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John Rudge

Record type: Motorsport Biographies

Biography: Biography and image supplied by John Rudge (December 2021):

John is from Tamworth where he built himself two bikes during the winter of 1962, a 350cc and 500cc, both were BSA Gold Star engines in Norton frames. 1963 he started racing in Clubmans events winning at circuits like Perton, Oulton Park, Snetterton, Cadwell Park, etc. He entered national events with enough success to enable him to enter the 500cc Senior Manx Grand Prix on a Manx Norton tuned by Bill Stuart, an ex-mechanic of the Norton Factory Race Team. Unfortunately John retired at the Gooseneck on the first lap when he dropped a valve in the experimental engine Bill had prepared for him.

The following year (1964) he raced 350 and 500cc Manx Nortons at most of the “short” circuits in England, again with some success and entered both the 350 Junior TT and 500 Senior, finishing 49th in the Junior and retiring in the Senior.

For the 1965 season he was given a 250 Royal Enfield 2 stroke designed by Herman Meir and built himself a Norton/Triumph 500cc, the engine being a unit construction Triumph Twin prepared by Alan (Mucker) Preece, both of which he entered in the Isle of Man TT. In the 250 Lightweight he was entered by the legendary Geoff Duke as part of the official Royal Enfield Team alongside Gordon Keith (winner of the 1964 Manx) and Percy Tait, Triumph tester and developer of the Enfield, an extraordinarly talented racer who became a lifelong friend. Although Percy and Gordon retired on the first lap John continued until the 5th lap when the clutch sprocket stripped at the 33rd milestone. With the engine still running he pushed and coasted back to the pits (including pushing out of Govenor's Dip) only to retire as there was not enough time to change the clutch housing. John had quite a lot of success on the Enfield including a 7th in the Ulster GP, being the first single cylinder rider to finish behind the “Multies” of Phil Read and Co. He finished 27th in the Senior TT on the Triumph based Special despite it developing an engine fault on the 5th lap causing him to complete the last lap on one cylinder.

In 1966 John quit his job to become a full time racer and was given the 125cc Hanna Honda vacated by Bill Ivy when he became team mate to Phil Read on “works” Yamaha’s. Pat Onions gave him the factory Cotton to run alongside Derrick Minter in the 250 class and he built himself a 500cc using the Royal Enfield frame fitted with the Triumph Twin engine he had raced the previous year. The season got off to a good start but John became disillusioned at having to race for a living and so retired to start his own business continuing to be involved in the sport by sponsoring other riders.

Gender: Male

Competed in

RacePositionTimeSpeedMachine
1965 Senior TT272:53:11.4078.44Triumph
1965 Lightweight TTRRoyal Enfield
1964 Senior TTRNorton
1964 Junior TT492:54:21.0077.91Norton
1963 Senior MGPRNorton

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