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1954 Senior TT

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 150.92 miles (4 laps)

Description: 1954 Senior TT
Race report from the IOM Weekly Times 19 June 1954 (pp 1, 10), below which is a full list of competitors:

Senior TT stopped
Ray Amm wins over four laps
Stewards end it after less than two hours
Bad weather for world’s greatest motorcycle event
Huge crowds despite conditions
Race marred by fatality

Bad weather today led the Stewards of the Meeting to stop the Senior Tourist Trophy Race, world’s greatest motorcycling event, after about two hours, because of bad weather which was gradually getting worse. The stewards decided to award this race to the leader after four laps, and this was Ray Amm, last year’s winner. Despite the conditions, the crowds round the course were reported to be the greatest ever. Weather conditions kept the first lap speeds below 90 mph, with Duke in the lead, 14 seconds ahead of Amm, and Armstrong was third, eight seconds behind the Norton ace. Brett, Coleman and Lomas were the others on the leader board in that order, three foreign machines and three British, so the stage was set for a battle royal, with rivals Duke and Amm renewing their great struggle of last year for the coveted ‘blue riband’.

On the second lap Fergus Anderson (Guzzi) retired at Barregarrow after a spill there. Derek Farrant was already out for the same reason. He was one of several who came off at Quarter Bridge.

After two laps Duke led Amm by two seconds, with Armstrong still third 52 seconds behind Amm, but the average speed of the leaders had dropped considerably, so bad were the conditions. But Amm was hotting up the pace, and on his third lap he was right out in front with a lead of 28 seconds over Duke.

The race was marred by an early fatality, S. Sandys-Winsch (Junior Velocette) dying on his way to hospital following a crash at the Highlander.

At 10.30 am it was announced that due to varying conditions round the course the start would be delayed until 11 am. At 10.35 the 80 competitors started their second warming up period. Minutes later travelling marshal Peter Crebbin set out to report on the weather conditions. The thousands of race fans crowding the hedges all round the course were praying for the weather to clear. Indeed many a silent prayer had been offered since mist first blanketed the Island on Thursday afternoon. A message from the stewards stated that it was hoped to start at 11, subject to weather conditions. Spectators packing the grandstand searched eagerly for a break in the clouds, but the skies were as threatening as ever, and spots of rain began to fall as the scoreboard clock registered 10.45. It was decided to delay the start til noon.

The sun comes out

At 11.35 the competitors started their third warming up period. The mist had now left the mountain, and there was blue sky over Peel, but the roads were wet and there was little doubt that the first couple of laps would be tricky. Travelling marshals reported that the crowds round the course were the biggest ever.

There were five manufacturers’ teams, AJS Nos 1 and 2, Matchless, and Norton Motors Nos 1 and 2. Rudy Allison, South African champion, who was included in the Norton No. 2 team, will ride for the official Norton team in Continental events this year in place of Jack Brett. Monday was New Zealand’s big day, and everyone was hoping that today would be a great day for Australia. None of the five Australian riders in the Junior Race finished the course on Monday. Ken Kavanagh also struck trouble in the Lightweight Race on Monday afternoon ‘struck trouble’ literally, because at the right-hand bend before Ballaugh, Ken’s Guzzi bumped another machine, bending the gear lever and forcing him out of the race.

Eight club teams had entered. All were very strong trios, but perhaps the most fancied was Southampton’s trio of G. Laing, J. Brett and W. R. Amm. The New Zealand ACU were all out to repeat their success in Monday’s race, and the Louth and DMCC trio, R. H. Dale, P. Davey and R. Allison, would offer strong competition.

First lap

At 11.55 the klaxon blared a warning to the competitors that there was just five minutes to go before the start. By this time the mountains were once more capped with mist and a light drizzle had begun to fall. Timekeeper Leslie Lumby held his miniature Union Jack aloft then down it came on the stroke of noon and the 1954 Senior TT was on. First man away was No. 1, Johnny Grace, of Gibraltar. Spectators shot to their feet when J. R. Clark gave his Norton too much throttle. It skidded on the wet road and he was thrown off. Clark spun round on the road with his machine as the engine roared, but he was quickly helped to his feet and he restarted after a delay of about four minutes. First ‘works’ man away was Monday’s winner, Rod Coleman, on an AJS. All the works riders were careful with the throttle, but the Gilera and Agusta riders were very quickly off the mark. Ken Kavanagh (Guzzi) made an almost leisurely ‘get-away’, and even had time to wave and smile to his mechanic. By the time the last man, D. G. Lashmar (BSA) had started, the leaders were already past Kirk Michael. The commentator at Ramsey reported that the roads were dry, and that the sun had been shining briefly. At the Start a light drizzle was falling, and the mountains were clothed in mist.

Spills at Quarter Bridge

Quarter Bridge was proving very tricky. Four riders came off there and two retired. One of the retirements was Derek Farrant, of the AJS works team, who finished second in Monday’s Junior race. The other man who retired at this point was E. Houseley on an AJS. The other two riders remounted and continued, K. Willis (AJS) and J. Bottomley (Norton).

Leader on the road at the end of lap one was Phil Carter, on a Norton, closely followed by Jack Ahearn, of Australia.

Conditions were worsening, and no records would be broken today.

News of another retirement- H. Clarke pulled into the pits and retired after his first circuit. S. Sandys-Winch (Velocette), who crashed at the Highlander, was removed to Noble’s Hospital.

Duke lapped in 25 mins, 41secs, an average speed of 88.18 mph, giving him an advantage of 14 seconds over Ray Amm who lay second, having lapped at 87.37 mph. In third place, eight seconds behind Amm was the other Gilera rider Reg Armstrong. Geoff Duke’s first lap last year was covered in 23 mins, 30 secs.

Off at Governor’s

News of spills was still coming in. D. A. Tutty (Norton) came off at Governors Bridge and walked into the pits. J. Bottomley (Norton), who came off at the Quarter Bridge on his first lap, retired after completing the circuit.

Today maximum speeds were of no consequence. The dangerous roads were keeping the speeds of aces of the Duke calibre down to a mere 87 to 88 miles an hour. Riders such as Ken Kavanagh, Fergus Anderson and Dickie Dale were not even on the leader board.

Second lap

A blow for the Guzzi camp! Fergus Anderson was reported to have fallen off his machine at Barregarrow, and was taken to hospital. Another rider in trouble at this point was E. A. Lavington (Velocette). He also came off and retired. From Ramsey came the report that Ray Amm was using dirt track tactics and putting his foot down on slow corners. E. W. L. Hunt (Norton) hit the bank at the Black Hut on the Mountain section, and toured into the pits to retire. He was unhurt. Conditions were steadily worsening and the average speed of the leaders for the two laps dropped by nearly two miles an hour. Duke lapped in 26 mins, 23 secs, a speed of 85.84 mph, bringing his lap average to 86.97 mph. If he was to remain ahead of Amm he would have to ‘put his skates’ on. Amm took only 26 mins, 11 secs for his second circuit and cut Duke’s lead to two seconds and this in spite of overshooting Signpost Corner. Ray’s ‘feet down’ tactics were paying off.

The shocking conditions were taking their toll of the field and the number of retirements mounted. Johnny Grace, E. J. Frend and J. Fisher all retired at the pits after completing two laps. For the third time this week the Guzzi team was out of the race. Kavanagh wheeled his machine into the pits at the end of his second circuit and retired. No reason was given.

The leader board at the end of the lap remained unchanged. The order was Gilera, Norton, AJS and MV Agusta. Bill Lomas, lying 6th on the leader board, was averaging only 83 mph. Cyril Blackler (AJS), 21 year old Northern Rhodesian, retired at the Stonebreaker’s Hut. He was unhurt.

Third lap

The leaders continued to ‘feel’ their way just as fast as they cared. Interest centred on the clocks of Duke and Amm, who started the lap with only two seconds separating them. Rod Coleman was the first works rider to call into his pit at the end of Lap 3. He was followed by Agusta riders Lomas and Dale, but both were away while mechanics still clustered round Coleman’s machine. Finally came the announcement ‘Coleman out with a split petrol tank’. Hard luck, Rod! Only AJS ‘works’ rider left in the race was young Bob McIntyre. Duke pulled into his pit to refuel at the end of the lap, as did Bob Keeler of the Norton ‘Works’ team. Amm did not pull in, however, and he roared past, tucked well down behind his streamlined shield. He appeared to have closed up on Duke and when the lap times were painted up it was seen that he now led the world champion by 28 seconds.

Allison displaces Lomas

Rudy Allison found his way on to the leader board and wrested sixth position from Bill Lomas. He lapped in 26 mins, 37 secs, a speed of 85.09 mph, bringing his race average up to 83.37 mph.

Fourth lap

Sensation entered the race at 1.48 pm. The Stewards decided to stop the race at the end of lap 4, the first time the Senior race has been interrupted. Conditions were so bad- visibility at Windy Corner was down to 20 yards-they had decided that in the interests of safety the race should be stopped. The decision, based on the position at the end of four laps would be given subject to allowances for unnecessary pit stops. Duke, Dale, Lomas and Allison all pulled in to refuel at the end of three laps.

First to finish were the Australians, Gordon Laing and Jack Ahearn and Ahearn appeared baffled after receiving the chequered flag. His attendants were several minutes convincing him that the race was over. Ray Amm put up the fastest lap of the day in his fourth lap, with 25 mins, 12.8 secs, an average speed of 89.92 mph.

Stewards’ power

Asked for an explanation of the truncated race, Mr Norman Dixon, chairman of the stewards, said they had the power to stop the race and to declare the result at the end of four laps. The decision to abbreviate a race owing to weather conditions has been made before the race, but this is the first time the decision has been made after the race has started. As Ray Amm was being congratulated on his unusual victory, Geoff Duke and the Gilera race manager, Piere Taruffi, were busily making out a letter of protest to hand to the race stewards.

An official at Noble’s Hospital stated that there was at present no report on the condition of Fergus Anderson. ‘He is to be X-rayed”.

What Amm and Duke say

Ray Amm said after the race, ‘they should never have started the thing at all, under these circumstances.’

Geoff Duke said, ‘They should have told me before the race began or before I pulled up at the end of the third lap to refuel’.

Early fatality

Norwich man dies on way to hospital

S. Sandys- Winsch, 28 year old Norwich rider of a Junior Velocette, who also rode in the Junior International Race on Monday, hit the wall at the Highlander. He was removed to Noble’s Hospital but died of his injuries before the ambulance reached the hospital. He was a sub-lieutenant in the frigates during the war. The crash occurred on his first lap.


1Amm, Ray1:42:46.8088.12Norton
2Duke, Geoff1:43:52.6087.19Gilera
3Brett, Jack1:45:15.2086.04Norton
4Armstrong, Reg1:45:45.6085.63Gilera
5Allison, Rudy1:48:06.6083.85Norton
6Laing, Gordon1:48:37.2083.41Norton
7Dale, Dickie1:48:56.2083.14MV
8Keeler, Bob1:49:23.4082.79Norton
9Ahearn, Jack1:51:06.8081.51Norton
10Quincey, Maurice1:51:07.0081.5Norton
11Davey, Peter1:51:31.6080.96Norton
12Simpson, Leo1:52:03.0080.82Matchless
13Bryen, Keith1:52:18.8080.64Norton
14McIntyre, Bob1:53:01.0080.13AJS
15Surtees, John1:53:04.6080.09Norton
16Carter, Phil1:54:06.2079.37Norton
17Godwin, Roy1:54:16.2079.25Norton
18Murphy, George A.1:54:32.2079.07Matchless
19Ingram, Roy1:54:55.6078.8Norton
20Salt, George1:55:23.0078.49Matchless
21Lashmar, Dennis1:55:52.0078.16BSA
22Salt, Charlie1:56:13.6077.94BSA
23Rowbottom, Bob1:56:35.6077.73Norton
24Barnett, Syd1:57:22.0077.2Matchless
25Gate, Ulf1:57:25.0077.16Norton
26Moule, Albert E.1:57:59.0076.76Norton
27Williams, Don1:58:33.0076.39Norton
28Wheeler, Arthur1:58:41.0076.3AJS
29Beevers, Bill1:59:01.0076.09Norton
30Walker, Bob1:59:37.4075.71BSA
31Templeton, Malcolm1:59:58.0075.49Matchless
31=Shepherd, Terry1:59:58.0075.49AJS
33Pantlin, Eric2:00:04.0075.43Norton
34Glazebrook, Joe2:00:07.0075.39Norton
35Jones, Albert2:00:16.0075.3Matchless
36Lanyon, Jimmy2:00:19.0075.27Matchless
37Havens, Edward2:00:21.2075.25AJS
38Fox, Frank M.2:00:35.0075.1Norton
39Clark, John2:00:49.2074.96Matchless
40Pearce, Harry2:01:04.8074.8Matchless
41Smith, Roy2:01:05.0074.79Velocette
42Jones, Eric2:02:11.0074.12Norton
43Fay, Ray2:02:23.0074Norton
44King, Robert2:02:51.0073.72Norton
45Carr, Cliff Brian2:03:00.0073.63AJS
46O'Rourke, Mike2:04:29.0072.75Norton
47Swallow, Ken2:05:12.0072.33Matchless
48Julian, Cyril2:06:45.0071.45Norton
49Willis, Ken2:07:31.0071.02AJS
50Gilbert, Louis2:08:13.0070.63AJS
51Barrett, Ernie2:08:29.0070.48Norton
52Cleugh, Bill2:11:06.0069.08Norton
53Rudge, RonMatchless
RBlacker, CyrilAJS
RColeman, RodAJS
RFarrant, DerekAJS
R=Norris, FrankFAN
RHouseley, EricAJS
RCapner, RoyBSA
RPurslow, BrianBSA
RAnderson, FergusGuzzi
RKavanagh, KenGuzzi
RCarr, LouisMatchless
REvans, RoyMatchless
RTostevin, KenMatchless
RBottomley, JackNorton
RDear, LesNorton
RFrend, TedNorton
RHunt, EdwardNorton
RLeigh, GeorgeNorton
RTutty, DaveNorton
RWagar, IvanNorton
RLavington, ArthurVelocette
RSandys-Winsch, SimonVelocette
RClark, HaroldNorton
RHeath, PhilAJS
RLomas, BillMV
RDibben, StanNorton
RFisher, JohnMatchless
RGrace, JohnNorton


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