What the Manx Events have Taught us.
Roll of Honour
Senior Race: A.Bennett (Norton) Speed 61.46 m.p.h.
Junior Race: Kenneth Twemlow (New Imperial) Speed 55.83 m.p.h.
Lightweight Race: Edwin Twemlow (New Imperial) Speed 55.44 m.p.h.
Sidecar Race: J.Tucker (Norton) Speed 51.316 m.p.h.
Ultra Lightweight Race: J.A.Porter (New Gerrard) Speed 51.20 m.p.h.
The Nisbet Award: A.Varzi
There is no occasion for us to dish up a detailed report of this year’s T.T. races, because after all that has been written about these classic events as contests pure and simple, such a report would, at this date, be something like cold mutton for the third day in succession:
It is my purpose, therefore, to deal rather with the lessons which were taught by the races, and to glimpse the future with the only spectacles which ever have been able to probe its obscurity—those of the past.
The outstanding feature of the 1924 Tourist Trophy meeting was that the multiplicity of events detracted from the individual importance of any one of them. It is all very well for the manufacturers to aver, with their tongues in their cheeks, that the prime reason for supporting the Manx races is that of “improving the breed.” In the past, yes, at the present, no.
It is the fact that the events still serve a very valuable purpose in enabling the manufacturers to discover those parts of their products which are most sensitive to abnormal stress and it is an essential corollary thereto, that the later models benefit therefrom.
But I honestly believe that the big plum which dangles temptingly before entrants for T.T. races is advertisement. There is nothing at all to the discredit of the industry in this. Advertising is a legitimate and excellent reason for competing, and those who do not accept it as the prime cause, will certainly admit it as an important one.
It is therefore imperative that the promoters of the races should so plan the events that the winners should reap the harvest which is their just due.
A small boy who has ” blown himself out” at the tuck shop does not look kindly on the lump of sugar which at another time he would covet, and very much the same thing obtains when there is such a feast of racing as that which was provided by this year’s T.T. meeting.
I think that a T.T. limited to two races represents sufficiency, and in saying this, I admit the difficulties of running two events which will serve the entire industry.
Seniors and Juniors.
The differentiation between the types by weight is, I think, ridiculous, and should not be perpetuated. It is surely a ludicrous fact that one of the so-called .” ultra lightweights” was heavier than one of the Seniors. The terms Senior and Junior are ambiguous but comparative, and cannot be improved upon. I do not regard the 350 c.c. machine as a Junior, and would suggest 250 c.c. as the maximum capacity of Junior machines.
We could then have two races, one for machines up to 250 c.c. and the other for machines of more than, that capacity. I cannot look kindly on dropping the passenger race, but since this is “something different,” it might be retained without spoiling the other.
The obvious Roland to my Oliver is that the 175 c.c. machines would not stand a chance against the” 250’s,” and the 350’s ought not to have to compete with the 500’s. But I do not agree’ with this suggestion. A comparison of the average speeds of the five races is misleading, and need not be employed as data upon which to work.
It goes without saying that the Junior or ” clack ” motor cycle is a much faster proposition than the “lightweight,” yet the winning speeds achieved in the Island by the two types were practically the same. Again, it is preposterous to take the verdict of facts as indicated by statistics, and to accept the indication that the ultra lightweight is the most reliable machine under stress. Yet the percentage of finishers was higher among the ” babies ” than among any other type, and this despite their maintaining an astonishingly high speed.
When the lightweight race was added to the Junior event, it suffered from the fact that it had to shine in the reflected glory of the main participants, but that seems a lesser evil than overcrowding the issue, and there seems to be nothing for it but to revert to the decision of Senior and Junior Races, with a class for 350 c.c. machines in the former, and a class for 175 c.c. mounts in the latter.
The Greatest Achievement.
No doubt the finest achievement during the week was that of Alec Bennett, in averaging over sixty-one miles an hour for 226 miles, on a Norton. The marvel of this ride can only properly be realised by those who have been round the course. Any man who can get round the 37.5 miles course which is the T. T. circuit, in under the hour, has something to crow about—to do the circuit in a fraction over thirty-five minutes is wonderful, and to keep on doing it for six laps is superhuman.
To J. H. Simpson (A. J.S.) belongs the credit of getting round in the fastest time, but I think it is a far finer achievement to keep up a terrific pace for 226 miles, and that is why I think that the greatest accomplishment in the Manx races was a personal, rather than a mechanical one.
It has got to be a mighty good machine to get round the course six times at such an average speed. Not only has the power unit to be a highly efficient one, but the constructional side must be good and the brakes must be perfect. Braking plays an important part in Tourist Trophy racing, for the man who can decelerate to the best advantage, has a big pull. A high average speed is certainly resultant upon acceleration and deceleration, rather than on pace only.
I have seen Bennett taking corners in the Isle of Man at an angle which left me gasping. How on earth cohesion between tyres and road surface was maintained I do not know. But with all his spectacular cornering, Bennett is what is known as a” safe ” man.
The Junior Winner.
Kenneth Twemlow did very little dawdling in the Junior Race—there is really not a lot of time for that when you average over 55 miles an hour. But he was slow compared with at least half a dozen other men. Simpson started off by setting up a cracking pace, and the hares stuck it until they fell.
I think that most of us expected the Junior event to develop into a hare and tortoise affair, and many of us were of the opinion that Simpson was aboard a Mumtaz Mahal which wasn’t intended for long distance work. Twemlow was nineteenth at the end of the first lap and I feel quite sure, without looking up any records, that he is the first man to win a race from so lowly a position.
He secured the Trophy because of the many eliminations which occurred, but his was none the less a masterly achievement because of that. He had to face the same hazards, and if he or his ” seconds ” chose to ride to a winning schedule and ignore the mechanically suicidal pace, then it is all the more to their credit that they should have held the trump cards.
A Fraternal Double.
Edwin Twemlow brought off a very remarkable family double when he ” cleaned up “in the Lightweight race. His average speed was practically the same as that of his brother. The conditions were rather better, but I think that this was less responsible for the fast pace than the encouragement of his brother’s victory, for Edwin, unlike Kenneth, was “up among them” all the time. He was, in a way, a lucky winner, because two faster men fell in the last circuit, leaving him to come home alone.
The Best Machine Performance.
Undoubtedly the best machine performance of all was that of the New Gerrard, which J. A. Porter took into first place in the Ultra Lightweight race. Fifty-one miles an hour by a mustard pot engine was phenomenal, and it was the more so having regard to the fact that the Ultras—were really heavyweights.
I did not think that the little fellows would do a single lap at fifty, let alone three, and I certainly expected more than six retirements. I think that we may fairly deduce from the statistical results of this race, that duration is a greater test than speed. What would have happened on a six lap ultra lightweight race, run at the same pace ?
We have no right to say that they would have been crocked, but, on the obverse side of the picture, we are confronted by a greater efficiency percentage on their part than in any other race.
The Norton Double.
The Norton victory in the sidecar, crammed home the measure in the cup of success which has been withheld from the Bracebridge firm for so many years. Tucker rode splendidly throughout, taking risks, as a man must in such an event, and was cleverly and dexterously assisted by his passenger. He hadn’t the speed of Freddie Dixon on the corners, but he was one of the fastest of the competitors on the straight.
Longer Races Wanted.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Tourist Trophy races should be longer. They would be of more real benefit, and they would be just as exciting. Two ten lappers—if the races are to be decided in the Isle of Man next year—and a six lapper for the sidecar, would be an infinitely better programme than that which was promoted for the present year.
The A.C.U. is not to blame. The best of all teachers is experience. But the governing body must accept the teachings. Five races are at least two too many. Consideration should be given to the fact that we are developing power units on a speed basis with practically no regard for other and equally important factors. It would be interesting to know what the petrol consumption of the winners was.
There is no question about the fact that our carburetters to-day are exceedingly wasteful, and by running the T.T. races as was done this year, we are not going in the right direction to foster a more economic instrument. The average motor cyclist, when he learns enough to dabble with his machine, seeks first of all to improve his petrol consumption, and this proves that economic running costs are of major attraction to the owner.
No machine which cannot do at least a hundred miles to the gallon of petrol ought to win a Tourist Trophy race. Many years ago, when there was a petrol consumption test as part of the races, Jack Marshall, on a Triumph, won the race with a petrol consumption of 117.6 miles per gallon.
Not a single one of the ultra-motor cyclettes, let alone the more powerful machines this year, averaged anything like that mileage. Speed is a god whose feet are of clay, and it is more than time that the Auto-Cycle Union devoted some attention to the utilitarian side of its Tourist Trophy races.
I suggest that petrol ” allowances ” be measured out at the start of next year’s races, and that if a man runs out of fuel, then he automatically retires. Otherwise, let us frankly admit that the A.C.U. is a showman concerned primarily with putting on a racing Rodeo, and the manufacturers are prepared to pay big prices for the advertisements which accrue from successful participation.