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1954 Sidecar TT

Course name: Clypse

Course length: 114 miles (10 laps)

Description: 1954 Sidecar TT
Race report from TT Special 16 June 1954 p. 1, below which is a full list of competitors:

Eric Oliver (Norton) wins Sidecar TT

BMW’s 2,3,4

The Start, Wednesday pm
1 pm- In half an hour’s time, the Sidecar race will start. It will be the first Sidecar TT to be held in the Isle of Man for 29 years, for, after events in 1923, ’24 and ’25, the Sidecar race faded out of the Isle of Man programme.

The last Sidecar TT in 1925 was held on the Friday of Race Week- the Senior, on that one occasion, having been relegated to the Wednesday. It was run over four laps of the TT Mountain Course, and attracted an entry of 18, comprising 11 different makes. The capacity limit, incidentally, was 600 cc and the race was won by Len Parker (596cc Douglas) at 55.22 mph.

Today’s Sidecar TT, like this morning’s 125 cc event, will be run over 10 laps of the new Clypse Circuit- 10.79 miles per lap, and a total of 107.9 miles. It will have a massed start, positions on the grid being determined by speeds during the Practice period. The capacity limit is, of course, the normal ‘International’ 500 cc.

Curiously enough, the Sidecars and ‘125’s’ recorded almost identical speeds in practice over the Clypse circuit. Hollaus, on the 125 NSU clocked 9 mins, 17 secs ; Eric Oliver, the Norton-Watsonian sidecar ‘champ’ lapped in 9 mins 20 secs at 69.54 mph; Ubbiali (125 MV) did 9-21 and Cyril Smith (Norton Sidecar) 9.27. So it was a case of solo, sidecar, solo, sidecar.

There are 24 entries for this new Sidecar TT, made up of four different makes only- 18 Nortons, three BMWs and one each Matchless, Triumph and Vincent. The Vincent, however, is a non- starter, as are three of the Nortons- those to have been ridden by H Haldemann, M Masuy and DH Overall.

About the chairs themselves. Of the 20 starters, nearly half- nine, to be precise- have Watsonians. These include the most probable of the British winners – Eric Oliver, Cyril Smith, Pip Harris and Bill Boddice- whilst Fraulein Inge will also ‘enjoy Watsonian comfort’ if Jacques Drion will give her the chance! The German BMWs, incidentally, are using Steib sidecars.

1.15 pm- it is announced that R G Douglas (Norton) is another non-starter, so now they are down to 19.

The weather is just about perfect, with dry roads and the sun breaking through the clouds. What a bit of luck- after yesterday!

The riders are now lined up on the starting grids in threes and twos, according to their best laps in practice. On the front row are F Hillebrand (BMW) and Cyril Smith and Eric Oliver (Nortons). Behind them are Pip Harris (Norton) and Willi Noll (BMW), and then come the next three- W Schneider (BMW) and J Drion (with passenger Inge) and Bill Boddice (Nortons).
There are no motor cycle Manufacturers’ Teams, but two by Watsonian Sidecars- No 1 Oliver, Boddice and Harris; and No.2- F Taylor, L W Taylor and J Drion.

1.30 pm They’re off! Eric Oliver leaps to the front, followed by Pip Harris, F Hillebrand, Cyril Smith and Bill Boddice. They drift into single file as they approach Parkfield, with Eric leading and Pip on his tail.

Only one to have any difficulty in starting is A H Skein, but it is only delayed by a few seconds.

This morning’s fastest lap was put up by R Hollaus (NSU) in 9 min, 3.4 secs, at 71.53 mph. Can the sidecars beat it this afternoon? Doubtful, I think, for the course is much more favourable to solos than to sidecars.

Report from Signpost Corner- Oliver is there, all on his own: a few seconds later comes Cyril Smith- and then Pip Harris.

Before 1.40 pm Oliver is past, some five seconds ahead of Smith. Hillebrand is running third, a couple of seconds behind Cyril, and Pip Harris is fourth, on the German’s tail.

Eric Oliver’s first lap time is announced as 9 min 35 secs at 67.74 mph from a standing start, of course.

Almost as soon as we hear this, we hear also ‘noises off’- Eric Oliver completing his second lap. The order is now as follows:-

(lap leader table)

Bill Boddice (Norton) is lying seventh, only a few yards behind the BMW.

What did ‘Barney Craig”, our tame tipster, prophesy in Monday’s issue? Well, it was Oliver, Smith and Hillebrand, in that order. Up to date Barney isn’t doing too badly. And he had already got the ‘125’ winner, Hollaus.

On the third lap Oliver is nearly 20 seconds ahead of Smith, who in turn is about 25 seconds ahead of Hillebrand. Pip Harris is still fourth and Willi Noll fifth, with nearly a minute between the first five.

F Taylor (Norton) is reported as having stopped at Ballacarooin, where he made adjustments and proceeded.

A H Skein (Norton) has left the course at Hall’s Corner, so has obviously retired. Shortly afterwards, Skein draws into his pit- having rejoined the course. Possibly he cut the Signpost section.

At about 2.7 pm Oliver completes his fourth lap- but there is no sign of Cyril Smith. Then it is announced that he has stopped at Ballacoar and he is making adjustments. Bad luck, Cyril!
Second and third are Hillebrand and Harris, still fighting it out. Come on Pip- you ought to get in front, just to be in alphabetical order!

Cyril Smith is now definitely out of the race- retired at Ballacoar.

(lap leader table)

By 2.16 pm (approx.) Oliver is at half distance- five laps- and is nearly a minute and a half ahead of Hillebrand.

Third man past the pits is E T Young (Triumph), but he is a lap short, and fourth is Pip Harris, still third and still about the same distance behind Hillebrand.

Amongst the later men some nice little ‘dices’ and going on between F Taylor and E Walker (Nortons) and E J Davis (Matchless) and J Wijns (Norton). Both pairs flash past the pits at half distance, side by side, scrapping for the lead at Parkfield.

2.25 Oliver finishes his sixth lap; Hillebrand is next, over a minute and a half back- but Harris does not appear. Third is W Noll, over two minutes behind Eric.

(lap leader table)

The Norton ‘champ’ followed by three BMWs. My word, if anything happens to Eric……!

A H Skein, after spending some minutes at his pit, has carried on in the race. Presumably, then, the report that he left the course at Halls Corner was incorrect.

Pip Harris is now announced as having retired at Morney 3 with engine trouble: rider OK.

The order is the same at the end of the seventh lap, except that Jacques Drion and Inge have overtaken Bill Boddice and are now in fifth place. Bill, in fact, pulls into his pit, stays a couple of minutes, and gets away again well.

Report from Creg-ny Baa – Bill Boddice ran up the bank, and his machine turned over; he righted it and continued. That, perhaps, was why he stopped at his pit just now!

(lap leader table)

Same order as the seventh lap except that Jack Beeton (Norton) has drawn into sixth place, due to Boddice’s crash and subsequent pit delay. And over eight minutes between the first six, in a distance of 86 miles- just over two laps of the ‘proper’ course!

At 2.54 pm, Oliver is away on his 10th lap, with a still increased lead, but with the three BMWs still after him. Very little news now, as the leaders are all away on their last lap.

3 pm- or just after- Oliver is reported at Halls Corner. And here he is at Governor’s – and now past the pits- to win the first Sidecar TT to be held for 29 years by nearly two minutes at a speed of 68.67 mph.

And now after winning it, he does an eleventh – ‘complimentary’ lap- and finishes it while several competitors are still on the course trying to finish.


1Oliver, Eric & Nutt, Les1:34:00.2068.87Norton
2Hillebrand, Fritz & Grunwald, Manfred1:35:56.2067.58BMW
3Noll, Wilhelm & Cron, Fritz1:39:16.4065.22BMW
4Schneider, Walter & Strauss, Hans1:40:27.4064.45BMW
5Drion, Jacques & Stoll, Inge1:41:18.0063.91Norton
6Boddice, Bill & Pirie, John1:43:22.8062.63Norton
7Beeton, Jackie1:43:23.4062.62Norton
8Walker, Ernie & Roberts, D.G.1:44:17.2062.08Norton
9Taylor, Frank & Taylor, Ray1:44:35.2061.9Norton
10Taylor, Len & Glover, F.P.1:46:02.0061.06Norton
11Wijns, Jacques1:47:13.2060.38Norton
12Davis, Ted1:49:02.0059.38Matchless
13Beevers, Bill & Mundy, W.J.1:51:27.2058.08Norton
14Yorke, Derek & Green, E.J.1:56:50.0055.41Norton
15Young, Ted1:58:13.2054.76Triumph
RSmith, Cyril & Dibben, StanNorton
RGarrington, Freddie & PaskinNorton
RHarris, Pip & Holder, G.Norton
RSkein, Alec & Overall, DonNorton


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