THE SENIOR RACE.
THE PIECE DE RESISTANCE OF THE T.T. WEEK.
AFTER two thrilling curtain-raisers in the form of Junior and Lightweight Races, the blue riband of the motor-cycling world, the 1926 International Senior Tourist Trophy Race, was awaited in a fever of excitement and anticipation.
As in Wednesday’s race, the intrepid Ghersi caused tremendous anxiety among the British aspirants to premier honours, since his Moto-Guzzi appeared to be one of the fastest machines in the Island and unfailingly reliable. In spite of the Wednesday incident and lastminute trouble, Ghersi was in position on the starting line on Friday, and received a sympathetic cheer.
As usual, the riders were dispatched at 30-second intervals after io a.m., and for once a large number of engines were inclined to sulk, the chief sufferers being Simister (Triumph), Shaw (Norton), and various H.R.D. riders.
Handley’s V-twin Rex Acme Blackburne was rumoured to be very fast, and was a last-minute ” tip.” Sure enough, at the end of Lap I be ” blared “through, travelling faster than anything ever seen on the Glencrutcheryroad, having overtaken last year’s winner, Howard Davies, who passed through close on his heels. Early disappointments were experienced when the indicator dials ceased to record progress on the part of three “super-men “–F. W. Dixon (Douglas), H: Langman (Scott), and T. F. Bullus (P. & M.)—all with engine or gear trouble, while another ” Panther ” hope in H. M. Walters, retires at the foot of Bray Hill, after the unpleasant experience of a broken fork link. J. H. Simpson, as expected, passed through very early, having lapped at 69.68 m.p.h., and all eyes centred on Ghersi’s progress, to see if he would beat the A.J.S. Anon he completed the lap in 33 mins. 30 secs., over a minute slower than the Leicester man. On the completion of the first lap the order was :—
. . Other first-lap retirements announced were : Mainwaring (Scott), crashed at Ramsey, Evans (Triumph), and J. H. Stevens (A.J.S.), who clashed at Brandish Corner.
On the second lap, Handley experienced trouble with his plugs and brakes, for Howard Davies came in first, to fill up, closely followed by Woods (Norton) and E. Twemlow (H.R.D.). Eventually, Handley and Simpson passed alniost together, the latter having again broken the lap record in 32 mins. 9 secs., or 70.43 m.p.h. Handley dropped right out of the picture temporarily, while several fast men not in the first six were presumed to be holding themselves in during the early lapsi.e., Bennett 8th, Craig (Norton) 11th, and Whalley (Douglas) loth. Ashby lifts his P. & M. into seventh place by two 34-minute laps. The position after two laps was :-
The excellent performance put up by Spann (Sunbeam) was the surprise of the earlier laps, but his fine ride is terminated at Union Mills with broken forks. Longman’s tank was leaking slightly, and J. A. Porter retired owing to vibration and bad steering on his twinNew Gerrard. Ghersi crashed on the second lap, wilich took him 39 mins., and retired with damaged brakes and hand. Hard luck, after his fine riding. Two crashes outed Harry (New Hudson) and Wade (H.R.D.) on this lap.
Half-way through the third lap, Simpson’s A.J.S. engine flew to bits (” Penny-in-the-slot,” as Jimmy described it), leaving Stanley Woods in the lead and passing the A.J.S. torch to C. W. Hough. Handley was now running well again, but was only tenth at this stage, while other good performances were being put up by Varzi (Sunbeam), Wood (H.R.D.), and Rowley (A.J.S.). Ashby experienced engine trouble on this lap and retired, thus finishing the P. & M. team, of whom so much had been expected. The Rudge-Whitworth machines continued to lap steadily at about 61 m.p.h., a most creditable effort for standard machines. Langton, on the other New Hudson (designed by Le Vack), retired after two reasonably good laps. Lap 3 order :
The chief sensation of Lap 4 was the retirement of Bennett (Norton), the Junior winner, who appeared to be riding a cunning race. Alec’s trouble was with his clutch. Handley was now rapidly coming to the fore, and Jackson and K. Twemlow (H.R.D.’s), were also catching up. Howard Davies crashes “good and hearty” at the Gooseneck, thus dropping three places, but continues. Another thrill—Hough is only one second behind Stanley Woods on net time ! The places being for four laps :
Norton, A. J .S., and H.R.D. stock looks flourishing !
Lap 5 is responsible for a general intensification of interest as the conclusion draws nearer, but the only real excitement is provided by Handley’s magnificent struggle to wipe out the result of his one slow lap.
Howard Davies finally retires with engine-trouble at Creg Willeys Hill, while others to drop out are Randles (Sunbeam) and Shaw and Moller (Nortons). Whenever Freddy Dixon is out, the privilege of amusing the spectators falls to young Parker (also on a Douglas), whose style is very similar, and who was responsible for some really dashing work at Hillberry and Craig-ny-s Baa, but whose total time was not very good. He finally retired in the sixth lap at Ballaugh.
. . . Now the stage is set for the final struggle. Hough begins to gain on Woods once more, while Eddie Twemlow’s J.A.P. engine fails him at last, though his brother, Jackson, and C. P. Wood occupy 8th, 9th, and me] positions. Handley is still gaining, while among
the 6o-m.p.h. ” tortoises ” mention must be made of the Rudges, Anstice’s Douglas, Welsby (Scott) and Driscoll’s 348 c.c. Zenith Chater-Lea. News comes through that Birkin, riding Hodgson’s Norton, has crashed on the mountain, and has been removed to hospital, while other retirements include &mister (Triumph), Waterhouse (Sunbeam), and Searle (Norton). The order on the penultimate lap was :—
. . • . During the last lap the great question is whether Hough can catch the Irishman’s Norton, which continues to lap steadily. At first the A.J.S. appears to gain, but a fly in his eye, perhaps the cruellest luck of the race, c, auses Hough to hit the telegraph pole that killed poor Temple, the Cambridge amateur, and so ends the A.J.S. hope. Hough, lueldly, was not seriously injured. Woods eventually roars home at 67.54 m.p.h., and is cheered to the echo, though the struggle between Handley and Longman is not forgotten. After a long wait it was announced that Handley led Longman by 3t seconds only, after 268 miles at 66 m.p.h. A stupendous finish. The final placings were :—
Stanley Woods is a native of Dublin, and in private life travels in Mackintosh’s Toffee. It will be remembered that he won the 1923 Junior Race on a Cotton.
W. L. Handley’s year of plucky fights against minor troubles will long be remembered. He observed that the big machine took more holding than his usual mount.
The first thirteen finishers all gained replicas of the winner’s trophy, while the Cup for the best performance by a foreigner was won for the second year in succession by A. Varzi on a Sunbeam. No team prize was awarded in the Senior Race.