Throughout the 1950s Eddie Crooks was an outstanding motorcycle sport competitor, with highlights that included three international six-day trial gold medals, a second place finish in the 1953 Junior Clubman’s TT and a Senior Manx Grand Prix victory in 1959. On retirement from racing in 1960, Eddie set up a motorcycle business in Barrow-in-Furness and was one of the first Suzuki dealerships in the United Kingdom.
It was through Crooks Suzuki that Eddie became known as ‘Mr Suzuki’ in the UK. The Crooks Suzuki name gained much publicity through racing exploits which resulted in victories at the TT, Manx Grand Prix, Thruxton 500 miler, plus numerous national and international races.
Through various conversations with people who worked closely with Jim Lee there was always a rumour that Jim had manufactured a racing bike for the Crooks Suzuki team.
Jim Lee, from Birstall, West Yorkshire, was an amateur motorcycle racer himself in the 1950s, however he became best known for setting up Jim Lee Racing Components which manufactured all sorts of motorcycle accessories including aftermarket frames (see Classic Racer issue 156 for further details on Jim).
The hearsay relating to Jim building a bike for Eddie Crooks was that the completed machine was taken to an important race meeting. However, when the existing Crooks Suzuki racing frame supplier saw the bike, he stated that it broke an agreement between him and Crooks and as such Eddie was not allowed to race the Jim Lee framed machine.
It is well established that Jim Lee had links with Crooks Suzuki, for example Jim made the large capacity alloy fuel tanks which were used on their T20 and T500 TT racing motorcycles. These motorcycles went on to win the Lightweight Manx GP and 500cc production TT with Frank Whiteway riding. Sadly, no further details were forthcoming to confirm that Jim had manufactured a complete motorcycle for the Crooks team.
Read more in the September/October issue of Classic Racer – on sale now!