Yes, the big news from the first TT to use the world famous mountain circuit was the Indian hat-trick; the bare bones of the race are to be found in the timeline. But, as always, there was much more to it than that. What follows is a collection of news stories, letters and gossip written before, during and after the main event. There are also excerpts from contemporary race reports that put flesh on the bare bones of finishing order and speeds…
“IT HAS NOW been settled that the TT motor cycle races be held Friday June 30th, and Monday, July 3rd and the course is to be the one known as the ‘Four Inch’ course, which starts from Douglas and runs to Ballacraine, Glen Helen, Kirkmichael. Ramsey, and over the mountains to Douglas, a distance of about thirty-seven miles.”
JAKE DE ROSIER brought his Indian over from the USA to try his hand at the TT. Rather than heading straight for the Island he spent some time on the mainland and that, inevitably, meant riding motor cycles. The Motor Cycle tracked him down: “We found the great man sitting under one of the gloriously shady trees in Brookman’s Park,
watching the Herts County AC speed trials, and sat down and talked with him. We began by asking what sort of impression England had made on him. “I think it’s fine,” he said, “and your roads are just splendid—the best in the world. You know the reason the sidecar don’t go over there is because the roads are so bad. One moment the machine may be in the centre and the sidecar wheel six inches below in a rut. But see here, do you know what has impressed me most in this country? Why the food! The butter, milk, eggs, vegetables, and even steak tastes better than it does with us, and in the restaurants they don’t just throw it at you. I tell you. it’s more like home.”
“Are you going to race Collier?” we asked. “Well,” he replied, evasively. ” I’ll take on just anyone with an engine under 61in. (1,000cc) after the TT race. But before that all I shall go in for is the Edinburgh run. You see, I’ve been working very hard lately, and I’m out to enjoy myself and I badly need a rest.”
“What is the most popular engine size in the States?” To our surprise, De Rosier said, “The 7hp, especially in the West, where there are mountains. You see, in a country where there is sand and the roads are hilly much power is needed.”
“We presume you have done more track than road work?”
“Yes. You see, I ride for a purpose, namely, to make money. But as regards the tracks themselves, what you people want over here is several tracks specially for motor cycle work, preferably wood, circular, and one-third mile to the lap. Wood, you know, is certainly faster than cement. Try and walk all day on cement and you will feel pretty tired. Do the same thing on wood and the result will be different; there is more give in it. And, by the way, do you know it costs me 200 dollars when I go for a record? I have to pay judges, scorers, and timers, and have to pay for the watches being tested at a jewellers. No, there is no faking now. Only men with a reputation are accepted as officials, and they issue affidavits of the performance, and certificates have to be got for the watches. I admit things were rather muddled formerly, and I have heard of cases in which very inferior watches were used by the timers. Mais nous avons changé tout cela” (De Rosier is a French Canadian).
“Is this your first visit to Europe?”
“Yes, it is, but I’ve travelled a good deal. I am always travelling all over the States and as for experiences I have had plenty. The boys don’t like me. and before now I’ve literally had to fight my way along. One thing, you know, appeals to me, and that is, I’m absolutely independent. I’m in no one’s employ, just on my own, and I like it.”
“But you confine yourself to one make—the Indian?”
“Yes, but that is only because I’ve found it the best.”
“Well, we know you are resting, Mr De Rosier,” we said, “so we won’t disturb you further”; and on taking leave we left the great man enjoying the fun and lazing away the glorious afternoon amid the beauties of English rural scenery that cannot be excelled in any country in the world.
“THE DOUGLAS Jubilee Committee have arranged an elaborate ten days’ programme, starting on Wednesday, June 28th, to celebrate the Coronation of King George, and the jubilee of the town or borough of Douglas…Every day there will be a big event…bowling, shooting, fishing, and tennis competitions and two big musical events. In the evenings there will be competitions for decorated motor cycles. The Jubilee Committee have also under consideration the holding of a flying kilometre race for motor cycles on the cement path of the Douglas Promenade.”
“I SHOULD LIKE to correct an impression that, as someone has put it, ‘I have decided to let motor cycling and competitions severely alone’, ‘for my health’s sake’, ‘leaving it to the young ones’, etc. This impression has doubtless arisen from the fact that for some six or seven months—since the Streatham hill-climb, in fact–I have been incapacitated for riding by an injury to injury to my shoulder and arm, sustained on Snaefell during last TT week. As to motor cycling detrimentally affecting my health, although not in the first bloom of youth, I am never better than when riding. Usually suffering from insomnia and nerves, after a run I almost invariably sleep well, and can certainly recommend motor cycling as beneficial to one’s general health. Contrary to giving up, my efforts are aimed at getting flexibility of the injured members in time to enable me to compete in the TT.”
Jas L Norton
“THE ISLE OF Man people are annoyed that the ACU has threatened to disqualify TT entrants who practise on the TT course before June 22nd. They consider a week insufficient for practising on such a difficult course; besides, they want visitors and their money as early as possible…It is said that there are four TT competitors practising incognito in the island.”
“JUDGING BY the number of manufacturers who are experimenting with variable gears for the Tourist Trophy Races, there is likely to be quite a crop of novelties in this direction, many of which will not be submitted to public inspection until a few days before the dates of the actual events, and so rendering the TT more interesting to the average tourist than in previous years. From information we have received the whole of the various types of variable gear are likely to be employed. These comprise compound and epicyclic gears in back hub and on engine-shaft, counter-shaft gears, and direct gears by means of expanding engine pulleys with without the rear wheel moving in unison to maintain the correct tension of the belt.” Matchless, Humber, New Hudson and Martin were among Junior TT entrants to use three-speed Armstrong-Triplex hubs.
“THE BAT TEAM have never yet exhibited that saving spice of restraint which must go hand in hand with sheer speed if speed is to win; if there is the right dash of soda in the Bat brandy this year, the Colliers will have to go harder than they have ever gone before.
More threatening still, perhaps, is the Indian team. The Hendee quintette contains three men who are humanly certain to finish high up, and two who are as likely to win outright as the Colliers. Alexander, Moorhouse, and Franklin are among the very cream of racing men, though a victory for any of them would come as a surprise. But Godfrey and de Rosier might easily share the first and second places. As the Indian team was early put out of the running by tyre troubles last year, many of us have forgotten how Lee-Evans, when he was practically a novice at road racing, began by leading the Matchless team in the 1909 race, and, finally, in spite of fading engine tune, hunted Collier grimly home.
“De Rosier has a bigger reputation than any man on earth. Godfrey is the ideal motor cycle racing man. His small stature invests the racing position, which is sustained agony for a medium-sized athlete, with comparative comfort. His muscle and stamina are magnificent. His pluck and dash are unrivalled, and his experience is great. A trade expert told me last week he regarded Godfrey as Jack Marshall’s equal in everything but luck; and, to my mind, Godfrey is quite as formidable as de Rosier. The fastest and luckiest couple who survive from the Indian and Matchless teams will, in my opinion, have the finish to themselves.”
“RIDERS WHO have never visited the island cannot imagine what a tax the ascent of Snaefell involves after three or four laps at 50mph. Right at the bottom comes a wicked hairpin bend, of such a kind that nine inexperienced tourists out of ten encountering it unawares for the first time would stop their engines. Immediately above it come two or three miles of tolerably strenuous climbing, and just when a hot engine runs its best chance of being done to the world comes another awful twist, the ill-famed ‘Gooseneck’, above which there remains just sufficient bad gradient to make picking up impossible to any engine that is not ‘just so’.
“Every rider will want all the road to himself at several points; first of all, at the Ramsey hairpin, which commences the mountain climb; secondly, at the top bend or ‘Gooseneck’ on the concluding steep bit of Snaefell. Next, racing abreast and overtaking will be dangerous on the three or four miles between the ‘Gooseneck’ and the Bungalow where the road is narrow. The reckless brigade will be a grave source of danger till remorseless fortune has eliminated them. There will be much skidding as the brakes are applied at the bends and towards the foot, even if the road be dry. If the Manx grease be out, no one knows what will be done or whether it will be possible to hold the race should bad weather prevail.”
“PRACTISING FOR the forthcoming Tourist Trophy Races continued on Monday morning at 3 o’clock in ideal weather. Many competitors completed two circuits, including De Rosier, who took only 43min to complete a circuit on his 7hp Indian (which he is using for pracice), hitting some sheep which strayed on to the mountain road. On Monday riders of Rudge, Triumph, Douglas, Enfield, and New Hudson were in the island. F Straight, secretary of the Auto Cycle Union, arrived in the island on Sunday and examined the warning flags which are placed before every bad corner. Elaborate arrangements are being made for the safety of the competitors in view of the difficult course and very rough road surfaces owing to continued drought. Snaefell is particularly bad and strewn with loose stones. Every morning crowds watch the practising.”
“AMONG THOSE insurance brokers who have arranged for a special policy for competitors in the forthcoming Tourist Trophy Races is Mr EJ Bass, Bishops Stortford, Herts.”
HANDS ACROSS the sea: After The Motor Cycle reported that a large Dutch contingent was heading to The Island for the TT F Rees, secretary of the Mersey MC, wrote: “My club would be very pleased to meet the members of the Dutch Club on their way to Liverpool, and ride with them into the town, also to spend a social evening with them at our headquarters. We will also see them on the boat to the island, as many of our members will be travelling over at the same time.” The ACU invited the 10 Dutch riders to a ‘smoking concert’ at the Sefton Hotel in Douglas. On their way home the Dutchmen were shown round the Royal Enfield factory including a slap-up feed. Their hosts revealed: “The menu card was printed in the Dutch colours, and among the items were ‘chickens from our own En-field’—a little joke which was fully appreciated.”
“WE PREDICT that one of the biggest surprises will be the speed of the Junior TT machines. Some of them will attain a speed of over 55mph, and speeds of 50mph are quite common with these diminutive engines.”
“ASKED WHAT he thought of the course Jake de Rosier, who has been in the island since the first practising morning, said: ‘Well, I think the course is an ideal one for testing a motor cycle, and the man who wins deserves all he gets.’ He did not consider it a strain on the rider, as the race was not long enough. De Rosier has practised on a two-speed 7hp Indian, his TT machine not having arrived from the States until this week. He sustained three falls the second day out–one rather serious tumble which cut his arms badly–but resumed practising two days later.”
“ARRANGEMENTS have been made by The Motor Cycle with a number of firms in London and the leading provincial centres to display a series of telegrams…stating the names of the leading competitors at the end of each lap.” London sites included the Matchless HQ in Plumstead and the ACU, ℅ the RAC in Pall Mall. The ‘provincial’ sites were: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Dublin, Edinburgh, Halifax, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Llandridod Wells, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle on Tyne, Nottingham, St Albans and Sheffield.
THERE WERE 21 singles and 16 twins entered for the Junior; Senior entries were 43 singles and 24 twins comprising: Triumph and Rudge, nine apiece; Matchless, seven; Indian, five; Bat-JAP, Ariel, and Singer, four; Scott, NSU, Zenith, and Dot, three; Blumfield, Premier, Norton, and Rex, two; Bradbury, LMC, MR, Calthorpe and Ivy-Precision, one.
“THE THREE German riders of NSUs have brought over very fast machines, and with Jake de Rosier who has come over specially for the race so confident of sucess, an Englishman will have to put forth all he knows to win. The Collier brothers are again favourites with the crowd.”
“ON THE RACE days there will be depots at Douglas and Ramsey at which spare tyres, petrol, water and lubricating oil may be taken in during running time.” [The first TT featured a 10-minute mid-way break during which the bikes were topped up while the riders drank a refreshing cup of tea.]
SILENCERS WERE no longer compulsory during the races but the ACU warned: “Any competitor driving a machine without a silencer or with a cut-out during practice, or whose machine makes any noise likely to inconvenience other users of the highway, will render himself liable to disqualification.”
“VICTOR J SURRIDGE is dead. The sympathies of the whole of the motor cycling world will be deeply stirred. Victor Surridge was quite in the prime of his youth, and for that reason inclined, perhaps, at times to allow his enthusiasm to outrun his discretion. He had had, however, some considerable experience of motor cycle racing on the track, but this year’s Tourist Trophy Race was to have been his first important contest upon the road. He was but nineteen years of age, and was a fearless rider. It was only a few weeks ago that he broke the hour single-cylinder record at Brooklands [covering 60 miles 783 yards in an hour], and although comparatively a new comer, that wonderful performance gained for him a position amongst the leading riders of the day. His quiet unassuming personality made him popular and beloved amongst all his fellow riders and his numerous friends, and his loss is an irreparable blow to the sport of motor cycling.”
“AT 10AM ON Thursday the competitors in the Junior Race repaired to ‘Woodlands’—the start and finishing point of both races. For this purpose the place is not nearly so good as St. John’s has been on previous occasions, as there is no nice open space in front, and the view is almost as restricted. The timekeepers and their assistants had a comfortable wooden shed built for them, but members of the press had to occupy a room in an unfinished cottage, which commanded a good view of the scoring board, but gave a very limited glimpse of the course. The position of the start was about one and a half miles from Douglas, and was just above the steep slope leading down to Quarter Bridge…The marshals were instructed to keep under observation each machine as it drew up for replenishment, and to enforce the rule that only one attendant was allowed, who should only assist in the replenishment of the machine, all adjustments, repairs, or tyre changes to be done by the rider…”
“HUGH GIBSON (New Hudson), was given the word to go. He got away in good form, changing up as he disappeared from view. Haslam (Zenith Gradua) made an excellent start, his gear giving his machine splendid acceleration, though the engine was rather noisy. Gassert (NSU) got away well, but dropped an oil tin off his machine as soon as he was in the saddle. Sain (Alcyon) started with some difficulty with his stand down…another incident was the loss by Boldt (NSU) of one of the inlet valve tappets of his engine, so that be continued to drive with one valve working mechanically and the
other automatically…A quarter-mile beyond Sulby Bridge Rem Fowler ran over a stone which pitched him off, injuring his knee and breaking his carburetter control, which he repaired with wire…Fletcher, who also stopped, went off in blissful ignorance with some spilt petrol alight on his machine which had been set fire to by the exhaust… Wilberforce’s two-speed gear seized up and caused him to be thrown over the handle-bars. Fortunately Dr O’Kalferty was hard by, and, after examining him, he reported that the sufferer was more affected by shock than anything else. Tumbles were by no means rare, but poor Wilberforce’s contretemps was the only really bad fall. He was removed on a stretcher hastily rigged up by the Boy Scouts…”What a crackle the new overhead JAP has! A lighter and more continuous buzz signalled the approach of a fast machine, which overtook and passed Gassert on the steepest gradient with ease. It was Colver on the Enfield, which was travelling magnificently…Sain made a fine climb on his single-geared Alcyon, but the rear mudguard was bouncing up and down alarmingly…AH Alexander had to run alongside on two occasions until his Rex picked up speed.
“Penn managed to keep his Humber going by vigorous digs on the ground with his right leg. PJ Evans (Humber) had not fastened his spare belt on the carrier securely, for it was dangling down in dangerous proximity to the rear wheel as he passed…WW Douglas’s twin purred along very smoothly.
“E Kickham (Douglas) held unconcernedly between his lips an unlighted cigarette. The Douglas riders were not out to take risks with an idea of winning, but to make a good performance on their standard two-speed machines; all credit to them! V Wilberforce had a spare tube tied round his waist, which came adrift, and his confrere, GL Fletcher, rode alongside to acquaint him of the fact. Making a speech at 30-35mph is not exactly an easy matter…WE Grange was obviously quite happy, waving his hand to friends as he sped up the 1 in 10 gradient on his Humber…Cox was the only one who came close to fouling the bridge, and just avoided a fall by pushing at the parapet with his hands…the hairpin work was gorgeously magnificent. The men tackled the U in various ways. Some swung wide, some cut in, but every man observed supreme caution. They ran up to within 100 yards as fast as their engines could yank them then up went the valves, and round they crawled, like mice suspicious of a bit of cheese…there were no thrills, no frame-twisting, no scraped back tyres, no ditch-shaving…
“Weatherilt undoubtedly picked up best above the U—his engine bellowed like a stampeded herd of a thousand bulls. Alexander was overheating, and his sprint alongside until out of sight was as plucky as it was pathetic…An assortment of the prettiest girls were obviously infatuated with a certain good-looking marshal. A horde of small boys continually proffered ha’pence for the red and blue air balloons which two wide- awake attendants had tied to the palings to inform their man where his petrol lay.
“I had barely joined the crowd before Colver shot in on his Enfield, and made a greased lightning replenishment of both tanks in fifty-four seconds…Graham Dixon squeezed the adjustment of his valve-lifter, plus two tank fillings, into 110 seconds… Weatherilt actually managed to hold down the stiff spring of his overhead valve JAP with the fingers of one hand—no mean feat! Genial John Gibson was dividing his attention between a packet of sandwiches, a pair of field-glasses, a score of venturesome urchins, and his mount for Monday’s race, a brand new Rudge with the expanding engine pulley and rear belt rim…Another neck and neck at the corner was put up by Sam Wright and Fletcher, both of whom actually took the corner as if joined by coupling rods. The width after the turn was insufficient for the redoubtable Sam, who promptly ran over the grass bank on to the footpath, upon which he ran a few hundred yards, and succeeded in finding a soft place for diving across into the road again…
“When WE Grange on the sixth and last Humber roared healthily past the Humber attendants became pardonably and enviably hysterical. They tied two laths to the screen of their supply car, stretched an old sheet across, and rudely scrawled thereon with lampblack the legend ‘Humber wins!’ Tying two or three gaudy air balloons on behind, they were ready for a triumphal procession into Douglas… As was anticipated, Evans (2¾hp Humber) finished an easy first, and was heartily received on his arrival; in fact, it was a most popular win. HA Collier (2hp Matchless), the second man, also received an ovation. Cox (2¾hp Forward), who had the honour of being the first private owner to finish, came in third, and received an enthusiastic welcome. Evans made by no means a non-stop run. as his tool bag came off, he lost a spare belt, and had to stop to put up his stand, which had fallen. C Collier suffered belt and other troubles. Douglas Brown, of whom the islanders were justly proud, stopped too soon and had to walk in, and curiously enough his petrol pipe union became unscrewed just as he pulled up…”
PJ EVANS, who was the popular winner of the Junior Tourist Trophy Race, is quite a novice as regards road racing. He is a well-known motor cycle agent in Birmingham, and up to the present has devoted his attention chiefly to local club competitions. Meeting him at the conclusion of his splendid ride, we exchanged the usual greetings, and asked him how he had fared.
“Quite nicely,” replied Mr Evans. “Naturally, I had to slow up for the corners, but the course, which is not too terrible if taken carefully, did not cause me much trouble, though, as you know, I did not make an absolutely non-stop run.”
“Had you many exciting experiences?”
“No,” replied our victim, ” except that I had no foot brake for the last part of the course, and had to rest my foot on the silencer. You see the sole of my boot is half burnt away.”
” You look pretty fit after your strenuous ride? ” we ventured.
“Yes,” replied Evans, “and I feel it.”
“What gears did you use, Mr Evans?”
“The ratios were 4, 6, and 8½ to 1.”
“And did your gear give you any trouble?
“No, not the slightest. I consider it to be nearly
As Evans had sprung to fame suddenly from comparative obscurity, others monopolised him, and we were forced to renew our congratulations and say good-bye. Noteworthy features of his driving were his consideration for others, calmness, skill, and caution.”
“A RIGHT SUNNY morning with a cloudless sky gave promise of a magnificent race, under the most favourable conditions, which expectation was fulfilled. Excitement in this event had almost reached fever heat, and there was no doubt that the higher-powered machines commanded the most attention…People spoke with bated breath of the terrific speed of De Rosier, Godfrey, and Moorhouse on their Indians, and the Collier brothers and their Matchless machines, the likelihood of Philipp and his Scott getting home first, and the corner work of the fearless Bat trio…
“Especially good starts were made by HA Collier (Matchless), Edmond (Premier), and Newsome (Triumph). CE Murphy and JA Carvill, amateur riders of Triumphs from the Green Isle, received a big cheer. HH Bowen (Bat) took mighty strides, slipped, and almost fell. W. Creyton (Triumph) trod on the brake in mounting, and promptly brought his machine to rest. JL Norton, the eldest competitor, received an extra special cheer. Philipp, in violet coloured leather costume to match his Scott, shot away from the mark at the word to go and was quickly out of sight. De Rosier’s attire was even more striking, for he wore black tights, running shoes, and a light blue woollen hat. He got away well. The brothers Bashall made fine starts on their Bats…The last rider to start–B Plews (3½hp Calthorpe)—ran for sixty yards before his engine would fire…
“Charlie Collier was not long in appearing at the Ramsey hairpin, and had gained 2min on Quentin Smith, who, in turn, had left Rem Fowler behind. Harry Collier had already picked up three places, and other men who were clearly passing up through the field were Applebee (4hp Scott), who had gained three places; Franklin (Indian), four places; Carvill (Triumph), four places; Godfrey (Indian), eight places; Creyton (Triumph), eight places; Moorhouse (Indian), eleven places; Philipp (Scott), fifteen places; de Rosier (Indian), eleven places ; and Mason (Matchless), fourteen places…The enthusiasm had certainly never been equalled in any previous race. For one thing, the race was more of an international character than any other held hitherto, for not only were the English and American champions engaged, but also a team of Germans, who were certainly going very well, and a Frenchman…
“Forty-four minutes and no Collier, forty-five and still absent, forty-six and a cry went up as he swept round the Hilberry corner, and shot full speed down Bray Hill, and literally flew over the line in 46min 33sec…Collier was noticeably being bumped about considerably on the rough surface at the summit of Quarter Bridge hill…Edmond (Premier) pulled up as he crossed the line, and yelled out for a knife to cut his legging adrift. De Rosier was travelling magnificently, and had picked up several places. His time was 45min exact—the best so far. Elce (Rudge) and North (Ariel) raced down the hill neck and neck, the former crossing the line fifty yards ahead. Adamson (Triumph) was the fastest of the single-cylinders in this first lap. Weatherilt (Zenith) suffered a burst tyre, and lost some minutes replacing the tube…TL Rankin (Singer) charged a wall a quarter of a mile past Sulby Bridge, and was taken to Ramsey Hospital suffering from serious injuries to the skull, besides a broken ankle…CE Murphy (Triumph) suffered from plug troubles, and after using all his spares was obliged io withdraw.
“The ranks of the Bat were soon depleted, for HH Bowen damaged a front big end at Greg Willey, and though he did his best to keep going was forced to retire at Sulby…A rider who was going in fine style was Albert Berlie on a new model MR with overhead valves and bore and stroke of 63 by 80mm. But for the fact that his three-ply leather belt pulled through at the fastener three times he would have had to be reckoned with in the results…WF Newsome stopped for some mysterious reason near the Bungalow. Newsome first took out the plug, which was found all right, then dissected the carburetter (likewise all right), and on reassembling the engine started immediately…Prendergast broke the wire actuating his NSU gear, and being unable to negotiate the mountain road on his 4 to 1 top gear, had thus early to retire. What I saw at this hairpin convinced me that a twin-cylinder victory was inevitable. Almost all the singles ‘conked’ badly after negotiating the bend, and even when the knocking ceased their acceleration was not speedy. I saw very little gear changing, and it struck me that the two-speeded men were finding their low ratio too slow and their high ratio too high…Stanhope Spencer took a bad toss, but savagely kicked all bent parts straight, and roared off within two minutes…Johnson nearly mulled the corner, as he was bending down adjusting some detail, but he saved himself magnificently at the last minute…
“Returning to the Ramsey depot, to my astonishment I found the redoubtable Jake in trouble with his footrest, rear inlet valve, and rear sparking plug. He was very shaky, and quite unfit for mechanical adjustments, and after wasting a lot of time and breaking the rules, despite official protests, by taking a nut and a plug from his attendants, he departed very late. Hard luck! One’s sympathy goes out to a visitor; his terrific speed and beautiful riding position had won universal admiration.
“JR Alexander had taken an ugly toss; his knee was cut, his footrests gone, and his right grip control of ignition and valve lift disorganised. John Gibson, who had previously been well up amongst the singles, lost 20min replacing a stretched exhaust valve…Quite the most awe-inspiring passage was that of Philipp (Scott), who came up to the bridge all out, left the ground a clear foot, and landed with a tremendous bump some six yards ahead…Frank Philipp passed with his engine running on one cylinder. He afterwards reported that one of the pistons had turned round in the cylinder…W Creyton (Triumph), last year’s first single-cylinder rider, had the compression tap blow out, and thus settled his chance…
“The last lap was the most exciting of the lot, for it was still anybody’s race, and a short involuntary stop by any of the leaders would settle the destination of the Tourist Trophy for another year…Watch in hand, Mr HH Collier, the senior of the Matchless firm, counted each minute, the crowd straining their ears to catch the distant roar of Godfrey’s Indian. “Here it is,” the cry went up, as Godfrey swooped round the bend and covered the remaining distance at an awe-inspiring speed, a winner for the first time by 1min 3sec. Though his mount is a foreign one, Oliver C Godfrey is an Englishman bred and born…Quite a number had not completed their fourth lap as the winners completed the full distance—187½ miles…[The first six past the post were OC Godfrey (Indian), CR Collier (Matchless), CB Franklin (Indian), AJ Moorhouse (Indian). HA Collier (Matchless) and Hugh Mason (Matchless).]…In the last lap, Howard Smith, still unfortunate, replaced a belt and the thread of his 1910 pattern carburetter stripped, which meant that he had to hold the carburetter on to the engine for some miles…Weatherilt had another stop to inflate his rear tyre…F Mackay fell and damaged his Singer, putting both brakes out of action, but he pluckily finished.
“In all there were twenty-eight survivors…Subsequently a protest was lodged by CB Franklin and AJ Moorhouse against CE Collier on the grounds that he infringed one of the regulations by taking in petrol at a point other than the recognised controls…The judges considered the protest and decided that it be upheld. The same fate befell Jake de
Rosier for fitting new parts not carried on his machine…The first six home had V type engines and change-speed gears. The first single-cylinder machine was a Triumph ridden by JA Carvill, a successful Irish rider…
“GODFREY’S SUCCESS was an extremely popular one, and his face beamed with joy on being informed of his success. WH Wells seized him by the arm and paraded past the crowd at the enclosure, amid cheers from the spectators. The race was well won, but it had been a terrible strain on the riders.
“Godfrey won a most uneventful TT, having practically no enforced stops at all. He filled up with petrol at the end of the second lap, but had no other occasion to visit the depots. The Indian mechanical oiler worked perfectly, and it was only on the last lap that the hand pump was used as a measure of precaution, as, at the Ramsey hairpin, CE Murphy had signalled to Godfrey the position he lay in by holding up a single portentous finger. Godfrey was not aware or had any idea of the positions he held during the race up to that point, and henceforward the speed was piled on, the machine not having previously been opened to the last notch. The low gear was used practically only for the hairpin bend on Snaefall and for picking up after the ‘gooseneck’.
“There were only two incidents of any note. A sparrow flew into the driving chain near Sulby, and got badly mangled, causing the breakage of eight chain rollers, and afterwards Godfrey had a narrow squeak passing another competitor near Crag-na-Baa. The man in front was on his wrong side, and Godfrey had to go wide over some very rough ground. His only bit of scrapping was with HA Collier, whom he managed to pass between Quarter Bridge and Crosby.
“An hour after the finish, when other competitors were still encircling the course, Godfrey was in bed in peaceful slumber.”
“THE DEAREST dream of all those who have had the development of the motor cycle at heart has been at last realised—almost every machine in the Junior event was fitted with a change-speed gear, and there were but four single-geared motor cycles in the whole list of entrants. The race, therefore, has shown up the reliability of change-speed gears in general and one make in particular, as the first four machines to finish were fitted with this form of gear. It is true that certain gears gave trouble, but this is a good thing for the manufacturers of them, as they can now readily locate the cause and remedy it without delay. Not one of the single-geared machines came in for a place, and in consequence this state of affairs is exceedingly gratifying to us who for so many years have advocated the use of change-speed gears on motor bicycles.”
“THE FLYING kilometre trials were run off on Douglas Promenade in a depressing drizzle, and in the presence of fully 40,000 spectators. The wet made the concrete track extremely tricky, and the officials wisely cancelled the second half of the programme in which the competitors were to take a return run in the opposite direction. Notably Harry Martin lost a good deal of time through the rather haphazard manner in which the signal that the competitors had passed the finishing line was given. De Rosier made a good burst of speed, but was never all out, and he started cutting out a hundred yards before the line. In stopping he had to correct a decided wobble.” Nonetheless De Rosier (7hp Indian) set the fastest time at 29.6sec (75.6mph) followed by HD Shaw on another Indian (31.8sec/70.3mph) and JJ Cookson (7hp Matchless-JAP, 36sec/62.1mph).”
JAKE DE ROSIER wrote to The Motor Cycle: “I take great pleasure in writing a few lines to you before I depart for America. In reference to the TT Race, I am not the kind of
rider that generally makes excuses in regard to a race, because I do not believe in doing so; but since that event I have read in your journal accounts of the different excuses of the troubles experienced bv some of the competitors, but it seemed to me that my real trouble was always left out.
“The real reason for my not making such a good show ing, and being amongst the ‘also rans’, as someone puts it, was simply through my carelessness—which I admit—in not having my toolbag securely strapped up the way it should have been. On my first lap of the race you no doubt noticed that I was travelling pretty well amongst the leaders, but during that lap I lost all my spare parts and tools out of my toolbag, which left me with nothing to repair the machine with.
“When my trouble commenced, I could have fixed it in a very few seconds if I had had the parts and tools to do it with; but I was compelled to continue riding until I had my fall half a mile from Sulby Bridge, from where I was obliged to start on one cylinder and ride three miles into Ramsey. With my tools and an extra spark plug, I could have continued, and been amongst the leaders.
“I noticed in an article in your paper some time ago one of your contributors described me as not much of a mechanic. It is pretty hard to be a mechanic in the position I was in with no tools. In order to continue in the race I had to borrow tools and spare parts at Ramsey to get my machine in running order. I did this after I knew that I was out of the winning position, and because I have never had the name of being a quitter. I knew very well that 1 was going to be disqualified.
“I thank you very much for the way your paper has generally treated me since I have been in England, and I would like to say that the English motor cyclists are the best lot of sportsmen I have ever met.”
“THE WINNING machine’s average speed of nearly 42mph over so stiff a course has surprised everybody, and the most sanguine anticipated that the inevitable variable gears would be freakish in design, and unreliable in the race. Now that the race is over, you have to hunt for the ACU’s critics with a searchlight. For the fastest Juniors—riding variably-geared medium-weights—beat more than half the field of the Seniors for sheer speed, and so far as reliability goes, in the Junior event, 21 starters out of 34 finished four laps, ie 62%, and in the Senior event, 33 starters out of 60 completed four laps, ie 65%. The race has, therefore, shown that over as difficult a course as can be found the variably-geared lightweight is the equal of the standard touring roadsters, the advantages of the latter being increased speed and power for passenger work.
“Compared with the Junior event, the Senior race can only claim a sporting interest. Its technical and evolutionary value is small by contrast. The ‘ashes’ have gone to America, and if there is a Senior Race next year, it will give British manufacturers an opportunity to recover lost kudos from foreign shores. America has always concentrated on the big twin. We in England plump for the ultra-efficient 3½hp single. America thirsts for speed before all else; we rank touring efficiency and convenience foremost, and racing is the pastime of a small minority. A remunerative share of our motor cycle market can only be secured and kept by thrashing us with the 3½hp single-cylinder, and the Americans have a very long furrow to hoe before they can approach us in that direction.”
BILLY WELLS, on behalf of The Hendee Manufacturing Co, gleefully turned his sarcasm knob to 11: “We have read with interest the last issue of The Motor Cycle, both literally and between the lines, and we have come to the conclusion that the fact of an American machine being so successful in the recent Tourist Trophy Race has been exceedingly painful to your editorial staff.
“It really is quite a pity that anything but a British-made machine should win this event; in fact, it really is not fair that any other country than England should exist in this large world, and if you are ready to start a crusade to oust all American stuff, let us know and we will be with you. It really is not right that all these British firms should be using American typewriting machines, it is not right that the biggest cycle and motor factories in the Midlands should be so fully equipped with American and German machinery. Nor is it right that British papers should utilise the wonderful inventions of the Germans and Americans to aid them in getting out quick copy. I am sure that Godfrey, Franklin, and Moorhouse were most unloyal when they essayed to ride any other than a British machine. They have all got plenty of money, and there was no reason in the world why they should ride a machine which would bring them in the £sd. I feel sure they would have been perfectly satisfied had they ridden British machines and been amongst the ‘also rans’.
“What a pity it is that so many firms in the Midlands use German magnetos on their ‘all-British’ machines. Why not get after them hot and heavy? Try and convince them that any old magneto will do as long as it is British. The same applies to tyres, and we certainly expect that next week you will get after the Humber Co good and strong for daring to let any of their riders use a tyre which is not ‘all-British’ make.
“Keep up the good work. You will undoubtedly have our small contribution weekly for advertising space, and all this helps in the crusade. Let us reverse the socialist cry of ‘Britain for the British’ and let us have ‘British for the Britons’. We cannot help but note with interest the winding up of your editorial article, and we hope to have the pleasure before long of hoeing a long furrow to your complete disgust. What we have done with twins we can do with singles. Just make a memorandum of this, as we may have to remind you of it a little later on.”
INEVITABLY WELLS’ letter attracted an editorial postscript: “So far as the first part of our correspondent’s letter is concerned it deals with a letter written by Mr AC Davison, and we must leave him to reply. Touching the last paragraph, this refers to our leading article last week, and we should like to point out that we made no sort of comment which could be translated into a feeling of disgust should the Americans do as well with the single-cylinder engine as they have done with the twin. We should like to ask our correspondent if he has forgotten the prominence given in our columns to his victory? We know of no other country in which a foreign victory would be thus impartially dealt with. We can mention this with good grace, as we do not parade it as a virtue but merely mention it as a characteristic—Ed.”
EQUALLY INEVITABLY a series of letters appeared in the Blue ‘Un accusing Godfrey and the other Indian-mounted Brits of displaying a lack of patriotism, pointing out that Collier was the faster riders on the day.
ONE ENTHUSIAST was distinctly unimpressed by Godfrey’s Senior win on an Indian: “If a foreign machine ridden by a foreigner of any nationality can win, by all means let us congratulate him, and then learn what we can from his victory, but for our best riders to select such machines for their mounts to assist the astute Yankee to sell them here, instead of allowing him to demonstrate their merits himself, is poor patriotism and commercial lunacy.”
IXION WAXED lyrical about his trip to Manxland: “I am coming to regard the Isle of Man as the motor cyclist’s Mecca. What a contrast it provides with England. As I rode up from Northampton to Birkenhead on the Wednesday before the race, my TT Rudge won many a sour look along the road—the dust it kicked up, the nervous tremor its healthy bark sent quivering down the spinal cords of horses, the peculiar confusion its mere presence on the highway occasioned in the timid bosoms of elderly ladies; we felt we were only tolerated on the roads, and that a majority of the populace. would possibly welcome our entire suppression…
“It is true the voyage across is an unpleasant business; it grieves the heart to see thirty or forty machines chucked in a bristly mass against a bulkhead, and roughly lashed together. It is an odious business to lug a heavy machine up a hundred steep steps at low tide, and haggle with a surging crowd of cadging Manx porters. But once landed, one forgets the disagreeables. The sporting islanders welcome us with enthusiasm, and tacitly suspend their speed laws for our benefits. They prefer us to roar through their villages at forty miles an hour; the buxom Manx wives kiss their hands. the men cheer, the kiddies wave. I am a patriot to the backbone, and my old friend Billy Wells will pardon me for saying I should like to have seen an English machine first as well as an English rider; but one crumb of comfort we all got from the red Indian’s smashing victory—there had been talk of bringing the TT series to an end; but now, after its licking, the English trade cannot decently dispense with at least one more race…
“Once landed in the Island, there is much to be done in the intervals of waiting for the great day. The younger and more sportive visitors remove all impedimenta from their carriers, tie a gaudily coloured cushion thereon, and spend their leisure giving free pillion rides to dashing little flappers from the cardrooms of the Lancashire cotton mills, who spend their ‘wakes’ week in Douglas, and have susceptible hearts where a handsome youth in gaiters is concerned…One youth secured his fair passenger in Atholl Street, and having no free engine, was fain to first of all seat her on the carrier, then push off, step on his footrest, and throw his right leg forward over the tank. In this process he kicked his handlebar. He flew off towards the port side, she towards the starboard, and the bicycle continued alone, though not for far. Remounting, an Irish terrier fetched them both off again within ten yards. But the sporting lassie fra’ Lancashire did not mind in the least, and when I next sighted the intrepid couple they were taking a beautiful toss at the Ramsey hairpin in an effort to surmount Snaefell. Another rider of repute was foolish enough to make the acquaintance of a lady of the shuttle late one night during the fireworks; and when they met next morning bv daylight, he discovered her most striking feature was a long and fearsome tusk, which projected frightfully from an otherwise no doubt beautiful mouth….
“In the Senior event I think Jake de Rosier showed himself to be as fine a rider as there is in the world. He handled his machine magnificently, and his riding position is absolutely perfect. We must remember it is rather a task to ride in a foreign land, through crowds of spectators who would obviously prefer to see their own countrymen victorious, and Jake put up a very fine race. In two points he has something to learn. He is by no means as good a cornerman as many of our own boys, for his speed experience has mostly been gained on the track, and he seems to know very little about ‘cutting in’, though in wide work he is probably faster than any English rider who takes his bends far out. It further struck me that he is more of a rider than a mechanic. It may be unfair to judge a man on a performance accomplished when he has said goodbye to all chance of a win which he has travelled thousands of miles to gain, and when he is physically exhausted by four trying laps at 45 miles an hour, but Jake’s work in the endeavour to put two or three very trifling details to rights at the Ramsey control was very poor. He fumbled and muddled and lost a deal of time that might have been saved. His flying kilometre on the Wednesday morning ridden against the wind was a great deal better than 75mph sounds, riding on a narrow curving track slippery with rain. His famous 7hp ‘No 21’ is a beautiful machine, lighter than most low-powered touring machines, and wheeling with extraordinary ease when the valve lifters are in operation.”
ALSO FROM the Motor Cycle’s correspondence pages: “I cannot, help referring to the disgusting and dangerous conduct of many of the motor cyclists attending the TT meeting in the island—conduct which must eventually close to us the only roads open for speed trials. The way the promenade was crowded with mad motorists was certainly most dangerous, but luckily no accidents occurred to those immodest women who seemed to let all decency fly. Possibly these motor cyclists will remember that the Sahara Desert will soon become the only speed trial ground left to us if such conduct is persisted in. Where, were the police?”
WHICH ELICITED the following from Ixion: “I think ‘Sunlight’ takes rather a jaundiced view of what happened on Douglas promenade during the Manx Week. Last year a few riders were undoubtedly guilty of most disgusting and ungentlemanly conduct, especially in a certain skating rink, but I fail to see that any but the most strait-laced and puritanical critic could take exception on ground of public decency to the carrier riding which was seen along the front this year.
“The ‘immodest women’ who, according to ‘Sunlight’, ‘let all decency fly’ were in most instances, quite young girls from the Lancashire cotton mills enjoying what struck them as a tremendous lark in all innocency. I admit the practice can be deprecated from the standpoint of danger, as many of the machines were driven rather recklessly at considerable speeds, but there was no other obvious reason for the police interference which ‘Sunlight’ appears to have desired.
“An objectionable element is, of course, usually present when a crowd of high spirited young men are collected together, and this year’s race was no exception. A number of motor cyclists were requested to leave a certain hotel in which they had taken rooms, the police were called into another house, and certain competitors were so intoxicated during a part of the practice that the heads of their firms seriously contemplated withdrawing an entry or two. Personally, I thought the average standard of conduct in the Isle of Man was as high as could be expected, and that the objectionable element who lose no opportunity of bringing discredit upon us were kept in the background as far as possible. Certainly there is no fear of our being unwelcome at Douglas should we seek permission to hold another race.
“I should, however, like to see the ACU exercise discretion in the selection of competitors and cancel the entries of riders who are known to have been frequently intoxicated during practice. There should be no difficulty in making it an invitation race, when known undesirables could easily be excluded.”
ANOTHER correspondent reported: “Referring to the correspondence in The Motor Cycle regarding conduct in the Isle of Man daring TT race week. One youth was checked to ride a TT mount past the house I was staying at on Douglas Promenade forty-seven times on Sunday, July 2nd, with the exhaust pipe out of silencer resting on magneto chain cover and making a dreadful noise. Several motor cyclists made some wild remarks about his conduct. I think the Douglas authorities will fight against another race meeting being held on the island after such exhibitions as the above, and not the only example. The only question I will ask is, why don’t such men enter for the race?”
DISSATISFACTION with the TT extended to the transport arrangements: “I should like lo give my experience when visiting the Isle of Man, particularly regarding the transport of machines on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co’s boats. No provision or help is given in getting machines on board, or in stowing them when they are there.
“On arrival at Fleetwood with a heavy 8hp twin and sidecar I found a narrow gangway leading to the upper deck which was twenty feet above the quayside. There was no gangway to the lower deck, which was almost level. On enquiry I was told I had to get my sidecar aboard myself, the company’s hands refusing to touch it. The sidecar was detached, and with outside help was carried to the upper deck, and we were then promptly told to carry it down below. After protests it was got down. Then came the machine, which weighs 300lb. This also reached the upper deck, and we found a corner out of everyone’s way into which it was stowed.
“In the meantime several other motor cyclists had arrived, some with and some without sidecars. On seeing this the captain came and insisted on my taking my machine down to the lower deck, stating as the reason that others would want to put their machines on the upper deck. I pointed out that if a gangway was put to the lower deck from the shore the others could wheel their machines aboard without having to carry them up and then down again, but this was not done. The other arrivals and I had a consultation, and we then approached the railway company, who own the dock, and got one of the large cranes at work, for which, of course, they had to pay.
“Though we had return tickets we preferred to forfeit them and travel back via Heysham. By this route the treatment was the exact reverse. We were assisted aboard at Douglas. All the help we needed (in fact there was no necessity personally to touch the machines) was cheerfully given in stowing and lashing them, and then they were carefully covered and could not possibly get damp or wet. These operations were done under the supervision of one of the chief officers. At Heysham, on arrival of the Manxman, the machines are lifted ashore by electric cranes complete without detaching sidecar, and a petrol store is close by where fuel is supplied by the Midland Railway Company. On the return journey fifteen out of the twenty-two motor cyclists with machines aboard stated they had forfeited their return tickets rather than go back the other way, so I presume I was no more unfortunate than many others.
“AT THE INQUEST on the body of poor Surridge, held at the Glen Helen Hotel on Tuesday of last week, a verdict of ‘Accidental death’ was read out by the Coroner, who expressed the sympathy of the jury with the relatives of the deceased. The Auto Cycle Union, through its legal adviser, also tendered the deepest sympathy with the relatives, and spoke on behalf of all the competitors who were present in the island. The jury agreed with the verdict, but recommended that the ACU should shorten the course on any future occasion, and stated that the reason for coming to that opinion was the number of bends on the course and the difficulty competitors had in remembering them all.
“The Coroner and the legal representative of the ACU then pointed out that the length and nature of the course had nothing to do with the accident, as the point where it occurred was part of the old or shorter course. The Coroner mentioned that, although the jury had the right to express an opinion of that kind, it formed no part of the verdict. Red banners were at each awkward turning, and competitors were warned by them. Judging by local reports, there was some jealousy this year in Peel and district because the new course embraced Douglas and neglected the Western portion of the island, and this may have had something to do with the jury’s rider.”
“THE PARTY of Dutch motor cyclists who visited the island especially for the TT Races attracted much attention. They all carried tiny flags on the handle-bars.”
“A HALF-CROWN sweepstake was organised in connection with the TT by the ACU officials at the Sefton Hotel, the pool being £50. VA Holroyd drew the winner and received £25; Owen Clegg second, £15; and CH Bramley third, £10. Ten per cent of the total was deducted as a contribution to the Douglas Hospital.”
“IT MAY SEEM very early indeed to talk about regulations for the 1912 Tourist Trophy Races, but if we are to see this contest held again another year it would be distinctly advantageous, particularly to the manufacturers of the machines, if the
Competitions Committee of the ACU could meet as early as possible and settle the lines upon which the races are to be run. It is evident that it would greatly assist the industry if the 1912 TT models could be exhibited at the Show in November. All the lessons we are likely to learn from the 1911 races have been duly absorbed, and there is really no reason why there should be any delay in announcing the regulations for another year. The all-important questions seem to be (1) Are we to level up the singles with the twins of 585cc, (2) or further cut down the twins to the 500cc single-cylinder standard, or (3) shall the difference be settled by mutual concessions?
“The TT machine is, with modifications, usually the touring mount of the following year. Why not be still further advanced and exhibit the 1912 touring and racing mounts together? While on this subject various suggestions have been made for lessening, if possible, the danger of racing at high speeds on a twisty course. The suggestion to limit the speed and develop the contest into a high-speed reliability trial is a distinctly good one. We further suggest the adoption of a formula taking into account weight of the machine and rider, speed, and cylinder capacity.”
THE ISLE of Man TT had once again been a great success, but its future was by no means assured. The Manufacturers’ Union threatened to ‘abstain’ from the 1912 TT if it was held on The Island, giving no less than five reasons:
1: The TT was not held under ‘tourist’ conditions—“TT” was “a farcial misnomer” and “the machines employed do not foster the improvement of the ordinary touring motor cycle”.
2: Twins and singles raced against each other but the twins were allowed bigger engines and had won both of the 1911 races, giving singles, which most manufacturers made, no chance.
3: Racing on the Island was hugely expensive. Most manufacturers had London agencies within easy reach of Brooklands, making the Surrey track a much cheaper alternative.
4: Manufacturers were annoyed by the way representatives of accessory manufacturers “leave no stone unturned to induce the riders, and the representatives of the firms whose machines they ride, to change various fittings and accessories with the bribe that if victory in the races should accompany the use of their particular brand of tyres or accessories, a money prize will be offered in addition to the prizes awarded by the promoters of the contest.” The manufacturers did “not approve of their riders being more or less tampered with when they are out of their control”.
5: “The general holiday surroundings at a sea-side resort like Douglas are not conducive to that thorough training and self-restraint which a severe contest like the TT Race imposes on those who take part in it. No one objects to a little harmless amusement at times like the Tourist Trophy week, but the unfortunate variety of taste shown in the forms of that amusement does not by any means promote the health or sobriety of some of the competitors, with the result that a few—fortunately they are very much in the minority—who are not sufficiently strong-minded to resist temptation, instead of coming to the post with clear heads and strong nerves, are physically unfit to take part in any strenuous form of competition.”
The Motor Cycle commented: “It is possible that the Auto Cycle Union will hold the race in the Isle of Man despite the decision of many of the makers, and if it does, we hope that the, rules will be so formulated that the vexatious method under review will be entirely eliminated.”
Within a week the ACU had indeed decided to stick with the Isle of Man TT. The Blue ‘Un was pleased: “The Union would not be fulfilling its duty if it allowed such a magnificent event as the Tourist Trophy to sink into oblivion. This event, which is looked forward to with the greatest interest by practically every motorcyclist in the United Kingdom and the British dominions beyond the seas, is the only road race we are allowed to have. It is a test for man and machine which can be obtained in no other way, and beside it a long-distance race on Brooklands is dreary, tame, and boresome to a degree.
“At Brooklands we see the men rush past the fork, see them tear beneath the members’ bridge, look at them speeding down the railway straight the same scene is witnessed from every point of view. Let our readers carry their imagination to the Snaefell course and compare this dreary procession with the corner work at the Ramsey hairpin and Devil’s Elbow, the rush down the mountain road, the exciting anticipation of the arrival of the leading man at Woodlands, the thrills to be witnessed at every turn. The element of danger appeals to every true sportsman the nature of the course tests every minute detail in the machine—particularly variable gears. Is all this to pass away, and is the movement so soon to lead the humdrum existence to which the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has brought automobilism? We hope not, and trust that every man will subscribe his mite to help the ACU to run the race.”