Search records

1959 Senior MGP

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 226.38 miles (6 laps)

Description: 1959 Senior MGP

Race report from the Isle of Man Times, 1 September 1959 (pp. 1, 2) below which is a full list of competitors:


Brilliant Ride in Race of Many Sensations


And Mike Kelly Takes Seventh Place


A BRILLIANT ride by a Manx ace racing motor-cyclist ended yesterday with 27-year-old Eddie Crooks, now a garage manager at Barrow, winning the Senior Manx Grand Prix at record speed after smashing the lap figures on the second and third laps.

He was a double second in last year's two races, and he has now won 12 replicas and seven team awards— the last in yesterday's race, wonderful climax to a great career. He had a comfortable lead from Tom Thorp, the man who had the Junior race 'in his pocket" when he had trouble on the last lap and pushed over the line. The promising young Manx rider, Mike Kelly, from Crosby, was seventh yesterday, a great performance by the 22-year-old motor-cycle mechanic.

The Start, Thursday.
The original field of 132 was reduced to 105 through a number of causes — non-arrivals, accidents, and lack of machinery through engines having "blown up" in the Junior race. Sixteen teams were nominated with Wirral "A" and "B," Manchester 17 "A" and "B." B.M.C.R.C. "A." **B" and **C" and one each from Sidcup and District. Grasshopper (Romford). Westminster M.C.C, Winsford and District, Ramsey M.C. (Mike Kelly, Eddie Crooks and Fred Fisher), S.A.C.U. Horsforth and District. West Leeds M.C. and Southampton and District clubs. Shortly before 10-30 a.m. the Deputy- Governor and Mrs Kneale arrived, a few minutes before the riders had come through Douglas in grand parade and taken up their places on the grid.

Weather conditions were absolutely perfect, with a haze covering the mountain and obscuring the hills. A slight breeze from the sea sent the flags fluttering and the Clerk of the Course, Mr G. D. Hanson, informed the riders that the word "perfect" had been used by everyone giving reports from round the course. The Ronaidsway met. office had given the assurance that the mist which swirled in from the sea on Tuesday would not be repeated to-day. So all was set for the 1959 Senior Manx Grand Prix—and a record-breaking run for the leading riders. Round the course the vantage points were packed with spectators, many of whom had arrived on the early morning steamer and they were aware that in such wonderful conditions they were promised high speeds and exciting tussles. They were not disappointed. From announcer David Lay came news of a telegram sent to the Winsford and District club to Ellis Boyce, Dave Williams and Phil Richardson (who formed the team) — "good luck." The amusing thing about the telegram was that it was addressed to the "Clerk of the Court"— though a legal gentleman filled the position of Clerk of the Course.

First Lap
Precisely at 10-45 a.m. T.T. ace Harold Daniell, guest of honour this year, dropped his flag and No. 1. C. J. Williams (Norton) pushed his machine away as the maroon sounded over Noble's Park, heralding the start of the most exciting race in the Manx Grand Prix series. A number of riders met with difficulty in getting away—D. F. Shorey (Norton). W. H. Dixon (B.S.A.) and D. B, Russell (Norton), David Williams (Norton), Manxman Ken Taubman (Norton) and I. Wallace (Norton) who retired with the casing of his gearbox broken. Shorey never got as far as the top of Bray Hill, retiring with oil trouble and fast man "Ginger" Payne got as far as Quarter Bridge before retiring with engine trouble.
Ritchie (Matchless) was setting a cracking pace and by Ramsey he was leading on the road with his No. 2 plate. At that point John Adam had picked up a number of places while Mike Kelly and Eddie Crooks were chasing hard. First at the Mountain check was Ritchie but behind were Ellis Boyce (Norton), Alan Rutherford (Norton) and D. Pratt and they passed announcer Eric Teare at Keppel Gate, travelling speedily and safely.

L. J. Bury (A.J.S.) caused excitement at Quarter Bridge in the first lap when he failed to reduce speed in the approach and he swung up the slip road towards Douglas, travelling down to the barrier where he managed to halt, almost falling in the effort No. 118. E. P. Davies (Norton) was signalled at Ballacraine as Ritchie roared through past the pits, but Ellis Boyce was not far behind with Pratt and Rutherford "full chat" in pursuit. Tony Godfrey (Matchless), one of the fast men, went through the pits ahead of Mike Kelly, having picked up three places, while D. B. Russell pulled in at the pits for adjustments. A. B. Gill (A.J.S.) stopped at the Ballahutchin, though it was stated he had not retired officially. Fast man Phil Read (Norton) changed a plug before he got away, but he was clocked in at Ballacraine and apparently going well.

Out goes the first fast man, and the rider fancied for honours to-day—Michael Brookes (Norton)—who packed up at Rhencullen with engine trouble. So Michael finished at Michael! Eddie Crooks was wasting no time in getting round the course—he rocketed through the pits ahead of G. T. Downes (Norton) who started a minute ahead of him, though unofficial timing gave the Manx lad as being six seconds down on Tom Thorp (Norton). But it was Peter Middleton, the Junior winner, who led at the end of the first lap. Russell, who pulled into the pits, replaced a missing footrest and went on his way and Gill officially retired, as did C. J. Williams (Norton) while C. Watson (B.S.A.) was stated to be free-wheeling past the Creg.

Second Lap
Middleton, Thorp and Crooks were really motoring in their bid to win the coveted Senior trophy and none could be dissatisfied with their swift initial lap which held every promise of the closest finish ever to a Senior Manx Grand Prix. By lapping in 24 mins. 10.4 secs. Middleton was a little over five seconds outside Ernie Washer's lap record of 93.67 m.p.h. from a standing start... the record was tottering! At the end of this lap Ritchie and Ellis Boyce pulled in for refuelling as it was announced that B. Kershaw (A.J.S.) retired at the pits and J. Newall (B.S.A.) and L. J. Bury (A.J.S.) coasted with silent motors past the Creg, while C. Watson signed a retirement form at the 33rd. From announcer Harold Colebourn at Sulby Bridge came the exciting news that Eddie Crooks' second lap must have been a "humdinger" and he was only five seconds behind the leader at that point. Obviously the Manx rider was making up for his unfortunate retirement on Tuesday when he seemed set for honours, but he was being hotly chased by Lewis. In seventh to twelfth positions were Ned Minihan (Norton), Alan Rutherford (Norton), Bob Ritchie (Norton), Mike Kelly (Norton), D. Pratt (Norton) and R. S. Mayhew (Matchless).

If confirmation that the lads were really motoring were required it came with the news that Tom Thorp had broken the lap record, covering the T.T course in 23 mins. 41 secs., at a speed of 95.58 m.p.h. And then came the shattering news that Eddie Crooks had beaten this record by one second—at a speed of 95.64 m.p.h. The Douglas lad was definitely out for the Crookall Trophy— and no one deserved it more than this truly outstanding rider. Retirements started piling in P. A. Alexander (Matchless) on the Mountain, F. Burgess (Norton) at Handley's, M. J. Gittins (Norton ) at Union Mills and R. Polak (Norton) and M. A. Atkin (B.S.A.) at Laurel Bank .

Third Lap
With the coming of the third lap the pattern of the race was forming and a right royal battle between Middleton and Crooks had the crowds agog with Keppel Gate reporting that a mere five seconds separated both men, with the Manx rider giving the race all he had. Crowds stood on the stand as Eddie pulled in for petrol and he gripped the bars curbing his impatience while his faithful pit attendant made sure sufficient fuel was put aboard.
Hard luck, Godfrey. Holding fifth place on the leader board, he went out of the race at Greeba Bridge with engine trouble, one of numerous retirements at this stage with Douglass (Norton) touring at the Creg and Hunter (B.S.A.) stopping at Sulby Bridge. The majority of riders pulled in at the pits at the end of this lap for necessary refuelling and there was feverish excitement as pit attendants worked frantically to get their men away without undue loss of seconds.

Sensation! Eddie Crooks broke the lap record once more on this lap with a fantastic 23 ing (sic) Ernie Washer's record for mins. 31.2 seconds lap (sic) ... a speed of 96.3 miles an hour. knocksix!(sic) On top of that he took the lead—by the narrow margin of three seconds. Yet this amazing rider, according to course reports, was riding well within his limits. And what is this news? Mike Kelly only 12 seconds behind Ellis Boyce. The Manx contingent were in great form and going great guns. No wonder fingers were crossed in the grandstand. A few more retirements were announced with M. Hayward (B.S.A.) going out at Ballaugh and H. Taylor (Norton) at the pits. Reuben Hardy of Laxey (B.S.A.) hit the sandbags at Governor's Bridge, but he was O.K. and proceeded. So Eddie Crooks was leading. Official news came through that he was three seconds ahead of Thorp.

Out goes another rider, and a fancied man, John Lewis (Norton), who had been lying fifth on the leader board. He stood at the pits minus helmet, engine trouble having put him out of the race at Bray Hill. Another retirement at the pits was that of R. Barnes (Norton) with engine trouble. In seventh to twelfth positions on this lap were Phil Read (Norton), Ellis Boyce, Mike Kelly, R. S. Mayhew. D. Pratt and N. J. Price.

Fourth Lap
On the thin blue ribbon of road winding over 37 3/4 miles of Manx mountain and valley, Eddie Crooks was asking all that his 500 c.c. Norton could give him in his bid for Grand Prix honours and the realisation of his greatest ambition. By the end of the fourth lap he had increased his lead by 24 seconds over Tom Thorp who, on coming in to refuel, overshot his pit and lost vital seconds. While these men roared healthily over the Mountain retirements came in steadily with B. Ellis (Norton) stopping at the pits, his machine covered in oil, B. A. Denniss (D.H.S.) coasting past Creg and Phil Richardson (Norton) packing up at Ramsey having come off, though he was reported as O.K.

A leading man in practices, David Williams (Norton) took the slip road at Governor's and pushed in to retire, while Middleton was rather overlong in the pits. Apparently he had to make adjustments to his rear wheel and he set off towards Bray Hill after losing some time.
Meanwhile the leaders were putting up magnificent performances and it is little wonder that the race was being run two miles an hour faster than last year. J. Farrer (Velocette) mounted the pavement at Union Mills, brushed the sod hedge, but recovered well and went on up to Ballahutchin. C Huxley (A.J.S.) retired at Cronk-ny-Mona with engine trouble.

R. Ashcroft of Bickerstaffe, near Ormskirk, gave spectators a nasty moment at Keppel Gate before the completion of his fourth lap. He came round the bend too fast, rode along the grass verge for some time and then descended the hill in a cloud of dust. Ashcroft said after the race: "I may have given the spectators a turn, but I gave myself a turn as well. The trouble was that I got off my racing line at the first bend and then couldn't take the second bend in the usual way. However, I managed to keep astride the bike and everything ended happily." Ashcroft finished in 30th place. According to unofficial timing Eddie Crooks was 25 seconds ahead of Thorp and Boyce had come on to the leader board.

Fifth Lap
By the end of this lap Eddie Crooks had increased his lead by a few seconds and was putting up a terrific show to draw away from Thorp and the rest of the field. And his team-mate Manx- man Mike Kelly was giving his Norton "the gun" to take seventh place some few seconds behind Ellis Boyce, a really wonderful performance for the Crosby lad. More retirements — D. Ray (Norton) at the pits suffering from cramp, W. J. Hill (Triumph) at Crosby with valve trouble, I. Clarke (Norton) on the Mountain and D. B. Russell (Norton) at Ballacraine, all riders being O.K. E W. Sullivan, (Norton) toured past the Creg and another tourist was P. Overton (Norton/B.S.A) at Signpost.

Eddie Crooks streaked through the pits to the final circuit, his engine roaring a majestic song of power as he went to Bray Hill. He was signalled through Braddan, Union Mills and Ballacraine where he swept swiftly round the corner and headed north. Announcer Harold Colebourn took him through Sulby where he was reported to be riding magnificently, safely and very fast. Unofficially he was over 30 seconds ahead of second man Thorp. Obviously Middleton 's long pit stop was the reason for his falling back to sixth place on the leader board . . . leaving Ned Minihan , Rutherford and Boyce to take over third , fourth and fifth positions. Here come the exciting announcements, filling everyone with a nervous tension hard to conceal . . . Crooks at Ramsey. Crooks at the Gooseneck, Crooks at the Mountain Box, Crooks at the Bungalow. Crooks at Keppel Gate, Crooks at Creg-ny-Baa, and Crooks at Hillberry. Up went Eddie's red light above the number 62 on the scoreboard and the crowd looked towards Governor's Bridge as he was signalled there, to come streaking past the chequered flag to victory and the fulfilment of his greatest ambition—to win the Senior Manx Grand Prix. After so many past near- misses no one will ever begrudge this triumph to the Douglas boy. He rode a magnificent race and Manx people everywhere will rejoice at his wonderful win. What a pity his dad was not able to share the victory which he knew Eddie would one day capture, together with the Jap record and course record.

On the public address system afterwards Eddie said he had had a wonderful ride and that his Norton was going "'faster and faster" and he had achieved his greatest ambition. Following Eddie was his mother, who commented that her son "really deserved this terrific win." In the meantime Tom Thorp had finished and there were many swift calculations as to whether he had taken many seconds out of Crooks—but his final circuit made little impression on the Douglas rider who, in fact, completed the race 31 seconds ahead of Thorp who, with his second place, was recompensed for his bad luck on Tuesday. Manx people had not over-looked their other favourite. Mike Kelly, who stuck consistently to his seventh place for a number of laps behind Boyce and then Middleton. G. Wilson (Norton) ran out of petrol at the Ballahutchin and E. W. Sullivan (Norton) retired at Cronk - ny - Mona, while Alan Craven broke a primary chain at Greeba.

Belatedly came sad news—J. D. Hamilton came off at the 33rd milestone on his first lap and was taken to Noble’s Hospital. The Press Steward announced at the end of the race that he had died from his injuries.


1Crooks, Eddie2:23:11.0094.87Norton
2Thorp, Tom2:23:42.0094.53Norton
3Minihan, Ned2:27:27.0092.12Matchless
4Rutherford, Frank2:27:35.0092.04Norton
5Boyce, Ellis2:27:47.0091.91Norton
6Middleton, Peter2:28:22.0091.56Norton
7Kelly, Mike2:29:32.0090.84Norton
8Ritchie, Bob2:29:54.0090.61Matchless
9Pratt, Denis2:29:55.0090.61Norton
10Mayhew, Roy2:29:57.0090.58Matchless
11Adam, John2:30:42.0090.13Norton
12Price, Norman2:31:48.0089.49Norton
13Read, Phil2:32:25.0089.13Norton
14Holder, John2:32:29.0089.09Norton
15Bell, Gordon2:32:33.0089.05Matchless
16Fulton, Bill2:33:07.0088.71Norton
17Williams, Derek2:33:10.0088.68AJS
18Griffiths, J.F.2:33:49.0088.31Norton
19McStay, Michael2:34:43.0087.8Norton
20Trustham, Jack2:34:51.0087.72Norton
21Packer, C.E.2:35:34.0087.32Matchless
22James, L.A.2:35:59.0087.09Norton
23Barfoot, Ken2:37:09.0086.43Norton
24Warburton, Brian2:37:29.0086.26Norton
25Fisher, Fred2:37:42.0086.13Norton
26Carman, Richard2:38:23.0085.77AJS
27Woodman, Derek2:38:36.0085.65Norton
28Darvill, Peter2:39:06.0085.38Norton
29Scott, C.2:39:23.0085.22Norton
30Nutter, John2:39:31.0085.15AJS
31Copland, Alistair2:40:40.0084.55BSA
32Phillips, Derek2:40:43.0084.52Norton
33Kelly, Ray2:42:00.0083.84Matchless
34Williamson, A.H.2:42:02.0083.83BSA
35McMillan, P.C.2:42:43.0083.48BSA
36Hunter, B.W.2:44:22.0082.65Norton
37Lindley, Barry2:44:24.0082.63BSA
38Cooper, Stan2:44:47.0082.43Norton
39Parsonage, Colin2:45:09.0082.25Norton
40Walczak, Adalbert2:46:51.0081.41Norton
41Anderson, William R.2:46:55.0081.37Norton
42Downes, Graham2:50:25.0079.71Norton
43Maw, R.J.G.2:52:03.0078.95Norton
44Davy, N.2:52:33.0078.72Velocette
45Munday, Michael2:54:04.0078.03Norton
46Jenkins, Griff2:54:09.0078Norton
47Brazier, V.R.2:55:23.0077.45Matchless
48Walker, George W.2:55:38.0077.34BSA
49Irlam, Harry2:56:01.0077.17Norton
50Ashcroft, Raymond2:56:09.0077.12Norton
51Dawson, Robin2:56:33.0076.94Norton
52Harper, Aubrey2:57:00.0076.74BSA
53Watson, Ken2:58:43.0076.01Norton
54Fairclough, Jeffrie3:00:13.0075.38Matchless
54=Rawlings, Wally3:00:13.0075.38AJS
56Burton, M.J.3:01:13.0074.96Norton
57Naylor, B.3:02:42.0074.35Norton
58Cross, G.A.3:02:43.0074.34BSA
59Farrar, John3:02:56.0074.26Velocette
60Hughes, W.A.3:07:37.0072.4BSA
61Dixon, Bill3:07:45.0072.35BSA
62North, K.3:12:11.0070.68Norton
RAlexander, Peter0Matchless
RAtkin, Maurice0BSA
RBarnes, Roy0Norton
RBent, Herbert0Triumph
RBrookes, Mike0Norton
RBryan Gill, A.0AJS
RBury, Leo0AJS
RClarke, Ian0Norton
RCraven, Alan0BSA
RDenniss, Brian0DHS
RDouglass, Kenneth William James0Norton
REllis, Brian0Norton
RGittins, Maurice0Norton
RHayward, Martyn0BSA
RHill, W.J.0Triumph
RHuxley, Cyril0AJS
RKershaw, B.0AJS
RMorton, Jimmy0BSA
RMuir, I.R.0Norton
RNewall, John0BSA
ROverton, P.0Norton BSA
RPayne, Ginger0Norton
RPolak, Robert0Norton
RRay, D.0Norton
RRichardson, Peter0Norton
RRussell, Derek0Norton
RShorey, Dan0Norton
RSullivan, E.W.0Norton
RTaubman, Ken0Norton BSA
RWatson, Charles0BSA
RWilliams, Chris0Norton
RWilson, G.Norton
RLewis, JohnNorton
RGodfrey, TonyMatchless
RTaylor, HaroldNorton
RWilliams, DavidNorton
RWallace, IanNorton
RDavies, EugeneNorton
RHunter, AlanBSA
RBurgess, F.Norton
RHamilton, John DesmondNorton
RHardy, R.BSA


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