FORMER TT competitor Anthony James Cook was riding his lovingly restored sidecar for the first time when he died following a crash with a parked car.
An inquest into his death heard the crash happened at about 6pm on June 2 – during TT practice week – when he was riding the short distance from his home in Ballamanaugh Close, Sulby, to the Ginger Hall.
His wife Sylvia told the court Mr Cook, who was aged 75, had fully restored about 126 bikes.
She said he had been encouraged by an Australian TT fan he had met the day before to take the restored Norton Commando sidecar outfit to the pub so other bikers could look at it.
Coroner of inquests John Needham recorded a verdict of accident, adding that the cause of the crash may never be known.
But he said: ‘Tony was a very experienced motorcyclist. He has raced bikes, including in the TT, and he had run a motorcycle training school.
‘Nevertheless, it is probably likely the handling characteristics of this outfit may not have been fully appreciated by Tony.’
Police constable Paul Dugdale said tests he carried out following the crash showed Mr Cook had taken a wide left-hand turn on to the Claddaghs Road, from the junction with Ballamanaugh Close, to avoid two parked cars parked on the left of the road.
But he said the sidecar didn’t return to its side of the road in time to avoid collision with a parked Peugeot 207.
It caused the throttle control and front brake lever to become detached from the handlebar, which was bent backwards in the collision.
Constable Dugdale said the classic sidecar then veered on to the other side of the narrow road, and hit the grass bank.
Both Mr Cook and Australian visitor Steve Crump, who was the passenger, were thrown from the outfit as it spun before coming to a stop facing the opposite direction.
In a written statement, Mr Crump said he would remember the incident for the rest of his life, saying: ‘I just wanted to help an elderly gentleman and it ended up in a tragic accident.’
A number of people, including a marshal trained as a paramedic and a consultant anaesthetist, ran to the scene after hearing the crash.
Attempts to resuscitate Mr Cook failed and he was declared dead at the scene.
Mr Crump was taken to Noble’s Hospital with a minor head injury.
Department of Infrastructure vehicle examiner Peter Howes examined the vehicle. ‘There were no mechanical defects which caused the driver to lose control,’ he said.
Mr Howes said the sidecar was an ex-race outfit which meant its steering lock was not as strong as on a road bike.
A post-mortem examination found Mr Cook, who was fitted with a pacemaker, died from injuries caused by the crash.
Mr Needham expressed his deepest sympathies to Mr Cook’s family, adding: ‘Motorbikes were his passion and he died doing what he loved.’