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1952 Senior TT

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 264.25 miles (7 laps)

Description: Race report from the Isle of Man Times 14 Jun 1952 (p. 1) below which is a full list of competitors:

Reg. Armstrong’s Great Senior T.T. Win

Duke leads for four laps. Retires with clutch trouble.Magnificent Agusta-Norton Duel

Thrilling finish to a great race. In a thrill- packed last two laps the Norton-Agusta duel in the Senior T.T held the huge crowd of spectators spellbound. Les Graham, for the second time in his career, looked to be the winner after Duke retired, but Reg Armstrong took his Norton into the lead at the end of the sixth lap and then showed the Agusta a clean pair of heels in a great finish to as good a race as one could wish to see.

From the start the expected Duke-Graham duel developed. Round the course streaked these two at well over 90 m.p.h- Norton v. Agusta, Britain v. Italy, world champion v. former champion. Thrill followed thrill as the crowds at the Grandstand watched the epic struggle as told by the indicator clocks. It seemed as if Graham was leading by a narrow margin, but “the Duke”came through going great guns and 16 seconds ahead of his rival, with Nortons in all other places on the leader board. Could Graham withstand such a challenge?

Duke pulled away from Graham on the second lap, increased his lead to 37 seconds, Coleman brought a lone A.J.S on to the leader board in sixth place. The gap between Duke and Graham widened still more when Graham took about 26 seconds more than Duke on the refuelling stop owing to overshooting his pit.

The end of the Duke story came in the fourth lap, when Geoff retired with clutch trouble and Graham took the lead, chased by Amm and Armstrong, who started the lap 36 and 59 seconds behind him. But there was that loss of seconds on the pit stop. What would the fourth lap times reveal? They showed Duke still led, Graham was second despite overshooting Sulby Bridge in a desperate attempt to catch Duke. Armstrong had ousted Amm from third place, and with Duke out the Dublin man set about the task of overhauling the Agusta.

Armstrong started his fifth lap 24 seconds behind the Agusta. The race was by no means over at this stage, and Amm was only five seconds behind Armstrong. Nortons were still in the game with a chance. Armstrong cut down Graham’s lead to 12 seconds with two laps to go, and did his sixth lap in 16 seconds less than the Agusta to give him a lead of four seconds at the start of the lap which was to determine the destiny of the 1952 Senior T.T. Trophy.

Great excitement greeted Armstrong at the finishing post. As he crossed the line to won his primary chain snapped and fell off.

The Start, Friday.
A hundred miles an hour lap? If that can be done, Geoff Duke is the man to do it, and the Norton, is the machine, but is today, Friday 13th, the day?

We do not think it can be done this year, but by the time you read this we will know. A look at the course lends strength to our opinion. Seven times round the 37 ¾ miles circuit, which requires the rider to made 300 gear changes and take 200 corners each time, is enough to make anyone say ‘’It can’t be done”.

Eleven non-starters left 72 of the world’s most experienced riders in the race, led by Geoff Duke, No.1 on the road. Only three manufacturer’s teams, two Norton and one A.J.S entered the fray. No.1 Norton team consisted of Geoff Duke, Reg Armstrong and Ken Kavanagh, and the second team was Ray Amm, A.L Parry and W.A.C. McCandless. The A.J.S. team comprised Jack Brett, Bill Lomas and Rod Coleman the New Zealand ace. Ten club teams included the new Zealand A.C.U. (Ken Mudford, Dean Hollier and Rod Cokeman), and the A.C.C of Australia (W.A. McAlpine, K.T. Kavanagh, and Ern Ring).

At 10:30 a.m. the maroon fired and the starter’s flag unleashed Geoff Duke on the last stage of his bid to win the “double-double” and his third successive Senior T.T. For long he has been the fastest man on two wheels. Soon we would see whether this year he would become a faster fastest man.

The weather report from Ronaldsway declared that it would be cloudy with light, variable wind. Drizzle was expected later in the afternoon. Mist patches were forming and dispersing quickly on the hills but whether they would envelope stretches of the mountain road was not certain.

Reports from the travelling marshals indicated that the number of spectators was the greatest ever and a modest estimate was that there was 100 000 watching.

A telegram from Auckland, New Zealand, 12,000 miles away, wished all riders good luck generally and the New Zealand riders in particular. It was signed John Doe, a member of the 1950 team.

First Lap
Surprise was that Brett and Lomas, members of the A.J.S team, set off on last year’s machines, but Rod Coleman, the third member of the team, was astride the latest model.

Les Graham’s beautiful red and silver Agusta, with its distinctive whine, got away quickly. According to the indicator clocks Graham made up time on Duke for the first stretch to Ballacraine, and Brett had passed five men before reaching Kirk Michael, and was second to Duke on the road.

Graham’s clock showed him to be at kirk Michael a split second before Armstrong, who set off 20 seconds ahead of him.
Dennis Parkinson, the commentator at Ramsey, described Duke as going very quickly but his engine seemed to be misfiring, then came a long gap before he sighted the second rider, No.2, Phil Heath, who passed through 2 mins. 15 secs. after Duke after starting 10 seconds after him, but what happened to Jack Brett?

Several riders including McEwan, the only local entrant, sped through Ramsey and still there was no sign of Brett. A thrilling spectacle, said Parkinson, was that of Graham and Armstrong rocketing through Ramsey together. They hung close together on the mountain climb but Graham seemed to forge head at the Mountain Box.

Duke came through the Start in a posture that promised sensations to come. From a standing start he lapped in 24 mins. 11 secs, a speed of 93.64 m.p.h. Excitement mounted when Graham’s light was the next to flash on, indicating that he was passing Governor’s Bridge. He flashed through the Start second on the road, having overtaken 13 riders who started ahead of him. He completed the lap in 24 mins. 27 secs. 16 seconds slower than Duke, with a speed of 92.64 m.p.h.
Ray Amm threw his machine round the corners in spectacular fashion to pass 15 riders on the first lap.

Brett Crashes and Retires.
Brett came off at Closewood corner, near Sulby, having covered only 19 of the 264 miles of the race. He retired with two minor cuts on a hand, otherwise he was all right, but bang went the hopes of the A.J.S. team, leaving only two Norton combinations to vie for the manufacturer’s team award.

Then came a crop of retirements.

A.L. Parry, a member of the second Norton team, called in at Ballaugh and asked to see a doctor. He had not crashed but was feeling unwell and retired. That left only one manufacturer's team, the No.1 Norton team. Speaking from Ballaugh, Parry reported that he had a few ‘dimouts’ and did not feel too good.
A.A. Fenn (Norton) stopped on the mountain to make adjustments. He proceeded but retired later at the Creg. Mechanical trouble in the form of a seized engine overtook H.W. Billington (Norton) at Gorselea. It put him out of the race, but he was all right.

The end of the first lap found Nortons occupying five of the first six places, with Graham on his eye-catching M.V. Agusta in second place. Retirements at the pits included J.A. Pollott (Norton) with a broken chain, and E.V.C. Hardy (A.J.S.) with a broken primary chain. Having come all the way from Southern Rhodesia, N.W. Stewart (Norton) came off and retired at the Bungalow with minor injuries. The doctor was in attendance. He reported that Stewart had concussion and suspected damage to the pelvis.

L. Williams (348 Velocette) retired at Birkin’s Corner, on his first lap, with a broken valve spring.

Second Lap.
Only five seconds outside his last year’s record, Duke swept through the Start, crouching low over his machine.
His time of 23 mins. 52 secs. for the second lap increased his first lap lead of 16 seconds over Graham to 37 seconds.
Graham streaked round the second circuit in 24 mins. 13 secs. (93.52 m.p.h), closely followed by W.R. Amm with a lap of 24 mins. 23 secs (92.89 m.p.h.). Amm was only 24 seconds behind Graham on a growing time.
Robin Sherry (Norton) retired at Michael with clutch trouble. He is all right. M.B. prudence (Norton) came off at the Gooseneck, made adjustments to his machine, and proceeded. Lomas stopped at the pits at the end of the second lap, changed plugs, and proceeded.

By brilliant riding, R.W. Coleman, the New Zealand ace, the A.J.S. hope, managed to ride his machine into sixth place, the only A.J.S. on the leader board. He completed the lap at 89.11 m.p.h.

Third Lap.
Duke pulled in at the end of his third lap, and amazed the crowd by his quick replenishment. Steve Darbishire, the refueller, had him away in little over 20 seconds. Soon after Les Graham also pulled in at the pits with a screech of brakes.

Unfortunately he misjudged the distance and had to man-handle his machine to the pits to the urgent shouts of “Come on, Les.”
He made a quick replenishment and got away as Armstrong also pulled in, but he had taken longer than Duke. Graham could ill afford the 46 seconds he took to refuel.

Although he slowed up slightly, Duke was still drawing away from Graham. With a lap of 23 mins. 59 secs. (94.4 m.p.h.), he increased his lead to 48 secs.

Graham, whose machine was referred to as an angry wasp, seemed to be losing time on the mountain climb, for while the commentator at Ramsey said Duke was only 24 secs ahead of him, at the end of the lap he was twice that amount. Graham completed the lap in 24 mins. 10 secs. (93.7 m.p.h.).
Rod Coleman, who had a black Kiwi painted on his orange helmet, lost time on the third lap. Earlier he had passed McCandless, but the positions were reversed. McCandless had refuelled and commenced his fourth lap before Coleman pulled in. R.D. K. Hollier (New Zealand) was among those who retired on this lap with engine trouble at Ballaugh.

Fourth Lap.
Duke passed through Ramsey well ahead of any other rider, and at this stage it is interesting to compare the times. Dennis Parkinson, commentator at Ramsey, revealed that Duke passed through that point 3 mins. 10 secs ahead of anyone else. Next through was Graham, whose actual time lag behind duke was 35 secs., although he had lost more time refuelling. Only 50 yards behind him came another Norton challenge in the form of Armstrong, whom Graham had earlier overtaken.

Duke’s Retirement.
A sensation came when Duke packed up at the pits at the end of this lap. He dismounted while Steve Darbishire, his mechanic worked feverishly on the clutch. People groaned with disappointment, then came a cheer from his many supporters as he attempted to start again, but it soon changed to groans as he could not get going. He smiled wryly, removed his helmet, kissed his wife and walked resignedly away with people patting him on the back for his grand effort.

“Hard luck Geoff”, called out Rev. R. H. Reid, the commentator at the Grandstand and Geoff’s father-in-law. Bang had gone his hopes of a double-double and third successive Senior win, which would have been an all-time record.

Graham Overshoots Sulby Bridge.
What a coincidence! Not only Duke had misfortune on this lap. Trouble had also stolen a ride on Graham’s pollution. He overshot Sulby Bridge and lost his previous seconds regaining his line.

Meanwhile Graham had passed through Cronk-ny-Mona and soon he roared triumphantly through the Start, his machine sounding as noisy and as healthy as ever. Would the 500 c.c. champion of three years ago take this Blue Riband of racing for the first time now that his great rival and the favourite was no longer in the running?

Duke had completed his fourth lap in 24 mins. 45 secs. (91.5 m.p.h.), and his four laps in 1 hr. 36 mins, 47 secs., an average speed of 93.57 m.p.h. Despite his trouble, Graham was still in second place at the end of the lap, but Armstrong had ousted Amm from third place on the leader board. Graham completed the lap in 25 mins. 26 secs. (89.05 m.p.h.).
Duke had given the ‘thumbs down’ signal at the end of the first lap, but later told the “Times” that that was because of his engine misfiring. He thought he had a bit of dirt in the jet.

Fifth Lap.
Although their hero was out, the duel between Graham and Armstrong electrified the crowd and whipped- up their enthusiasm as the two fearless speedsters swapped places over 100 miles an hour.

Armstrong passed Graham at Ballaugh but Graham took the lead at Sulby. On the mountain Armstrong was 40 yards ahead of Graham (who started 20 seconds after him), but by the time they swooped past the Bungalow only five yards of daylight separated them.

What a roar must have assailed Armstrong’s ears from that powerful Agusta- that alone would have made anyone go faster.

When the lights showed that Armstrong (No.15) had shot through Governor’s just ahead of Graham, the crowd at the start rose to see the spectacle and it was Armstrong who passed through a few seconds ahead of Graham.

Armstrong clipped 12 seconds off Graham’s lead during the lap, so that only 12 seconds separated them at the end of the lap, with Graham in front. Graham’s lap time was 24 mins. 6 secs. (93.96 m.p.h.), 12 seconds slower than Armstrong’s 23 mins. 54 secs. (94.74 m.p.h). Amm was also going great guns.

E. Ring (Australia) came off his Matchless at Governor’s. He injured his thumb and retired. Tommy McEwan, the local rider, retired at the end of the fourth lap with engine trouble.

Sixth Lap.
Reports from round the course indicated that Armstrong who was ahead on the road, was gradually overtaking Graham (No.17) on growing time and from the Bungalow came the report that 20 seconds separated them on the road, which meant they were dead level on growing time.

Armstrong speeded up on the last part of the lap, and for the first time led Graham for time.
He completed his sixth lap four seconds ahead of Graham on growing time. His lap of 23 mins. 56 secs. was only four seconds slower than Duke’s second lap. The fastest so far. His speed was 94.61 m.p.h. Graham was 16 seconds slower.

Seventh Lap.
Armstrong streaked away on this lap. The pace was terrific, and he was making it even hotter. Looking comfortable astride his Norton, he started this lap four seconds ahead of Graham on time, and reports from round the course showed plainly that he was increasing his lead. Barregarrow reported 30 seconds between them on the road. A check was kept at Sulby and he was 33 seconds ahead of Graham, and at Ramsey 36 seconds ahead. At the Gooseneck the gap widened to 40 seconds. At the Guthrie Memorial the Agusta made up one second. There was terrific excitement on the stand. The leader board showed a truly international picture. An Irish-man on an English machine led an Englishman on an Italian machine, and other riders on the board came from Rhodesia (Amm in third place), Australia and New Zealand.

Graham had great difficulty in changing gear because oil swilled the back of his machine and his boots for the greater part of the race, otherwise he had an uneventful ride.

Armstrong finished the race in 2 hrs. 50 mins. 28.4 secs, an average speed of 92.97 m.p.h. He won by 26.4 seconds from Les Graham, who finished in 2 hrs. 50 mins. 55 secs., an average speed of 92.72 m.p.h, so the seconds wasted by Graham when he manhandled his machine to the pits for replenishment at the end of the third lap were precious ones indeed.

Last lap time for Armstrong was 23 mins. 58.4 secs (94.45 m.p.h.) Graham completed the lap in 24 mins. 21 secs. (93.01 m.p.h).

The lap record was not broken, and although Duke had to retire, he had the distinction of returning the fastest lap of the race on his second circuit in 23 mins. 52 secs.

Having ridden a magnificent race, W.R. Amm, of Southern Rhodesia, a member of the second Norton team, finished third.
A last- minute hard luck story had as its hero K.T. Kavanagh, Australian member of the No.1 Norton team, who occupied fourth place at the end of the sixth lap. He was reported to be pushing in from Brandywell Road, a mile the Douglas side of the Bungalow (seven miles from the finish).

Canadian Crashes.
In the last lap, 23-years- old American born Roy Godwin, Canada’s official representative, crashed at Sulby Bridge on his Norton and was taken to Ramsey Cottage Hospital. He has raced in Canada for the past two years and has won an impressive number of races. He is an engineer in a large Montreal factory. He was later reported to have injured a hip, but not seriously.

Manx Boys’ Performances.
There were five Manx competitors in the Clubman’s Senior, and three of them finished. Biggest hopes were pinned on D. Ennett (Matchless), from Castletown, but his luck was dead out. His first lap was completed in the very creditable time of 29 mins. 3 secs., but on his second circuit he was held up at Hillberry with engine trouble, and eventually toured in to the Start where he retired.
Best performance was put up by W.A. Harding (Norton), of St. Ninian’s Road, Douglas whose growing lap times were as follows:- 29 mins. 21 secs.; 59 mins. 30 secs.; 1 hr. 28 mins. 57 secs., and 1 hr. 58 mins. 31 secs. Next came R.A.D. Mawson (Norton), of ‘Farnleigh’ 6 , Brunswick Road, Douglas (who had a spill in practices, followed by a short stay in Noble’s Hospital). His growing times were: - 33 mins. 24 secs.; 1hr. 6 mins. 35 secs.; 1 hr 40 mins. 49 secs.; and 2 hrs. 14 mins. 55 secs. J.P. Linskey, of 37 Malew Street, Castletown, did his first lap in 29 mins. 3 secs. and then retired on his second lap with a split petrol tank. The fifth Manx boy, K.A. Taubman (Triumph), of 55, Willaston Crescent, Douglas, completed the distance, his times being as follows:- 32 mins. 21 secs.; 1 hr. 7 mins. 47 secs.; 1 hr. 42 mins. 38 secs.; and 2 hrs. 16 mins. 16 secs.


1Armstrong, Reg2:50:28.4092.97Norton
2Graham, Les2:50:55.0092.72MV
3Amm, Ray2:51:31.2092.4Norton
4Coleman, Rod2:56:39.0089.71AJS
5Lomas, Bill2:58:39.0088.71AJS
6McCandless, Cromie2:58:51.2088.61Norton
7Brown, George3:00:35.8087.75Norton
8Mudford, Ken3:00:39.0087.73Norton
9Moule, Albert E.3:02:41.6086.74Norton
10Carter, Phil3:03:31.8086.35Norton
11Willoughby, Vic3:03:56.0086.16Norton
12Lawton, Syd3:04:04.2086.1AJS
13McAlpine, Tony3:05:29.2085.44Norton
14Evans, Roy3:05:42.4085.34Norton
15Williams, Don3:05:51.0085.27Norton
16Grace, John3:05:59.0085.21Norton
17Ranson, Humphrey3:07:00.6084.74Norton
18Salt, Charlie3:07:39.4084.46BSA
19Stevens, Cyril3:08:19.0084.16Norton
20Norris, Frank3:09:06.0083.81Norton
21Wheeler, Arthur3:09:37.8083.57Norton
22Swallow, Ken3:10:17.0083.29Norton
23Anderton, Sylvanus3:10:56.0083Norton
24Dear, Les3:11:07.6082.92Norton
25Sorensen, Sven3:12:55.0082.15Norton
26Grindley, Howard3:13:00.0082.11Norton
27Varlow, Jack3:13:12.0082.03Norton
28Stephen, Harry3:13:54.0081.73Norton
29Starr, Leo3:14:41.8081.4AJS
30Lashmar, Dennis3:14:51.0081.34Norton
31Stevenson, David3:15:14.0081.18AJS
32Kavanagh, Ken3:15:32.0081.05Norton
33Harris, Leslie3:16:46.0080.54Norton
34Barrett, Ernie3:17:00.0080.45Norton
35Fisher, John3:21:42.0078.57AJS
36Glazebrook, Joe3:22:43.0078.18Norton
37Harding, Jack3:25:04.0077.28Norton
38Hardy, Eric3:29:29.0075.65AJS
39Wagar, Ivan3:30:43.0075.21Triumph
40MacDonald, Bob3:31:50.0074.81AJS
41Gray, Charlie3:51:59.0068.32AJS
RBrett, JackAJS
RFranklen, SidAJS
RRowbottom, BobAJS
RTedder, LesAJS
RSandford, CecilBSA
RWalker, BobBSA
RMaloney, JohnHRD
RRing, ErnieMatchless
RBailey, JackNorton
RBarnett, SydNorton
RBillington, WilfNorton
RDean, RallyNorton
RFernando, PeterNorton
RGodwin, RoyNorton
RHall, BillNorton
RHollier, DeneNorton
RMcEwan, TommyNorton
RMiller, StanNorton
RParry, LenNorton
RPollitt, ArthurNorton
RPrudence, MarkNorton
RStewart, NormanNorton
RWilliams, LenVelocette
RPike, RolandBSA
RHeath, PhilVincent
RSherry, RobinNorton
RWard, DickVelocette
RDuke, GeoffNorton
RBeevers, BillNorton
RKing, RobertNorton
RFenn, ArchieNorton


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