MEMBER OBITUARY NOTICE
Member: Dennis Norman
Keith Lee writes: I am sad to pass on the news that Dennis Stormin’ Norman, one of the legendary characters of British drag bike racing, passed in hospital yesterday. Having suffered a fall, Den unfortunately succumbed to pneumonia in hospital.
On track, Den was the first rider of a twin-engine bike to dip below 10 seconds, on his tyre-smoking blown, single speed 1300cc Triumph, which earned him the name Stormin’ Norman. That was in 1970, and in the same year he went to America, along with the Pegasus Vincent team, and qualified for the first ever Top Fuel Bike eliminator at the NHRA Nationals at Indianapolis. Den followed this bike with a twin Norton entry. Both of these machines have been returned to the track, thanks to the efforts of son Gary and a crew of friends – under the evr watchful eye of their constructor – to perform at Dragstalgia. Well into his 90s, Den still enjoyed talking about the sport he loved, having made his last pass on the Triumph when he was 85!
Many years before, Den would have been found in Europe, training despatch riders at the end of WW2. His methods were interesting, as he got new riders going down a dry bob sleigh run – and through a partially cleared mine field! He first sprinted an Ariel square 4, to which a blower was soon fitted. The bike ran 10.9s back in 1965 – and also suffered one of the biggest ever motor explosions!
It was an honour to be asked to present Den with his Bootsie, when he was inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame, for his contributions to the sport. He one of those who volunteered to help finishing off the Santa Pod track in the far off sixties, as his expert welding skills were put to good use.
When Den ran his original Triumph double at the NSA 50th anniversary sprint in 2008, Santa Pod’s excellent traction led to him breaking the ends off the flywheels. Only Den could turn round to his friend Ray Baskerville, who built them 40 years ago, and say: ‘Here Ray, are these cranks still under guarantee?’ And the cheeky old bugger got his wish!
They do not make them like Den Norman anymore, and his humour and stories will be much missed by those who knew and raced with him. Our thoughts are with Den’s wife Pat, and the whole of the Norman family at this sad time.
We send our deepest condolences to Den’s family and friends.
This picture was taken just before Dennis’s last ride.