A blast from the past: MGP racing returns to the Mountain Course after World War II

At 11am on 3rd September 1946, 93 riders, hundreds of officials and thousands of spectators gathered on the Glencrutchery Road in the Isle of Man for the very first race to be held on the Mountain Circuit since the end of World War II. Seven years earlier, in 1939, Britain had gone to war with Germany - just months after Georg Meier on a BMW had won the very last pre- war Senior TT.

The day got off to a bad start. Weather conditions around the course were awful and the 11am start for this joint Junior and Lightweight Manx Grand Prix race had to be postponed because of both torrential rain and poor visibility.

The racing finally got underway at 1pm but owing to the road conditions neither the Junior lap record of 80.44mph set by Ken Bills in 1938 or the Lightweight lap record of 73mph held by Denis Parkinson were likely to be broken that day.

The first of the 36 lightweight riders, PH Weston on a Rudge, got away first, followed by riders that included LW Parsons on his Pike Rudge and Noel Mavrogordato on his ear-piercing DKW.

At 1.23pm, just as B Drinkwater and DG Crossley on their lightweight Excelsiors reached Kirk Michael, the first of the 57 Junior competitors, G Henderson on his Norton, got away. He was closely followed by Dennis Parkinson on his Norton followed by yet another piercing scream from the Junior DKW ridden by Reg Dearden.

After the first lap, Bills, on his Lancefield-tuned Norton was in the lead followed by Tommy McEwan on another Norton and PM Aitchison, also on a Norton.

Ray Petty (New Imperial) and Jack Brett (Excelsior) were reported as ‘flying’ on their lightweight machines by the commentator, but Drinkwater had oil spraying on his rear tyre whilst ‘Mavro’ had seized his DKW at the Creg and Syd Lawton (Rudge) had retired.

There were plenty of incidents throughout the race. Both R Lee (Velocette) and FB Jones (Norton) came off their machines and a dog was reported loose at Ramsey. MO Klein (Norton) had stopped at Quarter Bridge to wire up his front mudguard, E Braine lost his footrests from his Norton but carried on, and D Holt (Velocette) stopped because of trouble with his helmet.

Unlucky RW Thompson (OK Supreme) retired from his sixth race, with machine failure once again. Peter Goodman fell from his Velocette and was taken to hospital but was OK.

On the last lap McEwan ran out of petrol at Creg-ny-baa allowing Denis Parkinson also on a Norton into third place.

At 4.30 pm, after three and a half hours of rain-soaked racing, the first post-war MGP race was over 

Ken Bills on his Steve Lancefield tuned Norton had won the  Junior Manx Grand Prix at a speed of 74.18 miles per hour,  remarkable considering the terrible road conditions. Second was PM Aitchison (Norton) and third Dennis Parkinson (Norton). Ernie Lyons (AJS) who was later to win the senior race finished in eighth place.

Norton machines had taken eight of the first ten places.

The Lightweight race was won by LW Parsons (Rudge) at a speed of 65.11 miles per hour followed by B Drinkwater and R S Simpson on their Excelsiors.

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