We were heartbroken when we heard the news that our friend Mark Buckley had passed away after crashing at the NW200 Superstock motorcycle race on May 19 of this year. Mark, 35, was taking part in the third of five races when he fell from his Aprilia RSV4. We first met Mark when he joined our race team in 2009. Since then, we have built many happy memories with him. Please read on for remembrances from designer Brian Wismann and engineer Aaron Bland.
“I first met Mark at the Isle of Man TT for the first electric motorcycle race held there in 2009. With the Brammo team knowing relatively little about the island, the TT races, and proper bike setup, we had a lot to learn in a short period of time. Not all people were supportive of electric motorcycles (some skeptics even asserted that we could not complete a lap), but Mark was one of the few forward thinking people at the time who genuinely believed in what we were attempting and the future of electric motorcycles. He helped us develop our race strategy (for an unprecedented race and machine) and get our bikes setup to handle the demanding mountain course. His racing talent and input translated to a podium finish, which helped change the minds of the skeptics, giving electric motorcycles much deserved credibility and allowed electric motorcycle racing to continue and grow at the Isle of Man and around the world. His talent, commitment, sense of humor, humility, and passion for racing were what I remember most. He clearly loved his profession and family and (in my mind) embodied the spirit of the TT, road racing, and is a great example of how life is best lived.”
“There are certain people you have the pleasure of meeting in which the spark of life burns visibly brighter than most. Mark Buckley was one of those people. Sadly, Mark passed away recently while racing motorcycles in Ireland in the Northwest 200, a precursor race to the better known Isle of Man TT.
I began corresponding with Mark in the months leading up to the 2009 Isle of Man TT, where the first ever all-electric race would be run over the prestigious Mountain Course. Mark had been working with a team that was intending to run hydrogen fueled bike. However, when these plans fell apart due to an interpretation of the “zero emissions” rule, Mark started looking for an alternate way to get involved with this historic event. Even though he was already committed to riding in both the Supersport and Superbike races, he couldn’t bare the idea of not being involved in the future of the sport he loved.
Brammo’s second entry and thus Mark’s involvement in the race were never really a sure thing until only weeks before the TT. Although we had tested the bikes extensively prior to the race, Mark had only ridden for a handful of laps at the Jurby Airfield on the island prior to taking to the TT Mountain Course in the first timed practice event. He ran the number 26 as it was the lowest unassigned number (barring unlucky numbers) by the time we registered his entry. Problems getting the bike through customs, an electrical gremlin, and lack of practice time all conspired to make the situation all the more stressful and the result all the more outstanding. On June 8th, 2009, and against the odds, Mark Buckley made history and took a little known company in Ashland, Oregon to the podium on an international stage in the prestigious Isle of Man TT. The competition made big claims about horsepower and top speeds, but Mark piloted our little green Enertia TTR across the finish line ahead of nearly all of them. This would be Mark’s best finish at the TT, although he would go much, much faster racing his petrol powered bikes.
We had many more conversations, meetings, events, and laughs with Mark during the months and years following the TT and became quite close with him. I now regret not taking him up on his offer to visit his hometown of Loch Lomond in Scotland, as I’m sure we would have had a wonderful time with him, his wife, and his children. I have more stories about Mark, but the story I’ve told is the way I like to remember him – as a seemingly incongruous character who was both a loveable jokester and fierce competitor at the same time.
Mark never lost his interest in the future of the sport and never gave up on his dream of racing the TT, which he managed to do in 2010 and 2011. Here’s to the memory of Mark Buckley, a man I will never forget, a man who finished his life doing what he loved, and a man I will remain forever indebted to. ”
Rest-In-Peace, Mr. Buckley.