Search records

1955 Senior TT

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 264.25 miles (7 laps)

Description: Race report from the The Isle of Man Weekly Times Friday, June 10 1955 (P.3) below which is a full list of competitors:

‘THE DUKE’ DOES 99.97 m.p.h. LAP!



The Rest Were Nowhere After First Circuit


GEOFF DUKE, 32-year-old World Champion, confirmed his unassailable position in the 500 c.c. class to-day when he won the Senior T.T. at record breaking speed, smashing records all the way to an amazing victory which put him so far ahead of his rivals that the only question left unanswered was: “Will he do a 100 m.p.h. lap?”

Duke started the sensations with a standing start lap at 98.37 m.p.h., which shattered the late Ray Amm’s two-year-old record. Now surely we would get a 100 m.p.h. lap if “the Duke” really wanted to do it! With Bill Lomas leading the Guzzi challenge over a minute behind the Gilera. Duke’s 100 m.p.h. journey might not be really necessary.

Duke led team mate Reg. Armstrong by 44 seconds on the first lap, then came the Norton team men, Brett and Hartle, followed by Bob McIntyre, hero of the Junior T.T., and Bill Lomas.


On the third lap Geoff obliged, according to the official announcement, Riding as part of the wonderful Gilera, he streaked round in 22 mins. 39 secs., exactly 100 m.p.h. it was stated – but that was later corrected to 99.97 m.p.h., one second outside the “100.”

At the end of the fourth lap Duke pulled in for fuel and complained of cramp in his right arm. Lomas now took third place from Brett with Armstrong between the Guzzi and Duke.


The Gilera victory means that for the first time in history Britain is left without a win in the T.T. Races.

The Start, Friday.
This is it! The grand climax to a thrill packed T.T. week, and with weather conditions perfect for fast times, the race promises to be a fitting finale.
All round the course, spectators are gathered in their thousands – since early morning they have been streaming out to favourite vantage points.
The original field of 84 has been reduced by seven, and 77 riders have come to the starting grid.
There are only two manufacturers’ teams A.M.C. (Derek Ennett, John Clark and Peter Murphy), and Norton Motors (Jack Brett, John Surtees and John Hartle).
Of the seven club teams entered, most fancied trios are the B.M.C.R.C. (Bob McIntyre, Geoff Duke and John Surtees), and the Winsford and D.M.C. (Ennett, Hartle and Phil Carter).
First Lap
“The Duke” made a lightening getaway, and had passed No. 49, R. Ingram (Norton) who started ten seconds ahead, before reaching the end of the stands.
No. 60, E. Pantlin (Norton) was delayed for several minutes and started after the field had been despatched.
Gileras’ second string, Reg. Armstrong, had passed his counterpart in the Guzzi team – double T.T. winner Bill Lomas – by Glen Auldyn. Duke followed soon after, and was rapidly overhauling those who started in front.
Leading on the road at the end of the opening lap was first man away, H. A. Pearce (Matchless), followed by Monday’s hero, Bob McIntyre (Norton). The Scot had lapped in 24 mins. 9 secs, a speed of 93.77 m.p.h., and this from a private “naked” Norton.
But it was Duke who provided the sensation. Past the stands he was lying 26th on the road, and from a standing start had shattered the lap record held by the late Ray Amm. Duke lapped in 23 mins. 1 sec. – (98.37 m.p.h.) – 14 seconds faster than the old record. On this form no one could hope to challenge the Gilera star.
Australian ace Ken Kavanagh was not even on the leader board. His opening circuit was covered in 24 mins. 25 secs., one second faster than Norton team man John Surtees.
Bill Lomas was leading the Guzzi challenge at 93.08 m.p.h. – 1 min. 19 secs. behind the screaming Gilera. The Guzzis would have to motor “very very fast” in the closing stages to make up such a deficit.
Derek Ennett was riding in seventh place at the end of the first lap, only one second behind Lomas. His time was 24 mins. 21 secs.

Second Lap
Once again it was Bob McIntyre who led the private entrants. But not only did he lead the private pack, he was right up among the leaders, doing battle with and leading works riders.
Gileras, lying first and second, were sitting pretty for their first T.T. success. Tucked in behind, not quite in their slipstreams, was a trio of Nortons headed by Jack Brett.
Already the pace was telling, and the red “R” signalled six men out of the running. Percy Tait came off at Cronk-ny-Mona and was taken to Nobles’ Hospital suffering from shock.
Finland’s bid for honours ended when Harald Karlsson went out with engine trouble. It was a bad day for Scandinavia, for similar trouble forced S. Andersson (Sweden) to retire. Another rider from overseas forced out of the race was New Zealander, Barry Stormont.
Duke increased his lead with a fantastic second lap in 22 mins. 47 secs. (99.40 m.p.h.), only eight seconds outside the magic 100 m.p.h. Geoff may not have been interested in the 22 mins. 38 secs. lap, but it seemed that he would attain that speed – like it or not.
Ennett’s time for the two laps was 48 mins. 28 secs.


Third Lap
Commentator David Lay could not find words to describe “Duke’s beautiful flowing style” through the Keppel Gate. The world champion was streaking away from the field – he now led team mate Armstrong by 1 min. 28 secs.
The three Nortons still headed Lomas, with Brett in third place, 32 seconds behind Armstrong.
At 11-55 spectators packing the stands at the start jumped to their feet clapping wildly as Geoff Duke’s father-in-law, the Rev. Bert Reid, announced that the world champion had lapped in 22 mins. 39 secs., a speed of exactly 100 m.p.h.
We queried this from the “Times” Office. The lap speed table gives 22 mins. 38 secs. as 100 m.p.h. and later the chief timekeeper announced a correction. The speed was 99.97 m.p.h. Nearly, but not quite!
Anxious moment for R. Fay and A. F. J. Martin. They touched at the Laurel bank bend, but righted themselves and proceeded.
Duke was rapidly forging his way to the head of the field. As Armstrong (No. 38) glided into his pit for replenishments at the end of lap 3, Duke (No. 50), who started two minutes after him, swept past.
Ken Kavanagh, lapping at around the 24 minutes’ mark, could not get his Guzzi into the leading six. His partner Lomas, moved into fourth place as Hartle pulled into his pit for fuel.
Norton’s bright young hope, Surtees, lapping in just under 24 minutes, was eight seconds behind sixth man, McIntyre.


Fourth Lap
Smiling mechanics grabbed Duke’s machine as the champion pulled into his pit at the end of lap 4.
“Everything is going well,” said Geoff, “except that I have cramp in my right arm.” He blamed his skin-tight racing leathers for the trouble.
Local man Derek Ennett found himself sandwiched between the two howling Gileras as he came past the stands, with Armstrong on his tail, and Duke just getting away from his pit.
Lomas started his “late run” with a third lap at 96.25 m.p.h. On lap 4 he went round in 23 mins. 24 secs. (96.79 m.p.h.) to snatch third place from Jack Brett. Ken Kavanagh popped on to the leader board, taking sixth place.
G. R. Thomson (Australia) came off at Creg-ny-Baa on his fourth lap, and it was reported that a doctor was attending him.


Fifth Lap
Duke slowed slightly on his fourth circuit, lapping in 22 mins. 53 secs. (98.96 m.p.h.). His lead over Armstrong was now 2 mins. 51 secs. and he led Lomas by 3 mins. 42 secs.
Geoff could afford to ease off now. Neither the Guzzis nor the Nortons were capable of cutting his lead. The world champion was all set to record his third Senior win – his first since 1951. He was averaging 98.22 m.p.h. for the five laps.
By the half-way stage 15 riders were out of the running. Among those retired were Jack Ahearn (Australia), Peter Murphy (New Zealand) and Dick Thompson (Australia), who crashed at Creg-ny-Baa and sustained foot injuries. He was taken to hospital.
T. A. Ovens completed a hectic fifth lap. At Windy Corner he spilled – bending the gear lever of his Norton. He carried on, however, only to collide with Ulf Gate of Sweden at Creg-ny-Baa. Gate ran into the sandbags and retired, but Ovens raced on.
Duke lost 45 secs. of his lead to Armstrong on Lap 5 and Lomas closed the gap by 34 secs., with a lap at 97 m.p.h.
Kavanagh was also lapping much faster and it appeared that he would catch fourth man Jack Brett.
John Hartle held sixth place, 23 seconds ahead of Bob McIntyre.


Sixth Lap
The three leaders maintained their positions on lap 6, but Kavanagh displaced Brett to make an all Italian leading quartet.
Duke’s victory would complete a great week for Italy – four races entered – four victories gained. So far Duke and second man Armstrong had broken the old lap record, Armstrong with a fifth lap in 23 mins 10 secs (97.75 m.p.h.)
The leader was averaging 98.10 m.p.h., and led Armstrong by 2 mins 8 secs, with Lomas 3 mins 25 secs astern.
The Australian star, Maurie Quincey, who had put up such a wonderful performance on Monday, and who had hovered on the fringe of the leader board to-day, crashed at the 33rd milestone on his sixth circuit.
Quincey was taken to Noble’s Hospital with facial injuries.


Last Lap
Duke led Armstrong by 8 secs. on the road as they flashed past the stand to start their final lap. But by Kirk Michael Armstrong was leading by 50 yards.
Would the Dublin rider be the first to crack the 100 m.p.h. lap? At the Gooseneck he still led by just five yards – the Mountain Box reported that they were “still together.” And the Gilera team crossed the line sitting up with Armstrong leading by 40 yards.
From Keppel Gate came the report that Lomas had passed with a dead engine, lying flat on the tank to reduce wind resistance. Petrol trouble maybe? His team mate Kavanagh was also reported to be making adjustments while steering one-handed. It looked as if Jack Brett might snatch third place.
After his record-smashing ride Geoff said, “I am terrifically happy to have managed it on this machine at last, but I had rather an uncomfortable ride owing to cramp in my left leg.” The announcer said he “looked very weary.”
While Duke and Armstrong were receiving congratulations of admirers, reports of bad luck to other men on the leader board came in. Lomas pushed his Guzzi over the line after a great bid for third place. Norton’s 21-year-old rider, John Hartle, was reported to be coasting in from Creg-ny-Baa.
Fastest lap of the race was Geoff Duke’s third, in 22 mins 39 secs (99.97 m.p.h.), only one second outside “the ton.”
Yet more bad luck for the Norton camp! John Surtees was reported “coasting in” at Hillberry just as Hartle pushed his machine over the line.
Of the three Manx competitors, Derek Ennett finished the distance in 2 hrs. 51 mins. 14.6 secs. and George Costain in 2 hrs. 59 mins. 8 secs. Roy Capner retired in the first lap at Ballaugh with a seized engine. The rider was O.K.
Derek Ennett’s fast and consistent riding earned him an unexpected sixth place in 2 hrs 51 mins 14.4 secs (a speed of 92.54 m.p.h.).
The first four men home all beat the late Ray Amm’s 1954 race record§ of 93.85 m.p.h.
Norton Motors won the team award after both Hartle and Surtees had pushed in.
The club team prize was won by the B.M.C.R.C. trio of Duke, McIntyre and Surtees.


1Duke, Geoff2:41:49.8097.93Gilera
2Armstrong, Reg2:43:49.0096.74Gilera
3Kavanagh, Ken2:46:32.8095.16Guzzi
4Brett, Jack2:47:39.6094.52Norton
5McIntyre, Bob2:48:53.2093.83Norton
6Ennett, Derek2:51:14.4092.54Matchless
7Lomas, Bill2:53:54.8091.12Guzzi
8Jones, Eric2:54:45.2090.68Norton
9Powell, Derek2:55:25.2090.34Matchless
10Davey, Peter2:56:15.0089.92Norton
11Travers, Ray2:56:44.0089.67Norton
12O'Rourke, Mike2:56:47.6089.64Norton
13Hartle, John2:56:56.6089.56Norton
14Grant, Errol2:56:57.6089.55Norton
15Pearce, Harry2:57:32.0089.27Matchless
16Brown, Bob2:57:40.6089.19Matchless
17Wheeler, Arthur2:58:24.0088.83Matchless
18Denton, Ben2:58:49.4088.62Norton
18=Cook, Fred2:58:49.4088.62Matchless
20Aislabie, Bill2:58:59.6088.54Norton
21Costain, George2:59:08.0088.47Norton
22Lloyd, Ivor2:59:12.2088.43Norton
23Collett, Bill3:00:00.4088.04Matchless
24Read, Geoffrey3:01:00.0087.56Norton
25Chadwick, Dave3:01:28.8087.33Norton
26Perris, Frank3:02:49.2086.61Matchless
27Pantlin, Eric3:04:35.0085.86Norton
28Moule, Albert E.3:04:48.6085.75BSA
29Surtees, John3:05:13.6085.56Norton
30Templeton, Malcolm3:05:18.2085.52Matchless
31Rowbottom, Bob3:05:30.8085.43Norton
32Catlin, George3:06:27.0085Norton
33Rensen, Ralph3:06:39.4084.9Norton
34Palmer, Phil3:06:41.0084.89BSA
35Tully, Kevan3:06:44.0084.87Norton
36Shepherd, Terry3:06:53.0084.8Norton
37Bailey, Jack3:07:21.6084.58Norton
38Beevers, Bill3:07:53.0084.35Norton
39Roberton, Bill3:08:14.4084.19Norton
40Martin, Angus3:09:04.0083.82Norton
41Glazebrook, Joe3:09:15.4083.73Norton
42Fay, Ray3:11:17.4082.84BSA
43Swallow, Ken3:13:15.0082.01Matchless
44Wijesinghe, Ralph3:23:35.0077.85BSA
45Hancock, Walter3:24:04.0077.66BSA
46Wilshere, Willie3:24:55.0077.34Norton
47Norris, Frank3:27:09.0076.51Norton
RFerguson, BobNorton
RCapner, RoyBSA
RNorthwood, GeorgeBSA
RSalt, CharlieBSA
RStormont, BarryBSA
RCheers, EricMatchless
RGate, UlfMatchless
RJones, AlbertMatchless
RSalt, GeorgeMatchless
RThomson, DickMatchless
RTostevin, KenMatchless
RAhearn, JackNorton
RAndersson, SvenNorton
RCarr, LouisNorton
RHempleman, JohnNorton
RIngram, RoyNorton
RKarlsson, HaraldNorton
RLeigh, GeorgeNorton
ROvens, TonyNorton
RPlews, HarryNorton
RQuincey, MauriceNorton
RRobarts, GeraldNorton
RLowe, MorrieTriumph
RCarter, PhilMatchless
RClark, JohnMatchless
RWoods, J.Norton
RTait, PercyNorton
RMurphy, George A.Matchless
RKing, LenNorton
RFox, Frank M.Norton


Optional, not displayed

Manx National Heritage (MNH) will always put you in control of the information we send you. Read our privacy policy