He was known as Sir Tyrell, in a light-hearted recognition of his elevated social background.
Words: ADAM REAR
HG (Henry George) Tyrell Smith was born at Blackrock, Dublin, in 1907.
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His father was a keen motorcyclist and passed that passion to Tyrell (who was always known thus). From a young age, Tyrell was fascinated by motorcycles.
His first taste of action was at the age of eight when he rode around the grounds of the large family house. Tyrell owned his first motorcycle aged 12; it was during his first ownership that he would meet Stanley Woods, who was beginning his extraordinary career at the time.
Home tutored and then sent to a private school, Tyrell completed his engineering degree at Trinity College, Dublin.
His first machine was an ex-WD 350cc Douglas and it was on this motorcycle that he took part in his first event.
He entered a hill climb at Loughshinny and went on to compete rather successfully in a number of open road speed trials.
Tyrell subsequently acquired a proper racer, a 250cc Blackburne-engined OK Supreme. It served him well in local competition, bringing much success.
His winning streak was aided by the input of fellow Irishman, TT rider Paddy Johnston, who worked for Blackburne.
With Paddy’s help, Tyrell acquired a special engine for his OK and soon put it to good use at Phoenix Park.
Further improvements were made, as the engine was fitted into a Rex-Acme frame.
Now with a fast engine and superb handling, Tyrell accumulated 26 250cc class firsts in Irish speed events.
His success on his bike caught the attention of the press.
A local newspaper report of the 1925 Rugga-Rugga hill climb said ‘flying colours’ best described his performance when, riding in his usual neat style, he won everything he entered.
Read more in the November 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!