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1953 Senior TT

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 264.25 miles (7 laps)

Description: Race report from the Isle of Man Weekly Times 13 Jun 1953 (p.1) below which is a full list of competitors:
Amm’s Great ‘Double’ for Nortons and Britain

Triumph For the Single-Cylinder Again


But Amm Breaks All Records at 97.41 m.p.h.


Tasmanian Rider’s Fatal Crash
Riding the race of his life, brilliant Norton ace Ray Amm, the Southern Rhodesian who won the International Junior T.T. on Monday, to-day brought off a magnificent “double’ for Nortons and Britain by winning the Senior T.T. at record speed after setting up new lap figures at the fantastic speed of 97.41 m.p.h. A triumph for Britain, for Nortons, and for the single-cylinder machine which withstood the greatest foreign “multi” challenge ever seen in the Island, a challenge which included the great Geoff Duke on an Italian Gilera.

Duke shot round the course on the first lap at record speed, smashing his own record at over 96 m.p.h. from a standing start. Could he keep it up? He could-for a time at least! On the second lap he made his first circuit speed history, put his average for the two laps up to 96.62 m.p.h. But this sort of thing could not last, even with the incomparable Duke. After a lap at over 97 m.p.h. he came off rounding Quarterbridge and retired with a split oil tank. He was unhurt. The first three men-Amm was second, over a minute behind Duke after two laps, and Armstrong third-were all beating the winning speed of Armstrong last year.

Duke’s retirement from the fray left the Norton works team nicely placed, in first, third and fourth places, with Armstrong 21 seconds in front of Kavanagh, and Brett only four seconds behind his team mate. The leader, Ray Amm, was over a minute in front of Armstrong. But then Kavanagh retired.

SENSATION UPON SENSATION! AMM, ON HIS THIRD LAP, BROKE THE NEW LAP RECORD AT 97.41 m.p.h. Now he could afford to rest on his laurels. But would he? He did, and was winning comfortably, but he had a spill on the last lap and pluckily carried on with a leg trailing. Jack Brett (Norton) took second place, Reg Armstrong losing time when his chain came off on the last lap.

Unfortunately there were sensations of a very different kind early in the race. Veteran T.T. rider, popular Les Graham, crashed on his second lap on Quarterbridge Road and was killed instantly.

A Tasmanian rider, G. J. Walker (Norton) was also killed when he crashed at Kerrowmoar on his fourth lap.

The Start, Friday
Never before has so much excitement and speculation preceded a T.T. race! Never before were people so certain that there would be a strenuous struggle to surpass all those that had been fought out before on this tough course.

Questions tumbled through one’s mind. Would the elusive 100 m.p.h. lap be attained? Would Duke, after a brief career of car racing, prove once again the peerless master of the T.T. Course, although it seems out of place that he should be riding a Gilera- so often had the combination Duke and Norton been heard. Would “the old firm” Norton’s, once again capture the premier award as they have so often done in the past? Would the A.J.S. prove once again such a strong contender?

These are but a few of the questions for which thousands of spectators were impatiently awaiting the answer. There were nine non-starters: A. Copeta, J. Surtees, junr., F. P. Heath, A. E. Moule, H. L. Stephen, M. P. Roche, S. Lawton, E. W. L. Hunt, and E. Lorenzetti, leaving 79 starters. Three manufacturers’ teams consisted of Norton Motors Ltd. (J. Brett, T. K. Kavanagh, and W. R. Amm) ; Moto Gilera (H. R. Armstrong, R. H. Dale, and G. E. Duke) ; and A.J.S. Motorcycles (W. Doran, R. Coleman, and R. H. Sherry). There were nine club teams. An official said he had never seen so many people round the course.

A telegram from Dusseldorf read “For the most excellent attention paid to our D.K.W. riders during the T.T. we thank you very heartily - Auto-Union.”

First Lap
When No. 1, W. A. McAlpine (Norton), of Australia, set off to start the race at 10.30 a.m., the weather and visibility ere very good, and slight mist on the mountains was rapidly clearing. One of the starting rockets came down alight on the road near the starting machines.

The only man to have trouble at the Start was No. 14, Swedish rider, K. Johansson (Triumph), who got away only after No. 16, E. V. C. Hardy (A.J.S.) had passed him. A surprise was that S. Cooper (A.J.S.) and R. M. G. McIntyre, who was to have ridden a works A.J.S., did not start.

The reason given was that they had failed to collect their machines.

Two struggles which promised to be fierce were those between Les Graham (M.V. Agusta) and J. Brett (Norton), who started after each other, and that between R. H. Dale (Gilera), and Australian T. K. Kavanagh (Norton).

First to retire was Tommy McEwan, of Onchan, astride a Matchless, who reached only the Quarter Bridge before he was put out of the race, presumably by engine trouble.

That Les Graham was early piling on the speed was shown by the fact that he gained 20 seconds on Brett, the Norton ace, before Ramsey, but Kavanagh, another Norton star, passed Dale on the Italian Gilera between the Start and Ramsey.

McAlpine finished the first lap still ahead of the field. Second through the Start was New Zealander K, H, Mudford (Norton).

Graham had passed 11 riders on his first lap which he covered in 24 mins. 8 secs., a speed of 93.83 m.p.h. Reg Armstrong passed 13 riders.

An omen of stupendous feats to come was Duke’s colossal speed on his first lap. From a standing start he took his Gilera round in 23 mins. 30 secs., a speed of 96.38 m.p.h., to smash his own record created in 1951. This despite the fact that he was one of three riders flagged to slow down at Creg-ny-Baa to avoid K. Bryen who came off there. Bryen was not badly hurt and retired after receiving attention.

Two other riders were flagged to avoid Bryen. They were F. Passmore (Norton) and H. A. Pearce (Matchless).

Second Lap
Once again tragedy entered the race. That great rider and great sportsman, Les Graham, crashed at a tremendous speed on his Agusta at Selbourne Road after the descent of Bray Hill. He was killed instantly.

Only yesterday he had celebrated his first T.T. victory after trying for so many years and coming so very close to his dream, notably that year on the A.J.S. Porcupine when he had the Senior T.T. in his pocket and ran out of petrol on the mountain. The last year he had the misfortune to leave the course on the Agusta at Sulby Bridge when well-placed but he finished second. On his first circuit he had returned the second fastest lap in 24 mins. 8 secs., at 93.83 miles an hour.

That record lap of Duke’s had put him 38 seconds in the lead. Ten seconds behind Graham and 48 behind Duke came W. R. Amm (Norton) in third place. He lapped in 24 mins. 18 secs., a speed of 93.2 m.p.h. Another member of the Norton team, T. K. Kavanagh, of Australia, occupied fourth place at the end of the lap. His time was 24 mins. 24 secs., a speed of 92.82 m.p.h. Tying for fifth position were H. R. Armstrong, of Ireland (Gilera), and R. Coleman, of New Zealand (A.J.S.), with a lap time of 24 mins. 29 secs. (92.51 m.p.h.). A. A. Fenn (Norton) retired at the pits after pushing in from Governor’s Bridge. K. Johansson of Sweden (Triumph) was reported to be touring through Barregarrow. A. Milani (Gilera) stopped at Ramsey to make adjustments to his machine, but proceeded. W. J. Campbell (Norton) pulled in to Hillberry to examine his machine. His petrol tank was leaking, but he proceeded. A. Wheeler (Matchless) was also reported to be touring. Duke flashed past the Start closely followed by W. R. Amm (Norton), whom he had passed.

A swollen hand caused R. S. Herbert (Triumph) from Canada to retire at Glen Helen.

Duke was really burning up the course. Not content with smashing the previous record on his first lap, he travelled even more quickly on his second to break the record once again. His new record now stood at 96.93 m.p.h., a time of 23 mins. 22 secs., which was 8 secs. faster than that on his first lap.

R. H. Dale (Gilera) retired at the pits after coming off at Signpost Corner. W. Zelier (B.M.W.) also came off there; he remounted and travelled to Governor’s Bridge and stopped again.

Engine trouble caused L. B. Ranson (A.J.S.) to retire at the pits. Another retirement there was C. Julian (Norton), with frame trouble. L. Williams (Norton) toured in from Governor’s Bridge. W. A. McAlpine (Norton), who was the first man away, retired at the pits.

A crop of retirements included G. E. Leigh (Norton), who stopped at the Bungalow with a broken oil chain feed; W. J. Campbell (350 c.c. Norton), who stopped at the pits with frame trouble, Rally Dean, from Ceylon, on a Norton, who dropped out at Hillberry. All the riders were all right.

C. Bandirola, from Italy, on an M.V. Agusta, toured past the Bungalow.

With that terrific lap, Duke increased his lead to 1 min. 3 secs.

Ray Amm, who had jumped up to second place, required a pair of goggles. An announcement asked that if any sportsman had a pair, would they lend them to him when he pulled in to re-fuel. He lapped at 95.91 m.p.h. in 23 mins. 37 secs., which also exceeded the previous record.

Armstrong jumped from fifth to third place with a lap of 24 mins. 6 secs., a speed of 93.96 m.p.h. J. Brett (Norton) occupied fourth, having lapped in 24 mins. 19 secs., at 93.14 m.p.h. Rod Coleman, from New Zealand, on a A.J.S. lapped in 24 mins. 26 secs., at a speed of 92.82 m.p.h. Ken Kavanagh dropped from fourth to sixth place with a lap of 24 mins. 21 secs. (92.38 m.p.h.), while L. Williams (Norton) retired at Governor’s Bridge with a split oil tank.

Carl Bandirola, the other Agusta rider, who had been touring round the course, has been signalled to withdraw, presumably because of Graham’s tragic death.

Third Lap
Amm and Duke were locked in an exciting struggle on the road. They were travelling neck and neck. Amm overtook Duke between the Start and Ramsey, and maintained that position until the end of the lap when he pulled in to re-fuel. Duke tore through the Start without stopping.

Others who re-fuelled were Armstrong and Doran. L. T. Simpson, of New Zealand (Matchless) retired with a broken valve spring at the Quarterbridge.

H. R. Armstrong (Gilera) retained third position with a lap of 23 mins. 53 secs. (94.81 m.p.h.). T. K. Kavanagh jumped up again into fourth position with a lap of 23 mins. 54 secs. (94.74 m.p.h.). J. Brett dropped to fifth place. His lap time was 24 mins. 4 secs. (94.08 m.p.h.). R. Coleman also dropped a place to sixth position. He lapped in 24 mins. 18 secs. (93.02 m.p.h.)

J. Mackay (Triumph) retired at the pits with a split oil tank, and George Brown (Norton) also retired there.

LAPS AT 97 m.p.h.
The sensational news that Amm had lapped in 23 mins. 15 secs. at 97.41 m.p.h. surprised spectators. They could not believe that the “obsolete” single-cylinder Norton could travel at such a speed. He broke the record set up by Duke in the previous lap by seven seconds.

Duke also exceeded his previous lap time, but he did not travel as quickly as Amm. He lapped in 23 mins. 18 secs., a speed of 97.02 m.p.h.

H. A. Pearce had a spill at the pits as he pulled in. Another retirement was that of M. P. O’Rourke (Matchless) at Ramsey with a broken oil pipe. He was all right.

Other retirements were W. Zeller, from Germany, on a B.M.W., at Governor’s Bridge, S. A. Sorenson, from Denmark, on a Norton, at Ramsey with engine trouble, F. Passmore (Norton) at the pits, and H. Clark (Matchless) at Hillberry with engine trouble.

Fourth Lap
After leading for the first three laps at record speed, Geoff Duke, on the hugh multi-cylinder Gilera, rounded the Quarterbridge and came off. He retired with a split oil tank, but he was unhurt,

With Duke out of the race, Amm was in the lead and finished the lap 1 min. 38 secs. ahead of Armstrong (Gilera), who was in second place. Only four seconds behind him was R. Coleman, introducing a strong A.J.S. challenge. Armstrong lapped in 24 mins. 51 secs., at 91.13 m.p.h., compared with R. Coleman’s time of 24 mins. 12 secs. (93.58 m.p.h.) J. Brett had once again gone into fourth place with a lap of 24 mins. 48 secs. (91.31 m.p.h.) New names on the leader board were W. Doran (A.J.S.) and K. H. Mudford (Norton). Mudford’s position was particularly commendable as he had not a works machine as all the other riders on the leader board had. Doran lapped in 25 mins. 29 secs. (88.8 m.p.h.) and Ken Mudford, a New Zealander (Norton), in 25 mins. 34 secs. (88.59 m.p.h.).

Misfortune also overtook Ken Kavanagh, a member of the Norton team, who was second in Monday’s Junior race. He was lying third when the commentator at Cronk-ny-Mona reported that he was pushing his machine slowly and sadly up the road from Hillberry.

D. K. Farrant (Matchless) stopped at Windy Corner to make adjustments and H. A. Pearce (Norton) stopped at Brandywell for the same purpose.

K. W. Swallow (A.J.S.) retired at the pits with engine trouble.

Kavanagh coasted to Governor’s Bridge and left the course there to retire.

J. R. Clark, on an A.J.S. retired at Sulby Bridge with a broken primary chain and a puncture in his rear tyre put R. A. Rowbottom (A.J.S.) out of the race at Governor’s Bridge.

H. Clark was reported to be walking in to the Start.

Another three riders encountered trouble. J. H. Cooper (Matchless) retired with engine trouble between the Gooseneck and the Guthrie Memorial and engine trouble caused A. Wheeler (Matchless) to retire at the Pitts. E. A. Barrett (Phoenix Jap) pushed in from Governor’s Bridge.

Geoffrey James Walker, a 23-year-old unmarried engineer and surveyor, of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, was killed at Kerrowmoar when he crashed on his Norton in this lap.

Walker was coming round the corner at Kerrowmoar when his footrest hit the kerb, the machine mounted the pavement, and hit a tree.

Fifth Lap
Armstrong, straining to catch a flying Amm, clipped six seconds off his lead during lap 5, but Amm was still speeding round and had a lead of 1 min. 32 secs. Amm lapped in 23 mins. 54 secs. (94.74 m.p.h.) Armstrong lapped in 23 mins. 48 secs. (95.15 m.p.h.) Brett once again gained a place, relegating Coleman to fourth place, but the latter had re-fuelled at the end of lap 4, which was reflected in his time. Doran and Mudford still occupied fifth and sixth places. Brett’s lap time was 23 mins. 44 secs. (95.43 m.p.h.), Coleman’s 25 mins. 1 sec. (90.5 m.p.h.), Doran’s 24 mins. 4 secs. (91.82), and Mudford’s 26 mins. 22 secs. (85.89).

Sixth Lap
Amm flashed past the Grandstand 1 min. 17 secs. ahead of Armstrong, so Armstrong had cut the lead still further. Brett lapped in 23 mins. 22 secs. (94.88 m.p.h.) and was still in third place. Coleman, Doran and Mudford were still in fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively. Their lap times and speeds were: Coleman 24 mins. 14 secs. (93.45 m.p.h.), Doran 24 mins. 41 secs. (91.75 m.p.h.) and Mudford 25 mins. 43 secs (88.06 m.p.h.).

V. H. Willoughby (Norton) came off at Sarah’s Cottage and retired.

Seventh Lap
Ray Amm, who had been leading since Duke retired, came off at Sarah’s Cottage, but he remounted and proceeded. When he passed through Ramsey he was 5 mins. 29 secs. behind Armstrong on the road but was still leading Armstrong by about one minute.

Amm’s left leg was trailing as it appeared that the footrest had broken off.

Mudford who had been lying sixth for three laps, retired at Ballaugh on his last circuit with a broken chain. The rider was o.k. Another retirement was L. Starr (Norton) with clutch trouble, at Ginger Hall on lap 6.

Armstrong’s chain came off as he was leaving Ramsey on the last lap, but he replaced it and went on to finish. The amazing thing is that he experienced the same mishap at the end of the Senior race last year.

Although he trailed his foot for the remainder of the lap, Amm went on to win in 2 hrs. 48 mins. 51.8 secs., an average speed of 93.85 m.p.h., to break the race record set up by Duke on a Norton in 1951 by five seconds. This meant that Amm had created both lap and race records. He finished 12 seconds ahead of Brett, who came second in 2 hrs. 49 mins. 3.8 secs., a speed of 93.73 m.p.h. and finished 13 seconds ahead of Armstrong, who came third.

His handicap had slowed Amm considerably. He covered the last lap in 25 mins. 11.8 secs., a speed of 89.87 m.p.h. Brett sped over the last circuit in 23 mins 46.8 secs., a speed of 95.24 m.p.h., to snatch second place from Armstrong, who had been lying second since the fourth lap. Armstrong lapped in 24 mins. 19.8 secs. (93.09 m.p.h.).

A.J.S., the only team to finish, win the manufacturer’s award.


1Amm, Ray2:48:51.8093.85Norton
2Brett, Jack2:49:03.8093.74Norton
3Armstrong, Reg2:49:16.8093.62Gilera
4Coleman, Rod2:50:49.6092.77AJS
5Doran, Bill2:54:25.0090.86AJS
6Davey, Peter3:02:13.0086.97Norton
7Frend, Ted3:02:44.6086.72Norton
8Sherry, Robin3:03:13.4086.5AJS
9Pearce, Harry3:03:28.4086.38Matchless
10Grace, John3:05:15.8085.54Norton
11Boulter, Laurie3:05:18.6085.52Norton
12Norris, Frank3:06:36.6084.92Norton
13Houseley, Eric3:07:22.8084.58Norton
14Templeton, Malcolm3:09:09.2083.79Matchless
15Laurent, Ray3:09:25.6083.66Norton
16Salt, Charlie3:09:46.0083.51BSA
17Pantlin, Eric3:09:51.8083.47Norton
18Nicholson, Nick3:10:25.2083.23Norton
19Beevers, Bill3:11:15.0082.87Norton
20Bailey, Jack3:11:29.2082.77Norton
21Dear, Les3:11:45.0082.65Norton
22Glazebrook, Joe3:11:52.0082.6Norton
23Scott, George3:11:55.0082.58AJS
24Carter, Phil3:13:47.4081.78Matchless
25Travers, Ray3:14:29.8081.48Norton
26Walker, Bob3:16:23.0080.7Norton
27Gray, Charlie3:18:00.0080.04AJS
28Hardy, Eric3:18:10.0079.97AJS
29Prince, Ken3:18:28.0079.85AJS
30Franklen, Sid3:19:35.0079.41AJS
31Gilbert, Louis3:20:08.0079.06AJS
32Ranson, Llewellyn3:22:00.0078.46AJS
33Fisher, John3:28:48.0075.9AJS
34MacDonald, Bob3:30:42.0075.22AJS
35Dean, Zachary3:36:47.0073.1Norton
36Harding, Jack3:43:30.0070Norton
RRowbottom, BobAJS
RSwallow, KenAJS
RZeller, WalterBMW
RDale, DickieGilera
RMilani, AlfredoGilera
RBarrett, ErnieJAP
RCooper, BertMatchless
RFarrant, DerekMatchless
RMcEwan, TommyMatchless
RO'Rourke, MikeMatchless
RRing, ErnieMatchless
RWheeler, ArthurMatchless
RBandirola, CarloMV
RGraham, LesMV
RBarnett, SydNorton
RBryen, KeithNorton
RCampbell, SparkyNorton
RDean, RallyNorton
RJulian, CyrilNorton
RKavanagh, KenNorton
RLeigh, GeorgeNorton
RMcAlpine, TonyNorton
RMudford, KenNorton
RPassmore, FredNorton
RRudge, RonNorton
RSorensen, SvenNorton
RStarr, LeoNorton
RStormont, BarryNorton
RWalker, GeoffNorton
RWilliams, LenNorton
RHerbert, RobertTriumph
RJohansson, KunoTriumph
RClark, HaroldMatchless
RClark, JohnAJS
RWilloughby, VicNorton
RBrown, GeorgeNorton
RMackay, JohnTriumph
RSimpson, LeoMatchless
RMurphy, George A.Matchless
RDuke, GeoffGilera
RFenn, ArchieNorton


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