Pip Harris

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Pip Harris
File:Pip Harris small.JPG
Pip Harris pictured in 1966
Nationality British
Born (1927-08-06)August 6, 1927
Wombourne, Staffordshire, England
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years 1951 - 1960
First race 1951 Belgian Sidecar Grand Prix
First win 1960 Dutch Sidecar Grand Prix
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
1 5 N/A N/A
Isle of Man TT career
TTs contested 11 (1954 - 1967)
Podiums 4

Pip Harris (6 August 1927 - 22 February 2013), born Peter Valentine Harris, was a British motorcycle racer in the sidecar class. He raced in grasstrack, hardtrack, TT and Grand Prix races over a 27-year career.

Ex-Pip Harris Norton 596cc Manx/Watsonian Racing Motorcycle Combination in the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, 2008

Early life

Born in Staffordshire, Harris followed his father H.F. Harris, known as Curly Harris, a successful AJS works rider, and his brother John, also a motorcycle racer, in their passion for motorcycles. His brother sat him on a solo bike at the age of 8, which he promptly ran into a wall, and from that moment he never looked back.

Harris left school at 15 having been informed by the headmaster that he would ‘amount to nothing’, and he began working in the family garage and taxi business, which gave him access to engines of all types.

With plenty of time to practice on bikes both with and without engines, it became apparent that due to a problem with one of his legs, Pip could not control a solo machine so his father purchased a wicker sidecar from the milkman and attached it to a pre war Grindlay Peerless. This led to Pip’s first grass-tracking event in 1945 on the aptly nicknamed Grindlay ‘Bitza’, basically a bike made up of bits of this and bits of that. Unfortunately it blew up in its first season. Undaunted by 1948 Pip had moved on to road racing on a 596cc Norton bought from Jack Surtees, father of John. A few years later deciding he wanted something with more power he tried the 1000cc Vincent machine ‘Gunga Din’ and then a Vincent Black Lightning before returning to Norton/Watsonian.

1955 saw a change to Matchless and finally in 1958, partly due to lack of works support from Norton, Pip moved to long stroke BMW engines. At the time these machines were extremely expensive and he bought his first one as a half–share with Jack Beeton, another well-known and successful British sidecar racer.

In 1969, with the long stroke becoming uncompetitive, Pip purchased an ex-works short stroke BMW.[1]


Harris started his career in grasstrack motorcycle racing at Rushmere in Shropshire. He won his first race in 1946 before becoming British Champion for seven years.[1]

Harris first road raced in 1948 at Dunholme,[2] a racetrack created from a former WWII airfield.[3][4]

He competed in eleven Isle of Man TT races with four podium finishes, two second and two third places, and one fourth place.[5]

In 1956 Harris and passenger Ray Campbell were second in the Ulster Grand Prix earning six championship points. They also recorded the fastest lap in the 1956 Dutch TT but did not finish the race.

File:Anefo 911-3669 TT races te.jpg
Pip Harris and Ray Campbell (No. 10) in 1960 in the Dutch TT chasing Florian Camathias and Roland Föll. Harris/Campbell won the race

His most successful race was his only Grand Prix win, in the 1960 Dutch Sidecar Grand Prix.[5]

Harris, with others, assisted in the development of Reynolds tube leading link forks for sidecar racing, a design still used to this day. Reynolds also manufactured the framework for the new BMW engine that was used in one of the Harris combinations, a design also taken up for the works BMW of World Sidecar Champion Max Deubel.[6]

His final meeting was at his favourite British circuit, Oulton Park in Cheshire, in August 1972.[1]

Later life

Harris, and his wife Ann, retired to Ackleton, Bridgnorth. He died on 28 February 2013 aged 85 years.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Tributes paid after sidecar champion Pip Harris dies". Express & Star. Retrieved 30 Sep 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Snetterton - a lap with Pip Harris. Motor Cycle, 1966. Britain's Top Circuits, race circuit guide. Accessed and added 7 January 2015
  3. Dunholme Lodge Circuit Retrieved 7 January 2015
  4. Motor Racing, Lincolnshire County Council Retrieved 7 January 2015
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Competitor Profile: Pip Harris". TT Fact Zone. Isle of Man TT. Retrieved 30 Sep 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Star Letter: Pip Harris reflections". Classic Racer. Mortons Media Group Ltd. Retrieved 1 Oct 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links