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1958 Senior MGP

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 226.38 miles (6 laps)

Description: 1958 Senior Manx Grand Prix

Race report from Isle of Man Weekly Times, 12 September 1958 (pp. 1, 8, 9), below which is a full list of competitors:


Shepherd Led From Start —Then Out With Engine Trouble


Manxman Crooks Again Second, and Wins Lady Hill Trophy


Junior Team Victors Add Senior Award - This Time For Southern M.C.C.


But the race was by no means in the bag for Shepherd. Ernie Washer, 27-year-old joiner from Crawley, Sussex, who was second to Alan Holmes last year, smashed the lap record on the fifth lap to come within 15 seconds of Shepherd, and then made Manx Grand Prix history by being the first man in this event to lap the course in under 24 minutes. He went round in 23 minutes 58.8 seconds, a speed of 94.4 m.p.h., and he also set up a new record for the race. Eddie Crooks also beat last year's race record put up by fellow Manxman Alan Holmes. With Bob Dowty in fifth place and young Mike Kelly sixth, it was a great day for the Manx riders, and the gallant trio. Crooks, Kelly and Dowty, again took the team award, this time for the Southern M.C.C.

The Start, Thursday.
A perfect day. A cloudless sky with the sunshine bathing the Island in late summer glory. The flags hang limply at the Grandstand. The girls wear summer frocks and shirtsleeves are the order of the day for the men. No better conditions could have been desired for the blue riband of amateur motor-cycle racing, the Senior Manx Grand Prix. From a field of 95 acceptances 14 were listed as non-starters. They were: H. W. Dixon (348 B.S.A.), J. F. Jackson (A.J.S.). W. J. Sawford (Norton), B. B. Carr (B.S.A.), J. D. Hamilton (Norton), P. Carr (A.J.S.), L. G. Povey (B.S.A.). R Stretch (Norton), T. F. Watson (350 B.S.A.), C. Broughton (Norton). M. Wassell (A.J.S.). K. H. Patrick (Norton), E. F. D. Boyce (Norton), E. Peacock (348 Norton/B.S.A.) M. MaeDonnell (B.S.A.). J. Wood (B.S.A.). A. Higginson (B.S.A.) and D. W. Easton (B.S.A.). Twenty-three riders were on the list from the result of the Snaefell races on Monday for consideration in making up the field to 100. Nineteen of these secured places and they were headed by the Snaefell winner P. E. Richardson. Thirteen teams were nominated, two of them from the Isle of Man. The Manx trios were Bob Dowty, Eddie Crooks and Mike Kelly (Southern M.C.C, as the "A" team, and D. R. Kelly, J E Griffiths and M. Hobson (Southern M.C.C. "B" team). As the competitors lined up in their colourful parade at the North end of the Grandstand, the clerk of the course, Mr G. D Hanson announced: "The weather report can be summed up in one word: perfect. Reports which have come in from round the course from the travelling marshals have run out of superlatives—they simply say, conditions could not be better. It only remains for me on behalf of the Manx Motor-cycle Club to wish all of you a jolly good race and the best of luck." This last race of the season was favoured with a well filled grandstand, and with the announcement of one minute to go, the customary hush fell over the field.

The race was started by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, and the first rider. L. A. James (Norton) got away to a good start. Of the first ten riders to go on their way, the Manx rider Alan Raynor was the only one in difficulty with his A.J.S. being very reluctant to fire. First of the star men to go was Bob Dowty, who sat side saddle on a very healthy sounding Norton, as far down as the cemetery gates, before he sat astride the machine. The only riders to encounter delay at the start after this were G. C. Murphy (Norton) who pushed half the length of the pits, and found it was necessary to change a plug. R. L. Dawson (B.S.A.) also had to change a plug, and two newcomers, V. F. Broome (B.S.A.), and J. C. Smits (A.J.S.) also had to visit their pits to make adjustments before getting into the race.

At Ballacraine it was clear that of the early starters Dowty, N. J. Price and John Lewis were all picking up places, and as Eddie Crooks got the signal to start. Alan Shepherd on his Norton was signalled at Ballacraine. There were 5 1/2 minutes between them on starting time. Shepherd had picked up seven places on the first lap when he was checked through Michael. First man at Ramsey was the third man to start, B. Lund, and the fifth on the road through the town was Bob Dowty, who had passed seven riders at that point. Lund was the first to complete a lap, and as he did so, the last two riders to start were due at Ballacraine. Second man to start his second lap was Bob Dowty with everything obviously going very well indeed. At this stage Shepherd, who started 3 1/2 minutes after Dowty was coming down the Mountain, Eddie Crooks was approaching Ramsey, with Ned Minihan close on his heels, while Ernie Washer was climbing the mountain. An indication that the 1958 Senior M.G.P. was going to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest ever, was the lap time of Lund, in 25 mins. 34 secs. - this from a rider whose highest placing in previous races had been 22nd. Dowty was setting a terrific pace and clocked from a standing start 24 mins. 26.4 secs., an average speed of 92.62 m.p.h., which brought him within 22 seconds of the Grand Prix lap record, held by Ellis Boyce. From Keppel Gate David Lay clocked Eddie Crooks as 25 secs. down on Dowty. And this check was followed by the news that Alan Shepherd had taken the lead with a lap in 24 mins. 23 secs, at an average speed of 92.84 m.p.h. This gave him a lead of 3.8 secs, over Dowty. At Creg-ny-Baa, B. A. Denniss (Norton / B.S.A.) stopped to make adjustments to his rear mudguard, but it was observed after he had gone about 50 yards to have come loose again, and this was reported to the clerk of the course. At the pits Denniss was stopped to make adjustments.
Third fastest time to go up was 24 mins 35.2 secs by T. Godfrew (Norton) who was the next man to get under 25 minutes. At this stage M. T. Brookes (Norton) was fourth with a lap in 25 mins., but he was soon displaced by Ned Minihan (Norton) with a lap in 24 mins. 49 sees. Ernie Washer, who was a late starter, came in with a lap in 24 mins. 40 secs, to take over the fourth place, and a lap of 24 mins. 56.2 secs, by Eddie Crooks, was good enough to put the Manx rider in sixth place. Seventh in the race was now M. T. Brookes, and after him came J. Hurlstone, T. Thorp, N. J. Price, B. Lund and T. R. Graham. One minute seventeen seconds separated the first 12 riders at the start of the second lap, and all were on Nortons. First retirement officially announced was that of R. D. Wroe (Norton) at Crosby with engine trouble. Another rider to stop at the pits, where he adjusted his clutch, was C. B. Appleyard (A.J.S.). Stopping at the pits Ken Taubman (B.S.A.), said it was windy on the mountain with the wind against the riders on the mountain mile. Taubman made adjustments to his carburettor during his pit stop

Newcomer G. C. Young (Norton), pulled in to adjust his clutch and re-started. At Michael B. Hunter (F.B.S.) retired with engine trouble. The Senior Snaefell Race winner, P. E. Richardson, retired at Union Mills with engine trouble on his second lap. Another newcomer to retire, J. C Smits (A.J.S.) had to change three plugs at the start of the race, and eventually gave up the effort to get his engine going. P. J. Dunphy (Norton) retired below the pits with clutch trouble, whilst H. J. Fletcher (B.S.A.) pulled in to adjust his rear springs.
Dowty, now leading on the road, lapped in- 24 mins. 28.6 secs, second time round, which was slightly slower than his opening circuit. This was offering no challenge to the flying Shepherd, who got close to the record with a lap of 24 mins. 10.8 secs., at an average speed of 93.62 m.p.h. This gave him a 22-second lead over Dowty.

Dowty's slower second lap lost him the second place to T. Godfrey, who lapped in 24 mins. 17.2 secs., which put his 2.6 seconds ahead of the Manxman. Shepherd now had a lead of 18.6 seconds over the Southampton draughtsman. E. Unwin (B.S.A.) was reported to be free-wheeling down the mountain, and Quarter Bridge reported that C. Watson (Triumph) had left the Course and proceeded along Peel Road. R. Whitehouse (B.S.A.) retired at Brandywell with engine trouble, and bad luck for Lund, who had been running in 11th position- he retired at the Highlander with engine trouble. Two others with faulty engines were J. W. Deaville (Norton) at Ramsey, and R. S. Mayhew (A.J.S.). Both retired at the pits. Ned Minihan pulled in at the end of his second lap to adjust a footrest. A lap in 24 mins. 12.4 secs. by Ernie Washer pushed Dowty further back, and gave Washer a dead-heating second place with Godfrey. A lap in 24 mins. 29.6 secs, pushed Eddie Crooks up one place, to fifth, ahead of M. T. Brook who came into sixth position, with Minihan having fallen back. Another retirement at the pits was that of G. H. Turner (A.J.S.) with a punctured petrol float. N. J. Price, who had been running in tenth place, spent a busy time at his pit, where he dismantled the clutch, made adjustments, rebuilt it, and re-started. M. W. Munday (Norton) adjusted his footbrake when he called to refuel.

Shepherd was setting a pace nearly 2 m.p.h. faster than Alan Holmes' race record of last year. This had all the makings of the fastest M.G.P. ever. Three more retirements, all riders O.K., G. C. Young (Norton), at the Highlander: J. R. Thurston (B.S.A.) at Ballacraine: and B. A. Denniss (Norton) at Ramsey. Newcomer J. E. Griffiths stopped at Ramsey to change a plug and proceeded. M. R. Hancock (Norton) was seen to have his rear tyre covered in oil when he refuelled, and he was asked to wipe it clean. He re-started with no bottom gear. The first spill to be reported was at Glen Helen, where H. R. Gibson (Matchless) crashed. He was examined by a doctor and was reported to be suffering from facial abrasions. John Lewis, who was well placed on Tuesday, met engine trouble on his Norton, and he retired at Cruickshanks Corner. At the same time a mile away, near the Waterworks corner. T. Thorp, another leading performer on Tuesday in the Junior, parked his machine at the roadside and walked to the Gooseneck.

Dowty and Shepherd were now leading on the road, but Shepherd was slowing up. This time he lapped in 24 mins. 49.8 secs., as against a lap of 24 mins. 39 secs, by Dowty. This brought Dowty into second place ahead of Ernie Washer, whose third lap of 24 mins. 51.4 secs., put him nine seconds behind the Manx rider. Dowty was only 11.2 seconds behind the leader. Godfrey, who lapped in 24 mins. 53 secs., now went into fourth place, and Eddie Crooks, with a lap in 24 mins. 32.2 secs, took the fifth position, ahead of Brookes. When he refuelled Bob Dowty reported that his rev counter drive was broken, so that for the second half of the race he would be facing a disadvantage in reading his engine. Dowty took 30 seconds for his fill-up and Eddie Crooks was particularly smart in replenishing in 27.4 seconds.

There was now only 34.4 seconds between the leading five riders. After Brookes the order from seventh to twelfth place was: J. R. Hurlstone, Ned Minivan, F. A. Rutherford, the young Manx boy, Mike Kelly (now tenth), M. R. Hancock, all on Nortons, and R. C. Ritchie (Matchless). Mike Kelly completed the three laps in 1 hr. 16 mins. 29.8 secs. He had opened the race with a lap in 25 mins. 47.4 secs., and his second lap was 25 mins. 22.8 secs. He went round the third time in 25 mins. 19.6 secs. Two riders who stopped at the pits to adjust clutches were F. Wastell (B.S.A.) and R. J. Harrison (Norton). Four more retirements: R. L. Dawson (B.S.A.) and G. C. Murphy (Norton) at the pits; H. Riley (Norton) reported walking at Signpost corner; R. J. Brinnand (Norton) at Kirk Michael, with a split petrol tank. It was later reported that Riley had come off at Bedstead Corner and bruised his knee cap. From Ballacraine came the news that Newcomer B. Betts (Norton) had retired with a seized engine.

More riders in trouble; F. A. Rutherford, who had been in eighth position, retired at the pits, no reason being given. R. Whitehouse (B.S.A.) was reported pushing his machine up the hill at Hillberry, and G. Wilson (Norton) retired with engine trouble at the Waterworks. C. E. Packer (Matchless) stopped on Ballahutchin hill and tried to continue, but he eventually retired at Crosby. Shepherd continued to dominate the proceedings, and his fourth lap took him 24 mins. 15.4 secs. Dowty slowed visibly and his lap of 26 mins. 0.4 secs, pushed him down the leader board. Washer went round in 24 mins. 25.4 secs., which took him up into second place, making him 30 seconds behind Shepherd. Crooks, with a lap in 25 mins. 14.4 secs., climbed into third place, ahead of Dowty, but Eddie was now 1 min. 3 secs, behind Washer. Ned Minihan was now motoring very fast, and a lap in 24 mins. 23 secs, put him in fifth place. Godfrey, who had featured in the upper half of the leader board from the start, was in trouble, and he toured into the pits to retire at the end of the fourth lap, receiving a big round of applause from the grandstand for his great effort. His disappearance from the contest brought J. R. Hurlstone (Norton) into the picture and he took sixth position. Seventh was now Brookes: 8th, Rutherford; 9th. Ritchie, and in 10th place was the Manx boy. Michael Kelly, who lapped in 25 mins. 13.8 secs, on his fourth lap; 11th was P. C. Middleton (Norton) and 12th was E. B. Davies (Norton). Brookes went out of the race at the start of his fifth lap when he crashed at Laurel Bank and damaged his kneecap. Arrangements were made to pick him up by ambulance after the race was finished. Two more retirements- D. Rigby (B.S.A.) at the Graham Memorial, and newcomer T. Brown (Norton) at Kirk Michael, both with engine trouble.

On his fifth circuit, Dowty went round in 25 mins. 42.6 secs. This put him further down the leader board, into sixth place. Shepherd clocked 24 mins. 17.2 secs., but Washer, in full pursuit, broke the lap record set up last year by Ellis Boyce. He clocked 24 mins. 1.8 secs., clipping the record by 2.2 secs. The average speed for the lap being 94.2 m.p.h. This brought Washer to within 15 seconds of Shepherd. Eddie Crooks held on to third place, but Minihan, still going well, pushed himself into the fourth spot, whilst Hurlstone took fifth place ahead of Dowty. Eddie Crooks had lapped in 24 mins. 21.4 secs. Another rider stopped, this time at Ginger Hall to adjust his throttle, was F. J. Steele (B.S.A.) and later he was reported to have retired. J. G. Trustham (Norton) was reported to have stopped between Quarter Bridge and Braddan Bridge, as the result of a badly misfiring engine. And R. C. Ritchie (Matchless), who had been in ninth position, retired at the Highlander with engine trouble.

And now for shocks! From Laurel Bank came the message that Alan Shepherd had retired with engine trouble, the first announcement being that he had broken a chain. This meant that Washer now led the race, having started the last lap 1 min. 22 secs, ahead of Eddie Crooks, so that it looked as if Washer was likely to be a comfortable winner. Following Dowty on the leader board were, in this order. Ritchie (who later retired), Michael Kelly, who now came into seventh position, P. C. Middleton, E. P. Davies, G. R. Butler and T. R. Graham. Kelly's time for the five laps was 2 hrs. 8 mins. 0.8 secs. Three more retirements were J. G. Trustham at Braddan Bridge with a split tank; J. C. Holloway (A.J.S.) at Quarter Bridge with clutch trouble; newcomer M. Hobson (B.S.A.) at the pits. Dowty was the first to finish, with a final lap in 25 mins. 49 secs. His race time was 2 hrs. 31 mins. 6.8 secs. Eddie Crooks came home with a final lap of 24 mins. 23.2 secs., and a time for the race of 2 hrs. 27 mins. 57 secs. This meant that Washer, to win, had to lap in at least 25 mins. 45 secs. The reasons for Dowty's slowing up were now revealed. Not only had his rev counter connection broken, but after the third lap he had no clutch and no third gear. So that his performance in maintaining position in the top flight throughout the race was one of exceptional merit. On the final lap he stopped at Governor's Bridge, but was able to re-start and notch fifth place. Ernie Washer was leaving nothing to chance, and there was no question of easing up for him on the last lap. He made sure of victory with a new M.G.P. record lap in 23 mins. 58.8 secs., at 94.40 m.p.h., the first M.G.P. rider to lap under 24 minutes. He thus beat Crooks by 1 min. 47.2 secs., and for the fourth time in his racing career on the T.T. course, Eddie Crooks had to be content with second place. Ned Minihan completed his last lap in 24 mins. 59 secs., and this gave him third place. 1 min. 18 secs., behind Crooks. Washer's average speed was a new race record and Eddie Crooks also beat the race record set up last year by Alan Holmes. Newcomer P. Overton ran out of petrol at Barregarrow and another newcomer. F. Fisher (Norton), was now reported to have come off at the Gooseneck on his fifth lap but he was unhurt. He was forced to retire. American newcomer. R. E. Fox (A.J.S.) on his fifth lap hit the hedge at Signpost Corner and came off. He remounted and proceeded. Fox, who qualified from the Snaefell Race, was reported to have hit the sandbags at Laurel Bank on his last lap. He escaped injury. C. Scott (Norton) did not see the chequered flag when he finished and went out on a seventh lap, but he was stooped when he got to Ramsey. Dowty’s performance was good enough to clinch him in fifth place, and a magnificent ride by the 21-year-old Crosby boy, Michael Kelly, who began his racing career last September in the newcomer's event, brought him into sixth place. Kelly’s time for the six laps was 2 hrs. 33 mins. 27.8 secs., his last lap being covered in 25 mins. 27 secs. He rode for the last three laps without a third gear!

After the race. Ernie Washer said he had had "a very nice ride." He commented that he had suffered some trouble with flies on his goggles, which became very dirty by the fourth lap, but fortunately they got no worse. Asked whether he knew the position when Shepherd retired, he said that at the start of his last lap, he was signalled in second position, with 20 seconds to make up, so he "really pressed on." Climbing the mountain, he saw friends giving him the "thumbs up" signal and waving him down, so he "slowed up a little."

The team prize could not be in doubt with the brilliant performance by the Southern M.C.C. representing the Isle of Man, filling second, fifth and sixth places—Crooks, Dowty and Kelly.

Ernie Washer is 27 and a joiner from Crawley. Sussex. Before this year he had won four replicas in the M.G.P. and last year was runner up to Alan Holmes. The result gave Eddie Crooks his 11th M.G.P. replica and his sixth team prize. Ned Minihan was the winner of last year's newcomers' junior race. J. R. Hurlstone, who took fourth place, finished fifth last year. The Newcomers' Award was won by David Williams (B.S.A.), who finished 11th, after being second in Monday's Snaefell qualifying race. He is a 20- year-old apprentice aircraft production engineer from Leighton Buzzard. Williams finished in 2 hrs. 37 mins. 34.2 secs. Replica time was 2 hrs. 40 mins. 46.8 secs.

Replica time of 2 hrs. 40 mins. 46.8 secs, meant that J. T. Shakespeare (Norton), placed 23rd missed a replica by 7.6 seconds. As he had been flagged down during the race, the Stewards were considering before last night’s presentation whether to adjust his time by giving him an allowance for this — in which case he would qualify for a replica.

York Trophy for Bob Dowty
Only presented in special circumstances, the York Trophy was awarded by the Stewards for "a performance of outstanding merit" to Bob Dowty for his ride under exceptional difficulty for the major part of the race, when he had no rev counter, no clutch and no third gear


1Washer, Ernie2:26:09.0092.94Norton
2Crooks, Eddie2:27:57.0091.81Norton
3Minihan, Ned2:29:15.0091.02Norton
4Hurlstone, John2:29:42.0090.73Norton
5Dowty, Robert2:31:06.0089.89Norton
6Kelly, Mike2:33:27.0088.52Norton
7Middleton, Peter2:34:58.0087.65Norton
8Graham, Tom2:35:59.0087.09Norton
9Davies, Eugene2:36:04.0087.03Norton
10Butler, G.R.2:36:28.0086.82Norton
11Williams, David2:37:34.0086.21Norton
12Gittins, Maurice2:38:27.0085.72Norton
13Carman, Richard2:39:02.0085.42AJS
14Hancock, M.R.2:39:12.0085.33Norton
15Scott, C.2:39:29.0085.18Norton
16Clarke, Ian2:39:41.0085.07Norton
17Fletcher, H.J.2:39:48.0085.01BSA
18Fulton, Bill2:40:05.0084.86Norton
19Preece, Roy2:40:14.0084.77Norton
20Williams, Derek2:40:25.0084.67BSA
21Darvill, Peter2:40:35.0084.59PJD Vincent
22Pratt, Denis2:40:38.0084.57Norton
23Shakespeare, John2:40:54.0084.43Norton
24Kelly, Ray2:41:15.0084.24Matchless
25Woodman, Derek2:41:50.0083.94Norton
26Crowder, Horace2:43:11.0083.24BSA
27James, L.A.2:44:31.0082.57Norton
28Swetman, R.J.2:44:59.0082.34AJS
29Shorey, Dan2:45:08.0082.25Norton
30Lewis, S.L.2:45:15.0082.2
31Munday, Michael2:45:26.0082.11Norton
32Craven, Alan2:45:50.0081.91Norton
33Saward, Gerry2:47:02.0081.33Norton
35Downes, Graham2:47:16.0081.2AJS
36Harrison, R.J.2:47:41.0081.01Norton
37Price, Norman2:47:43.0080.99Norton
38Boarer, E.T.2:48:33.0080.59Norton
39Fellows, Desmond2:48:41.0080.52AJS
40McStay, Michael2:49:12.0080.28Norton
41Patrick, John2:51:01.0079.43Norton-Velocette
42Copland, Alistair2:53:38.0078.23BSA
43Virco, Alan2:53:52.0078.12BN Special
44Morton, Jimmy2:54:20.0077.92AJS
45Blanning, Roy2:55:04.0077.59BSA
46Reilly, V.2:56:04.0077.15AJS
47Tyack, Pete2:56:11.0077.1AJS
48Broome, Victor F.2:57:03.0076.72BSA
49Walker, George W.2:58:28.0076.11BSA
50Alexander, Peter3:02:01.0074.63BSA
51Appleyard, Colin3:04:18.0073.71AJS
52Raynor, Alan3:05:04.0073.4AJS
53Ward, M.E.3:09:16.0071.77Norton
54Newall, John3:12:35.0070.54BSA
55Parkin, O.3:12:47.0070.46Norton
RBetts, Brian0Norton
RBrinnand, Richard0Norton
RBrookes, Mike0Norton
RBullock, Jack0Matchless
RDeaville, John0Matchless
RDenniss, Brian0Norton BSA
RDunphy, Joe0Norton
RFisher, Fred0Norton
RFox, Ralph0AJS
RGibson, Harry0Matchless
RGriffiths, J.F.0Norton
RHobson, Mac0BSA
RHunter, B.W.0FBS
RMasson, Ralph0Norton
RMayhew, Roy0AJS
ROverton, P.0BSA
RPacker, C.E.0Matchless
RRedford, Maurice0Norton
RRichardson, Peter0Norton
RRigby, D.0BSA
RRiley, Harold0Norton
RRutherford, Frank0Norton
RShepherd, Alan0Norton
RSmits, J.C.0AJS
RSteele, Frank0BSA
RTaubman, Ken0BSA
RThorp, Tom0Norton
RThurston, John0BSA
RTrustham, Jack0Norton
RTurner, G.H.0AJS
RUnwin, Eric0BSA
RWastell, F.0BSA
RWatson, Charles0Triumph
RWhitehouse, Ralph0Norton
RYoung, Lewis0Norton
RBrown, T.Norton
RRitchie, BobMatchless
RWilson, G.Norton
RLewis, JohnNorton
RLund, BernieNorton
RGodfrey, TonyNorton
RDawson, RobinBSA


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