1920 Isle of Man TT

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The 1920 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy was the first to take place following World War I. Official practice sessions started on 31 May with the races taking place on 15 and 16 June.

The 1920 Junior TT race included for the first time a new Lightweight class for motorcycles of 250 cc engine capacity, but this would not be a TT until 1922. (see below)

The Junior race was initially led by Eric Williams, the winner of the 1914 Junior TT race riding an AJS and set a new Junior lap record of 44 minutes and 6 seconds, an average speed of 51.36 mph. A mechanical retirement for Eric Williams allowed Cyril Williams also riding an AJS to build up an impressive lead of 20 minutes. However, Cyril Williams hit transmission problems at Keppel Gate and free-wheeled and pushed it for the last five miles[1] to win by a margin of 9 minutes and 50 seconds from J.A.Watson-Bourne, riding for Blackburne motorcycles in 4 hours, 37 minutes and 57 seconds, at an average race speed of 40.74 mph.

The Lighweight class within Junior race was won by R.O Clarke riding a Levis and he may have won the event overall but crashed at Windy Corner due to a puncture on the last lap, and then completed the race on a bent wheel-rim to finish fourth overall. G. Dance on a Sunbeam set a new lap record time of 40 mins. 30 sec.[1]

The Senior race was won by Tommy de la Hay riding a Sunbeam at an average race speed of 51.79 mph from local Isle of Man competitor Doug Brown riding a Norton. A new lap record was set by George Dance riding a Sunbeam of 40 minutes and 43 seconds, an average speed of 55.62 mph. AJS thought they could repeat the success of the 1914 Junior TT with a newly developed 2.75 hp (2.05 kW) ohv-engined machine.[2] While Cyril Williams won the Junior race for AJS, Howard Raymond Davies, also on the AJS team, retired from both races with engine trouble.

To explain the 250 race more fully, the first 250 cc Lightweight TT race would not be run until 1922. The 1920 and 1921 Junior races had a separate 250 cc class that appeared to run concurrently. In 1920, R.O Clarke was fourth in the Junior race, but finished in first place in the 250 cc class. For 1921, Doug Prentice was 10th in the Junior race, but finished first in the 250 cc Lightweight class.

The Isle of Man Examiner, dated 19 June 1920, quotes that Levis won the first 3 places in the Lightweight class of the Junior race. The article also states that no prize was awarded for the Lightweight class as the finishers' times were all 30 minutes slower than the winner's time. The article does not state if it refers to prize money or some other finisher's award. However, R.O Clark riding for Levis finished in 4th place overall and was within the 30 minute limit for a "prize", despite a puncture at Windy Corner on the last-lap, and then completed the 1920 Junior Race on a wheel-rim.

Junior 350 cc Race

15 June 1920 – 5 Laps (188.75 Miles) Mountain Course.

Pos Rider Machine Time Speed Laps
1 United Kingdom Cyril Williams AJS 4.37.57 40.74 mph 5
2 United Kingdom J. A. Watson-Bourne Blackburne 4.47.07 5
3 United Kingdom J. S. Holroyd Blackburne 4.47.37 5

Senior 500 cc Race

16 June 1920 – 6 Laps (226.38 Miles)

Pos Rider Machine Time Speed Laps
1 United Kingdom Tommy de la Hay Sunbeam 4.22.23 51.79 mph 6
2 United Kingdom Doug M. Brown Norton 4.26.13 51.05 mph 6
3 United Kingdom W. R. Brown Sunbeam 4.32.27 49.80 mph 6


  • During the first practice session, T.H. Haddock riding an AJS in the Junior race crashed at Keppel Gate. George Cowley crashed at Governor's Bridge and Graham Walker, riding for Norton in the Senior class, hit sheep in the mist on the Snaefell Mountain section.
  • During the Saturday practice D.S. Alexander riding an Indian Scout at number 51 in the Senior turned off the course at Braddan Bridge and rejoined at Hillberry and set a time of 39 minutes and 10 seconds!
  • Non-starters for the Junior race included: 8 George Cowley (AJS), 10 J.H. McDowell (AJS), 22 Bert Houlding (Wooler), 24 F.J. Price (Diamond), 26 J.W. Oates (Aurora), 29 E. Greenwood (Douglas)
  • Retirements during the Junior race: A.E. Williams (Douglas) at Creg-ny-Baa.
  • R.O. Clark was thrown from his Levis at Windy Corner after a puncture on the last lap. After completing the race on a bent front wheel-rim he was detained in Nobles Hospital with physical exhaustion.
  • Prize Money awarded for the Junior race was: 1st place £40, 2nd place £20 and 3rd place £10. A gold finisher's award was made for each competitor completing the race within 30 minutes of the winner. The Motor Cycle magazine Gold Cup was awarded to Eric Williams for setting the fastest lap of 44 minutes and 6 seconds.
  • Non-starters for the Senior race: 73 A.J. Moffat (Norton), 77 S.J. Redmond (Indian)
  • Prize Money awarded for the Senior race was: 1st place £50, 2nd place £25 and 3rd place £15.


  1. 1.0 1.1 [1] IOM 1921 Notebook (retrieved 13 August 2006)
  2. [2] LocalHistory History of A. J. Stevens & Company (retrieved 13 August 2006)

External links


Isle of Man Examiner dated 12 June 1920.

Isle of Man Examiner dated 19 June 1920.