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Legends: Gary Hocking

Submitted by on July 20, 2011

“Meteoric”. That was Gary Hocking’s international motorcycle career. Aged 20, he first ventured onto the Continent in mid-1958 and within a month finished third in the West German 500 GP.

Shocked by the death of Australia’s Tom Phillis, Hocking quit motorcycle racing days after winning the 1962 Isle of Man 500 TT.

By then, Hocking was reigning world 350 and 500 champion and had won 19 GPs, including eight in the 500 class.

His 1961 500 crown sits in the golden MV-Agusta era between John Surtees (1958-60) and Mike Hailwood (1962-65).

Hocking was born in Wales in 1937 and grew up in Southern Rhodesia. He followed compatriot Jim Redman to England, where Redman convinced motorcycle dealer Reg Dearden to loan him two Nortons.

Dressed in shorts and scandals, he was soon nicknamed “Socks”.

What did Hocking not lack was bravery, finishing sixth in the Dutch 500 TT on his world championship debut and third in the wet at Nurburgring 22 days later. It seemed the tougher the conditions, the more this reserved, religious young man shone. He was hired by MZ in 1959, scoring his first classic victory in the Swedish 250 GP.

Piqued at seeing his 250s beaten again in the Ulster GP, MV boss Count Domenico Agusta hired Hocking. He won the 1960 250 TT and West German GPs, and finished second in the championship to MV’s small-bike legend Carlo Ubbiali, before winning his two titles on four-cylinder MVs. He was then joined in the team by Hailwood.

Within months of his retirement from bikes, Hocking took up car racing. He won in a Lotus-Climax at Pretoria on November 24, 1962 and was killed when the car failed to take a bend at Westmead on December 21. He was buried in Wales.

By Don Cox

Footnote: There’s an illuminating story about Gary Hocking here


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