Were the 1922 TT races exciting? Here’s what the Blue ‘Un said after the event: “No more thrilling and instructive races have ever taken place. They were a triumph of organisation for the Auto Cycle Union, and the results were a triumph for British manufacturers and riders. The races were fought out with remarkable keenness, all previous records were broken both for individual laps and for the full duration of the course. The Senior event in particular provided remarkably keen competition, and the pace was so hot that the proportion of survivors—22 out of 67 starters—was inferior to the other events. In the Lightweight Race fourteen of the thirty-one starters reached home, and of the thirty-seven starters in the Junior Race, sixteen survived the ordeal.”
“THE PRACTICAL UTILITY OF ROAD RACING has oft formed the subject of discussion; no finer example of its true worth can be quoted than the general adoption of mechanical oil feed for next week’s Tourist Trophy races. The majority of competing machines will be fitted with some form of oil pump delivering lubricant direct to the crank case and thus relieving the rider of much responsibility. This is a step in the right direction, eliminating as it does the personal factor in the all-important matter of lubrication. At least one leading make of motor cycle will have dry sump lubrication with a constant flow of oil to and from the engine, while another machine holding a high position in public favour has a foot-controlled oil pump only because its own rather novel mechanical system of oiling was developed too late to be incorporated in the TT models. It is true that at present auxiliary hand pumps are still incorporated in most designs as a stand-by, but as further experience is gained these secondary systems will be found unnecessary for normal use in the hands of the public, and there is little doubt that, with a general adoption of mechanical lubrication, ensuring a steady and even flow of oil, there will be less trouble caused by carbonisation and unevenly lubricated engines.”
“HEIGHO! BEFORE THESE LINES APPEAR in print,” Ixion wrote, “I shall have felt the wind blowing over the dirty surge of the Mersey, smelt the mixed odours of the Manx boat (cooking, hot oil—and other smells), met those nasty cross seas an hour east of Douglas, watched the peak of Snaefell rear itself up over—I hope—a smoothish sea, gazed with dismay at those innumerable slimy green steps towering above the boat at low tide, bribed a few of those pirates calling themselves porters to lug my ‘Ric-Umph’ on to the quay, and then, hey, for the Races! Are any of the dark horses top-notchers? Will the Rudge come back as it did in ’13 and ’14? Has the dear old Norton’s turn for a slab of luck come at last? Scott, Triumph, Sunbeam—oh, dear! I think I’ll listen, to Mrs Ixion and leave all my spare cash at home this year; it is no race to bet on…For weeks past the wiser entrants for the TT have been busily training physically. For some training means no drinks, for others beer instead of whisky, whilst regular hours and less or no tobacco are common precautions. Golf and ordinary motor cycling are popular, while a few riders prefer boxing, tennis, and even cricket. What awaits a man in the Island depends largely on his employers. Most riders prefer to tune their own machines. One such told me that when, his machine was handed over to him in the Island for a previous race, it would not climb a grade of 1 in 15, so that he and all the other jockeys of his stable had a gruelling time, lapping in practice on tourist mounts, and spending the rest of the day in making new cams, etc, with very makeshift tools, only to find that each new part must be improved upon. Finally, they figured quite prominently in the event. Other stables practically maintain a separate staff for tuning, and tell the riders to forget all about motor cycles (if they can) as soon as the course is closed for each practice day.”
I’M MUCH OBLIGED TO JOHNNY CALDWELL for these practice notes from the Peel City Guardian. Sun teamster Bernard Caldwell, who is referred to in in the report, was Johnny’s grandfather: “Practising for the TT races, which take place on Tuesday, May 30th and Thursday June 1st, commenced on Monday morning. The weather was fine, but there was strong south-west breeze blowing. There was a good turn-out for the first morning, about fifty machines being on the course. There was also a good number of spectators at various vantage points round the course. Some good times were put up, and the majority of riders did the course under the hour. The fastest lap was that of Hugh Mason on an NUT. He completed two rounds, one in 44min 1sec and the other in 46min 19sec. There were no accidents of any importance, though JH Simpson, on a Scott, came off rather badly at Governor’s Bridge, but he was able to proceed, he only having slight injuries on his legs and hands. On Tuesday morning there was a heavy shower of rain just at the start of practicing, but about thirty riders went round the course. The conditions, especially on the mountains, were bad, and owing to the mists the riders were unable to see very far ahead. With careful going, there were no accidents, and the times, consequently, were much higher. On Wednesday there was heavy rain during the practising hours, but about 75 riders were out on their machines. The conditions, however, were against fast times, the fastest circuit being made by G Alexander on an Indian, his time being 50min 2sec. Several of the riders qualified for the race, they being Davison (Levis), Pike (Levis), in the lightweight; V Horsman (Norton), WH Hollowell (Norton) and GSDavison (Sunbeam) in the senior. RG Sutclife (Rudge) a reserve, also qualified. On Thursday morning fine weather favoured the practising, and about 100 machines were on the course, and several good times were made. There were no accidents. Quite a number were out witnessing the practice. The official programme issues by the Auto Cycle Union has been issued and is now on sale at the Guardian office, price 6d. Copies of Motor Cycle and Motor Cycling can also be obtained at the Guardian office.
Several of the TT riders are staying in Peel. The Ivy team have their headquarters at the Peel Castle Hotel, and the Levis are at the Cregg Malin Hotel. Both these teams have made their headquarters at Peel for several years. There is also a Sunbeam rider and a Douglas rider staying in Peel. Mr Howard Newman, manager of the Ivy firm, had a nasty accident at Ballig Bridge on Wednesday evening when out with a motor cycle and sidecar. The sidecar was empty, and, through hitting a stone, the cycle and sidecar overturned, pinning the rider underneath. Mr Newman was quickly extricated by some people on the spot, and was later taken to the Peel Castle Hotel, the headquarters of the Ivy firm, in a trap. The machine was badly damaged, but the rider escaped with a nasty shaking and a number of superficial wounds on the face…The practising in the early mornings for the TT Races, despite the early hour, continue to be a great source of attraction, and large numbers daily go to various points of vantage round the course to witness the riders. The course is in good order, and this week, favoured by the best of weather, there has been some fast travelling, with the result that all previous records for the fastest rounds have been broken. Practising has been remarkably free from very serious accidents, although some riders have had nasty spills, without, however, receiving any alarming injuries. On Saturday, Caldwell, on a Sun Vitesse, took the corner entering Ramsey too fast and he struck the wall, damaging his machine. His head was saved by his helmet, and he got off with nothing worse than bruises. The fastest circuit on Saturday was 41½ minutes, which was put up by Bennett (Sunbeam), No 44. On Monday the weather was not favourable to fast times. Tuesday’s weather was a great improvement, and some fast circuits were done. FW Dixon (No 24) on an Indian went round in 40min 53sec, only 45sec longer than the record made last year. Other good times were Davies (AJS) 43min 50sec; Brandish (Triumph) 42min 50sec; N Black (Norton) 42min 49sec; Dance (Sunbeam) 41min 5sec; and Whalley (Massey Arran) 43min 25sec. There were two accidents on Tuesday, one of which occurred at Ballig Bridge, where Mundey (Nee Hudson) took the bridge at speed, and losing control was thrown off. He received medical attention, and was found to be suffering from mild concussion, and was removed to hospital as a matter of precaution. The other rider hurt was Mathers (Rudge) who came off badly just above Governor’s Bridge. He was badly shaken, but otherwise had only a cut on his leg. It was on Wednesday that records were broken, and the weather was perfect. Handley (OK Junior) lowered the record of 49min 7sec made last year to 45min 50sec; Jones (Velocette) also broke the previous record by doing a circuit in 48min 55sec. In the Senior class the record of 40min 8sec made by Edmund on a Triumph, last year, was lowered to 39min 55sec by Langman (Scott Squirrel) a speed of over 57mph. Records were again broken on Thursday morning. In the Junior class, Howard Davies (AJS) lowered his last year’s record of 41min 4sec to 40min 55sec, a speed of 56mph. In the Senior class, F Dixon did two rounds lower than the record of the previous morning. His first round took him 39min 11sec and his second 39min 30sec. He did a third round, but owing to two stops for petrol and oil, his time was 49min 14sec. Three very consistent laps were put up by Cawthorne (Norton), 44min 55sec, 44min 15sec, and 44min 5sec. The weather on Thursday was all that could be desired, and there were large numbers out for practice.” [Island life was clearly not dominated by the TT. Immediately below its TT practice story the Guardian reported: “The members of the Parish Church Choir on Saturday last had their annual picnic. There was a good turn out of members and their friends. The party proceeded by motor charabanc to Ramsey and Laxey. The weather was fine and a very happy time was spent by all.” ]
THE JUNIOR/LIGHTWEIGHT TT
“THE CHIEF FEATURES OF TUESDAY’S JUNIOR TT RACE were the fourth successive victory of the invincible AJS and the first victory of a Manxman, TM Sheard, who was followed home by G Grinton on a sister machine, CG Pullin (Douglas) being third. The race occupied some 10 minutes less than in 1921, Sheard winning at an average speed of 54.75mph. The first six places in the Lightweight Race fell to the machines of six different makers. GS Davison (Levis) finished over 13 minutes ahead of the fastest four-stroke in the shape of a very dark horse in Dan Young, who rode the only Rex-Acme-Blackburne in the race. Another two-stroke rider, Jones (Velocette) ran third, little over a minute behind Young. The Lightweight winner covered the course in notably faster time than his 1921 predecessor, for a reduction of over 25 minutes raised the winning speed to 49.89mph. As the stands filled up on Tuesday morning the sun was quite oppressively hot; Snaefell was sharply silhouetted against a glowing sky, and the roads were dusty…the summer attire of the ladies added bright notes of colour to a gay panorama. As the National
Anthem announced the arrival of the Lieutenant-Governor, a silent phalanx of riders in yellow and green and red racing colours appeared wheeling their machines to the starting line from the official storage tent; Prentice, last year’s Lightweight winner, moved up to the timekeeper’s box, and as he received the word ‘Go’ at 10am maroons signalled to the whole Island that another TT had begun. Numbers 1-32 (250cc machines), with green number plates, were sent off first, the 350cc class, 33-70, with blue numbers, following at half-minute intervals. Therefore No 70 had to stand in the road 35 minutes wondering whether his engine would start obediently after standing 24 hours. Many of the men had applied paraffin injections as a precaution before storing their mounts on Monday, and the engines usually fired in a yard or two…In the Junior entry Victor Horsman’s arm was still too stiff for racing, and Albert Milner pluckily decided to ride the Raleigh, although he had not ridden one prior to the race…Careful acceleration was the order of the day. Cold oil in their crank cases troubled Jones (Velocette) and Simister I Diamond). Dr Hopwood
sucked a cigarette nonchalantly; Woods dropped a spare plug and actually came back for it!…Just as the last man left, the megaphone announced Searle’s collision with Ballacraine Hotel, which had done him no harm…Presently the first 350cc machine, Davies, came in just three seconds outside the Senior record for a flying lap (56mph). To everybody’s dismay he paid a hasty visit to his depot without stopping his engine. Then Le Vack knocked four seconds off the Senior record, and Harris lapped one second fasten than Davies…Marchant (Sheffield-Henderson) hit Sulby Bridge and damaged his oil tank; Dale (New Scale) crashed more heavily at the same point, requiring medical attention which lost him 35 minutes. Kelly (AJS) came off in Sulby Village, bending his forks so badly that he had to retire…After two laps Woods left his engine running while he replenished his
tank with petrol, and it caught fire, which spread to his depot. Woods staggered across the road with flames rising from his clothing, and men rushed to his assistance. Pyrene came to the rescue in the nick of time, and thirty seconds later he continued…By the fourth lap even the crowd on the grandstand was somewhat befogged as to the state of the racing. Discs professing to show men’s positions were not punctually operated, times were painted up rather slowly, and there were two races to confuse the onlookers. However when Sheard (350cc class) came in just ahead of Davison (250cc class), who had started earlier, and Le Vack’s gear box was reported seized at Windy Corner, the situation grew fairly clear. Grinton (AJS), a well-known Edinburgh rider, some 30 years old, was evidently a trifle slower than Sheard. Kershaw was out with engine trouble, so we knew the leaders at any rate. Meanwhile poor Woods, who was heartily cheered on each lap for his pluck in continuing after his fire, came into his depot in a very ‘ricketty’ fashion; oil leakage from his charred tank had ruined the brake and he had to switch off and brake with his feet a long way up the road. His cornering suffered accordingly, and he had a nasty fall at a hairpin. Wood’s performance should surely qualify him special consideration when warding the Nisbit Trophy offered for triumph over adversity. Thomas had lost his gear quadrant and had to keep the gear engaged by his hand. There
had been great slaughter of the favourites by this point…Now commenced the usual breathless wait as the fastest men in each race tackled the last thrilling lap and anxious spectators watched tiny signals indicating each rider’s passage through the five telephone stations recorded on the progress clocks…At last up went the yellow plaque No 44 TM Sheard was at Governor’s Bridge, and a Manxman had surely won outright at last. Handkerchiefs were waved, hats flew up into the air; there were cheers and yells and a storm of clapping. Then the band struck up ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’—just too slowly, for Sheard crashed past as the opening chord sounded, and his friends rushed to overwhelm him. He looked pale and tired with his legs barely able to support him. Small wonder, for even on the good tarmac past the stands the fast men were off their saddles more than they were on them. Hardly had the hubbub subsided than a fresh round of cheering greeted Le Vack, walking in after his environment. Immediately after, the winning Levis purred in, its engine running with much the same, smooth power as at the start. It was only some twenty minutes slower over the course than the winning 350 c.cr. machine, and its time marks a huge ad- vance on the lightweights of 1921. Judging by Davison’s jaunty appearance, the Levis had given him a very comfortable ride; he seemed tolerably fresh and full of smiles. When it was clear that none of the later starters could beat the times now registered, boy scouts hung laurel wreaths over those columns on the board in which Sheard’s and Davison’s times were posted.”
Junior, 5 laps, 188.75 miles: 1, TH Sheard (348cc AJS), 54.75mph; 2, G Grinton (348cc AJS), 52.10mph; 3, JT Thomas (348cc Sheffield-Henderson), 49.79mph; 4, R Lucas (348cc Coulson), 49.19mph; 5, S Woods (348cc Cotton), 49.13mph; 6, T Haslam (346cc Douglas), 46.16mph. Lightweight, 5 laps, 188.75 miles: 1, GS Davison (248cc Levis), 49.89mph; 2, D Young (249cc Rex-Acme), 47.12mph; 3, SJ Jones (249cc Velocette), 46.90mph; 4, L Padley (249cc Sheffield-Henderson); 5 D. G Prentice (249cc New Imperial), 45.10mph; 6, FC North (249cc OK), 44.28mph.
“The Return of the Two-stroke; the Invincible AJS; and two ill-starred ‘Dark Horses’.
AN ENTRÉE CAN NEVER BE AS SATISFYING as a joint, but it is often more savoury. Pursuing the analogy, the Lightweight Race is the hors d’oeuvre of our Manx meal, the Junior is the entrée, and the Senior is the roast beef. All three are to be anticipated with pleasure, and rolled on the palate; but the order of their importance . is inexorably the same, viz: 1, Senior; 2, Junior; 3, Lightweight…Said I to myself, said I, ‘These babies are all a little young. Some precocious engine will come out all by itself. Two-strokes melt their pistons in sustained speed. So the dominating stable will be four-stroke. Perhaps the JAP. Perhaps the Blackburne. Certainly not a two-stroke! What fools we mortals be. The Levis is the great grandfather of all the two-strokes. Even the Scott is merely its great, overgrown hobbledehoy of a son. At the end of lap 1 Handley’s OK was leading the fastest Levis by 11s, and Pike’s Levis stood fourth, sandwiching a JAP engine with that prince of riders, Kershaw, sitting over it. Did I sober my opinions? Not a bit. The OK will crack, I thought. It did—but only by_the miracle of a stainless steel inlet valve (of all incredibilities) snapping across the stem. The two Levises will melt their pistons or burst their magnetos by revving the armatures too fast and too long. Kershaw will ride on pawkily and win. And I noted two more JAP engines lying off fifth and sixth waiting for things to happen. Also I remarked that in the comparatively slow Baby Race machines count for more than men, as a mere tyro can lap at 44-46 minutes. So I lit a pipe and waited for the field to reappear in lap 2. No Handley. Ah, a fluke, of course. Davison at the head. If a two-stroke can stand two laps, need five puzzle it? Kershaw’s New Imperial—the alleged 9,000rpm type—24sec slower than its first lap, and the Levis only 5sec slower. If Kershaw holds a watching brief, there was too much ‘watch’
and not enough ‘brief’. Pike’s Levis had vanished, it was true. But only a fire: and any machine may catch fire, of course. Whalley accelerating, as I expected. But a Velocette coming up, though slower than the Levis: and I chanced to know what a pushful kick the latest Velocettes have. I began to wonder whether a novelty in hors d’oeuvres was being dished up. Lap 3 saw the Levis with a nice, fat little lead of 2min 33sec, and its sweet little engine roaring away with as clear a timbre as ever. Eight minutes faster than the Velocette over 112 odd miles. I conceived a profound respect for the Levis. And whatever was Kershaw doing? The Levis was leaving him at the rate of rather over one minute per lap: and there are no flies on Kershaw as a rider: or on the New Imperial crowd as an organisation. Hereabouts is the crux, I thought. If Kershaw does not open his throttle here and now, and come through with a wet sail, the Levis has got him beat, and need only stand up to win. I considered the lap speeds. Davison up to this point had averaged nearly 51mph. In 1921 Prentice’s New Imperial had won at less than 45mph. An advance of 6mph in 12 months! I took off my hat to Davison and the Levis, and focussed my glasses on the nasty, illegible little progress disc above Nos 11 (Davison) and 15 (Kershaw) on the gaunt hoarding opposite me. The finger of the New Imperial disc abode stationary—he was not lying doggo, but down and out in a whole-hearted effort to overhaul a faster machine. But Davison’s index crept steadily on.
Lap 4 saw him leading by over 10 minutes. Lap 5 saw him win by over 13 minutes. Then his marvellous little engine was dismantled by the jaundiced cynics of the ACU management who naturally suspected it of being Temple’s Brooklands Harley. Its bore was a mere 62mm. The stroke a beggarly 82.5mm. Two forty-eight cc. No more. The piston head was innocent of carbon—scavenged by the turbulent blast of a potent exhaust and an eager intake. The cylinder head was clean enough to please a Dutch housewife. Just a trace of soot on the ports—no more. And the bearings all tight. Some two-stroke. How nice to see such an assorted crowd backing up—Rex, Velocette, Sheffield-Henderson, New Imperial, OK. No haughty monopoly here. The hors d’oeuvre had certainly given one much to retract, much to think about. And so to the entrée. The TT entrée is based on the other dining principle mentioned at the start of these notes. You greedily meditate, select your favourite dish, smack your lips, and wait rather impatiently while the waiter is setting the forks precisely parallel and flicking away imaginary crumbs from the cloth. My favourite entrée is made of minced kidney and mushrooms. When I was 21 I once had a little money for about six weeks. I ordered kidney and mushrooms every day. I grew rather tired of it then. The AJS is a very nice bike. I have one. I like nothing better. It won the Junior in 1914. And again in 1920. And once more in 1921. It displayed every intention of scoring again in 1922. It is developing an invincible habit. So I felt towards the Junior as I felt towards kidneys and mushrooms in the fifth week of the temporary
opulence described above. Howard Davies starts first of the 350cc class and streaks round in 40min 11sec from a standing start. Very nice, too. But somehow I have tasted kidney and mushrooms before. What’s that? Le Vack, starting 9min later, has lapped in 40min 7sec? Weird yells from all around. No hostility to the AJS. Still less, anything depreciatory to that pocket marvel, HRD. Just a moist glistening of the eye at the aroma of a new and very savoury entree. Harris is round in 40min 10sec? More kidney and mushrooms in fact. The Cotton in 40m. 50s. What is a Cotton, anyway? Then two more AJSs, and the whole six inside 52sec of each other. Praise be to Allah for a gorgeous race anyhow, with at least two chances of a surprise. We did not take the Cotton seriously enough, I admit. (Woods, in my opinion, would have won outright if he had not caught fire. His machine was a very lame duck indeed after that unlucky second lap flare-up at which moment it was over half a minute ahead of Sheard. Under the terrific handicap of a split oil tank, the loss of its main brake, the waste of a full minute, and the shock to Woods’ nerves, it finished less than 14min behind Sheard. (Watch Woods in 1923!). But Le Vack thus early stirred all our pulses. His engine was only designed eight weeks ago. It was what card players call a Singleton—No 2 hasn’t been made yet. He was up against the formidable AJS battalion. He was David against Goliath. Belgium confronting Germany, Jimmy Wilde challenging Dempsey. And a clever, likeable fellow, too. The crowd rose at him just as they had done with Whalley in the previous year. Here was no such camouflaged certainty as the Baby Race had given us. It was a pack of sleuth hounds straining to pull down a solitary thoroughbred. We waited breathlessly for the end of lap 2: and the worst of it was that with Davies starting at 10hr 26min 30sec am, Le Vack at 10hr 25min 30sec am, and Harris (AJS) at 10.29am, we had to puzzle our heads with dreadful calculations before the painters brushed the all-important times up and ended our suspense. At last the vital lap 2 figures were complete. Stringing out a little—it took 1min 40sec to cover the first six now. Still four AJS machines among them. The lonely Le Vack had pulled out his 3sec lead to 10sec. Woods round in 40min 29sec. (Ugh! And that horrible flare-up 50 yards along lap 3!) Another long wait whilst we watched the fingers creep round the B(Ballacraine), S(Sulby), R(Ramsey), B(Bungalow), and C(Creg-na-baa) of the dials. Noted meanwhile that Harris, the popular Island tip for the winner, had impertinently stolen a 17sec lead of Howard Davies. There came to mind, too, the rumour that Davies is too good a rider for a 350cc engine over the Manx course. He can flog it harder than any 350cc can reasonably stand. If Harris is even more ferocious—why, who can catch Le Vack? There appeared to be no answer. What’s the megaphone saying? ‘No 33 (Davies) retired at Crosby with engine trouble!’ Well, he will insist on winning the
Senior now following last year’s precedent. Look at Harris’s dial—he’s had a stop at the back of the Island somewhere. So lap 3 saw Le Vack leading by nearly two whole golden minutes. Good-bye, kidneys and mushrooms. But, bless me, here’s Sheard catching up hand over fist: and Grinton, on yet another AJS—is there no end to these fellows? And that plucky Cotton still in the first six after a blaze and losing so much time. Well well! Lap 4. Sheer tragedy from the menu standpoint. The new dish—truffles in aspic, let us say—brandished under the nose: its appetising scent inhaled for a moment: then a grimy paw substitutes the old familiar kidneys and mushrooms. But certain consolations. If the plucky Le Vack is padding home afoot leaving his solid gear box by the roadside, here is a Manxman leading in the great Manx race. Salaams to him and to the Island which bred him; and greets us so warmly every year. And, after all, if the AJS has cornered the Junior for four successive races, honour to whom honour is due. Could any other team drop cracks like Davies and Harris and Longman and Kelly and still canter home first and second, beating the field by 10min and 20min respectively? The hollow character of the AJS supremacy is the most convincing proof of quality which motor racing has yet afforded. At the particular combination of speed and stamina which road racing demands in a victorious team, they are transcendently invincible at present, as they have now been for eight years in the 350cc class. They will not be displaced from their unique pre-eminence until a first-class metallurgist, a first-class engineer and six first-class road racing jockeys take them on. And perhaps not then. The Sheffield-Hendersons, however, made a remarkably fine show for a first attempt, and, with J Thomas third in the Junior, and L Padley fourth in the Lightweight event, they are certainly amongst the makes which will be watched next year. No firm nowadays wins a TT on its first year of entry; generally it takes three years of hard trying, but the Sheffield production allied with the ohv Blackburne may well reduce the waiting period to a little over 12 months.
THE SENIOR TT
“WHEN PRACTISING ENDED LAST MONDAY morning the Senior Tourist Trophy Race truly remained anybody’s victory. Seldom indeed has the race been so open. To-day it will be decided, but, until the sixth of The Motor Cycle telegrams is despatched broadcast to agents throughout the country, the motor cycle world will await the issue, wondering whether Dixon on his Indian, either Dance or Bennett on the Sunbeams, Edmonds or Brandish on the Triumphs, one of the redoubtable Scott trio, Wood, Langman, or Clapham, or a Norton rider, such as Black or Hassall has been able to prove superiority of the 500cc mount against the super-efficient 350cc AJS of Howard Davies, which beat the Seniors hands down in last year’s event. Of course, there are other possibilities: the Massey-Arran, although of 350cc only, will give any machine on the course a run for its money, especially the one ridden by J Whalley, who will assuredly ride to win. Then there are the Sheffield-Hendersons, the NUTs, and the New Gerrard. If these machines can survive the cracking pace which will be set by the bigger men, they have more than a sporting chance, for the riders are good, if not old, hands at the racing game.”
“NO PASSING GLANCE MUST be given to the Indian machines, for they are thoroughly workmanlike, and proved themselves so in last year’s Senior event. Moreover, the star rider, FW Dixon, is a motor cyclist of outstanding capability. Dixon’s machine is fitted with a special braking system of his own devising; not only has it got the usual two rear brakes, one internal and expanding and the other a contracting band, but the front wheel has been specially fitted with a Webb expanding brake. All three are controlled from the one pedal on the right-hand side of the machine. The pedal pulls on the internal back brake by a direct coupled rod, and operates the contracting band through a rod and spring device fractionally later than the other brake, the degree of lag between the two being controllable by a wing nut, while riding if need be. Pulled also by the pedal is the wire control for the Webb front-wheel brake, but the outer casing of the control is, divided, the ends abutting in stops capable of being separated by a small cam plate carried on the fork girders. This cam is controlled by the lower of a pair of ordinary carburetter levers. According to the setting of this lever (which virtually alters the length of the brake cable outer casing), the front brake may be made to operate coincidently and powerfully with the back brake, or later and less powerfully, as required. This setting will be made as experience dictates long before each individual corner is reached. Beautifully made and fitted, this ingenious device gives evidence of the serious bid which Dixon intends to make this year for the race he came so near to winning last year.”
“THE 1922 SENIOR TT WAS RUN in gorgeous weather and resulted in a superb victory for A Bennett (Sunbeam), who led throughout, and won in 3hr 53min 0.2sec at the astounding speed of 58.33mph, his second lap being just one second slower than 60mph, a feat which all riders who know the Manx course will appreciate…In spite of the high speeds, there was a notable absence of accidents. The winning machine was entirely British, down to the smallest item of its equipment. Thursday dawned with a blistering sun…The narrow hill leading up from the promenade at Douglas to the grandstands was full of every imaginable kind of vehicle, crowded to excess on the ascent, or returning empty for a fresh cargo; and the air was full of dust and exhaust fumes…Right in front of the timekeeper’s box was a small oblong, marked in white on the tarmac, from which each rider started in turn. Its first occupant, by right of last year’s victory, was Howard Davies, a workmanlike figure in tight brown leather, disdaining gauds. But the 66 men behind him resembled a flower garden in their garish racing colours—Indian red, Scott violet, Norton grey, Douglas blue and silver, Sunbeam black and gold, with the vivid grass-green helmets, jackets and breeches of the Rudge men standing out above all. Among the Tritons were five plucky minnows—the three AJS 350cc machines of Davies, Wade, and Kelly, Le Vack’s JAP-engined New Imperial and Whalley’s Massey-Arran. The only twins were five Scotts, five Douglases, one New Gerrard, and one NUT…Quite half the riders stepped on to the near footrest when their engines fired, and the old-fashioned leap clean into the saddle—once regarded as essential in speedy events—was used by few. Le Vack got an ovation in recognition of Tuesday’s great ride, and so did Davison, as
the lightweight winner…Vivian Olsson says he competes because the island is the only place where one can have a real blind; but he got away like a winner…’Pa’ Cowley got a special cheer as the oldest starter in the Senior: he has a beard and his years coincide with his racing number, ie, 57; his son was also riding. Three of the most dangerous entrants were among the last half-dozen to leave-Dance (cheered before he took his stance in the oblong), FG Edmond (whose Triumph had been kept under lock and key), and Langman (riding one of the speediest Scotts… de la Hay caught HR Davies on the mountain, and…it transpired that Davies’ petrol pipe had broken without the rider’s knowledge, and near the Bungalow drained his tank…Bownass (NUT) was reported repairing after a tumble at Quarter Bridge…Brandish had done a standing start lap in 39min 38sec—good earnest of the 19 separate beatings which the 1921 record was to sustain. Meanwhile the board showed that Dixon had caught seven men before the Bungalow; that Edmond had caught George Dance; that Bennett was cutting out a truly frightful pace; and, finally, that Dance had stopped. No 44 (Bennett) was signalled at Governor’s Bridge immediately after No 34, Cawthorne (ohv Norton), who is himself no sluggard; and a sign of astonishment went round when the Sunbeam’s standing start lap was announced as 38min 14sec. The crowd was much interested in the Scotts: the musical drone of their exhausts is pleasant to hear, and varies in pitch as the rear
wheel spins over a bump…George- Dance was reported as down and out near Craig-ny-baa with few spokes left in his back wheel…Reg Brown was put out near Sulby with engine trouble. G Cowley, jun, withdrew after his machine caught fire. Poor Bownass stopped at Sulby with a broken steering column, due no doubt to his crash on lap 1. News came through that Simpson’s disappearance was due to his petrol tank bursting at Ramsey…Ivor Thomas had engine trouble at Bishop’s Court…and a similar fate overtook Hatton’s Douglas at Ramsey. AW Jones (Douglas) survived lap 1 to vanish on the next lap (we heard later that his tyre came off in a crash following a frightful wobble after Governor’s Bridge)…Le Vack was gaining more ground than anybody, despite his small engine. Consternation was rife when Edmond’s dial seemed to indicate a stoppage, and a groan went up when the megaphone announced that a broken handle-bar had put him out of the race near Union Mills…neat deceleration at the depots was the order of the day, very few men wobbling or overshooting their cages, whilst the brakes were quiet, firm, and smooth
as contrasted with the squeaks and skids of previous years. In fact, observers opined that improved brakes shared the credit for the faster lap times…Wood (Scott) and Hassall (Norton) shot through, having fitted large tanks so as to accomplish six laps on a single depot stop, thus saving at least 15 seconds on any rival who stopped every other lap… the megaphone reported that Jackson ( Sunbeam) had gone over his handle-bars at Ballig Bridge, but was quite unhurt. The ‘crash’ helmets have now many lives to their credit, and do not tear off the men’s ears, as the croakers had prophesied…victory seemed assured for Bennett, provided he and his mount could stick six laps of such a cracking pace under an almost tropical sun. The prophets began to quarrel—all the hares would stop by the wayside, and one of the tortoises would quietly annex a pawky victory. For our anxiety and excitement there was no vent but to use glasses and watch in conjunction with the progress dials: and when a Boy Scout was late in shifting a fast man’s pointer round the dial, the hearts of that
rider’s supporters almost stopped beating with anxiety…Meanwhile G Cowley, jun, toured in on his fire-blackened mount and retired at the grandstand…Some of the slower men seemed to be tiring physically: at any rate, a number of them were plainly taking the simple bend at Bray Hill with reduced dash, cutting out sooner and longer…Occasional news dribbled in of the slower men and the missing ones. Harveyson had been delayed with a stuck valve at Crosby and finally retired. Davison’s back tyre had deflated twice. Greenwood walked in after engine trouble at Ballacraine…Tucker pulled the valve clean out of his front tube at Creg Willey. Simister (Norton) met engine trouble at Sulby. Carton broke a piston near Ballacraine. Burrill burst a tyre down Bray Hill. Searle’s Sheffield-Henderson, after a fine debut, relinquished the struggle near Crosby, after averaging over 51mph to that point…Presently Dixon free-wheeled neatly into his depot, effected a lightning fill-up, and departed at speed, but still troubled by that haunting hiccup in the beat of his engine; it was only just noticeable, but sufficient to ruin his chance of riding down Bennett. The spectators waited feverishly for Bennett, whom many people thought incapable of standing the racket of six laps at his opening speed. But the next cheer was for FG Edmond (499cc Triumph), who toured quietly in, steering with half a handle-bar…in came Bennett, having lapped in 42min 50sec. This was slow time for the Canadian, and it later transpired that shortage of oil had worried him. He spent rather a long time at his cage, and left amidst friendly cheers…Langman was probably warned at the Scott cage that his chances were now better than Wood’s, and the atmosphere became full of
electricity…The men were looking extraordinarily swarthy, with the combined effects of sunburn and dust and dirt. Then Watson-Bourne arrived, and made a lengthy stop at his pit…Bennett’s Sunbeam flashed past, travelling magnificently, and apparently faster than anybody had yet taken this stretch. Tired as he must have been, and in spite of an engine which was being rationed for lubricant, he had actually ridden the 5th lap, including a substantial pause at his depot, in 37min 59sec. As his engine was running perfectly, whereas Dixon’s was still missing a trifle, nothing but disaster seemed likely to change the order…Incredulously we saw Dixon’s pointer become rigid on its dial. It had reached ‘Sulby’. It was due to move to ‘Ramsey’. But it did not. Bennett’s pointer moved relentlessly round the clock, but malevolent fortune seemed to have pinned the Indian down. And so it was. A fine engine, still amply willing. A superb rider, as great as Bennett. And the Achilles’ heel of motor cycling, a tyre, grudged him even the second place after half a day of danger and effort. The megaphone announced, ‘No 24 has retired at Ramsey with tyre trouble!’ Then Brandish clocked in amidst frantic cheers. He won the hearts of the crowd on his Rover last year, and the Triumph is popular everywhere. He had started 20 minutes ahead of Bennett. If Bennett came in within that period the Sunbeam was first: otherwise the Triumph. Slowly, inexorably, the minutes ticked away, but Bennett’s pointer kept pace with them. Now he was at the Bungalow…Suddenly, up went the yellow ’44’, and the incomparable Sunbeam roared home, winner of far and away the fastest TT on record, more than seven minutes ahead of Brandish, at an average speed of 58.33mph. Langman’s Scott had started No 66—11 minutes later than Bennett, so a brief wait was still necessary before the laurel wreath could be formally hung over the Sunbeam’s number on the board. Langman arrived too late for this, but both he and Wood were cheered to the echo. The former’s slowing down
was explained by his finish—he shot two or three hundred yards past the box, with low gear engaged, his brakes being weak. He had lost his right footrest at the half distance, and so had an uncomfortable ride. All honour is due to the Sunbeam, which stood so terrible a racket undauntedly, and hardly less to the Triumph, which ran so good a second in the hands of a youngster just of age…most of the old firms have covered themselves with glory. Of the 22 to finish, the Sunbeam secured 1st, 6th, 8th, 17th, 19th and 20th places. Triumphs were 2nd and 13th. The three Scotts all finished high up—3rd, 4th and 9th. Nortons claimed five places. Alexander, on an unofficial Douglas entry, was 7th. The Indians had to console themselves after Dixon’s mishap with the 11th place, but without them the race would have been shorn of its chief interest in the later stages. Wade can be proud to have driven a 350cc into 12th position in so fierce a struggle; and the AJS people can be proud of the machine which carried him. The Rudge has not quite come back to its old supremacy, but Baldwin’s place is satisfactory. The Sheffield-Henderson, on its first appearance, has finished very creditably in all three TT races. Mundey’s New Hudson was much faster than fortune permitted it to demonstrate. The winner’s time was actually 16min 22sec faster than in 1921—4min 5½sec less per lap.”
Senior, 6 laps, 226.5 miles: 1, A Bennett (492cc Sunbeam), 58.33mph; 2, WW Brandish (499cc Triumph), 56.52mph; 3, H Langman (486cc Scott-Squirrel), 56.09mph; 4, CP Wood (486cc Scott-Squirrel), 55.20mph; 5, GW Walker (490cc Norton), 54.55mph; 6, TC De La Hay (492cc Sunbeam), 53.48mph.
AFTER THE TT…
“ANY CRITIC WHO FAVOURED A CHANGE from the Isle of Man for the Tourist Trophy Races must have wavered in his opinions after last week’s events. No more thrilling and instructive races have ever taken place. They were a triumph of organisation for the Auto Cycle Union, and the results were a triumph for British manufacturers and riders. The races were fought out with remarkable keenness, all previous records were broken both for individual laps and for the full duration of the course. The Senior event in particular provided remark- ably keen competition, and the pace was so hot that the proportion of survivors—22 out of 67 starters—was inferior to the other events. In the Lightweight Race 14 of the 31 starters reached home, and of the 37 starters in the Junior Race, sixteen survived the ordeal. On the question of valve disposition, apart from the runaway victory of overhead valve engines in the Junior Race, and the ascendancy of the two-stroke engine in the small and large classes, no definite conclusions may be drawn by the public. The Senior Race in particular provided a remarkable medley of engine types, for whereas a side-by-side valve engine led the field throughout, an overhead four-valved engine was second with two-strokes in the third and fourth positions. This result would confirm that progress in design is of a general all-round character, and not confined to any one type or design; capacity is the paramount factor, of course, and whether overhead, side-by-side valve or two-stroke engine be used, the best designs exhibit little advantage one over, the other either in speed or hill-climbing. Single-cylinder machines, assisted by their preponderating numbers, commanded the greatest attention, and once again the’ seal of success is placed upon two- or three-speed gears and chain transmission. Last year’s report that the Isle of Man course was unsuited to 500cc machines and tended to favour slower mounts were to some extent belied by the truly phenomenal speeds attained last Thursday. On the other hand, we have the evidence of this year’s winner that no racing track in his experience introduces such a large personal factor as the Manx Snaefell mountain course.”
“TT INCIDENTAL NOTES
NEVER HAS THE WEATHER BEEN more perfect—not a drop of rain fell throughout the events…The Rudge slogan was: ‘When you see the Rudge go by cheer and wave your Hank—y!’ There were literally hundreds of green handkerchiefs distributed round the course by the firm…To mark the return of the Rudge to the TT Races in the IOM its manufacturers offer a prize of a dress in Rudge green, value ten guineas, to the first young lady over 18 years of age to guess the number of corners in the TT course…The Sheffield-Hendersons were the surprise packet of the Junior and Lightweight races…Condolences to CG Pullin (2¾hp Douglas), who who had to retire 10 miles from home with engine trouble when actually in third position of the Junior race…C Waterhouse, possibly the youngest rider, punctured three times, but otherwise suffered no troubles. He finished 20th…The engine of one solitary make which let its rider down badly on the mountain was attacked by him with a hammer…Last minute changes of equipment caused much annoyance and adverse criticism throughout the island…Ivys were the only two-strokes in the Junior event and finished 7th, 10th, and 12th…Once again—for the third year in succession—the Junior Race became a duel between AJS and Blackburne engines. While the former secured the two premier honours, Blackburne engines were fitted to the Sheffield-Henderson (3rd), Coulson (4th), and Cotton (5th)…The sight of the competing machines as they are massed for the start must warm the hearts of manufacturers of insulating tape. Surely in this year of grace there is some better method of securing fittings…Keen disappointment was felt at the non-arrival at the presentation of prizes of the Scott contingent from Ramsey to receive their gold medals, and, in Langman’s case, the third prize also—the explanation of this absence was made later, when it was learnt that their taxi missed a turning, and in the subsequent crash some damage was done, especially to Langman and CP Wood, who had to be
removed to hospital…”Most striking feature of the fleet of 349cc AJS machines is the size of the exhaust pipes—apparently about 2½in diameter—quite big enough to keep rabbits in! The machines left Liverpool early last week and suffered somewhat from the sea-water bath they received on a particularly, rough crossing…G Cowley, sen is almost a second ‘Pa’ Applebee, for he is 57 years of age, but has been handling his Sunbeam well and getting round the course in about the hour every morning…Manxmen estimate THAT the value of the TT Races to the Island is at least £50,000…Each year sees fewer and fewer multi cylinder machines in the races. The 1922 Senior event has attracted but one V-twin, while five each two-stroke twins and flat twins are included in the entry of 67. Does this mean that capacity for capacity the single-cylinder engine is the more efficient? It would appear so. But should the V-twin NUT win, next year’s entries may be in very different proportions…Six members of the Bradford MC&LCC are riding in the Senior TT. Two teams have, therefore, been nominated for the club team award: First team, CP Wood (Scott); H
Langhan (Scott); JH Simpson (Scott). Second team, FW Dixon (Indian); RT Cawthorne (Norton); JH Illingworth (Norton)…Much uneasiness was caused last week by the unsportsmanlike attitude of several riders who persistently rode their TT mounts in and about Douglas, revving their engines unnecessarily and deafening everyone with the bellowing of open exhausts. Disqualifications were threatened in consequence of riders taking TT machines on the course during the day. The police took action in one or two instances…Finding their steering somewhat affected by the whipiness of the Beardmore-Precision front forks, the riders damped the springs by wrappings of cord and insulation tape, with beneficial results…Owing to difficulties found in holding the Douglas machines at speed on the bumpy course, the steering rake was modified by using different fork links the steering was then much more controllable…Twist-grip controls were fitted to many machines last week. HE Davies (AJS) used them one morning in practice, but appeared to have reverted to levers again…CP Wood has had a pair of leather breeches dyed Scott purple—his retreating figure offers as good a mark to the camera man as does a scurrying rabbit to the sporting farmer…A much-visited point of interest during practising was Quarter
Bridge, which is only about a mile from Douglas. The corner there is almost a right-angle, and is situated at the foot of an appreciable gradient. It is a sharp main-road bend which may be taken at speeds up to 30-32mph by a good rider…Although the 1922 two-speed Scotts have not the same musical capabilities as the four-speeders used last year, CP Wood’s machine has vocal powers which extend to the first bars of ‘a che la morte’ when accelerating into the distance…On the real hairpin bends the Scotts stick as tightly to the inside as a burr on a blanket…Controlling an Indian appears to be a work of art, judging by the number of things Alexander does all at once with both hands and feet after recovering from such a corner as Governor’s Bridge; Dixon, however, sits like a part of his machine, handling it superbly and accelerating like an arrow from the bow. Dixon’s record practice lap last week necessitated some thrilling riding…”