Time Tunnel: 1978 - Hailwood's TT

Sharing the podium with Mike the Bike at the '78 TT

The biggest crowd ever turned up to watch the 1978 TT races. They came to see Mike Hailwood's return to racing. He didn't let them down.

Privateer racer Ian Richards got to share the Formula One TT podium with Hailwood and John Williams in 1978, certainly 'Hailwood's TT' and probably the most famous TT race ever.

"I'm the only one left now from that famous podium," recalls Ian, now retired but until recently a technician for the Louth-based Honda Racing team. "Both Mike and John are gone, so to share that moment in history was amazing. Mike was my hero before I started racing, and to stand with him on the rostrum was brilliant. It's hard to describe how good that felt.

"We actually started the Formula One race together. I was number 11 on my Kawasaki and Mike was 12 on the Ducati. I honestly don't remember if the crowd was making much noise - before the race you're focused on your riding not the crowd, and I had my helmet on. But I bet they were. Mike was a TT legend.

"When I heard Mike was racing again after an 11-year break I knew he'd be fast, but after such a long gap a lot of riders didn't expect him to be that fast. The game had moved on. I reckoned he'd take seventh or eighth place, not a win.

"But then in practice Mike passed me after Glen Helen and I followed him around Sarah's Cottage. He was so smooth and fast.

"There was a big rivalry between Mike and Phil Read. Phil wasn't as popular as Mike on the Island - he'd criticised the TT which made him unpopular with the fans - but Mike was still a legend. He was so big Martini sponsored his Yamahas.

"After the podium I spoke to Mike and a week later I actually got his autograph at the Mallory Race of the Year. I still have it now, it's in a scrapbook - a picture of Mike, John and myself on the podium, with Mike's and John's signatures.

"Although I never actually won a TT race myself, I did have many seconds and thirds and some great memories, including leading Graeme Crosby for five laps in the 1980 Senior, finishing three seconds behind winner Tom Herron in the 1976 Senior and finishing second to Charlie Williams in 1977 with the fastest lap of the race. However, I'm so proud to have stood on that podium in one of the TT's most famous years with Mike on the top step. That's something that can never be taken away from me, even though sadly the people have been."

ALSO IN 1978...

Grange Hill burst on to our screens and tea time was changed forever. From Mr Bronson (right) yelling "You, boy!" to Zammo eating skanky brown off a toilet floor, Grange Hill was kids' TV as it was meant to be.

Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian journalist, was bumped off by the KGB who ingeniously had one of their boys jab him in the leg with a poison-tipped umbrella as he waited for a bus in Waterloo.