6 September 2013
It was good to see the 1925 Junior TT featured in the September issue of your excellent magazine

This was undoubtedly one of the great races in TT history with an amazing number of records being broken. It was so astonishing that many commentators must have rubbed their eyes in disbelief! So it is entirely understandable that in The Motor Cycle, B H Davies, better known as ‘Ixion’, should decide that the only viable explanation for Wal Handley’s scarcely credible record speed of 65.02mph was that the winner had ‘punished his engine unmercifully’. However, the same paper also recorded that Wal’s (Rex Acme-Blackburne) finished in ‘excellent condition’, so much for the alleged mistreatment.

Walter’s winning time was quite astonishing, being over 35 minutes faster than Kenneth Twemlow’s (New Imperial) Junior TT win of the previous year, equivalent to a lap of the Mountain Course. Handley had recorded a faster time than every six-lap TT up to that time, including the Senior TT. The truth was that the 1925 Junior TT saw the faster men managing to finish in total contrast to the year before. The first 14 finishers in this race were quicker than the 1924 winner, but of these only the first four gained replicas due to Wal Handley’s record speed achieved in 3hr 28min 56sec. He was so quick that he ended the race 3min 46sec ahead of second placed Howard Davies (HRD-J.A.P) and 4min 26sec faster than third placed Jimmy Simpson (AJS). When Simpson got a pit signal to go all out at the start of his final lap, he set off determined to peg the leader back but it turned out that his final and fastest lap was still eight seconds slower than the winner’s final lap.

Out of 52 starters in this race only 20 finished. Most of the retirements were due to mechanical failures rather than the ill treatment of engines.

In those far off days our understanding of engine metallurgy was still rudimentary. Murray Walker sets the scene when he says in the foreword to the Wal Handley story, None More Brave, that the bikes in those days had ‘unpredictable reliability.’ Walter wanted to at last get a TT win and when on his second lap at Braddan he hit the kerb he realised that this ‘all out stuff’ was no good and from then on, he tells us, he kept the Rex Acme at a little below the maximum speed but kept up his fast cornering. A study of his lap times reveals his steady riding; 34.39, 34.39, 35.39 (pit stop), 34.23 (record), 35.11 (pit stop), 34.25. He related that when on the fifth lap the engine had cut out at Governor’s Bridge, he very nearly had heart failure! But fortunately the engine refired. This race was the 23-year-old’s seventh TT race, he had held the lead in every TT race he had started in since 1922 with no luck at all, but on a blisteringly hot June 15, 1925, his time had come. It was a popular win because everyone knew that it was deserved.

John Handley, via email

Note: John Handley’s excellent book, None More Brave, charts the career of his uncle Wal. Copies are available from www.handleypublications.co.uk James Robinson

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The Classic MotorCycle Issue 42-01 - Jan 2015

Where legends come to life

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