The International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy Races 1926 A WEEK OF THRILLS IN THE ISLE OF MAN.
THE JUNIOR T.T. RACE.
IT is a remarkable fact that, however often the T.T. is may be marred by bad weather con ditions, the actual race days are almost invariably blessed with sunshine. Monday, June 14th, was no exception to this rule, and at 10 a.m. W. L. Handley set out to defend his title as bolder of the Junior Tourist Trophy. His Rex-Acme accelerated well and was followed at 30 second intervals by several previous winners and other competitors, most of the machines starting readily in spite of lying cold for about twenty hours. A few minutes after the 62nd and last man (Varzi, on a 350 c.c. Garelli) had been despatcl:ed, Handley roared past the stands, having lapped at 66 m.p.h., a record for the Junior race. Bennett (Velocette) and Parker (Douglas) both stopped at their pits for replenishment and adjustments respectively, both having performed fast laps. Dixon, also on a Douglas, rode through and exactly tied with C. W. Johnston (Cotton) in 35 mins. 26 secs, for the first lap. A not altogether unexpected thrill was experienced as J. H. Simpson, the A.J.S. crack, screamed through very early, having overtaken many previous starters. At this early stage of the race retirements were not very many, some of the unlucky ones being Todd (Matchless), broken handlebars, Price (Douglas), crashed at Windy Corner, and Grey (Zenith), who crashed badly on Bray Hill, and was removed to hospital. The first lap order eventually proved to be :
On the second lap it is usual to find seconds being clipped off the faster men’s times, but on this occasion
the only startling changes in the order were on the part of Simpson (A.J.S.), who headed Handley by 4 secs. and C. J. P. Dodson (Sunbeam), who gained three places by a lap in 35 mins. 45 secs.
Johnston and Parker, after promising first laps, both dropped out with engine trouble on the second round, as did Jock Porter on the New Gerrard. Bennett appeared to be travelling faster at this stage, and the other leaders had not yet stopped for fuel as he had, so he began to assume a threatening attitude towards his rivals.
Reports from round the course state that Freddy Dixon delighted the crowds with most spectacular cornering, his steady lapping at 63i m.p.h. seemed to suggest that he still had something up his sleeve, and was sparing his engine by making up time on corners. Handley and Bennett arrived almost together at the end of the third lap, so evidently the Velocette rider means business, having gained 51 secs. on the Coventry lad. No sooner had Bennett’s time been placarded, when a gasp of wonderment escaped the crowd, for the Velocette had lapped at 68 m.p.h., over a minute faster than the previous Junior record ! Would Simpson do any better ? Apparently the A.J.S. rider was in trouble for his clock circled slowly, and he eventually passed the stands running well, but having taken 37 mins. for the lap, Simpson being number 35, and the other leaders all among the early starters caused some impatience and delay before the final third lap order could be announced :—
Lap four was responsible for the end of Dodson’s fine performance, the Sunbeam forks breaking at Quarter Bridge. Other retirements included Austin (B.S.A.), who hit a telegraph pole at Braddan while looking for something to rest his foot on in the absence of the normal footrest, removed at Quarter Bridge ; also Harman (O.K.-Bradshaw), and Barber (Matchless), with engine trouble. At this stage it became apparent what a
remarkable performance the Velocette team was putting up ; at the end of lap 4 they stood 1st, 5th, and nth, with only three entries and had put fastest lap. Others to perform well, apart from the first six, were Burney and Reynard (Royal Enfields) and Rowley and Longman (A. J.S.’s). The first six after four laps were
The fifth round provided yet another sensation, when Bennett still further reduced the lap record to 32 mins. 56 secs. or 69 m.p.h. Simpson put up a fast fourth lap, but was again slow on the fifth, so could not hope to beat the Irish-Canadian from Southampton, unless the latter experienced trouble. Still further to strengthen the Velocette position, Handley’s gear lever gave trouble, rendering gear changing almost impossible, and enabling Bennett to lead by 8 minutes. Handley’s brakes and carburettor also needed attention, so that the Rex,Acme gave way to Simpson and Dixon on this lap. Another crop of retirements included Scott on the remaining Matchless, burst petrol tank at Union Mills, Gelling (O.K.), Wise (A.J.S.), Reynard (Enfield), and E. Tvvemlow (H.R.D.), all with engine trouble. Fifth lap order :—
(r) A. Bennett (Velocette) (2) J. H. Simpson (A.J.S.) (3) F. W. Dixon (Douglas) (4) G. Kuhn (Velocette) (5) W. L. Handley (Rex-Acme) (6) J. G. Burney (Royal Enfield)
• 66.7 m.p.h.
• 63.93 m.p.h.
• 63.40 m p.h.
• 63.12 m.p.h.
? 63.06 m.p.h.
• 6t.o6 m.p.h. Bennett started his last lap, running as well as ever, and his indicator never faltered as he passed the various
observation posts round the course. One slight lapse, the only one in the whole race, occurred within a mile of the finish, Bennett falling at the ” Nook ” and cutting his chin. Luckily, no other damage was done, and Bennett roared home at the splendid speed of 66.704 m.p.h., thus beating last year’s Senior Speed. Handley makes a stupendous effort and finishes next, just in front of Dixon’s Douglas, but we must wait for Jimmy Simpson to arrive before the next three places are decided. Eventually, he crosses the line with nearly two minutes in hand over the Rex-Acme, which in turn defeats the Douglas by 30 seconds.
Handley thus put up a fine race against terrible odds, as he was almost without gears for three laps. Dixon had detuned his engine for reliability, and did not expect to win if the other three finished, but under the circumstances was quite satisfied.
The Velocette team secured the team prize, with Bennett 1st, Kuhn 5th, and Povey 9th, the only time a trade team has won this trophy since the war. J. H. Simpson had plug trouble, which accounted for his stops. He also considered his machine rather too slow for anything sensational. The full list of finishers was :—
Of the above, the first twelve were awarded Replicas of the Trophy for finishing within a time not exceeding that of the winner by ith. A Special Replica was also awarded to M. Ghersi the Italian Bianchi rider who only missed an award by a, few seconds.