Henry Tyrell-Smith

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Henry Tyrell-Smith
Nationality Irish
Born 1907
Died 1982 (aged 74–75)
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Isle of Man TT career
TTs contested 13 (19271939)
TT wins 1
First TT win 1930 Junior TT
Last TT win 1930 Junior TT
Podiums 8

Henry George Tyrell-Smith (1907–1982) was an Irish motorcycle road racer. He was born in Co Dublin and studied at Trinity College, Dublin for a BSc degree. He raced at the Isle of Man TT from 1927 to 1939, and between 1929 and 1936 competed in the German Grand Prix. He also raced in The Swedish Grand Prix in Saxtorp 1933–36.


Henry's first motor-cycle was an ex War Department Douglas. From 1924 to 1929 he studied for Engineering Degree at Trinity College Dublin. From 1936 to 1939 he worked for the Experimental Department at Excelsior motor-cycles. From 1939 to 1942 he was with the Bristol Aeroplane Co working on single cylinder test stands. In 1942 he received a Direct Officer Commission for REME. He was with the Workshop Office for Guards Armoured Division during D-Day landings and Normandy. In 1945 he was promoted to Major as a Workshop Control Officer in an engine repair shop at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg. After the war he worked in the Experimental Department for Triumph Motorcycles.[1]

Motorcycle racing career

Tyrell-Smith started out on a Douglas, and finished second in the 1926 Leinster 200.[1] He rode a Triumph in the 1927 Isle of Man TT, and by the next year rode for Rudge, and continued to do so until 1935.

In the 1929 IOM Senior TT Tyrell-Smith began in the lead, and by the fourth lap was more than three minutes ahead. Then he crashed at Glen Helen, allowing a number of bikes to pass before he could rejoin, and this put Tim Hunt, on a Norton, in front. When Hunt had problems, Sunbeam's Charlie Dodson moved into the lead. Interest then began to focus on Tyrell-Smith, who, riding furiously, was making up time on the leaders. Dodson won, with his team-mate Alec Bennett more than four minutes behind, and Tyrell-Smith only 50 seconds behind him, taking third. When he was examined after the race, it was found that he had leg injuries and three cracked ribs.[2] The Rudge team of those years consisted of competition manager Graham Walker, with Ernie Nott, and H.G. Tyrell Smith.[3]

Tyrell-Smith won the 1930 500cc European Championship for Rudge. In 1933 he rode an OK-Supreme in the Lightweight. In 1934 he rode an AJS in the Senior, and the 1935 Junior, having his last TT ride for Rudge in the 1935 Senior. From 1936 to 1939 he rode for Excelsior. The bike Tyrell-Smith rode in the 1936 Lightweight was a four-valve OHC radial head Excelsior with two carburettors. He finished second and went on to win the 250cc European Championship. In the late 1930s he worked for Excelsior motor-cycle company and when the War broke out, joined the British Army and served in the D-Day landings with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).[4] After the war, a career followed with Girling Ltd as Sales Engineer supplying suspension units to the British Motorcycle industry[5]

In the sixties he was regularly seen at the Isle of Man TT races accompanying the Girling racing department in his capacity as representative to the motorcycle industry but also helping to provide the support to the sport that he loved. "Tyrell" took retirement in 1972.[6] On 30 September 1956 the first Coventry Parade – then known as the Coventry–Birmingham–Coventry Veteran Motorcycle Run was held. There were 61 entries, including "H.G. Tyrrell (sic.) Smith, successful TT rider of the 20s and 30s"[7]

Isle of Man TT Race career

Year Placing Race Motorcycle Average Speed
1927 13th Senior TT Triumph 60.99 mph
1928 4th Senior TT Rudge 60.52 mph
1929 3rd Senior TT Rudge 70.25 mph
1930 6th Senior TT Rudge 71.11 mph
1930 1st Junior TT Rudge 71.08 mph
1931 2nd Lightweight TT Rudge 68.25 mph
1932 8th Senior TT Rudge 75.70 mph
1932 3rd Junior TT Rudge 74.02 mph
1933 9th Senior TT Rudge 75.34 mph
1933 5th Junior TT Rudge 75.46 mph
1933 11th Lightweight TT OK-Supreme 65.62 mph
1934 7th Senior TT AJS 70.56 mph
1935 10th Junior TT AJS 75.21 mph
1935 2nd Lightweight TT Rudge 70.67 mph
1936 2nd Lightweight TT Excelsior 72.51 mph
1937 7th Junior TT Excelsior 77.25 mph
1938 3rd Lightweight Excelsior 73.62 mph
1938 13th Junior TT Excelsior 76.69 mph
1939 3rd Lightweight TT Excelsior 71.91 mph
  • DNF in 1931 Junior and Senior.
  • DNF in 1936 Junior (Excelsior)- Retired Lap 3 at Creg-ny-Baa.
  • DNF in 1937 Lightweight(Excelsior) – Retired Lap 6 at Creg-ny-Baa with broken connecting-rod.
  • DNF in 1939 Senior.
TT Career Summary
Finishing Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 DNF
Number of times 1 3 4 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 2 6

German Motorcycle GP

  • In 1929 Henry Tyrell-Smith won the 500 cc class at the German motorcycle Grand Prix
  • In 1931 the 350 cc Grand Prix
  • In 1934 the 250 cc Grand Prix
  • In 1936 the 250 cc Grand Prix[8]

Other race wins

  • 1931
  • 250cc Dutch Grand Prix
  • 1932
  • 350cc Ulster Grand Prix – Rudge 77.89 mph
  • 350cc Brooklands Grand Prix
  • 1933
  • 500cc Leinster 200
  • 1934
  • 250cc Belgium Grand Prix
  • 1936
  • 350cc Dublin 100
  • 1937
  • 350cc Dublin 100
  • 250cc Leinster 200
  • 1938
  • 250cc North West 200[1]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Title: "TT Special", Published: 12 June 1953, page 22.
  2. [1] LocalHistory Boulton, Part6 (Retrieved 15 November 2006)
  3. [2] LocalHistory Boulton, Part5 (Retrieved 15 November 2006)
  4. TT Special, Edited by G.S.Davison; Article – "Practice Report"; 1950 edition.
  5. Isle of Man Weekly Times – Golden Jubilee TT Supplement 1957 p.8
  6. [3] MCB Bikesport Photo Archives 1931 – 1939 (Retrieved 15 November 2006)
  7. [4] VMCC Coventry Parade (Retrieved 15 November 2006)
  8. [5] RacingMemo L'Histoire Du Grand Prix D'Allemagne (Retrieved 15 November 2006)
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Percy Hunt
500cc Motorcycle European Champion
Succeeded by
Percy Hunt
Preceded by
Arthur Geiß
250cc Motorcycle European Champion
Succeeded by
Omobono Tenni