AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER - THE 1947 CLUBMAN'S TT
|The first meeting on the Mountain Course after the hostilities of the Second World War was the 1946 Manx Grand Prix; manufacturers who had discarded their racing designs and had been concentrating on the production of sturdy motorcycles, suitable for employment in the war effort were not prepared in time for the annual June festival. It was, therefore, in the following year, 1947, that the professionals returned to pit their skills against the obstacles of the world's toughest circuit.
Prior to the War there had been just three classes, all for solos - Lightweight [250cc], Junior [350cc] and Senior [500cc]; however, the ACU seemed to be determined to make up for lost time and introduced the Clubman's TT to supplement the programme.
The same three classes as for the 'international' events were included, but were to be run concurrently. The big difference being that machines up to a capacity of 1000cc were eligible for the Senior. As it happened, only two machines of this size entered, but neither made the start line; the largest machine to head off in the direction of Bray Hill was a 600cc Scott.
Some TT stalwarts were a trifle pessimistic that less skilled riders on slower machines were to be on the course at the same time as seasoned campaigners……and so, very much the same as in 1967 when the Production Classes were introduced, separate practice sessions were allocated, with the Clubmen being allowed four.
It is interesting to look at the rules applied to the new race….quoting from paragraph No 13 concerning 'definition and specification'….
"Every motorcycle entered for these Races shall be a two-wheeled vehicle propelled by an engine and shall be a fully equipped model according to the manufacturer's catalogue which shall be published before 28th February, 1947, such a catalogue to be submitted to THE UNION by the entrant not later than 3rd May 1947. At least 25 of the model entered shall have been produced by the manufacturer and such motorcycles shall include in their equipment, kick starters and full lighting equipment"
This, ofcourse, meant that the likes of the Manx Norton and KTT Velocette couldn't take part.
Number plates, head and tail lamps, and wheel stands had to be removed, but it wasn't actually compulsory to dispense with luggage carriers, speedometers and dynamos. The lightening of machines by filing, drilling or by the substitution of lighter metal was not allowed, and as in the TT 'proper', Pool petrol only was available. The machines had to be kick-started at the beginning of the race, as they did after the compulsory pit stop at the end of the second lap. The lightweight machines, which were to start first, had to complete three laps, with the other two classes, four each. Riders competing in the main races were ineligible.
The 'awards structure' was interesting - winners received £50; second, £40; third, £30 and fourth, £20. In addition, all entrants, including the 'placed' men, whose drivers finished within six fifths of the winner's time, received a free entry into the 1947 MGP. No rider could enter himself; if someone qualifying for this award did not want to compete in the September Races, the free entry could, presumably, have been given to another member of the club in question.
There were 64 entries - 33, 23 and 8 in order from the largest to the smallest class, with riders be set off at 15 second intervals.
Seven came to the start line for the 250 Race - an AJS, a Triumph, two Excelsiors and three Velocettes. A battle ensued between W McVeigh, B E Keys and L R Archer with McVeigh gradually pulling away to win, but an announcement, not unfamiliar in the 21th century, was made some four hours later - " The Stewards have decided with great regret to disqualify No 2, W McVeigh, entered by the Pathfinders Club for having an engine with a capacity greater than permitted for the Lightweight Race and not in accordance with the cubic capacity declared on the entry form." Apparently, the engine had been rebored and was a shade over the permitted capacity; McVeigh appealed to the Stewards of the RAC who duly reinstated him.
Denis Parkinson was hot favourite for the 350; he did not disappoint and brought his Norton home three and a half minutes ahead of R Pratt on a similar machine with a fastest lap of 72.92mph.
Fathers of famous sons of the current era were favourites in the Senior, a race which suffered from 10 non-starters, but benefited from having such a great variety of British machinery - Norton, Triumph, Ariel, AJS, BSA, Rudge, Excelsior, Scott and Sunbeam. Jack Cannell and Allan Jefferies, together with Eric Briggs were expected to dominate. Cannell's Triumph soon expired with a broken petrol pipe at Ballacraine on the first circuit. Briggs  gradually caught Jefferies  on the road, passed him and pulled away to win by an incredible 5 minutes 15 seconds at an average speed of 78.67mph, with a fastest lap at 80.02mph last time around.
The 'Clubmans' lasted until the end of the 1956 meeting, by which time it had become a two race affair - Junior and Senior - run separately, with BSA mounted, Bernard Codd taking the honours in both classes.
Whilst carrying out research about the 1947 Clubman's TT I came across an article in the IOM Green Final of September 13th 1947 -
" The Races Must Go On" - Deemster Cowley's View
" When Deemster Cowley went to the front of the platform at the Palace on Thursday evening during the prize distribution for the Senior MGP, he said he wanted to say something about the future of the TT and MGP. The huge crowd quickly hushed, and his words were listened to attentively.
' These races have succeeded, and will continue to succeed', he went on 'because of a wonderful partnership. First, there is the MMCC Committee, whose organisation has done so much; second, there are the motorcycle manufacturers without whose help and initiative, races of this kind would not be possible. We do not recognise sufficiently the work that this industry is doing in earning dollars by the export of motorcycles to all parts of the world. The third partner is the IOM Government who occasionally provide a little of the money to enable these races to run. The fourth partner is the company of riders whose courage and determination and endurance make the races possible.'
'I want to remind you that these races must continue to be run, because it these men who made the Battle of Britain possible', he declared.
'We have been told by a gentleman - I think his name is Shinwell [boos interrupted his speech] - that there is a shortage of petrol - but Mr Graham Walker reminds me there is no lack of alcohol' [laughter].
'I do want to say this' said His Honour 'Whatever else, we have got to see these races go on, not merely because of the IOM, which has derived financial benefit from them, but because of the greater interest of the industry, its export value and the spirit of the races which makes the country what it is'
'We, in the IOM, will make every sacrifice to enable these races to continue' he concluded, amid cheers".
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