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Geoff Duke

Epithet: TT Rider and Britain’s first motorcycling superstar (1923-2015)

Record type: Motorsport Biographies

Biography: Geoff Duke was born in St Helens, Lancashire on 29 March 1923. Duke began racing at the TT after war service as an army dispatch rider. Between 1949 and 1959 Duke notched up six TT wins, first with Norton and then Gilera. He also dominated world motorcycling, with six World Championship titles in the 1950s.

Geoff Duke typified the TT rider of the 1950s. Suave and sophisticated in his one piece racing suit he and his contemporaries – men like John Surtees – were a generation away from the ‘greasy’ mechanics of the 1930s.

Duke was named Sportsman of the Year in 1951, and awarded an OBE in 1953. The Duke name continues with Britain’s premier motorsport video distributors, Duke Marketing, based in the Isle of Man. He died aged 92 on 1 May 2015.

Mounts: Junior – Norton
Senior – Norton

Age 27, Geoff Duke comes from St. Helens, but is now residing in Birmingham, being a technical assistant at Norton Motors Ltd.

He is one of the very few who is a star both at the trials and racing game. He came into prominence last year, when he won the Clubman’s Senior T.T. race at 82.97 m.p.h., having led from the start, and put up a record lap on his second circuit in 27m. 3s. at 83.7 m.p.h. In the Manx Grand Prix three months later, he took the lead at the start of the Junior race and at the end of the Junior race and at the end of the fourth lap was 17 seconds ahead of the ultimate winner, Cromie McCandless. Then, on the fifth lap, Geoff Duke came off at Ramsey Hairpin, damaged his machine slightly and eventually finished second, just over a minute behind Cromie.

Two days later, the positions were reversed. Geoff again took the lead from the start, but this time he held it at the end and won at 86.063 m.p.h., his record lap being 25 mins. 53 secs. and his average for the race less than a mile an hour slower than that of the Senior T.T. winner.

Returning from the Isle of Man, he went to Scarborough and in the September meeting at Oliver’s Mount won both 350 and 500 c.c. races.

After that, he was one of the Norton team which broke twenty-one World’s records at Montlhery in the autumn, and then early this year, returning to a trials machine, he won the Victory Cup Trial, being the only rider in the event to complete the course without loss of marks.

He has now turned “International” and is a member of the Norton works team in both races. He has already scored several successes this year, including the 500 c.c. race at both Blandford April meetings, 350 and 1,000 c.c. races at Silverstone and the 350 class of the North-West “200.”
(TT Special, 5 June 1950, p.19.)

(Actually Geoffrey Ernest Duke)


Gender: Male

Competed in

1959 Junior TT42:50:12.4093.1Norton
1958 Senior TTRBMW
1958 Junior TTRNorton
1955 Senior TT12:41:49.8097.93Gilera
1954 Senior TT21:43:52.6087.19Gilera
1953 Senior TTRGilera
1952 Senior TTRNorton
1952 Junior TT12:55:30.6090.29Norton
1951 Senior TT12:48:56.8093.83Norton
1951 Junior TT12:56:17.6089.9Norton
1950 Senior TT12:51:45.6092.27Norton
1950 Junior TT23:04:52.0085.73Norton
1949 Senior MGP12:37:50.0086.063Norton
1949 Junior MGP22:47:18.0081.207Norton
1949 Clubman Senior TT11:21:53.0082.97Norton
1948 Junior MGPR


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