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By Kay Collins from Holt Family scrap books and conversations, 2007
Holt Family - Trials Riders

Mr William “Bill” Holt was a very keen motor cyclist and trials rider. His son Nick followed in his footsteps, as did his nephews Tony & Patrick Holt. Bill was a founder member of the Query Club.

Bill Holt at a Rushden scramble 1934
and at another in 1953

sand pits 1940s trophies
Club event - sand pits - Hall Avenue
Bill Holt with some of his 1940s trophies

Motor Cycle News - 1962

Bill Holt in 1961
Bill Holt in 1961 - Wrenn Trial
The Holt Family of Rushden have always been keen on motor cycling. Last year Tony Holt, of Bencroft Grange, Bedford Road, made quite a name for himself with some good performances in scrambling and trials—and this year he will be getting competition from another member of the family. The new recruit is his 15-year-old cousin, Nick Holt, who lives just across the hill at Higham Park Farm.

Although he is so young, Nick is already a veteran rider—for he had his first Francis Barnett machine when he was only nine years old. Soon he will be sixteen, and old enough to take his 250 cc Greeves out on to the road. At present, he practices on the farm and has already acquired a con­siderable degree of skill. And although he is too young to go out on to the highway, he has competed in several events which had been held on enclosed courses. This year will see his first serious year of racing.

His best performance was when he won the best novice award at the Wrenn Trophy Trial—which was won by his cousin Tony. When  he  is not riding his motor cycle, Nick works on the farm of his father, Mr. W. S. Holt, but he always goes for a ride at least once a day to keep in practice. And the course he uses includes many of the hazards he is likely to encounter when he goes in for serious scrambling—including ditches, a stream, and a pond. Nick hopes eventually to go in for trials events rather than scrambles. They demand more skill and give the riders a chance to meet more people, he says.

For the last two years he has been to Scotland to watch the Scottish Six Day Trials—in which cousin Tony competed last year. This year he will be going again, and hopes to take his motor cycle with him so that he can go over some of the course himself.

Nick is certainly getting prepared for the coming season. He is a member of several different motor cycle clubs, and has entered several meetings which are being held soon.

He is getting a new scrambling machine very soon now—a Moto Cross Special, of 250 cc, which will replace his Greeves. And in August he will be getting another Greeves specially designed for trials riding. Then he will be all set to challenge Tony for the individual  championship of the Holt family.

Motor Cycle – Jan 1969

Boxing Day 1968 competition

Nick Holt copies his Dad - 38 years later

Nick - trials riding in 1969
Nick Holt - 1969
Thirty-eight years after his father first won the Northampton Club's 'Wild and Woolly' Boxing Day Scramble, 22-year-old Nick Holt (250 Husqvarna) added his name to the trophy for the first time on Thursday, at Blisworth, Northants. First home after 20 gruelling laps of the 1½ mile circuit, with its eight water crossings, thick mud, and frozen banks covered with a three-inch layer of snow, the Rushden farmer showed little sign of his eight-week lay-off prior to the event. But he has still got to go some to catch his father, Bill Holt, who has three victories to his credit. Before this year's meeting Nick's previous bests were two runner-up spots.

One non-starter was young Brian Ayres (360 Bultaco), whose machine refused to spark, but almost 40 other riders lined up for the off at 11.30 on the bright, but bitterly cold, Boxing Day morning.

Lap  scoring  became  difficult, and eventually impossible for many of the near-2,000 crowd that lined most of the circuit, and without any public address much of the enjoyment of the event was lost.

But the Northampton Club knew what was going on, and shortly after an hour's racing the chequered flag went out for Nick.

Local hero and past winner of this annual race, John Burbidge (250 Husqvarna), who lives almost within sight of the track, was a short-lived competitor. His flywheel key sheared after only 1½ laps to put him out of the running.

Holt took command on the fourth lap, but it was never plain sailing. He did have one advan­tage over most of his rivals, though. Careful throttle control kept petrol consumption to a minimum and he had half a tankful left at the end of the day, while runner-up "Sam" Smith (360 Greeves) had to stop for a refill.

"Just call me Scrooge," said Nick afterwards. "It wasn't trials skill I used, I just don't like using petrol!"

Still in with a chance of a place at the finish was bearded dealer Bob Jones, who turned out on a 390 cc Greeves instead of his usual Montesa. But after a clash with Pete Griffith (360 Greeves), which led to a break­down of the good-will-to-all-men feeling, Bob pulled out.

Conditions really couldn't have been worse for the riders, and perhaps it was not surprising that the finishers could have been counted on the fingers of two hands.

Determination is half the battle in this traditional meeting, but that doesn't completely explain great rides by Doug Griffin (500 Matchless) and Mark How (500 Metisse), who headed home several two-strokes to prove that the rider matters as well.

Vincent Harris (250 Greeves) made the leader board too, a great ride for the first home. But spare a thought for Rob Abraham (150 BSA Triumph), who kept going on his Bantam-engined Cub to join that elite group, the finishers.

Results. Northants Scramble:  1  N. J. Holt .(250 Husqvarna); 2  B. Smith (360 Greeves); 3  D. F. Griffin (500 Matchless); 4  M. How (500  Melisse); 5  G Drage (250 Montesa); 6  V Harris (250 Greeves)

1969 Northampton Advertiser

Three Local riders go on 1000 mile trial

Most of us like to pass our spare time pursuing some quiet hobby, but this week three local men are spending every day riding over some very rough country near Fort William.

While we are sitting in our offices and homes these three are competing in one of the country's toughest motor cycle trials.

They are taking part in the 60th Scottish six days trial, which as well as being classed as probably the top trial of the season, is also an international event.

From Rushden Pat Holt and cousin Nick, and from Higham Ferrers John Lee — brother-in-law of Nick — are battling against riders from Spain, Belgium, Canada, the USA and Ireland.

The event which finishes tomorrow has attracted 200 entries. The ones who complete the gruelling course can reckon to have covered something in the region of 1,000 miles in the space of six days.

These three local riders, who will be representing the Market Harborough club, are no strangers to the event. All have ridden in it before. And during this week they have not been without support. Eight relations have been with them to cheer them on their way. These include John Lee's wife, Dorothy, and Pat's brother Tony, who up to his retirement, competed in the event nine times, finishing every time.

It must seem strange to many people that anyone should want to compete in an event of this sort just for pleasure.

John Lee, who is 29, has ridden in the Scottish trial eight or nine times and he has only failed to finish once. A Higham Ferrers motor cycle dealer, he has been South Midlands centre trials champion in 1957, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1967. He has also been runner-up three times.This year he is in with a great chance of winning it for the sixth time. At the moment he is lying second, one point behind the leader.

Market Harborough club are leading the South Midlands centre trials championships for clubs by one point.

John has been riding since he was 16 and has collected over 1.000 trophies. lt has not always been roses though. "In 1958  or 1959 I broke my leg riding. This put me out for some time, and then on my first ride after recovering I broke my leg again."

But this has not stopped him from carrying on, even though he has got a metal plate in one leg. In this week's event John has been riding a Spanish Montesa. which he likes because of its five-speed box. "No British machine has this type of gearbox. I have had the bike for three or four months and won a couple of trials on it," he said.

Like John Lee. Pat Holt has been riding since he was 16. His first machine was a 197cc James. Now he has a 250 Greeves  that used to belong to European champion Don Smith.

He has ridden in the event three times before, gaining two first class and one second class award. "But this will be the tenth time that I have gone up. I went up to see my brother Tony compete the first time when I was only 11," he said.

Nick Holt
Nick Holt
Nick, who is 22, is competing for the fifth time. He is riding a 250cc Elstar, which he has modified over the past couple of years.

So as you lean back in your chair and read this, think of three people who have just been braving the elements riding over some of the roughest and toughest countryside, for pleasure.

1974 Chronicle & Echo

In the worst conditions for years, over 40 riders took part in Northampton Motor Cyclists Club's Wild and Woolly Scramble, at Tunnel Hill Farm, Blisworth.

Glutinous mud and streams swollen with rainwater made the negotiation of the course a test of physical strength and stamina. Before the 20  laps—a distance of some 25 miles— were completed, many competitors retired from sheer exhaustion.

Winner was Nicky Holt, was riding a 250cc C.Z., a brand new machine loaned to him by his brother-in-law John Lee for the occasion. Nicky, who lives at Rushden, is an experienced trials rider, having taken part in many national events.

Motor Cycle News - January 1st. 1975

At the Wild & Woolly

Nick Holt in 1967
Nick Holt slithered and splashed a new Bultaco to a fairy tale win at the Northampton club's Wild 'n Woolly scramble on Boxing Day.

On a 1975 two-fifty, straight out of the motor cycle showroom of brother-in-law John Lee, Nick won the gruelling mudlark for the second time in seven years.

"I haven't ridden a bike since the Manx two-day trial", said 29-year-old farm manager Nick after a Christmas bonus of one lap more than scheduled.

In festive spirits, the organisers forgot to give Nick the last lap signal after 19 of the 20 laps and he actually did 21 laps of the Blisworth circuit.

After yelling "Thank God!" as he finally received the chequered Hag. Nick said: "I must give full credit to the bike. It never missed a beat.

"The only time I dropped it was on the last lap but one. It went up the field on its own but the engine didn't even stop!"

Out of regular scrambling for the last three years, after finishing second ten years ago. Nick went one better than his father, Bill Holt, who won the event 40 years ago.

Nick's skill as a trials rider came in handy. For after 127 water crossings in 1½ hours — the duration of a moto cross grand prix — his chain was so slack that he had to keep the bike upright to prevent it dropping off.

Favourite Sam Smith, who finished nearly two miles adrift after struggling with a defective clutch on his BSA, was the only other past winner among the nine survivors from 33 starters. "My clutch went at the start. It was slipping from the 15th lap onwards," said last year's victor who won the marathon three times in five years.

Doug Wheeler, winner in 1972, scuttled his experimental AJS after he cracked his crankcase in deep water.
John Underwood, winner in 1970, lost contact with the leaders and retired after his Husqvarna ran out of petrol three laps before the finish.
Steve Barnwell took over for most of the race but, after a long duel with Holt, the market ran out of petrol three laps before the finish.
Jeremy Beck, an 18-year-old publican's son, was the early leader. He stormed well clear of his rivals before he broke the gear pedal of his KTM.

Dorothy Holt riding a trials bike
Dorothy "Doff" Holt

Dorothy beats the men at motor cycling

Miss Dorothy Holt, Higham Park, Rushden, a member of the staff of "Motor Cycle News", an associate publication of the "Evening Telegraph", beat the men at their own game yesterday; at Brands Hatch, by finishing third overall in the Press Trial.

In accomplishing this she preceded male members of the staff also competing. Mr. Robin Miller, of "Motor Cycle News", received a first class award.

This was the first time that Miss Holt, riding a 250 Butler, has ever taken part in a motor cycle trial, but she is a member of a family keenly interested and experienced in the sport.

A photograph from a 1965 Trial at Stroud.

Tony Holt, cousin of Nick and Dorothy, was riding a Greeves TFS. Tony's father, Harry, farmed at Bencroft, just across the road from Higham Park Farm where Nick and Dorothy grew up.

Tony Holt in 1965

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