You won't believe your eyes
Every so often, you come across a person whose passion for their sport manifests itself in an extraordinary way. Phil Morris is just such a man.
At the bottom of his garden he has built an Aladdin’s Cave dedicated to two wheels. Jostling for position in his purpose-built museum is a breathtaking collection of over 50 racing bikes, 152 sets of leathers, almost as many helmets and then there are the racing trophies and medals.
And that’s not all. He has 50 more bikes in another location and a further 100 bikes waiting for restoration! And if the ones we saw are anything to go by, the standard of restoration (which he carries out himself) will be meticulous in every detail, because Phil wouldn’t have it any other way.
Apparently this obsession started at an early age when he started collecting oil cans and other bits and pieces from his dad’s shed. Then came his first bike, a BSA Bantam, at the age of 12. This blossomed into competing in motocross which he only stopped last year (at the tender age of 61). Alongside motocross he also dabbled with four wheels, taking part at first in local rallys, which progressed ultimately to competing at the highest level: the RAC. But things just got too expensive so he came back to his first love, the world of two wheels. And growing his collection.
But while Phil was scouting around for new additions to his collection and sponsors to help with the upkeep, he was also scouting around for something else. Something more precious still. Riding talent. We’ll let him explain.
“I’ve always been involved in one-way or another. I still go to events, help out, scout and sponsor young lads. I’m just really passionate about motorcycling in particular, and always have been.
I have access to a lot or resources for riders – parts, company contacts etc. And I’m in the position to be able to help some of the up and coming start off in the sport. I get things for nothing – and there’s no reason to keep it all for myself, you’ve got to share it. And my sponsored lads appreciate every single thing I can do for them.
So over the years I’m lucky enough to be involved with a number of riders. Ben and Tom Berchall – the sidecar world champs. John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson are just some names that are at the top level. Then at the Classic Level, Steve Ferguson rides a 350 Honda, a 500 Honda and does classic TT and the classic championship which he’s won 5 or 6 years on the trot.”
Which incidentally is why at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Phil’s collection is in great demand as past champions queue up to be re-acquainted with their old rides! But back to the collection…
“It was around about 2000 when the collection started to become bigger. I had a whole bunch of bikes from racing myself and sponsorship – road, speedway, trials and racing bikes.
I got rid of the trial bikes, roads, speedway bikes and stuck with racing bikes. I then refined it further and started collecting bikes with interesting history behind them.
Now it’s all about Moto GP. I have Rossi’s 125, five Paul Bird’s bikes from 2011 to 2014. Barry Sheen’s XR. And the collection grows.
I’m also really proud of our TT trophy collection. It’s where I’ve come from. It’s what I love most – road racing.
We have everybody from Agostini to John McGuiness , Carl and George Fogherty to Charlie Williams and Chaz Mortima… the list goes on!”
And believe us it does. A dazzling collection that simply takes your breath away. But it’s probably the intimate feel that makes it feel so extra special. The leathers, boots and helmets that you can virtually smell the blood, sweat, and tears shed while riders attempted to conquer the array of bikes on show.
Generous spirit that he is, Phil doesn’t keep his collection to himself. The Oswestry Road Racing Museum (as it is officially known) is open, strictly by appointment only, on Thursdays. So if you want to feast your eyes on a unique, historic collection see his website at www.philmorrisracing.co.uk for Phil’s contact information
Alternatively you could make your way to the NGK stand, Motorcycle Live at the NEC Birmingham, 28th November – 6th December. On show there will be three of Phil’s pride and joys, namely his Rossi 125 MotoGP Aprilia, Barry Sheene’s XR Suzuki plus one of his extensive collection of Paul Bird’s bikes too.
But if you can do neither, then take a minute or two to watch our video and see what treat you could have in store if you get the chance to head to deepest Shropshire and Phil’s Aladdin’s Cave. You won’t be disappointed.