A VERY SIGNIFICENT YEAR FOR THE MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY
I am often asked what my favourite TT was over the 63 years I have been attending the annual event. A number of specific races come to mind but for an overall TT fortnight 1960 takes a lot of beating.
For a start, Joes Bar in Strand Street was very popular and Hailwood was on a Ducati.
1959 had seen the visit of a new motorcycle team, named Honda, who surprised everyone, including themselves by going home with the Manufacturers Team Award on their first participation. This success opened the flood gates and the TT, which had up to 1960 had been an event dominated by european machines, suddenly became an event which was of world wide interest with entries coming from the other side of the planet. We had had commonwealth riders coming to race but they rode the good old British or Italian bikes.
Now the Japanese integrated non-japanese riders into their teams to help them to develope their machines. By 1964 there were many different japanese manufacturers sending teams of bikes,Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Tohatsu, Bridgestone...to name but a few...all experiencing success over the older european machines. Only Mv held its own until 1967 when Hailwood won on a 500cc Honda 4, so the japanese dominated all the solo classes..
Not long after a japanese engined machine won the sidecar class.
I am glad I saw this transition and a new era in the history of the TT. I was there..............
Over the last few years, I have enjoyed re-visiting the TT, 50 years on, by raiding my Vast Collection stored in the loft. My package representing 1959 was particularly good for it showed the year when the Japanese made their first visit to the Isle of Man and left with the Manufacturers Team prize, no mean feat for a team of first-timers on 125cc twins.
Honda returned in 1960 with re-designed 125s and a set of new 250cc 4 cylinder machines which were awesome just standing silent. When they fired up it was, to the true fan, pure music but many others stood with fingers in their ears, horrified.
Here are two 1960 Honda 250cc-4s chasing an MZ.......
All races had returned to the 37.73 mile Mountain Course so many said the 125s were only good enough for the now defunct 10.79 mile Clypse Course, and they would never last the rigours of the Mountain ! However they signed up some well-established TT riders to help them with the development. Honda was joined by a team calling themselves in the programme entries "Colleda" (japanese for "This is it") but were actually from the Suzuki factory, they had entered and were starting with two stroke 125cc twins, unusual for that capacity. Here below is one of the Colledas and the race team at the Fernleigh Hotel.
So going up into the loft I was surprised at how big and fat was the 1960 bag of info, notes and souvenirs representing that years TT. I held my own special ceremony to re-open this bag and in doing so it was like opening Pandoras Box. (Photographs are reproduced from my own personal collection, old motorcycle magazines and the weekly motorcycle papers of the time. Where-ever possible, I try to acknowledge the origin of some of the pictures I have used.)
My parents drove up to Liverpool and left the car in a special long-term park. They travelled over to the Island as foot passengers but had the use of a car while they were there. They booked into the Imperial Hotel. A few days later, my girlfriend (her first time over) and I flew over from Newcastle in a DC-3 (take off 16.20 arrival at Ronaldsway 17.15) and we also signed into the Imperial Hotel (see hotel right)
She was allocated a single bedroom on one side of my parents bedroom and I was on the other side !!! However she was enthusiastic enough to get up at 4 am each morning before we went out to the practicing and we had time for a quick cuddle. I used to say girls don't mix with TT but this was different. We all walked up to the newly laid-out paddock and warm-up area from the sea front and watched the practices, popping into the tent for cocoa or soup in between laps. My Dad was a close friend of Tommy Ryan and Bill Lisle so thanks to them that we were able to get in amongst the action.
Over the winter the paddock area had been updated with a gravel strip.
Note: A privately entered Japanese 250cc Yamaha makes an appearance in practice...
The 350cc Norton "Lowboy" that appeared only in practice, ridden by Eddie Crooks
Prior to the TT, Bray Hill, the fast run up to Crosby and the section from Creg-ny-Baa to Brandish
had all been re-surfaced and all the bumps removed. At the nineth milestone the course had been widened.
We had a full practice week during which the Ballacraine Hotel was struck by lightning on the first Sunday and badly damaged.
Mitsuo Itoh (Suzuki) and Ernst Degner (MZ) both came to grief at The Bungalow. Itoh wrote off his machine but escaped with only a cut lip and abrasions. The Suzuki mechanics set about building a replacement machine.
Degner was not so lucky, trapping his foot between road and foot rest, breaking bones in his foot.
Then Tommy Robb came off his Geoff Monty Matchless at Windy Corner suffering concussion. Four other riders including Mike O'Rourke (Ariel) also tumbled so officials were called in to examine the road surfaces for the Creg-ny-Baa section caught out riders as well including Mike O'Rourke...again... Matsumoto (Suzuki) and Bullock (350 Norton) also slid off. The Stewards were sent to examine Glen Vine which was causing a few slides.
Practice week was held in fine weather. However we were warned of mixed weather conditions for race week.
The racing programme was U/Lwt (42 entries),Sidecars (35 entries) and Lwt (66 entries) all on 13th June, (TTFan watched the races from Ginger Hall, Sulby Bridge and the end of Sulby Straight) Junior (98 entries) 15th June (TTFan watched the race from the pits, helping in Louis Carrs pit !) and Senior (83 entries) 17th June (TTFan watched the race from Creg-ny-Baa, Keppel Gate and Kates Cottage)
After each race day we went to the "Presentations".
It is interesting to record that on the Sunday before the Races we spent all day at the "Weigh-in.
In the evening went to see "No Limit". We took up almost a whole row in the Strand Cinema, there were so many of us as a group..Louis and Helen Carr, Bert Ellis were there with us.
On Tuesday of Race Week we went in a coach and toured the whole Island from 10am to 6pm then in the evening went to the Scramble.
On the Thursday it was another Weigh-in and in the evening we all went to the "Castrol Film Show", a selection of motorcycle racing from previous years.
Riders set off in pairs at 10 second intervals, push start.
To your left can be seen the old grandstand in use in 1960.
U/Lwt - Following Tommy Robbs crash, Ray Fay was offered Tommys Ducati but at the eleventh hour, Suzuki approached him to ride the Colleda in place of the injured Itoh. Brian Clark took over the Ducati. Degner, having a broken foot, was replaced by Bob Anderson.
1-2-3 victory for the MVs of Ubbiali, Hocking and Taveri followed home by team mates Hempleman and Anderson on East German MZs then FIVE Hondas. A Ducati finished 11th and Pagani brought home another MV in 12th. On their first outing the Suzuki two stroke twins claimed 15th 16th and 18th. 22 machines finished. MV won the manufacturers team prize.
S/C - Helmut Fath on his BMW (passengered by A Wohlgemuth) wins the 3 lap sidecar TT but only after two laps leader Florian Camathias seizes his engine. The outfit is a super low design, the main chassis and sidecar being one integral unit. In the sidecar as the floor are three slab-shaped tanks with a pump to lift the fuel to the carbs.
Camathias restarts to finish 5th.
Alwin Ritter finished 6th on his BMW. Alwin raced with only one leg.
Lwt - Dickie Dale took over the vacant MZ instead of riding the Benelli.Bob Brown took over Tanaka Honda-4 and Terry Shepherd rode the Geoff Monty Special replacing firstly Tommy Robb then Ray Fay...Ralph Rensen rode Fron Purslows NSU.
Hocking on the MV won in windy conditions with team mate Ubbiali second.Provini on a Morini was 3rd and then the new four cylinder Hondas filled the next three places, 4th going to their new signing Bob Brown. Honda had not entered as a team in 1960 and the other Honda rider Tom Phillis retired on his 4th lap. Highlight of the race if not of the week was Mike O'Rourkes 7th place on a Herman Meier-tuned Ariel Arrow.
Mike O'Rourke on the Herman Meier-tuned Ariel Arrow
Junior - Hartle rode Massettis MV. Hocking was in the programme to ride a third MV but decided to concentrate on the smaller capacity races.
Expected winner John Surtees lost two of his gears and while trying to finish the race, was overhauled by his popular team mate John Hartle. Surtees hung onto 2nd place just beating Bob McIntyre home.
My view of the Junior scoreboard from the pits area. (I was part of Louis Carrs refuelling team !)
Surtees won the fourth solo race for MV in 1960. John Hartle was 2nd and Mike Hailwood third. 22 riders were awarded silver replicas and 11 claimed bronze. 40 riders finished the race won by Surtees at an average of 102.44mph with a fastest lap of 104.08mph.
Senior - Bob Brown Norton, No.1 pushed off with Bob Anderson, Norton at No.2, then ten seconds later John Surtees at No.3 with Mike Hailwood at No.4. Derek Minter and Bob MacIntyre were No.s 5 and 6
Hartle MV sets off at No.11. The rest of the field was mainly Nortons with Matchlesses ridden by George Catlin at No.8, Alan Shepherd at No.19, Tom Thorp No.21, Sid Mizen No.24, Derek Powell No.25, Louis Carr ("our" rider) at No.33.
We then noticed, as the field got under way, the addition of another rider not on the card. This was Jack Brett, on a Norton who would start last, 6 minutes and 50 seconds after Brown.
John Surtees led the race from start to finish, putting in the fastest lap, a record, and his six lap race average was also a record. Hailwood DID do the 100 mph lap but one lap AFTER his arch rival Derek Minter had jumped to the occasion and stormed round with a second lap at 101.05 mph !!! (You must note that after Minter had done the "ton" he did not feature in the results having retired, whereas Hailwood finished the race in third place. Perhaps Stan should have tightened up the criteria a bit more ??
RESULTS 01/ J Surtees MV 102.44mph (record lap 104.08mph) 02/ J Hartle MV 03/ M Hailwood Norton 04/ T Phillis Norton 05/ R H Dale Norton 06/ B Brown Norton 07/ T Godfrey Norton 08/ B Anderson Norton 09/ P Driver Norton 10/ R Rensen Norton 11/ J H Lewis Norton 12/ R Ingram Norton
<---- Our rider, Louis Carr, unfortunately retired on lap four.....
John Surtees wins his last TT before turning to racing cars.
NOTE - Before the race Mikes father Stan had put up a prize for the first single cylinder rider to lap the course at over 100mph, hoping that Mike would claim it.
Mike had done the first 100 mph lap at Silverstone in May so confidence was high.....
But it was not to be for Derek Minter pipped Mike by one lap but then retired.
Mike went on to finish the race not only doing a 100mph lap but also finishing with an average speed over six laps of 100mph.
While 1959 was the year when the Japanese invasion started, it was 1960 when they took it seriously and motor cycle racing and the motor cycle industry were never the same again. In 1961 we would see even more Japanese motorcycle companies sending entries for the supreme test, the Isle of Man TT. (at left, 1961 Yamaha)
Strangely, MV decided to retire from participating in the TT after 1960 following Gilera and Moto Guzzi withdrawal. MV would return as "PRIVAT MV" in the hands of Hailwood and Hocking (at left Hocking) and Gilera would return as "Scuderia Duke", raced by Phil Read, Derek Minter and John Hartle.....but that's another story !
Click on the play arrow below to hear the 1960 MVs once again..