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1956 Senior TT

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 264.25 miles (7 laps)

Description: 1956 Senior TT
Race report from the TT Special 8 June 1956 (pp.1, 14, 15), below which is a full list of competitors:

Surtees Wins Senior T.T.
Twenty-two years old John Surtees, who was leading in Monday’s Junior T.T. until he ran out of petrol a few miles from home, won to-day’s Senior race on his four-cylinder M.V. at 96.57 m.p.h., having led from start to finish. He also made fastest lap at 97.79 m.p.h., with a time of 23 mins. 9.4 secs.
For the first six laps Surtees was closely followed by Bill Lomas (Guzzi), but Lomas slowed down on the last lap to finish fifth, John Hartle and Jack Brett (Nortons) were second and third, and Nortons won the Manufacturers’ Team Prize. Walter Zeller, on the German B.M.W., was fourth.

The Senior T.T., 1956, will start in a few minutes time…..
This is the 38th Senior and is the 102nd T.T. Race to be held over the Mountain Course. The first Senior, in 1907, was run over the old “Short Course,” which the Veterans and Vintagents Toured (raced?) round yesterday. The Seniors of 1908 to 1910 were held on the same course, but by 1911 gear-boxes clutches and things like that had come along, and motor-cycles were considered capable of getting round the Mountain Course.

The last “Short Course” T.T. – 1910 - was won at 50.63 mph. The winning speed of the first Mountain Course T.T. – 1911 - was 47.60, and though the average crept up (48.70 in 1912 to 49.49 in 1914) the Short Course speed of 1910 was not beaten for 10 years, until Tommy de la Hay (Sunbeam) clocked 51.79 in the first post-first-war T.T. of 1920.

Last year, just 35 years after de la Hay’s 51.79, Geoff Duke averaged 97.93 m.p.h., with a record lap at 99.97 (Well, the time-keepers say it wasn’t the “100,” so let’s leave it at that!)
The fact that Geoff Duke is not riding to-day is…. quieten that Editorial Pen….er, regrettable. The T.T. race is one of the Championship series, and “Guilty Geoff” is prohibited from riding in it – prohibited by a collection of persons whom most intelligent motor-cyclists would have pleasure in ‘blessing’ with the traditional blunt instruments. Still, Geoff isn’t with us on the roads – though he is down below us behind the pits, looking after his entry, Jackie Woods on the “350” Duke-Velocette.

There are 88 entries for to-day’s race – first time since 1935 that the Senior has topped the list. There are twelve non-starters, due to one thing or another, but soon 76 riders will be away on their 264 miles; and what a race it will be!

Nine makes are represented, Norton with 51 entries, Matchless with 15, B.S.A. 11, A.J.S. and Guzzi 3 each, M.V. 2, and BMW, Pike-B.S.A. and Velocette one each. One of the two M.V.’s – Masetti – is a non-starter, as are two of the B.S.A.’s and nine of the Nortons. In all, of the 88 entries, 12 are of 350 c.c. (or thereabouts) capacity – all the Ajays, Jackie Wood’s Velocette, and four of the B.S.A.’s and Nortons.

Last year’s “so-near-the-record” race was won by Geoff Duke at an average speed of 97.93 m.p.h., with the record lap at that 99.97…….. This year the time-keepers are clocking laps to “fifths” – and don’t forget that the time for the “100” lap is 22 mins. 38.388 seconds. All very baffling! Geoff is not with us to do it – can John Surtees help, or Bill Lomas?

The weather is not perfect for high speeds – a strong west wind is blowing – but it is much better than it was on either Monday or Wednesday. At least the roads are dry. Visibility should be OK all round the course. The forecast is: “A bright, dry day with sunny periods; normal temperatures.” That’s by a long way the best we’ve had this week so far.

There are three Manufacturers’ Teams – Guzzi (Lomas, Kavanagh and Dale), Matchless (Ennett, Perris and Dunlop) and Norton (Trow, Brett and Hartle). There are also no fewer than ten Club teams, including four from the Dominions.

10 a.m. – the riders are away for the warm-up – whilst we in the Press Box shiver in half a gale of wind. Still, wind is better than mist, for the “naked” machines, anyway; some of those riders who detached their fairings before yesterday’s weigh-in must be glad that they did so!
10.15 – the siren. Silence on the Glencrutchery Road as the riders take their places on the grid.
10.25 a.m. – the official weather report: Visibility is good all the way round; the roads are dry; there are strong variable winds, and heavy cross-winds must be expected on the Mountain.
10.30 – Bang! And then silence for ten seconds, for No. 1 T.A. Ovens, is a non-starter and it is V.T. Williams (Norton) who is first to push off. His engine is reluctant, however, and he is passed by both Nos. 3 and 4 (Setchell and Ennett) before he gets going.
A last-minute non-starter – H. Wieland (Norton), due to a (reported) seized engine during the warming-up period. Odd……..
No.4, Derek Ennett is leading the field at Ballacraine, being recorded there as No. 34 Shepherd (Norton) moves off.
10.37 a.m. – Here’s Bill Lomas (No. 12) at Ballacraine, 33 secs. before Jack Brett (No. 15) – a gain of three seconds in the first seven miles, Ken Kavanagh, Monday’s winner, must be in some slight trouble, for team-mate Dickie Dale, who started 20 seconds behind him is leading him by four seconds at Ballacraine.
10.45 a.m. – They are all away except the last man, R. Cousins (Norton), whose engine does not fire. Cousins turns round in the road, still pushing, and stops at his pit, facing the wrong way of the course. Three minutes later he gets away.
Derek Ennett (No. 4) is leading at the Bungalow by over a minute, but second to him is Bill Lomas (No. 12), who has gained some 15 seconds on the Manxman. Ninth man there is No. 19, Zeller, who is obviously going well.
At 10.55 a.m. (approx.) Derek Ennett flies past the pits. Next along is Bill Lomas, with a gain on Ennett, now of some 35 secs; Alan Trow (No. 9) and Jack Brett (No. 15) are third and fourth on the roads at the end of Lap 1. Both are going well, particularly Jack.
Meanwhile Surtees (81) is shown at Ramsey, having over-taken a dozen or more riders in the first 24 miles.

R. Fay (B.S.A.) has stopped at Ramsey to make adjustments. T.S. Shepherd (Norton) draws into his pit, as do B. Freestone and K. Bryen (Nortons). Shepherd has retired, having lost a footrest. G E Leigh (Norton) has retired at Birkin’s Corner with engine trouble.
11.6 a.m. (again approx.) – John Surtees snarls past, pointing down to the back end of his machine. The motor sounds fine, though, and when his time goes up – 23 mins. 35 secs. – it is seen that he is leading the race up to date.

Just as the Lap Leaders are announced comes news that Bob McIntyre, running second, has retired at Crosby, one of his tanks having come loose. Bad luck, Bob.
Keppel Gate reports that Ennett is leading Lomas by 30 seconds on the roads – which means that Bill is 50 seconds ahead on time. Geoff Tanner (Norton) is reported as touring at Keppel. R.G. Cook (B.S.A) has retired at the pits, whilst R. Ingram (B.S.A.) has stopped at the Mountain Box but hopes to proceed.

End of Lap 2 – Ennett leading Lomas by 32 seconds on the roads; Jack Brett (No. 15) is third and Alan Trow (No. 9) fourth. Zeller (No. 19) is fifth past us and Charlie Salt (B.S.A.) is next along.
Monday’s winner, Ken Kavanagh, has retired at Cruickshank’s Corner, Ramsey, with engine trouble – rider O.K.
Just as Kavanagh’s retirement is announced, Dickie Dale draws into his pit and stays there for two or three minutes before proceeding.
11.29.a.m.- Surtees (No. 81) is shown at Signpost next to Dunlop (No. 66) and a minute later he tears past, ahead of Dunlop, and lying 34th on the roads.
Geoff Tanner, previously reported as touring at Keppel Gate is now announced as having retired at Quarter Bridge, with clutch trouble. Other retirements are Fahey (Matchless) at the Guthrie Memorial, Pizzey (Norton) at the Gooseneck and Cousins (Norton) at Waterworks – all riders O.K. Arnold Jones (Matchless) has retired at the pits.

Italy first and second, Britain third, fourth and fifth, Germany sixth. This truly [is] an “International” T.T. race!

Just as the second lap leaders are announced, Bill Lomas comes past at the end of his third lap, now leading on the roads. Ennett draws into his pit a few seconds after for a quick re-fill, as does Jack Brett.
John Hartle (No. 52) is now tenth on the roads; like Brett, he draws in to re-fuel, and is soon away. Alan Trow, however – the third Norton teamster – has gone through non-stop.
11.53 – Here’s Surtees for a quick fill-up and off again; he is now lying about twentieth on the roads.

More retirements: - O. Nygren (Matchless) at Ramsey, Roy Ingram (B.S.A.) at the Bungalow, G.J. Turner (Pike – B.S.A.) at Guthrie’s and A.F. Martin (Matchless) at Union Mills.

12.6 p.m. – Lomas flies past on his fifth lap just as the third lap leaders are announced. Derek Ennett follows him and Zeller (No. 19) is third, drawing in for a quick fill-up. Jack Brett, having replenished at the end of his third lap comes past whilst Zeller is at his pit.
John Hartle (No. 52) is now lying seventh on the roads, in spite of a re-fill at the end of Lap 3.

More retirements – K. Bryen (Norton) at Braddan, Charlie Salt (B.S.A.) at Ballahutchin and V.T. Williams (Norton) on the Mountain.

At 12.17 Surtees tears past again, now eleventh on the roads and when his time goes up it is seen that he is leading Bill Lomas by 38.6 secs., as against 63 seconds on Lap 3 – just about the time he lost on his re-fill.
12.30 p.m. – Lomas finishes his fifth lap and tears on non-stop. He is well ahead of the field, but he no longer has clear roads – he’s too busy overtaking the late starters.
Derek Ennett (No. 4) is next along, giving a very definite thumbs down signal. Jack Brett (15) is third past and Zeller (19) fourth. Surtees, meanwhile, is on the Ramsey – Bungalow stretch. Alan Trow (9) is fifth along and Hartle (52) sixth. Nortons are well in the lead for the Manufacturers’ Team Prize, but the Matchless team is still intact.

Three more retirements – Dickie Dale at the pits, John Clark at Quarter Bridge and J.B. Wilks (B.S.A.) at Milntown.

At the end of his fifth lap John Surtees (No. 81) is lying ninth on the roads!
No change on the Leader Board except that Jack Brett has regained fourth place from Zeller. Surtees, who was 38.6 seconds only ahead of Lomas on the fourth lap, has now increased his lead to over 70 seconds.

News of J.B. Wilks, previously reported as retired at Milntown. His retirement was due to a crash, and he has been taken to Ramsey Cottage Hospital, believed to be badly injured.

Now they are coming past at the end of their sixth laps – Lomas (12), Brett (15), Zeller (19), Ennett (4), Trow (9), Hartle (52), G.T. Salt (24) and Surtees (81).

1.03 p.m. – John is away on his last lap ….. F. Gonzalez (Norton), the Spanish “champ” has retired at Hillberry with engine trouble.
1.18 p.m. – Jack Brett is the first to finish having overtaken Bill Lomas on the last lap.
Zeller comes past third – just as it is announced that Surtees is at Guthrie’s. Derek Ennett, No. 4, is fourth past the pits. Surtees is at the Mountain Box ……. at the Bungalow…..
John Hartle (No. 52) is fifth man home and Alan Trow (No. 9) sixth. Nortons have won the Manufacturers’ Team Prize.

Surtees is at Signpost – and here he is …. Whoo-ooo-ooo……… John Surtees, on the four-cylinder M.V. has won the 1956 Senior T.T. race.


1Surtees, John2:44:05.8096.57MV
2Hartle, John2:45:36.6095.69Norton
3Brett, Jack2:46:54.2094.96Norton
4Zeller, Walter2:47:22.2094.69BMW
5Lomas, Bill2:47:28.6094.63Guzzi
6Ennett, Derek2:50:40.4092.86Matchless
7Trow, Alan2:53:27.8091.36Norton
8Dunlop, Gavin2:54:03.6091.05Matchless
9Salt, George2:54:19.2090.92Norton
10Chapman, Don2:54:43.2090.71Norton
11Rensen, Ralph2:56:28.8089.8Norton
12O'Rourke, Mike2:56:38.2089.72Norton
13Costain, George2:57:20.2089.37Norton
14Perris, Frank2:57:30.2089.29Matchless
15Robarts, Gerald2:57:54.2089.08Norton
16Fox, Frank M.2:58:11.0088.94Norton
17Plews, Harry2:58:41.2088.69Norton
18Cook, Fred2:59:02.4088.52Matchless
19Carter, Phil2:59:26.0088.32Norton
20Christian, Dennis3:00:09.2087.97Matchless
21Tostevin, Ken3:00:35.8087.75Matchless
22Hodgkinson, Barry3:00:47.2087.66Norton
23Chadwick, Dave3:02:22.6086.9Norton
24Wood, Jack3:02:39.8086.76Velocette
25Tully, Kevan3:04:01.0085.97Norton
26Ferguson, Bob3:04:57.0085.69Matchless
27Carr, Louis3:05:43.2085.34Matchless
28Duffy, Brian3:06:11.6085.11Norton
29Moule, Albert E.3:08:52.0083.91Norton
30Thomson, Dick3:10:11.8083.32Matchless
31Ranson, Llewellyn3:11:53.4082.52Norton
32Preston, Vic3:12:05.0082.51Norton
33Beevers, Bill3:12:42.8082.24Norton
34Willis, Ken3:12:53.2082.16Norton
35Edwards, James3:15:27.8081.08Norton
36Begg, George3:15:47.0080.95AJS
37Grant, Errol3:16:57.2080.47Norton
38Glazebrook, Joe3:17:04.4080.4Norton
39Barona, Edgar3:22:06.8078.41Norton
40Hancock, Walter2:32:08.6078.01BSA
41Lowe, Harry2:32:13.0077.99BSA
42Cameron, Stan3:24:26.0077.52AJS
43Wijesinghe, Ralph3:27:09.6076.5BSA
44Capner, Roy3:29:03.2075.81BSA
45Denton, Ben3:32:39.4074.53Norton
RSetchell, BrianAJS
RFay, RayBSA
RIngram, RoyBSA
RSalt, CharlieBSA
RTurner, GerryBSA
RWilks, J.B.BSA
RDale, DickieGuzzi
RKavanagh, KenGuzzi
RFahey, PaulMatchless
RJones, AlbertMatchless
R=Norris, FrankNorton
RNygren, OlleMatchless
RPowell, DerekMatchless
RBryen, KeithNorton
RCatlin, GeorgeNorton
RCousins, RonaldNorton
RFreestone, BrianNorton
RGonzalez, FrancescoNorton
RLeigh, GeorgeNorton
RLloyd, IvorNorton
RPizzey, MauriceNorton
RShepherd, TerryNorton
RTanner, GeoffNorton
RWaring, J.R.Norton
RWilliams, VictorNorton
RCook, RobertBSA
RMartin, AngusMatchless
RMcIntyre, BobNorton
RGrace, JohnNorton


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