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  • 23.06.15

    Lincoln and The Yellowbelly: Ian Emmerson OBE

    Lincoln Grand Prix organiser Ian Emmerson OBE steps down following this week's national championships based on the famous Michaelgate climb. A fitting finish for a fine man

    Words
    Ian Cleverly
    Photographs
    Robert Wyatt

Ian Emmerson OBE first organised the Lincoln Grand Prix in 1963.

There are no end of amazing statistics related to this race, but the fact that the man responsible for building the finest one-day event in Britain first took over the reins in the year of my birth is striking and puzzling at the same time. I’m no spring chicken. He’s looking good. He must have still been in short trousers back then, by my calculations.

Emmerson in a local man, born and bred: a Lincolnshire yellowbelly – not the derogatory term it may appear. The likeliest explanation for the nickname stems from the bright-coloured waistcoats worn by the local regiment in battle. Some get to wear yellow jerseys to stand out in a peloton; the local militia liked to look smart before a dust-up. Fair enough.

It turns out that this particular yellowbelly first ran the Lincoln GP as a teenager. It’s hard to imagine an 18-year-old taking on such a mammoth task now. Emmerson took over from race founder Mike Jones, stepped away for over a decade then returned in the ‘80s, making 2014 the 59th consecutive edition of the Lincoln all told. The foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 could have been problematical, but aside from spectators being banned from the lanes, the race went ahead as usual. There’s no stopping the Lincoln.

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