The Manx Grand Prix & TT - by Denis Parkinson
5 times Manx Grand Prix Winner (1936, 1937, 1938, 1948 and 1953),
Former President and Founder Member of Wakefield and District Motor Sports Club
1915 to 2004
1998 was a big year for the Isle of Man as it was the 75th anniversary of the Manx Grand Prix. It all started way back in 1923, my first visit was in 1925, when it was known as The Amateur TT. It was known as the Amateur TT until 1930 when it was renamed The Manx Grand Prix.
As soon as I was old enough I started racing mainly on grass tracks and things like that. I had been going to the Isle of Man as a schoolboy spectator and I wanted to compete on the Manx Grand Prix as it seemed so well organised. The first time I rode there was in 1932 when I was just old enough to hold a license. I rode a 350 Norton, and bearing in mind what I had been warned about learning the course before you try too hard this is what I set out to do. I ended up around 26th which I was quite happy with as I had averaged a good speed and I thought I would get better during the next few years, which is what I did.
By 1936 I thought I was ready to have a go at doing something. I was in the 250 Lightweight Grand Prix on an Excelsior Manxman I won, and then went on to win again in 1937 and 1938 completing a 'hat trick', the first time a 'hat trick had been done in the Isle of Man. In addition in 1937 and 1938 I was a member of the Wakefield Team who won the Team Prize.
In 1939 along came the war and that was the end of motor sport and like everyone else my age I went into the Army. Thanks to Graham Walker, that's Murray's dad, I got a good job in the Royal Core of Signals. I was a dispatch rider and did about 5,000 miles until I was promoted and put in charge of the Orderly Room, because of my business knowledge. This was a job I held until the end of the war.
In 1946 I got out of the Army just in time for the 1946 Manx Grand Prix. This was one of the first events to be held after the war and we were all keen to have a go. Considering the fact I had been off for six years I got in plenty of practice for that race in the Isle of Man; I did very well and finished third.
In June 1947 I rode in the Clubman's TT which I won on a 350 Norton. Then in 1948 I went on to win the 350 Manx Grand Prix on a 350 Norton. In that race a new face appeared on the scene, Geoff Duke. It was the first time he had been seen and no one had really heard of him however, suddenly half way through the race he was in the lead. Fortunately for me I suppose he ran into trouble and had to retire. I went on to win.
I rode in the Senior Manx Grand Prix the rest of the time I competed on the Isle of Man up until finishing in 1953 and I was in the top four every time but one. 1953 was my best year, the most exciting race of all my Grand Prix. I did so well I won it at a record speed and was the first Manx Grand Prix rider to lap the Manx TT course at over 90mph. After twenty-one years' competing in the Manx TT I crossed the finishing line as the winner of the Senior Manx. When I first went to see the races in the late 1920's I hoped one day I would be good enough to ride and win the Senior Manx Grand Prix. It was all my dreams come true.
I thought that, with this win, it was a good time to retire. And all the work I had done at the races stood me in good stead with the BBC who thought it would be a good idea to have me as part of their team. So from that year onwards I went to the Isle of Man as part of the BBC team broadcasting the races. As many of you will know I got in with ITV Television, local radio BBC radio Leeds and for British Telecom doing the recordings for the people who 'phoned in for news of the races.
Good luck to the Manx Grand Prix and to the Manx Motor Club for all their future endeavours.
Denis Parkinson, 1998
Denis at Quarter Bridge during the 1953 Manx Grand Prix, the last of his winning rides. Photo courtesy of FoTTofinder Bikesport Archives.
It is with deep regret and sorrow we inform you that our Club President, Denis Parkinson, died on Tuesday 16th March 2004.