Despite a modest competition budget, Birmingham maker New Imperial won six IoM TT victories and many top 10 places. Recalling this record, one asks – how? It’s impossible to understand New Imp’s housekeeping but we can look at and read between the lines of the IoM record.
Imps in the Island
New Imperial’s finest moment? Arguably, yes. With managing director Norman Downs on his deathbed, Bob Foster raced to victory in the 1936 Lightweight TT.
For decades, enthusiasts pointed out the 1936 250cc New Imperial unit construction racer was the last British machine to win an IoM Lightweight TT.
The claim stood until 1981 when Lancashire’s Steve Tonkin (Armstrong) won the Junior 250cc (formerly Lightweight) IoM TT at 106.21mph.
Then Con Law (Waddon, built by Waddon Performance Products, Croydon) won in 1982 and Eddie Laycock took the 1987 race from Brian Reid, both EMC.
All were British-built 250s, powered by tandem twin-cylinder Austrian-built 247cc two-stroke Rotax engines. But Bob Foster’s 1936 victory, while significant, is only part of New Imperial’s IoM TT story.
Read more in August’s edition of TCM