THE JUNIOR RACE VELOCETTES SWEEP THE BOARD.
THIS year’s races both on two and four wheels have provided a remarkable series of one make grand slams, and the junior Manx Grand Prix provided a one-make victory without precedent in the history of the I.O.M. races. It was a Velocette race from start to finish, and yet unlike the professional T.T. there was a fine scrap between the various riders of these machines. There is no riding to orders in this survival of the old ” Amateur.”
The weather conditions were as terrible as the island has ever known for a ra.ce, and after rain falling the whole of the previous night, the morning saw a thick mist, most dreaded obstacle of the T.T. rider, covering the island course.
The conditions of the race, and then the progress of the race itself, took the present writer’s mind forcibly back to the last I.O.M. event in which he rode as an amateur, when P. Hunt, now well known to all T.T. fans, first sprang to fame by winning the race on his first appearance. On that occasion just the same miserable conditions prevailed, and the changes of fortune during the race were almost exactly similar.
Just as J. M. Muir in this year’s Junior led for two out the first three laps, only to retire on the fourth with engine trouble, so did the early leaders on that occasion, and just as Hunt three years ago brought his Norton past Litnnier’s Scott, to win on the last lap, so did Pine put in a fine last lap to wrest the lead from Harding and come home a winner by 28 seconds only. The first man to disappear into the mist was F. L. Frith (348 Velocette), to be followed by the remainder of the entry who were already getting soaked to the skin. Frith kept going fast, and steadily gained on the men behind him, while a foretaste of what Velocettes were to do was provided by the rapidly clicking pointers of Muir and Harding, while Armytage and Pine, also on Velocettes, were passing many other riders. At the end of the first lap Frith rode through with a good lead on the road, and later proved to be leading the field on time, the order being
The wet roads were taking their toll and W. J. Henstone crashed and broke his leg. Mechanical trouble accounted for Bickell’s Chater-Lea, Hodgson’s A. J .S. and Parker’s Velocette. Muir was riding marvellously and his second lap put him in the lead at 63.17 m.p.h., a simply amazing performance for a ” 350 ” under such conditions. In addition to his riding skill, Muir is a remarkably clever timer, and his Velocette has for some time been a formidable competitor in Cambridge University events. Lately there have been complaints that the Cambridge Club no longer produces good riders, and that they are taking to comfortable cars and becoming “soft.” However, these fears would seem to be unfounded, and Muir is certainly good proof that the old spirit still exists The weather was getting worse and ten men were out of the race in two laps. On the second lap the first six riders were :
Pine was riding a sound race and appeared to be nursing his motor, and waiting his chance. Muir and Harding were now together on the road and both riding like men possessed, till the end, of the third lap when Muir stopped at his pits. The standard of riding was very high’ indeed, and the leaders were close enough together for a complete re-shuffle to take place at any time. frith had now dropped back to fourth place while Pixie was creeping up and had gained third place at the end of the 3rd lap, when the first six riders were :
There was a few minor crashes which, was hardly surprising under the conditions, but none were serious. Velocettes had occupied the first six places since the first lap, and their delightful roadholding and steering were proving invaluable under the treacherous conditions, and there was no repetition of the remarkable state of affairs at the S-bend before Greeba bridge three years ago when on several occasions there was seven and eight riders off at a time, and trying to collect themselves and get away before another slithering machine came to take their own motor out of their very hands ! The fourth lap, however, brought bad news, for Muir’s machine gave up and, his wonderful ride was at an end, after establishing a 4-minute lead over Harding. The vacancy on the leader board was thus taken up by another Velocette in the hands of T. L. Bookless, giving the first six on the fourth lap as :
News of further retirements came through, to remind the few spectators who had not forsaken the stand for the refreshment tent, of the terrible strain of a race on wet roads with steadily decreasing reliability. The issue had now narrowed,
barr;ng accidents, to Harding and Pine who were a bare minute apart at the end of the fourth lap and the gap was steadily closing up. Pine could not know his position but he was riding better than ever, and in spite of the strain was increasing his speed, while both he and Harding were riding on corners with faultless accuracy. On lap 5 the gap had closed to 30 secs., the order being :
As they entered on their final lap every one except Harding and Pixie were forgotten, and one question forced out all others, ” Would Pine catch up 30 secs. ? ” This is bound to happen in such a case, but it seems hard that anyone could
forget the wonderful performances being put up by the other riders of whom many had approached a 60 m.p.h. average for the distance, and, uninspired by hope of victory, were riding as hard and as well as they knew, just because they were in a race and intended to finish at all costs.
Harding was considerably ahead on road position and it was therefore impossible to tell who was the actual leader, as their pointers clicked regularly and at last the yellow disc fell over Harding’s number, and he crossed the line, to wait in horrible suspense wondering if he was a winner or not. Other Velocettes came in and then Pixie was signalled and shortly after he came in, it was announced that his last lap, in the fine time of 35m. 34s., had made him winner by the narrow margin of 28 seconds of the Junior Manx Grand Prix, with Harding a very game and consistent runner-up. The final order was : Time Speed
The first six riders received replicas of Trophy.