THE 1927 AMATEUR ROAD RACE
THE 1927 AMATEUR ROAD RACE. A Fine Race Under Terrible Conditions.
Fwas no mere pit-a-pat, but a steady downpour that greeted us when we awoke in Douglas on the morning of Thursday, September 8th. An absolutely unbroken grey sky foretold a race run under the worst
possible conditions, and one could scarcely envy those who were to take part in the mad, tearing, desperate battle on the famous T.T. circuit between the hours of ten and three. The practising weather had been mainly fine, and the present terrible conditions would undoubtedly upset the
chances of many a rider. Visitors began to whisper that chance had come, long overdue, to the Scott riders. How near these enthusiasts came to the truth is now common knowledge. With the exception of those unfortunates who had either crashed in practising or not reached the island
at all, every entrant had succeeded in qualifying. The non-starters were Hewison (Velocette), H. Farquharson, Illingworth (Norton), Mavrogordato (Scott), Wolfenden (Sunbeam) and Crone (Chater-Lea).
For the first time since the inception of the race, the competitors were started at intervals of twenty seconds, this measure being necessary in order to accommodate the enormous entry of seventy-five. The pre-race parade of the riders through the streets of Douglas is a somewhat bizarre event, presenting, as it does, the spectacle of leather-clad riders, in full racing gear, sedately piloting their highly-tuned mounts at a snail’s pace up to the Glencrutchery Road. Arrived at the start, the riders proceed to replace touring plugs with ones more suited to racing. Despite the weather, 9.45 finds the grand-stand tolerably well filled, and long lines of cars and pedestrians can be seen moving out of the town to the local vantage-points. There is not quite such a breathless hush as usually precedes the firing of the first maroon, and it comes as a mild surprise to all, spectators and riders alike, when No. 1, Braidwood (P & M.) pushes off on his long ride. Idle chatter is
immediately drowned by a round of cheering, and the crowd settles down, in defiance of the Clerk of the Weather, to enjoy itself. Incidents during the starting period are few and far between, nearly all the riders getting under way immediately. Speculation is rife as to the chances of the various then ; the chief favourites seem to be : Birch and Hancocks,
(Sunbeams), Matthews and Provis (Nortons), Stables (Scott) and the departed Braidwood. Rain and mist are reported at all the telephone points round the course, and it is still raining, though less vehemently, at the start. Having seen the last man on his way, we seize our machine, and thread our way through the throng to Governor’s Bridge. Here the crowd is amazing : late arrivals are borrowing ginger-beer crates and the like, so that they may see over the head of the more adva tageou.sly-placed early arrivals. After a few minutes, the warning whistle is sounded, and Braidwood arrives, some 37-38 minutes after ten. Six minutes more elapse before the next man is seen ; he turns out to be No. 11,
Hunt (Norton), and is closely followed by No. 9, Dawson (Xjap). What has become of Nos. 2 and 3, Cullis and Oldroyd (Sunbeams), both fast men ? They are soon through, however, and, as riders are taking the famous hairpin cautiously, we make our waY, by a detour, to Signpost. Here again, valour is tempered with discretion, no doubt on account of the poor visibility on approaching the corner.
Hillbery is the next point we visit, and here the cornering, although not hectic, is fast and neat. A particularly speedy passage is noted against Limmer (Scott), and Prescott, on a sister machine, also takes the corner prettily. Brockington (500 A. J.S.) is fast but rather wild. Out of the mist which is coming down from Brandish corner, there appears a Scott rider and it is immediately seen that he is in difficulties. His mount is completely out of control, and just as he reaches the corner, he is thrown, fortunately clear. Another rider is already in sight, so a danger flag is waved, while willing hands— police, marshals, and press—dash to the assistance of the hapless rider, and drag his machine from the course. The forks have broken beneath the crown, and thus ends the race as far as Lomas, absolutely unscratched, is concerned.
The race has now been in progress for nearly an hour and a half, so we return to the scoring board to see how the riders are faring. As we reach the start, Braidwood is just leaving his pit on the commencement of his fourth lap. The leaders on the first two laps were :
So far, a great race, with nothing between the leaders. Meanwhile Braidwood is signalled at Ballacraine, his rival, Matthews, being somewhere on the Mountain. The latter’s indicator moves on to Creg-ny-baa, but the P. & M. rider’s seems to remain at Ballacraine a long time. The Norton is now at Governor’s Bridge, but Braidwood is not yet signalled at ICirkmichael. Has the
marshal there missed him, or ? We wait in suspense, and presently the third lap places are put up, showing Braidwood once more in the lead, albeit by a very small margin.
Limmer is reported to be cornering magnificently, and is very close on the heels of the leading pair.
Meanwhile, a fine struggle is taking place for pride of place among the 350s, who are led by Thomas (RexAcme), closely followed by Gates (Velocette).
And now, at long last, comes news of Braidwood. He pushes in to Kirkmichael, having retired with serious engine trouble : and so ends a fine ride. Our ey o immediately to Matthews’ pointer. Surely he„ has stuck ; and such proves to be the
case, news coming through that he has been unlucky enough to become involved with a bunch who have come to grief on a treacherous bend at Greeba. This bend, although previously almost unknown as a danger spot, has been giving much trouble to the riders. Seven are reported to have crashed here in the space of a few minutes. Thus Limner jumps into the lead, and the leaders on Lap 4, are :
Hunt leads on the road, his number being 11, whereas the Scott rider’s is 47.
After these places have been certified by the addition of the times, we scan the boards to see how many retirements have been announced. The first lap claimed nine victims-Nash (Scott), J. D. Potts, Brookes and Cunliffe (H.R.D.’s), Hogg (O.K.), Archibald (Triumph), Hancocks and White (Sunbeams), and Lomonosoff (McEvoy). A further ten entrants had failed to survive the second lap, these being-Fletcher and Weston (Cottons), Harrington, Jackson, Kehoe and Moorhouse (Nortons), Robinson (Chater-Lea), Hanson (Velocette), Lomas (Scott) and Leonard (Enfield).
Meanwhile Thomas, the 350 leader at half-distance, has retired, his place being taken by Gates, who, by three very consistent laps, retains it to the end. Soon after, Hunt comes through and commences his final lap, and all eyes are keenly watching Limner’s dial. The Norton is going beautifully, whereas the Scott appears to be slowing, a contention which is borne out when the Lap 5 leaders are announced :
Only 22 seconds between the first two men after nearly 190 miles ! But do the riders know the position ? Hunt’s pointer moves steadily .on, but surely Limmer’s is sluggish ! And so goes on the ding-dong struggle, until the Norton is signalled at Governor’s Bridge, and almost immediately roars over the line, to the accompaniment of enthusiastic cheering.
First or second ? Nobody can definitely say. Limmer is climbing the Mountain, and might just arrive in time to win. The spectators are breathless with excitenent until, with Limmer between Creg-ny-baa and Governor’s Bridge, it is announced that” No. 11, Hunt, cannot now be beaten on time.” By the time the renewed cheering has subsided, Limmer flashes past, two minutes behind the winner. Truly a great race !
Five minutes later, de Ferranti (Scott) arrives, and we settle down to see whether he has displaced Provis from third place. When the latter passes the line, allowing for their starting difference, it appears that they have dead-heated, but it subsequently transpires that the Scott has got home by the narrow margin of 2 seconds !
The winner’s speed works out at 57.66 m.p.h., a wonderful achievement under such appalling conditions. His last lap was covered at 60.40 m.p.h., being the fastest speed achieved in the race.
News now filters through that Limmer had been handicapped by ineffective brakes during Laps 5 and 6, a misfortune which, no doubt, cost him the race.
Having conscientiously seen the last finisher arrive, we return to the town to await the evening prize-living. Our final impression is of a small, wet, but triumphant, boy-scout, still perched up behind the indicators, joyously whistling his farewell to that apparently unceasingly departing creature, the blackbird.
The Palace, on the occasion of prize-giving, presents a very animated scene, and the riders, successful and unsuccessful alike, come in for a deal of good-natured banter. The Trophy is presented to an obviously embarrassed young man amidst the acclamations of a mighty throng, and so concludes one of the finest sporting events of the year. The complete list of finishers was :
An Innovation in Lighting Sets.
For some time past the Villiers Engineering Co. of Wolverhampton has been making a very excellent little lighting set, the flywheel magneto supplying current direct to the lamp. This was cheap, simple and thus quite satisfactory, except that it did not supply a light when the engine was not running, unless a switch-over battery was carried. After various experiments and continual tests, the Villiers people have now introduced a set in which a 6 volt, accumulator is charged from the magneto. The charging rate is low-about .7 amp.but it is sufficient for all ordinary requirements.