1949 – 59

Racing Memoriam – Post World War Two :

 1949 – 59

Ron TAPPING: died in hospital from injuries received in a speedway crash at Brands Hatch grass track, Kent, England, on Sunday, 14 August 1949.

A.W.F. JOHNS: Manx Grand Prix – 26 Aug 1946. Arthur Johns entered the 1946 Senior race of the Manx Grand Prix with a 500 Norton. This was the first motorcycle event on the Isle of Man after World War II. During practice he crashed on the last right-hand bend in the approach to Sulby Straight, close to the small town of Ramsey.

Peter M AITCHINSON: –  Manx Grand Prix – 5 Sep 1946 – crashed at the 33rd milestone on the Snaefell Mountain Course in the Senior race. Peter had earlier come second in the Junior Manx on a Norton at a speed of73.89 mph. He came 3rd in the 1938 Senior Manx at a speed of 79.14 mph.

Benjy RUSSELL: Manx Grand Prix 9 Sep 1947. Irishman Benjy Russell made his visit to the Isle of Man in the 1947 Manx Grand Prix Lightweight race riding a 250 Moto Guzzi. The race started under difficult conditions, with gale force winds sweeping the island.  On the fifth lap as Russell approached Schoolhouse Corner, a left-hand bend at Crossags Lane in Lezayre Road, in Ramsey the footrest of his Moto Guzzi touched the ground. Russell was subsequently thrown from his bike losing his helmet and goggles in the accident. Unfortunately he was killed instantly.

Benjy Russell - Comp.

(pic courtesy Keith Collie)

Johan Erik van TILBURG: Isle of Man TT – 28 May 1948. In practice for the Junior race, South African rider Johan Erik van Tilburg crashed his 350 AJS near Windy Corner after colliding with the Norton of Tommy McEwan. McEwan escaped injury, but van Tilburg was seriously hurt and died a few days later in hospital.

Thomas BRYANT:  – Isle of Man TT – 3 June 1948. Thomas crashed his velocette at Brandish Corner in practice. Bryant later died in hospital.

Neil (‘Noel’) CHRISTMAS:  – Isle of Man TT – 11 June 1948. The accident happened on 11 June 1948 near the small town of Kirk Michael, Isle of Man, during the fifth lap of the 1948 Senior Tourist Tropy. His funeral was on 15 June 1948. Christmas was from Woking, Surrey. Neil Christmas was a well-known T.T. rider, from about 20 years before his fatal accident: a famous photograph of him, aboard a Scott machine, leaping Ballig bridge during the 1933 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, is in the front cover of the book “Tourist Trophy Two-strokes” by George Stevens, published June 1965.

Omobono TENNI: 1948 Berne Switzerland. Tommaso Omobono Tenni (July 24, 1905 – June 30, 1948) was an Italian motorcycle road racer. Nicknamed The Black Devil, he was a multiple Italian Motor Cycle champion, who raced to 47 victories for Moto Guzzi from 1933 till 1948, the year he died from an accident during practice for the Swiss GP. Omobono Tenni was born in Tirano, Lombardy. When he was 15, his family moved to Treviso, where he began an apprenticeship at a motorcycle workshop. At 19, he opened his own workshop and began his racing career. His first victory was in 1924, at the end of his teenage years. It was not until 1931 that members of his local club contributed so that he could purchase a Velocette 350 with which he finished in third place at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza followed by a victory at the Grand Prix Reale of Rome. In 1932, he won a race at Rapallo against Moto Guzzi’s star rider, Pietro Ghersi. His performance earned him a spot on the Moto Guzzi team for the 1933 season.

For the 1934 season, Moto Guzzi developed a new V twin 500 cc racer and Tenni rode it to victory at the Italian Grand Prix ahead of his team-mate Stanley Woods. He would go on to win the 1934 Italian 500 cc national championship. Tenni first travelled to the Isle of Man TT in 1935. For a newcomer, he performed remarkably well. He was lying in second to his team-mate Woods, when he crashed in a fog bank on the mountain section. It was here that he came to be dubbed the Black Devil referring both to the color of his hair and his diabolical riding style. He would again capture the 500 cc Italian National Championship in 1935. The highlight of his career was winning the Lightweight at the 1937 Isle of Man TT, becoming the first Italian to win the TT. In 1937 he also won the 250cc European Championship. He suffered serious injuries in the 1938 and 1940 seasons then his racing career was put on hold by World War II. After the war, he began racing again, claiming his fourth Italian 500 cc championship in 1947. He put in a respectable performance at the 1948 Isle of Man TT where he set the race’s fastest lap and led the race before mechanical difficulties forced him back to ninth place. Omobono Tenni had 47 victories racing for Moto Guzzi in the period from 1933 to 1948. 

See more on Omobono here

Ben DRINKWATER: Junior TT, 1949, Isle of Man. Reuben Thomas ‘Ben’ Drinkwater (13 February 1910 – 9 June 1949) born in Rochdale, Lancashire, England a railway signalman and motor-cycle racer who competed in the Isle of Man TT Races and the Manx Grand Prix. After competing in the 1946 Manx Grand Prix the first post-war event on the Snaefell Mountain Course, Ben Drinkwater returned to race in the 1947 Isle of Man TT races and finished in 3rd place in the controversial 1947 250cc Lightweight TT Race won by Manliff Barrington. While racing in the 1949 350cc Junior TT Race, the first ever race of the new FIM World Championship, Drinkwater collided with a bank trying to avoid a fellow competitor near Cronk Bane farm near the 11th milestone marker post and was killed. The distinctive S-bend corner on the Isle of Man Mountain Course near to where the accident occurred was renamed “Drinkwater’s Bend” or the 11th Milestone.

George Henry TAYLOR sidecar – October 1949 – Brands Hatch – at a special race meeting that was to raise money for a fellow rider’s widow and family.  His passenger, Donald Overall, escaped with injuries. George is on the right in the photo. Submitted by his Grand-daughter  Louise Popplewell

David WHITWORTH Belgian GP  350cc, 1950, Spa-Francorchamps. Malcolm David Whitworth (1904 — 3 July 1950) was a British motorcycle racer. Denied the chance to race abroad by World War II, Whitworth computed in numerous races in the United Kingdom. In 1935 and 1936 he competed in the Manx Grand Prix, but retired both times. In 1937 he competed in the Isle of Man TT for the first time, which was thought at the time to be the toughest race in the world. In the 250 cc Lightweight TT race, he competed on a Cotton motorcycle but failed to finish. He failed to finish in 1938 as well, but in the 350 cc Junior TT he came sixth on a Velocette. In the 500 cc race at the Ulster Grand Prix he finished third, behind Jock West and Ginger Wood. In 1939 he finished fifth in the Junior TT and twelfth in the 500 cc Senior TT, in which he competed for the first time. In the first post-war TT in 1947, Whitworth finished second to his team mate, Bob Foster, in the Junior TT, the best TT result of his career. He retired from the Senior TT race. In 1949, Whitworth took part in the newly created World Championship. At both the Dutch TT and the Belgian Grand Prix, Whitworth finished fourth in the 350 cc class resulting in sixth place in the overall championship standings. Outside of the championship, Whitworth won the 350 cc race at the French Grand Prix in Saint-Gaudens. In the 1950 season, Whitworth took eleventh and nineteenth places in the Junior and Senior TT respectively. For the Senior TT, he competed for the first time as a works rider, for Triumph. On 2 July 1950, Whitworth competed in the 350 cc Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. He was riding a privately entered Velocette and was in a fight for fifth place with Harold Daniell, Ted Frend and Charlie Salt. On the tenth lap, Whitworth and Salt came together, crashing heavily. The following day, Whitworth died in hospital from his injuries. In accordance with his wishes, which were to be buried close to the scene of any fatal accident he might have, he was buried in the local cemetery in Spa.

Dario AMBROSINI French  GP 250 1951, Albi. Dario Ambrosini (March 7, 1918 in Cesena – July 15, 1951 in Albi) was an Italian Grand Prix motorcycle road racer who competed for the Benelli factory racing team. He finished second to Bruno Ruffo in the inaugural FIM 250cc world championship in 1949. He returned in 1950 and claimed the 250cc world championship with three victories including one at the 1950 Isle of Man TT. Ambrosini was killed during official practice for the 1951 French Grand Prix at Albi.

Gianni LEONI Ulster TT 125cc, 12 August 1951, Clady – Gianni Leoni and Sante Geminiani, both riders of the Moto Guzzi team, were killed in a tragic accident during testing.  The two riders were at the track together with their team mate Enrico Lorenzetti. Geminiani and Lorenzetti made a  pit stop to change machines. Leoni, worried that his team mates had crashed went back to look for them. Meanwhile Geminiani and Lorenzetti had left the pits and were travelling at speed when they collided head on with Leoni. Sante Geminiani was killed instantly. Gianni Leoni recovered his feet; but later died in hospital in Belfast. Enrico Lorenzetti sustained only minor injuries.  Despite the tragic death of two of its factory riders and another injured, team Moto Guzzi did not withdraw from the race and the following day the works rider Bruno Ruffo won the Ulster Grand Prix 250 cm3 class in a Moto Guzzi. Gianni Leoni, 35yo from Como, had finished 2nd in the 125 World Championship 125 class in 1950 behind Ruffo and in 1951 behind Carlo Ubbiali, riding a FB-Mondial 125. At the time of his death he was second in points in the 125 World Championship class and fourth in the 250.

(Thanks to Jan Ebeltjes for the pic)  

Sante GEMINIANI Ulster TT 125cc, 12 August 1951, Clady – see details of incident above. Sante Geminiani (b. September 4, 1919) was an Italian Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. Born in Lugo in the Emilia-Romagna, he began his professional Grand Prix racing career in 1949 riding for the Moto Guzzi factory racing team. Gemiani finished in third place behind the dominant Gilera factory teammates, Geoff Duke and Alfredo Milani in the 1951 Belgian Grand Prix held at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit. Geminiani was killed on August 15, 1951 after colliding with his Moto Guzzi teammate, Gianni Leoni, during practice for the Ulster Grand Prix held at the Clady Circuit in Northern Ireland.

Ercole FRIGERIO Swiss GP sidecars 18 May 1952, Berne. Ercole was injured in a crash on the 15th lap at Tenni Turn – named after Omobono Tenni, who lost his life in that spot in practice for the 1948 Grand Prix of Switzerland. Frigerio died later in hospital on the same day.  Ercole was second in the World Sidecar Championships in 1949, 1950 and 1951, behind Eric Oliver’s Norton. He had won the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten in 1951 He was also the Italian sidecar champion in 1948, 1949 and 1950. (Thanks to Jan Ebeltjes for the pic)

Dave BENNETT Swiss GP 500cc, 18 May 1952, Berne. Dave  was also injured when he crashed at the Tenni Turn. The 500cc GP began at a furious rate with Bennett in mid-field. It soon developed into a race of attrition. Duke’s Norton succumbed to faulty fuel. As the race progressed there were further retirements, Dave was the sole works Norton battling with the more experienced AJS duo of Doran and Brett. A fierce battle for the lead developed, changing repeatedly. As Doran and Brett sped past the pits on lap 27 there was no sign of Bennett. It was at first presumed that he too had suffered engine trouble, but in his efforts to stay with the AJS pair, he had run out of road, hit a tree and was killed instantly. Earlier that day Italian sidecar driver Ercole Frigerio had lost his life in an accident during the sidecar event in the very same place as Bennett crashed.

Harry L. STEPHEN: 8 June 1953- IOM TT –  fatally crashed at Bishop’s Court, near Ramsey, in the opening lap of the 1953 Junior Tourist Trophy. Harry struck a pole and was killed instantly.

Thomas SWARBRICK: 8 June 1953 – IOM TT – Tom, from Preston England, crashed his AJS 350 at Westwood, near the 13th Milestone during the 1953 Junior Tourist Trophy.

Geoff WALKER IOM – 12 June 1953 – Geoff Walker crashed at Kerrowmoar in the 1953 Tourist Trophy Senior race. The fatal accident happened on the fifth lap when his footrest ground causing the bike to crash at speed. Geoff Walker was  from Tasmania, in Launceston. The previous day, Geoff had phoned home to Tasmania to make arrangements to buy a new Norton on which he intended racing the rest of the season in Europe. Geoff, who was staying at Mount Rule, is buried at Braddan Cemetery.

Pic: (ex velobanjogent.blogspot.com.au)

Leslie GRAHAM Senior TT – 12 June 1953, Isle of Man – Robert Leslie (Les) Graham DFC (14 September 1911 in Wallasey – 12 June 1953) was a British motorcycle road racer who competed in the 1930s and 1940s. He won the inaugural Grand Prix motorcycle racing 500 cc World Championship in 1949. Les Graham started racing at Liverpool’s Stanley Speedway on dirt. In 1929 he entered a race on the Park Hall Oswestry circuit, riding a second hand Dot-JAP, and came second to Henry Pinnington on an AJS. For the next few years he raced a succession of Rudge hybrids with varying success. In 1936 he managed to purchase a near new 250 cc OHC OK-Supreme cheaply, because it had dropped a valve. He rebuilt it, and entered it in the 1936 Ulster Grand Prix. After completing a lap of the Clady Circuit, the big end seized. He rebuilt it for 1937, and entered Northern Ireland’s North West 200, and lead the Lightweights for a while until he came off. He remounted, joined the field, and was running third behind a couple of Excelsiors, when the valve gear broke. He rebuilt the engine again, and won his next race at Donington Park. He then entered the Ulster Grand Prix, and came fourth. After this he was approached by John Humphries (the son of OK-Supreme’s founder) to join the firm, and was given a job assembling the OHC engines. OK-Supreme produced short track racers with JAP engines. Les Graham, Andy McKay, and John Humphries soon became known as the Midlands trio of OK-JAP riders.

In summer of 1938 they raced in the South Eastern Championships on Layhams Farm “mountain mile” grass track. Les took the 20 lap Matchless Trophy, setting a record in the process, despite never having competed on that track before. He came 12th in the 1938 Isle of Man TT Lightweight on an OK-Supreme. In 1939 he entered the IOM TT riding a Rudge engine Chris Tattersal St. Annes (CTS), and was running fourth on the second last lap, when the gearbox broke. Jock West was watching the race, and signed Les up to ride a Velo in 1940, but the War intervened, and that did not happen. Graham served as a pilot in the RAF during World War II. He was assigned to the 166 Squadron from 1940, flying Lancaster bombers over Germany. He attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in December 1944 for bravery. Afterwards, he flew with Transport Command, until he was demobilised in 1946.He had an invitation from Wing Commander J.M. (“Jock”) West, OBE, to join sales and competition at Associated Motorcycles (AMC). Afterwards, he returned to racing in the late 1940s as a member of the AJS factory racing team. He competed privately at the first post war Cadwell Park meeting, on a Norton 350, and won.

In 1947, on an AJS Porcupine, he managed 9th place in the Senior Isle of Man TT. In 1948 he managed a seventh in the Junior, but did not finish in the Senior. That year at Montlhery, Jock West, Les Graham, and French rider Georges Monneret broke 18 world records at speeds between 107 and 111 mph. The Motorcycle World Championships were first held in 1949, a year before the beginning of the four-wheeler Formula One World Championship. Les was the first winner of the prestigious 500 cc class, riding an AJS Porcupine. The Championship began with Graham leading by 90 seconds in the 1st round, at the 1949 Isle of Man TT. With only a few miles to go, the magneto drive sheared and he pushed home to finish 9th.

He won round 2 at Bremgarten in Switzerland and set fastest lap (in year 1 fastest laps counted for 1 point). Round 3 was the Dutch TT where he finished 2nd to Nello Pagani. He failed to finish in round 4 at Spa in Belgium. Round 5 was the Ulster Grand Prix in which he was victorious and collected the fastest lap. The final round was held at Monza in Italy where local hero Nello Pagani on a Gilera won. A rider’s best three finishes counted. Graham had 2 wins & a second, Pagani had 2 wins & a 3rd. Graham took the title even though Pagani’s overall score was higher. In 1950, Graham finished 3rd behind Italian Umberto Masetti (Gilera) and new star Geoff Duke (Norton) of England. He also competed in the 1950 International Six Days Trial held in Wales on an AJS 350. In 1951, Count Domenico Agusta approached Graham to ride for MV Agusta. Frustrated by a lack of development with the AJS, he joined the Italian team to ride and develop their 500 cc four-cylinder machines. Graham failed to score points for MV in the 500 cc class.

While the MVs were very powerful, the handling was not as well sorted, and the bikes were considered a “handful”. Agusta were not competing in the 350 cc class, so Graham rode a Velocette MkVIII KTT 350 in competition, finishing 6th in class and winning the Swiss Grand Prix. He also finished 8th in the 125 cc class in 1951. For 1952, Graham began with no points in round 1 in Switzerland, 2nd in the Isle of Man TT though a missed gear change and subsequent loss of power undoubtedly robbed him of a win. Reg Armstrong (Ireland), riding a factory Norton took victory, a very lucky one with Armstrong’s chain breaking as he crossed the finish line, with Les Graham 33.4 seconds behind. He failed to score points in the Dutch TT or the Belgian GP. He finished 4th with the fastest lap at Solitude in West Germany.

He suffered another non-finish but fastest lap in the Ulster (Tyre tread problems with his Dunlops). He followed this with MV Agusta’s first ever 500 cc win plus the fastest lap in front of an enthusiastic Italian crowd at Monza. This was followed by a second win in Spain. He finished the season second to Gilera’s Umberto Masetti in the championship. In the 250 cc class, he finished 3rd using Velocette and Benelli machines and claimed 4th in the 125 cc class for MV Agusta. For 1953, Graham was the pre-season favorite and tipped to win the championship again. Alas, this was not to be. On the Thursday, he finally won an Isle of Man TT, winning the Lightweight 125 cc class for MV.

In the Friday’s Senior TT, he lost control of his bike at high speed, as he took the rise after the bottom of Bray Hill, and was killed instantly. Carlo Bandirola and the rest of the MV racing team withdrew from the Championship that year as a mark of respect.

Ernie RING Belgian GP – 5 July 1953 – Spa. Ernie crashed his twin-cylinder AJS at the Côte de Burnenville on the third lap, being instantly killed.  Ernie had previously ridden at the IOM and also in GP events in West Germany and Ulster in 1952.

(Pic: ex TTfan)

Dennis LASHMAR German GP 500cc, 1954, Solitude. Dennis Lashmar (1927 – 1954) was the first rider sponsored by Gus Kuhn Motors. The company had obtained a Manx Norton and Dennis rode it in the 1952 Senior TT, finishing 30th. In 1951 he competed in three TT events, his best result being 13th in the Senior on Harold Daniell’s Norton. In 1954 he was entered by Geoff Duke in both the Junior and Senior races on Pike-BSAs, finishing in both, though his LEF didn’t finish the Ultra Lightweight race. Sadly, Dennis was killed in the penultimate lap of the 500cc German Grand Prix at Solitude near Stuttgart in July 1954 while riding a BSA.

Gordon LAING Belgian 350 GP 4 July 1954 – known as “Manxie” by friends, Gordon lost his life on a wet day during the 1954 Belgian Grand Prix, held at Spa-Francorchamps. Gordon,  25yo from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, had joined the Norton Team two weeks before, having his debut in the World Motorcycle Championship at the Ulster Grand Prix held at Dundrod. Gordon Laing tried to stay with Ray Amm who was battling for the lead with Kavanagh. While running in third place, Gordon Laing crashed at the flat-out La Carriére bend on his second lap. He was killed instantly. Fergus Anderson who was riding behind Laing at the time of his crash, lost five positions entering the pits to report the accident to the marshals. He eventually finished second in the race riding a Moto Guzzi, behind another Australian rider, his team mate Ken Kavanagh who was the winner.


L. HALL19 April 1954 – died after crashing at Crystal Palace London whilst avoiding a fallen bike. He hit a group of photographers when crashing.

Ruppert HOLLAUS Italian  GP 125 1954, Monza (Thanks to Peter Osborn for the pic). Rupert Hollaus (4 September 1931 in Traisen – 11 September 1954) was an Austrian Grand Prix motorcycle road racer who competed for the NSU factory racing team. He is the only Austrian to win a road racing World Championship. Hollaus began his Grand Prix career in the 1953 season. In the 1954 season, he dominated the 125cc class by winning the first four Grands Prix. Later that same year, he was killed in practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Hollaus became the first posthumous World Champion in 1954, in the 125cc class and was runner up to his NSU team-mate, Werner Haas, in the 250cc class.

Ray AMM 1955 Imola. William Raymond Amm (10 December 1927 – 11 April 1955) was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, was a famous post-war motorcycle racer famous for two motorcycle Grand Prix wins and 3 wins at the Isle of Man TT Races in his career. After signing for the 1955 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season to ride for MV Agusta, Ray Amm was killed in his first race for MV Agusta in Italy in 1955.  For the 1952 Dutch TT, Ray Amm was a full member of the Norton team and was second to Geoff Duke in the 350cc Dutch TT and retired from the 500 cc race.

At the 1952 German Grand Prix held at Solitude, Ray Amm crashed and broke a leg, returning later in the 1952 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season to win the 350 cc class for the 1952 Nations Grand Prix held at Monza in Italy. For the 1953 racing season, Ray Amm debuted the controversial Norton Kneeler 350cc motorcycle at the 1953 North West 200 Race. Despite overheating problems the Norton Kneeler with the nickname the “Amm Sandwich” or “Silver-Fish”, Ray Amm finished in 9th place in the 350 cc class that was eventually won by Bob McIntyre at an average race speed of 86.86 mph.

Despite testing the Norton Kneeler for practice for the 1953 Isle of Man TT Races, Ray Amm reverted back to the non-steamlined Norton motorcycles due to handling problems with cross-winds on the Mountain Section of the course and also opposition by the TT Race Scrutineers. It proved a good choice as Ray Amm won the 1953 Junior TT Race at an average race speed of 90.52 mph from Ken Kavanagh in 2nd place and Fergus Anderson in 3rd place.

Another win in the 1953 Senior TT Race for Ray Amm at an average race speed of 93.85 mph completed a prestigious Junior/Senior TT double win for the works Norton team. Following Ray Amm during the 1953 Senior TT Race, Geoff Duke commented on Ray Amm’s distinctive riding style;- “After I had caught and passed Ray Amm on the Norton, he passed me at Ballugh when I missed a gearchange! Then there was the frightening experience of following him to the end of the lap, Ray could be pretty lurid when he was trying!”

A fall at the 1953 French Grand Prix at Rouen in the 350cc class broke a collar-bone and brought about a premature end to championship ambitions for Ray Amm for the 1953 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season. However, Ray Amm returned to the abortive Norton Kneeler project in November 1953 to set a number of world speed records at Montlhéry, France rasing the hour speed endurance record to a distance of 133.70 miles. Also at Montlhéry in November 1953, Ray Amm shared a streamlined Norton Sidecar outfit with Eric Oliver to set further speed records.

Again riding for the works Norton in 1954 Isle of Man TT Races, despite leading the 1954 Junior TT a retirement on lap 5 for Ray Amm, allows Rod Coleman to become the first New Zealander to win a TT Race at an average race speed of 91.51 mph. The 1954 Senior TT race was delayed due to weather conditions and reduced visibility on the Mountain Section of the course. The race is held after a short delay and starts at mid-day. Despite the conditions, Geoff Duke riding the works Gilera and leads Ray Amm riding for Norton by 14 seconds on lap 1.

On the second lap, Geoff Duke laps in 26 minutes and 23 seconds at an average speed of 86.97 mph and Ray Amm laps at an average speed of 86.49 to reduce the lead to just 2 seconds. Further heavy rain and low cloud on the Mountain Section reduces speed further and on lap 2 and Ray Amm uses “feet-down” tactics on the slower corners. Then Geoff Duke decides to refuel on lap 3 and Ray Amm in second place goes straight through without stopping and now leads Geoff Duke by 32 seconds. At the Windy Corner on lap 4, the visibility is down to 20 yards and a decision is made to stop the race because of the conditions. This allowed Ray Amm, due to refuel at the TT Grandstand on lap 4, to win the highly controversial 1954 Senior TT Race in 1 hour, 42 minutes and 46.8 seconds at an average race speed of 88.12 mph. 

The next event after the 1954 Isle of Man TT Races was the Ulster Grand Prix held at the Dundrod Circuit in Northern Ireland. In an event that was much affected by rain, Ray Amm won the 350 cc Ulster Grand Prix at an average race speed of 83.47 mph from Jack Brett in 2nd place and Bob McIntyre in 3rd place. The 500 cc Ulster Grand Prix was reduced from 27 laps to 15 laps due to heavy rain and again the race was won by Ray Amm at an average race speed of 83.87 mph, although later these result was excluded from the World Championship by the FIM.

A further Grand Prix win in 1954 follows for Ray Amm with another 350 cc victory at the German Grand Prix held at Solitudering. At the end of the 1954 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season Ray Amm finished in 2nd place in both the 350 cc and 500 cc classifications behind world champions Fergus Anderson and Geoff Duke. Despite many offers Ray Amm finally moved from the works Norton motorcycles to the factory MV Agusta racing team.

The debut race for Ray Amm and MV Agusta was to be the 1955 Easter Monday race meeting at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. Riding a 350cc four-cylinder MV Agusta in the Coppa d’Oro Shell Race, Ray Amm lost control at the Rivazza Corner as he pursued Kavanagh and crashed in slippery conditions and died of his injuries on the way to hospital.

Derek ENNETT Ulster GP 350cc, 9 Aug 1956, Dundrod – Derek Ennett crashed near Budore on a works Moto Guzzi. Ennett had lost control after hitting a slippery patch of road. He was a newcomer to the Dundrod circuit.

Hans BALTISBERGER 1956 – Brünn. Hans Baltisberger (born September 16, 1924, Betzingen, Germany – August 26, 1956 ) was a Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from Germany. His best year was in 1954 when he finished the season in fifth place in the 250cc world championship. Baltisberger was killed while riding a 250cc NSU motorcycle at the 1956 Czechoslovakian Grand Prix, a non-championship event at the Masaryk Circuit in Brno.

Fergus ANDERSON Floreffe Belgium – 1956. Fergus Kenrick Anderson (February 9, 1909 – May 6, 1956) was a two-time Grand Prix motorcycle road racing World Champion. A Scot, he was one of the first riders from Great Britain to make his living racing motorcycles on the European continent. In 1950 he signed with Moto Guzzi and competed in the 250cc class. He convinced Moto Guzzi to build a 350cc bike, initially of 320cc but later a proper full 350. He raced to the 1953 world championship in the bike’s first year of competition. He repeated this feat as 350cc champion again in 1954. His 350cc world championship wins were the first by a non-British bike. He retired from racing to become Moto Guzzi’s team manager, but quit over a dispute over having a freer hand at running the team. He returned to racing and was offered a ride by the BMW factory. He was killed in 1956 after being thrown from his bike at a race in Belgium at Floreffe.

Charlie SALT Senior TT, 1957, Isle of Man. The record breaking Senior TT Race and the Golden Jubilee celebrations were marred by the death of Charlie Salt who crashed a BSA motorcycle at Ballagarraghyn Corner and was killed during the later stages of the 1957 Senior TT Race. Charlie Salt raced, test rode for BSA motorcycles, dabbled in engine development, and lost his life at the 1957 Golden Jubilee TT. His brother George T. Salt also raced up till that time, having come 9th in the SeniorTT in 1956 on a Norton. While Charlie showed promise in post war Manx Grand Prix events his results were not as good in the ensuing years. He was born circa 1916, but does not appear in IOM records till after WWII, when he was in his thirties. In 1951 Bert Hopwood demonstrated the Super Flash to the French police at Monthlery. “The French police wanted a bike that would haul a fully-equipped Gendarme sitting upright at 100mph. The only way the BSA test riders Charlie salt and Bill Nicholson could do this was to chin the tank in the wooded section of Monthlery where they couldn’t be seen, get to 100 then sit up just as they emerged from the trees and into view…” 

In the 1952 Lightweight TT Charlie rode a Pike-Rudge, as did the builder Roland Pike, Charlie coming 10th and Roland 13th. “Charles Francis Salt was a 43 year old motor car dealer from Streetly, Staffordshire. An experienced rider, he’d been riding for 25 years and had competed in the TT, Manx and Ulster TT. The senior race of 1957 was run over 8 laps for the first time, and it was on this final lap that Salt crashed. At 2pm, as he raced through Gorse Lea, about a mile before Ballacraine, the engine of his BSA seized. Struggling to contain the wobble, Salt and his machine struck a low stone wall and a concrete post adorned with red reflectors, ripping it from the ground. Salt was thrown 33 feet and landed suspended between a beech tree and the wall, from where the injured rider was recovered by spectators and laid in the field. Dr Bull attended from Ballacraine and found the poor man unconscious and with multiple spine fractures. He did come round sufficiently to ask what had happened. Salt was placed in an ambulance and arrived at Nobles hospital at 3:30pm, but despite the administration of oxygen and blood transfusions, he succumbed to his injuries. His wife and young son were spectating from the grandstand at the time”. Charlie Salt crashed, probably because of a gear-box seizure, during the eighth lap of the 1957 Senior Tourist Trophy. That year the race was eight laps. He died after arrival in hospital, probably in Douglas, of an internal bleeding.

Charlie Salt was a regular and popular participant at the Isle Of Man races, he started racing at the Manx Grand Prix in 1946. After three years in which he obtained a third in the 1948 Senior race as best result, he switched to the Tourist Trophy, where he rode Velocette and BSA machines. His achievements also include a second at the 350 cm3 Ulster GP in 1949, a fifth in the 1950 Belgian Grand Prix, again in the 350 cm3 class, both results obtained with a Velocette. He was then second at the 1955 Leinster 200, riding a 350 cm3 BSA.

Charlie Salt’s light weight Earl’s forked 1951 BSA


Josef KNEBEL Dutch TT Sidecar, 28 June 1957, Assen – Josef was killed during practice for the Dutch TT at Assen.  Josef  crashed at de Bult bend of the Circuit van Drenthe of Assen. He was twenty-five years old.  His passenger Rolf Amfaldern escaped with minor injuries. (pic courtesy Helmut Ohner)

Roger BARKER collapsed and died from heat exhaustion and injury whilst racing on the 7.6km Schleiz public road circuitThuringia East Germany 1957. Roger had been in the Schleiz less than a week. But in that time he had created such an impression that 2000 people attended his funeral. Barker was a member of Australia’s 1957 Isle of Man TT team. He had been in Continental Circus for less than a season and contested half a dozen international race meetings. Roger qualified on pole position for the 350 race. However, race day was blazing hot. Forty degrees and Roger was never comfortable in serious heat. Moreover, in 1957 sports people didn’t know about dehydration as they do today. Roger led from the start of the 350 race, setting a new outright lap record before retiring with tyre trouble. In the 500 race, Roger led once again – chased by Germany’s Ernst Hiller on a BMW. But midway through the scheduled 20 laps and on the opposite side of the course from the start/finish, the conditions proved too much. Roger Barker collapsed, falling from his machine in a straight line. He struck a lone apple tree at the side of the circuit and sadly was killed instantly.  


Roberto COLOMBO Belgian GP 125 1957, Spa. Roberto Colombo (January 5, 1927, in Casatenovo – July 6, 1957, in Francorchamps) was an Italian Grand Prix motorcycle road racer who competed for the MV Agusta factory racing team. His best seasons were 1956 and 1957 when he finished fourth in the 250cc world championship. Colombo was killed during practice for the 1957 Belgian Grand Prix.

(Thanks to Jan Ebeltjes for the pic)

Fritz HILLEBRAND sidecar driver – killed at Bilbao during practice  at the Deusto-San Ignacio street circuit – 27 August 1957 – Hillebrand was crowned posthumously the 1957 Sidecar World Champion, having scored three wins on the five rounds of the series. 

Barry HALLIDAY: – 5 April 1958 – killed during practice for the Bathurst Australia Tourist Trophy

Desmond WOOLF died 6 June 1958 – Des of Southern Rhodesia was killed at the Isle of Mann TT in the Senior TT riding a 498 cc Norton. He was killed at Cronk Village Cottage Barregarrow. Des had always said that he would like to be buried in line with the start and finish line of the IOM TT circuit.

John CLARK Moulins France – 22 June 1958 – whilst riding a Norton. The gearbox of his 500 Norton seized and he was struck by following riders Jacques Collot and Maurice de Polo. 

(image – www.mortonsarchive.com)

Keith CAMPBELL Cadours France 13 Jul 1958

 Keith Ronald Campbell (b.2 October 1931 in Melbourne) was a former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from Australia. Keith Campbell grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran with the ambition to be a champion racing motor cyclist. He became Australia’s first motorcycling world champion when he won the 1957 FIM 350cc world championship as a member of the Moto Guzzi factory racing team. He married Geraldine, the sister-in-law of Britain’s championship rider Geoff Duke and came back to Australia on his honeymoon in December 1957. He returned to Europe as the star rider at the 500cc Grand Prix de Cadours near Toulouse in France. According to a newspaper report, in trials he had beaten all records for the circuit, lapping at 71.5 miles an hour. He was leading the race when he failed to round a bend known as Cox’s Corner, crashed and was killed instantly. His cause of death was said to be a fractured skull. This same corner claimed the life of Frenchman Raymond Sommer in 1952 and the circuit is named in his honour. 

Jacques DRION: 24 August 1958 – killed in non-championship sidecar race at the Czech GP in an accident that also took the life of Ingeborg Stoll-Laforge. Ingeborg STOLL-LAFORGE: 24 August 1958 – killed in non-championship sidecar race at the Czech GP. Inge was a passenger in the sidecar driven by Jacques Drion, who also died from injuries incurred in the accident. Inge was noted as the first female competitor at the IOM TT when she competed in the 1954 sidecar race. Inge was married to Manfred Grunwald.Edward BORER: (no pic available) – killed at Ramp Bend Crystal Palace London – 30 March 1959. Both Peter Luscombe and Edward Borer died in a crash in the same race at Crystal Palace. Edward Borer was the first to crash when approching the Ramp bend he hit a barrier and was thrown from his Norton. His bike landed on him and probably killed him on the spot. The marshals failed to stop the race and several other riders crashed intothe debris and fallen riders. Peter Luscombe was thrown into the air and died when his helmet broke upon impact.

Ingeborg STOLL-LAFORGE: 24 August 1958 – killed in non-championship sidecar race at the Czech GP. Inge was a passenger in the sidecar driven by Jacques Drion, who also died from injuries incurred in the accident. Inge was noted as the first female competitor at the IOM TT when she competed in the 1954 sidecar race. Inge was married to Manfred Grunwald.

Peter LUSCOMBE: – killed at Crystal Palace London in same incident as Edward Borer, after striking fallen machines at Ramp Bend- 30 March 1959. See details above. Luscombe was riding a Triumph. James COATES: 4 Sep 1959 – He crashed at 33rd Milestone during Friday’s practice for the 1959 Junior Manx Grand Prix and was killed instantly. Marshals and spectators at the place reported that Coates the left hand bend too fast, his front wheel went onto the grass and he lost control striking some wooden posts.  James Coates lived in Nelson, Lancashire. He had previously ridden on the Isle of Man in 1954 and 1956. He also raced in the Manx Grand Prix in 1956.

James COATES: 4 Sep 1959 – He crashed at 33rd Milestone during Friday’s practice for the 1959 Junior Manx Grand Prix and was killed instantly. Marshals and spectators at the place reported that Coates the left hand bend too fast, his front wheel went onto the grass and he lost control striking some wooden posts.  James Coates lived in Nelson, Lancashire. He had previously ridden on the Isle of Man in 1954 and 1956. He also raced in the Manx Grand Prix in 1956.

John HAMILTON: 10 Sep 1959 – IOM – John, from Southampton, also crashed at the 33rd Milestone during the first lap of the Senior Manx Grand Prix on his Norton and died later at Nobles Hospital in Douglas.



4 thoughts on “1949 – 59

  1. My uncle Ronald Tapping died racing at brands. I was named after him in November 1950. By his brother Frank Tapping (mechanic) my father.
    He got killed at the end of 1940’s.
    I feel his death must be recorded somewhere.
    Any help
    Ron Tapping

  2. Thank you for all the work you must have put in for these tributes. One of my boyhood heroes was Charlie Salt who I remember in the first races after the war – the 1946 MGP. I remember the day he died – on the 8th (yes, 8th) lap of the Senior TT in 1957 when his engine seized. Ludicrous expecting the Senior to have an extra lap.

  3. Hi I’m looking for any information and possible photos of Henry pinnington TT RACER 30s and 40s era.
    Can anyone help please

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