of the regular Friday volunteers helping the SPR management set-up the track for the weekend racing in those early days.

By the late sixties & early seventies Dennis & his newly constructed supercharged twin-engined Triumph “Normans Conquest” had become one of the front runners and a firm crowd favourite with its long smoky passes. Also his off-track mischievous sense of humour was legendary in the pits

Dennis was an early visitor to the tracks in Sweden and Holland, but his proudest achievement came in 1970 as one of the first two European bike riders to race in America after Bob Phelps of SPR financed the trip. Dennis qualified on his first pass for the inaugural Top Fuel Bike eliminator at the premier NHRA Indy Nationals, running under 10 seconds for the first time to impress the American racers. Learning some new tricks while there, he performed the first bike burnout over here in the UK on his return.

A blown double-engined Norton was built as a replacement bike in 1974, but didn’t prove as successful as the Triumph. About the same time his son Gary also entered into the competition bike ranks.

Many years later, Dennis rebuilt his double Triumph and performed demonstration runs at various venues. He was even to be seen in his mid-eighties riding the bike at a Santa Pod RWYB in 2010 to keep the spirit of 1960s bike racing alive. His grandson Matthew has kept that spirit alive through the generations by bringing the bike out on to the track for Dragstalgia; although the super sticky track of today is not so easy for the “wheelspinners” of old!