Author: Stuart Barker Posted: 27 Aug 2015
The original and best one-make race series has been revived as a special support race at this year's British Grand Prix. The Bennetts Yamaha Pro-Am Challenge will see 24 riders - many of them the original stars of the 1980s series - lining up to bash fairings and tangle elbows on identical Yamaha RD250LCs at Silverstone on August 30. This will be the first Pro-Am race in 31 years and over the next three weeks we'll be profiling every rider on the grid to find out what they achieved in their racing careers, what they've gone on to do since, and why they accepted the challenge to dust down their leathers and race in the wildest race series ever held just one last time.
Rider: Dave Butler
Dave Butler began racing in the early 1980s and was British Production 250cc champion in 1984. He also won many 250cc Open and 250cc Production races in the high profile Marlboro Clubmans Championship in 1984 and '85 and was awarded the Man of the Meeting award at the Donington round that year for finishing third in the Open race on his Yamaha TZ250 and winning the Production race on his Yamaha RD250LC.
In 1986 Butler concentrated on the Open racing classes at national level on his TZ250 and enjoyed considerable success. In 1987 he won back-to-back races at the traditional Mallory Park Post-TT meeting and the following year he won the National 500 race at the Bill Ivy meeting at Cadwell Park.
'I have many great memories from that era' Butler says. 'But there were also many stays in hospital across the country to put screws and metal plates in various parts of my body!”
Butler retired in 1988 after struggling to secure competitive machinery but he still has a pretty exciting job – he crashes very expensive cars at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) for a living. 'It's quite stressful because with such expensive cars you have to get it right first time' he says. 'And the dummies that we use are full of instrumentation so they're worth half a million quid each!'
Although he doesn't ride on the road, Butler has fairly recent track experience having worked with the European Superbike School and Mick Boddice's track training school. 'I got to ride round Snetterton with Mick Doohan when he was a guest at the Superbike school so that's my claim to fame' Butler says.
Despite crashing cars for a living, Butler is very keen to avoid the same outcome in the Pro-Am race. 'None of us want to end up in A&E' he laughs. 'We've all been there too man times already. But as soon as the lights turn to green I'm sure it'll be all-out war, just like the old days.'