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Eric Oliver

Record type: Motorsport Biographies

Biography: Age 46, Eric Oliver is principally known for his prowess as a sidecar racer, but he has also ridden many times in the TT as a 'soloist' his first ride on the Island being in 1937. Riding Velocette machines, he was 17th in both Junior and Senior races in 1939, winning a Silver Replica and a Bronze respectively. In 1947 he rode Nortons in both Junior and Senior races, finishing ninth in the former race but retiring on the third lap of the Senior. He was eighth, on a Velocette, in the 1948 Junior and 10th in the Senior - more replicas for the collection - and made his last Isle of Man appearance in the solo classes in 1949, collecting yet another Silver Replica for his 21st place in the Junior.

He really came into prominence as a sidecar driver in 1949, winning at events all over the continent and finishing the season as World Sidecar Champion. He entered for the 1950 TT, but an injured ankle prevented him from riding; he was fit again, however, to take part in the Continental Grands Prix, and won the World Sidecar Champion title for the second year. Though 1951 was not quite so victorious a year - he had a broken chain in the 'Swiss' and had to be content with second place at Monza - he still piled up sufficient points to retain his title.

In the 1952 season luck was against him and the 'Champion' title went to Cyril Smith but 1953 found Eric back on form - and back on the throne. In conjunction with Watsonian Sidecars, Eric had produced a very neat streamline outfit which made its first appearance in the 1953 Hutchinson 100 and in 1954 he appeared with a 'Mark II' version, which was immediately successful, winning races at Mettet and Hockenheim. He was, of course, winner of the 1954 Sidecar TT, with a speed of 68.87 mph and followed this by wins in the Ulster and Belgian Grands Prix. In a crash at Feldberg, Germany, he had the bad luck to break his arm which put him out of racing for some time; he rode in the Swiss Grand Prix before he had fully recovered, and though he finished fifth, his arm had re-broken and he was unable to complete the season.

Eric last rode in the sidecar TT in 1955. He was in the lead on his Norton at Creg-ny-Baa on the fourth lap, but at the end of the lap he was second - just one second behind W. Schneider (BMW). Then Eric's passenger received an eye injury from a stone and they had to retire. Ans at the end of the season Eric retired from racing - or so we thought!

His mount today is one of the most interesting seen in the TT for many years. It is a standard Norton Dominator 88 with a standard Watsonian Monaco sidecar; and in this very comfortable chair having a "comfortable ride" is a lady passenger, Mrs Patricia Wise. Eric is entered by his own firm, Eric Oliver (Motor Cycles) Ltd.
(TT Special, Friday, June 06, 1958 p22)

Senior - Velocette
Junior - Velocette

Age – 37, Occupation – motor engineer, home town – Crowborough, Sussex.

Oliver rode in the T.T. in 1937, ’38, ’39, and the latter gained a silver replica in the Junior and a bronze in the Senior, both on Velocettes. Is famous for both solo and sidecar work on grass and short circuit road tracks including Caldwell, Winfield Park and Brands Hatch.

Last year he rode Nortons in both Junior and Senior. Finished ninth in the former at 73 m.p.h. just outside first replica time, but retired in the third lap of the Senior. Is back this year again on Velocettes.
(TT Special, 11 June 1948, p.12.)


Competed in

1958 Sidecar TT1059.95Norton
1955 Sidecar TTRNorton
1954 Sidecar TT11:34:00.2068.87Norton
1949 Senior TTRNorton
1949 Junior TT213:23:35.0077.85Velocette
1948 Senior TT103:26:45.8076.64Velocette
1948 Junior TT83:25:58.8076.94Velocette
1947 Senior TTRNorton
1947 Junior TT93:37:05.0073Norton
1939 Senior TT173:24:31.0077.49Velocette
1939 Junior TT173:27:53.0076.24Velocette
1938 Senior TTRNorton
1938 Junior TTRNorton
1937 Senior TTRVincent HRD


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