People & Business: Keep on biking

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IF ANY of you thought the British motorbike industry had died out years ago, fear not; Lord Hesketh is keeping the flame alive. He is still making motorbikes in workshops at the stable block attached to his country seat, Easton Neston, Towcester, Northamptonshire.

As president of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Lord Hesketh is trying to keep the club's Silverstone grand prix racing track out of the hands of Nicola Foulston, former Businesswoman of the Year, who owns rival Brands Hatch.

Silverstone is just five miles from Easton Neston. Back in the 1970s Lord Hesketh built Formula One racing cars for James Hunt in the workshops at Silverstone, as well as running the late world champion's team. He says he "retired financially hurt" from the racing business in 1979. But his motorbike-making business continues; "There are about 400 out there," he reckons.

A former DTI minister and chief whip in the House of Lords, Lord Hesketh is also a non-executive deputy chairman of Babcock International and a non-exec at British Aerospace.

And annual production of the bikes? "Two to four a year," he says.