THE SENIOR RACE.
THE PIECE DE RESISTANCE OF T.T. WEEK.
SEVERAL thousand people must have viewed Friday morning’s dawn with apprehension and disappointment. It appeared that Thursday’s downpour was to continue with sufficient vigour to spoil the Senior Race. Those who remembered the Senior of 1923 and the Amateur of 1926 realised how the speed of the race would be limited and how the danger of spills would be augmented.
Happily, however, soon after breakfast the sun appeared in a half hearted manner, and rain and mist were gradually dispelled.
As Mainwaring led off the ball, on his Scott, the conditions were not absolutely perfect, but thenceforward the weather steadily improved and apart from. a little moisture on the roads, and patches of mist on the mountain there was no reason to suppose that riders would be hindered on their hurricane swirl round the island.
Joe Craig’s o.h.c. Norton was the first difficult starter, owing to excess of oil, and a change of plug was necessary before he got away. Faura, the Spanish B.S.A. rider, seemed almost unable to rotate his engine. After discovering various troubles he eventually reached the Bungalow and retired. His companion, Vidal, caused no small stir among Norton enthusiasts by starting on his ancient and dilapidated looking machine, with Harley forks, dropped handlebars and tank almost devoid of paint !
Almost as soon as the last man (Simister) had gone, it was time to expect the leaders to pass through at the end of their first lap. Mainwaring went through well with Tommy Spann (Sunbeam) No. 4, not very far behind, but Bullus, the New Hudson star, failed to reappear, as did Varzi on the Guzzi ; the latter was reported to have gearbox trouble. Incredibly early, sitting right back on his saddle with his back absolutely flat, Stanley Woods bellowed past the stands at something over 90 m.p.h. His riding position was reminiscent of Brooklands, rather than the
and except for Handley’s first senior lap last year, nothing so impressive has ever been seen in the Island. His lap time was 32 mins. 7 secs.-2 seconds better than record. The other fast men were mostly among the later starters, so it was some time before the first lap order became known :—
Rudges were upholding their practise reputation, but their star rider—Longman, could do no better than 11th and incidently failed to complete his second lap. Nott was a great surprise and he may yet win a T.T. given good luck. Behind the leaders, and all within a minute of Bennett, were two Sunbeams (Spann and Dodson), two Triumphs (Simister and Evans), the other Rudge and Guthries’ New Hudson, so no make could as yet claim any signal supremacy.
The name of Harris (Triumph), one of the unluckiest of T.T. riders was added to the other first lap retirements, while during lap 2 the following also dropped out : Stewart (Norton) crashed, Parker (Douglas) engine trouble, Longman (Rudge), Davies (H.R.D.) leaking tank, and Warwick (Montgomery). After two laps the leaders were
Dodson completed his second lap in 40 minutes, a delay which eventually lost him an almost certain 3rd at the .finish, judging by his other lap times. Simpson was showing that the A.J.S. was seriously to be reckoned with in spite of derogatory practise rumours, while Bennett had evidently decided that his first lap was not quite fast enough.
Jim Whalley showed a glimpse of his old form, (he was the first to lap at over 60 m.p.h.) and did a 33i minute lap which put him 8th while Shaw (Norton) and Mainwaring (Scott) were newcomers to the leading dozen.
Stanley Woods’ second lap (31min. 54secs.) was another record and on all sides murmurs of incredulous admiration were heard. Ashby suffered from choked jets on his second lap but got going well again for two more laps. Among others to retire during lap 3 were Brockbank on the wonderful Cotton twin and Langman (Scott), crash and engine trouble respectively, after which the order was :—
Nott had dropped back a little, while Simister and Bennett were both accelerating to good effect. Walker (Sunbeam) and Rowley (A. J.S.) were urging their machines forward, having averaged about 64 m.p.h. so far. Lap four provided one outstanding incident, for Dixon lost his gear lever and could no longer be considered a possible place winner ; Woods continued his headlong career, but for the first time his average speed dropped just below 70 m.p.h. Apart from the leaders, numbers of comparatively unknown men were averaging well over 60 m.p.h. on comparatively slow machines, and the various racing managers would do well to compare some of the lap times put up by these riders with the known maximum speeds of their mounts, when selecting a team for 1928. Among these particular mention should be made of Dodson (best lap 66 m.p.h.), Braidwood (P. & M.), best lap 65.9 m.p.h., Hobbs (Triumph), the same, and 0. Langton (New Hudson), 66 m.p.h. As a result of his trouble Dixon dropped to 9th on the 4th lap, thus allowing Bennett to move up yet another place on the scale :
Scarcely had the fourth lap order been finally decided (owing to Simister’s late number) when it was observed that Woods had stopped somewhere on the far side of the mountain.
Naturally after such frenzied speed, a crash seemed probable, and engine trouble most likely, but no ! Stanley Woods eventually toured in with a hopelessly slipping clutch-bad luck indeed.
Simpson’s (A. J.S.) was the next casualty, at Craig-nyBaa with engine trouble, while Ashby eventually withdrew his Rudge on this lap with engine trouble and Quinn spoilt the back wheel of his Triumph on the pavement at Governor’s Bridge. Fifth lap order :
Craig was working off the effect of his slow start and lay 8th, while the curious fact of six different makes occupying the first six places is a wonderful tribute to the motorcycle industry as a whole. Nott, after putting up such a splendid show in the first half of the race suffered the prevalent and by now well known Rudge trouble and retired on the mountain, thus letting Craig up into the first six. Walker (Sunbeam), Langton (New Hudson) and Hobbs (Triumph) all drew nearer the top on the 6th lap, the order being :
Bennett now had a lead of seven minutes and it seemed that nothing could stop him, greater interest therefore was to be found in the terrific dog fight taking place between the next five, whose speed was so similar.
As it turned out Bennett increased his lead while fate dealt some cruel blows among the persevering pack who were hunting him home. The last hectic lap proved too much for Spann’s (Sunbeam), Mainwaring’s Scott (float trouble causing loss of petrol) and Craig’s (Norton)
thus letting the next group up three places apiece.
Braidwood (P. & M.) did a very good last lap and raised himself still higher in the list, while Guthrie ” made ” another place besides the one given him by Spann’s retirement. W. Evans (Triumph) and E. K. Langton (Scott) were also eliminated on the last lap, so that the complete list of finishers was :
The first fourteen riders gained replicas of the Trophy and the Sunbeam team gained the team prize.