Author: Stuart Barker Posted: 25 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: Martin Rice
Martin Rice was the overall Marlboro Clubmans Champion of Champions in 1983 and had a few outings in the Yamaha Pro-Am series the following year but found it difficult to switch between production machinery and thoroughbred racing bikes. 'I was never much of a proddie boy to be honest' he says. 'I think I got some top ten finishes in Pro-Am but I much preferred the way race bikes handled and it was hard switching between the two.'
Rice raced from late 1979 until 1984 but a lack of funding forced him to retire from the sport the following year – an all-too-familiar story for racers in the '80s.
A carpenter by trade, Rice has also worked as a bike courier and a bike salesman and spent two years running a Triumph dealership in California. 'I also took up micro-lighting after I retired to try and replace the buzz of racing' he says. 'Once you've raced, you have to keep the adrenalin running somehow!'
Now semi-retired, Rice spends his summers in the UK and winters in Spain every year. 'I still ride road bikes but I don't have anything particularly exciting at the moment he says – just a 1981 Yamaha RD125 that fits nicely on the back of my motorhome! I'm going to sell that and get a Triumph Speed Triple later this year though.
'I was absolutely amazed when I was invited to do the Pro-Am race. There's so many people from back in the day that I really want to see again but had no idea how to get in touch with them all. You wouldn't believe how excited I am about it. It'll be the first time I've raced since 1984 and I've not done any track days either so I'm not going to make any predictions - we'll have to just see how it goes on the day.'