AS retirements go, it was probably the shortest in racing history.
Just weeks after announcing he was definitely hanging up his leathers, Richie Harrison had committed himself to getting back on a track next season under 125cc power.
But this time it will be under his new role as a motorsport lecturer at Preston’s Myerscough College, where he has joined Aintree’s Pre-Injection and Steel Frame king Ryan Garside to inspire the next generation of motorsport engineers.
Both leading club riders, the pair plans to hit the tracks next season on machines prepared by students at the college.
Harrison aims to contest Preston & District’s Streetstock 125cc Evo series with a 2013 sp125 machine which the students will build up while Garside is heading to Thundersport GB with his own bike which the students will maintain while also building their own machine.
“Technically I’m retired. I had the big emotional farewell and everything but I got bored after about a week and a half,” Harrison told UK Clubsport.
“I started at Myerscough in October with lecturing in motorsport so I’m split between the motorsport side of it and the bike side of it. We had a little 125 four stroke lying around that’s been under a cover in the yard for over a year so we’ve taken it into the college, set up a little workshop and we’re going to build it.
“The plan initially is for me to test it. If I turn out to be too big, too fat, too slow then we’ll look to put someone else on it but if it turns out that I’m somewhere near or thereabouts, we might have a crack at it and go for a championship.”
Garside, meanwhile, will make the move from Aintree up to Thundersport GB with his multiple-title winning machine.
Having worked at the college for 18 months, he is looking forward to sharing the racing experience with his students, giving them the chance to enjoy full hands-on experience of working in a racing paddock.
“I’m racing my own Steely which I raced once at Thundersport last year. We did the last two years taking both championships at Aintree so it’s a new challenge,” he explained.
“The plan is for the students to support us with it, they are going to be the ones that are changing tyres, filling bikes up, doing any preparation we need and things like that.
“But they’ll also be building their own Streetstock bike. Whether we get out to race that depends on time, money and logistics but we’ll see.”
Harrison and Garside are now working hard to raise to raise awareness of the college’s motorsports courses, including its FdSc Competition Motorcycle Technology course which starts in September 2019 and is awarded by the University of Central Lancashire.
“The plan at the moment is to get enrolment up for next September, we’re marketing now, trying to get that enrolment up,” said Harrison.
“We’ve got lots of little projects going on in the college. We’ve been chatting to guys at Thundersport about getting the students down to do the marshals course.
“That would bring some new blood into racing and also means when they’re out helping Ryan with his races that if Thundersport need them, we’ve got qualified marshals who can go and help out on the day.”
Myerscough College has already a big presence in four-wheel racing thanks to its efforts in rallying and formula ford racing, and Garside is keen to make the motorcycle side even more successful.
“It’s not just about coming and learning and going home at 5 o’clock. We are in at evening classes building these Streetstockers and then we’re out at weekends racing or testing them.
“If there’s no racing or events happening we get the students out and about to events like Motorcycle Live to learn more about the industry.
“We have industry events in the college as well – last week we had John McGuinness in with his 2014 Mugen to teach the students about electric and hybrid vehicles – and we have a lot of things like that.”
Myerscough College also offers residency options for people not based around the Preston area. For more information about the courses and open days visit the Myerscough College website.
*Main image: UK Clubsport
*Richie Harrison image: Tony Gonzo Tyler
*Ryan Garside image: Colin Port