By Phil Edge - Southern 100 Press Officer
The Island's National Road Races
First run in 1955, the Southern 100 Road Races attracted seventy-three entries for three races in the then 'traditional' classes, 250cc; 350cc and the premier 500cc class.
The very first race, the 350cc event was won by Manxman, Derek Ennett riding an AJS at an average of 76.79 miles per hour.
The '350' was followed by the 250 race, over six laps, twenty - five miles with Manchester's Dave Chadwick taking the chequered flag at some 65.50 mph.
The premier event, the 500cc race, held over twenty - four laps, a distance of one hundred miles and from where the meeting gained its title saw Liverpudlian Terry Shepherd take victory by just 100 yards from 350cc winner Derek Ennett.
The three race programme, which some described as ambitious back in 1955, completed, competitors and officials took part in a Gymkhana at the near by Castletown Stadium!
From an 'Open to Centre' Status meeting in 1955, the "Southern" gained National Status in 1958 and was included in the British Championships in 1969. More recently the annual July event has been included in the prestigious Irish Regal Championships during 1992 and 1993 and has now gained European recognition.
From its inception the Southern 100 has provided the keenest competition among some of the best known names in British racing, including the great Glaswegian, Bob McIntyre along with his life long friend Alastair King.
Alan Shepherd and Phil Read provided the closest ever finish at the meeting in 1961 'dead heating' in the 350cc race.
The same year saw the first "works" bike being raced on the 4.25 mile course with John Hartle showing the opposition a clear set of megaphones on the fabulous 250cc Honda four cylinder machine.
Riders like Selwyn Griffiths, Brian Steenson, Charlie Williams, Tom Herron and Billy Guthrie all cut their teeth at the Southern, all, eventually taking the Solo Championship honours.
One of Ireland's favourite sons Ray McCullough broke the 90 mph barrier in the 350cc race in 1975. Twelve months later one Joey Dunlop made his debut and returned home with the Solo Championship!
Nineteen eighty - three saw the 'ton' achieved by Banbridge's Brian Reid on his RG500 Suzuki, during the 1300cc race.
Sidecars were introduced to the programme in 1962 and have provided some great racing each year since; Charlie Freeman and Chris Vincent taking the early honours, whilst more latterly Lowry Burton claimed a total of thirteen race victories including four Sidecar Championships to become the most successful sidecar competitor. An initial seventy - three entries at the first meeting on Thursday 14th July, 1955, over 13,000 entries have been received and accepted since, the highest figure being 495 in 1991.
Some 2,192 riders have competed in 353 races, completing 71,735 racing laps a distance of 304,873.75 miles!
Since the first meeting in 1955, there have been forty-six "main" solo races, firstly in the 500cc class, then from 1968 the Solo Championship. The Solo Championship Race was abandoned in 1968, leaving 45 'Champions' of which twenty -four titles have been won by sixteen English riders, the most successful being Terry Shepherd and Bill Smith with three wins apiece; thirteen by eight Irish Competitors. Joey Dunlop collecting six of the thirteen Championships.
Father and son Welshmen, Selwyn Griffiths have three solo titles, Selwyn in 1966 and Jason in 1994 and 1996, whilst Manxman Kenny Harrison claimed the Championship Flag twice with Scotsman Alastair King lifting the title once.
Blair Degerholm became the first New Zealander to win the Solo Championship in 2000
Joey Dunlop MBE, OBE is the undisputed 'King of Billown'and the most successful solo competitor with an incredible thirty-one victories during the July Southern 100 Road Races.
The Southern 100 Road Races celebrated their fortieth anniversary in 1995 and what a celebration it turned out to be, the racing was close, exciting with no quarters given or asked, as twenty years to the day since he entered the 250cc class of the races as a "newcomer' Bob Jackson became the 1995 Southern 100 Solo Champion.
The weather was superb and the camaraderie second to none, something, which everyone associated with the races, has come to recognise over the years, this was shown by the number of past riders who took the trouble to travel to the Island to help celebrate the occasion.
Nineteen ninety - six saw no fewer than five lap and eight race records set, with Bob Jackson setting a new absolute lap record at 105.59 mph during the Senior Solo Founders Race. Jason Griffiths took the chequered flag in four races - the Total Oils Senior; Mann Auto Services Junior; S&S Motors 250/600cc and the Ronaldsway Shoe Company Solo Championship.
Ian Lougher took the Junior Solo Founders and 125cc victories, whilst Geoff Bell and Lee Farrington won the Sidecar Championship as Roy Hanks and Philip Biggs took the Consolation Race.
Colin Bevan and Karl Bell shared the Classic Race honours with a win apiece.
After a two-year absence, Joey Dunlop headed the three hundred plus entries for the 42nd running of the event in 1997. Also making a welcome return to the meeting was Joey's brother, Robert, returning to full time racing after his horrific accident during the 1994 TT.
The Meeting was to see race and absolute lap records being shattered over the three days racing.
The Formula 2 Sidecar Race witnessed Greg Lambert and passenger Tony Darby scoring their first ever victory on the Southern '100' Course, then the Manx Airlines Formula 2 Sidecar Championship Race provided a second race win of the week for the Catterick crew in what was another race which saw the race and lap records shattered.
Championship Day saw the weather set fair for the remaining races of the 1997 programme - the opening event setting the pace for the afternoon.
The S & S Motors combined 250cc/600cc Race produced the closet finish of the years event, Derek Young getting the better of Bob Jackson by a mere one tenth of a second after ten laps of close fought racing.
The Eurocars Classic Race was led from start to finish by Merthyr Tydfil rider Colin Bevan.
Robert Dunlop achieved a superb win in the Isle of Man Steam Packet 125cc/400cc Supersport Race, showing he had lost none of his old skills and determination since his last appearance in the Southern '100' in 1985, to beat Owen McNally, Ian Lougher and Gavin Lee in what was a scintillating race.
The Ronaldsway Shoe Company sponsored Solo Championship Race once again provided a fitting finale to the 1997 Meeting, where the race record and the course absolute record were raised, such was the pace of the twelve lap race.
Jason Griffiths, the 'reigning' champion, Bob Jackson and Simon Beck were the main protagonists in this feature race and fought tooth and nail for the full distance.
Jason smashed Bob's absolute lap record on the penultimate circuit with the first ever 106 mile per hour lap of the Billown circuit, however, Bob was just as determined to regain the Solo Championship, he had held in 1995 and the pair were dead level as they passed the start-finish line on the start of the final lap.
Jackson led into Ballakeighan, but Griffiths was in front on the exit. The Cumbrian was ahead at the Iron Gate, while the Ramsey based Welshman retook the lead into Cross Four Ways. Once again the lead changed on the exit to Church Bends, but Jason was still snapping at the heels of his rival and he grabbed the inside line going into the final corner, Alexander Bridge, powering out of the corner to take the chequered cloth by less than a bike length to retain the prestigious Southern '100' Solo Championship.
The 12-lap course record stood at 29 minutes 15.1 seconds a speed of 104.01 mph and the Absolute lap record at 2 minutes 24.2 seconds, equal to 106.17 miles per hour.
"The Best Ever" was how the 1998 Southern '100' Road Races were described by Competitors, Media and enthusiasts alike!
As the "Southern '100' Road Races" have been held since 1955, the above is some statement!
Therefore a brief resume is required to substantiate the claim: Eight lap Records; Seven Race Records; Absolute Course and Race Records plus the 100th Sidecar Race and a Hat trick of wins!
Bob Jackson riding Winston McAdoo's 750cc Kawasaki opened his account in the first race of the eleven race programme scheduled for the 1998 event, the Chris Workman sponsored Senior Solo Founders Race, 9.5 seconds in front of Honda Britain supported James Courtney on the Tillstons RC45 with "Ramsey's" Jason Griffiths snatching third place in the final quarter of a mile to the chequered linen from Simon Beck.
In the 600cc class, New Zealander Blair Degerholm was the early leader until he slid off his Intersport Honda at Ballabeg Hairpin, leaving Paul Dedman on his Done Honda to lead the remaining 600's over the line, setting class lap and race records in the process. 13.4 seconds adrift was Newcomer Richard Britton on the Schimmel Honda with fellow Ulster rider Adrian Archibald third.
The second race of the first evenings racing, the Station Garage Junior Solo Founders Race catered for 250cc machines along with 125cc and 400cc Supersport bikes.
Paul Dedman led away the pack on the Paul Bird Honda - a lead he maintained for three and a half laps before the clutch cried enough, leaving another Honda mounted trio of Ian Lougher, Owen McNally and Neil Richardson to show the way round the Billown circuit to the remaining field.
Lougher led into the last lap, with McNally in hot pursuit on the Bob Mullan machine, and nipped ahead of the Welshman coming into Alexander Bridge only to find back markers blocking his move. Owen attempted to squeeze between the inside pavement and the rider, only to strike the rear wheel of the machine he was trying to pass. As he tried to control his Honda, he was hit from behind by Lougher, both men and machines parting company. Right on their tails was Neil Richardson who took drastic action to avoid the sprawling duo, only to drop his own Honda twin.
Marshals were soon untangling the men and machines. Richardson being the quicker of the three to get going and set off to take the finishing flag and record his first victory on the Billown circuit, something that Coleraine's Owen McNally had hoped to do before the mishap.
Jason Griffiths who was lying fourth on the John Webb Honda, took the corner in what was more akin to a slalom fashion and went on to take runner up place, as Lougher and McNally restarted, with the former taking third place.
Meanwhile in the 125/400cc race, Kiwi Blair Degerholm astride the same John Shand - Honda Britain supported 400cc machine ridden to victory by fellow New Zealander, Paul Williams in the TT led the race from start to finish, crossing the line almost eight seconds in front of Bob Jackson in the 125cc McAdoo Honda, with the O'Kane 125 Honda ridden by Robert Dunlop in third.
Wednesday evenings programme consisted of four races, James Courtney smashed the race record and equalled the lap record in the opening Total Oils Senior Race as he took victory by 8.4 seconds from Bob Jackson.
Next up was the Island Aviation & Travel Classic Race, held over eight laps, it proved to be a 'benefit' for Welsh veteran Colin Brown on board his 850 Weslake Metisse. 500cc class winner was John Knowles on his faithful Seeley G50. Bud Jackson on the Platt Suzuki taking the 250cc class win.
The penultimate race of the evening was the Mann Auto Services Junior Race, which saw lap, and race records being shattered by local hero Paul Dedman.
Riding the 250cc Vimto Honda he won what was to be the closest finish of the week, a mere 0.2 of a second from Ian Lougher, who had hoped to make up for his disappointment of the previous night.
It was the turn of the Sidecars to bring Wednesday nights proceeding to a close. Lap and Race Records were broken in the six lap Mylchreests Mitsubishi Sidecar Race, led throughout by Greg Lambert & Lee Aubrey, with Dave Molyneux & Craig Hallam holding onto second place with Ian Bell & Neil Carpenter third.
The weather was once again set fair for the Southern '100' Championship Day which opened with the ten lap S & S Motors 250cc / 600cc Race.
From the change of the lights it was local man Paul Dedman who got the holeshot and led the pack into Ballakeighan, only to be passed by the erstwhile Bob Jackson before the hairpin at Ballabeg.
By the end of the eighth of the ten laps, Jackson with the help of a new lap record of
103.16 mph had built up a lead of almost five seconds from Britton, as Jason Griffiths had moved up to third place and eventually took runner up spot at the line as Richard Britton slowed with machine problems, eventually taking fifth place behind Ian Lougher and Blair Degerholm.
Richard Britton took the Newcomers' Award for his efforts.
The Eurocars Classic Race followed and once again it looked as though Wednesday Classic Race winner, Colin Bevan would repeat his victory as he grabbed the holeshot from the start.
Lap six brought the drama, as race the leader retired with machine failure, promoting Karl Wilkie into the No.1 spot, which he held until the chequered flag - the winning margin - 22.3 seconds from Karl Bell with John Knowles taking third and first 500cc machine home. Behind John in fourth was the 250cc winner, Bud Jackson. Both John and Bud scoring double victories in the Classic Races.
Next Race was the six lap Isle of Man Steam Packet 125cc/400cc Supersport Race, won by Robert Dunlop from Bob Jackson, with John McCullough third. First '400' home in sixth place was Michael Cain.
The penultimate race of the 1998 Southern '100' Festival was the Mylchreests Mitsubishi Sidecar Championship.
First row of the Grid was occupied by Greg Lambert and Dave Molyneux, with Wednesday's winner Ian Bell on the second row.
As the lights changed it was Lambert who took the lead, as Bell came through from the second row to lead Moly towards Ballakeighan. At the end of the first of the nine laps Lambert had a 3 tenths of a second lead over Moly, as Bell had been demoted to third. Lap Two saw a new Lap Record set at 96.22 mph by Dave Molyneux as he passed Lambert on the approach to Iron Gate. The following lap saw Moly set another record as he increased his lead, this time over Ian Bell, as Greg Lambert had retired as his engine blew in a big way during the lap. Moly's new record was 96.40 mph.
Molyneux & Hallam continued to improve on their lead time crossing the line 16.1 seconds ahead of Bell & Carpenter, as Kenny Howles with Nick Crowe as passenger held onto third from Roy Hanks and Robert Biggs.
The Ronaldsway Shoe Company Solo Championship brought the 1998 races to a conclusion, in a twelve lap race which brought new absolute lap and race records!
James Courtney got the holeshot off the line, to be passed by a determined Bob Jackson before Ballakeighan Corner, with Jason Griffiths, Steve Ellis, Simon Beck and Tim Poole in hot pursuit.
Two and seven tenths of a second was the official distance between Jackson and Griffiths at the end of the opening lap, as Steve Ellis and James Courtney took third place, being credited with the same time. Fifth was Simon Beck with Tim Poole sixth.
By lap four Jason had closed the gap to 0.4 of a second as Courtney had moved to third, with Ellis going backwards, on the ill handling Kawasaki, in fifth place. Sandwiched in between was Beck also Kawasaki mounted.
The gap was the same for laps five and six, just as the remaining leader board placings stayed the same. Laps seven and eight saw the Cumbrian's advantage cut to 0.2 of a second as the Manx based Welshman put on the pressure. Then the fireworks commenced, firstly as James Courtney upped the lap record on the ninth lap to 106.54 mph. Then a lap later it was Griffith's turn to improve the record to 106.69 mph as he took the lead from Jackson, by that 2/10 tenths of a second. Bob Jackson was not to be outdone, however, and in the process of completing his eleventh and penultimate lap increased the lap speed to 107.06 mph, retaking the lead and completed the final lap to win his second Southern '100' Solo Championship and in doing so deprive Jason Griffiths of his hoped for hat trick of Solo Championships, which would have equalled the only one set by Joey Dunlop in 1976, 1977 & 1978.
Jason who nearly came to grief on the exit of Ballabeg Hairpin on the final lap, when his Webb RC45 attempted to high side him, finished three - tenths of a second ahead of James Courtney, who in turn headed home Simon Beck, Tim Poole and Paul Dedman.
Joey's Sixth Championship!
Wily Ulsterman, Joey Dunlop, lifted the spirits of everyone around the Billown course with a text book victory on the opening race of the delayed 1999 Southern '100' Meeting.
In the combined ten lap G H Corlett's/Total Oils Senior Solo Founders Race, he was initially content to let local Ramsey rider Jason Griffiths take the initiative on the O'Kane Yamaha for the opening lap, until Joey's fellow Ulsterman, Adrian McFarland on his Rendezvous Yamaha decided he wanted to lead the pack for a couple of laps, before a determined Blair Degerholm on Des Collins' 750 Kawasaki took up the challenge and led the field.
Contentedly, the Ballymoney man and his RC45 settled into his race pattern, upping the pace to take the lead on the mid distance lap.
Try as he may, the Kiwi eventually lost the fight to stay with the Honda rider, who pulled away to win by just over nine seconds, as McFarland took third 1.7 seconds behind the New Zealander with Jason Griffiths fourth a further 23 seconds adrift.
Fifth and taking the '600' honours was Uel Duncan, with Dave Madsen Mygdal completing the leader board on his ageing RC30 Honda.
The Island Aviation & Travel Classic Race provided a somewhat closer finish with a mere one tenth of a second separating the first two riders across the line after eight hectic laps!
Ulsterman Karl Wilkie led the way on his 750 Triumph, but was soon ousted by Onchan 'classic specialist' Derek Whalley on his G50 Matchless, once owned by the late Danny Shimmin, although his turn at the front was short lived as Welshman Colin Bevan [750 BSA-3] headed the field. That was until the fourth lap, when fellow Welshman Jeff Jones decided he wanted to show the others the way round.
By the last lap, however, Whalley had clawed his way through to the front of the field, a lead he maintained to the chequered flag, by a wheels length from Jeff Jones, as his compatriot Colin Bevan, pulled into retire on the final circuit.
New local resident John Knowles set the fastest lap of the race on his 496 Seeley on his final circuit and in doing so secured third place overall, as Barry Wood claimed the 250 laurel wreath on Dick Watson's Suzuki.
The final solo race of the Wednesday evening was the Station Garage/ Mann Auto Car Sales Junior Solo Founders Race and whilst the winning margin of twenty-four seconds gives the impression that the ten lapper was a boring affair nothing could further from the truth.
Ian Lougher took the run away victory, breaking both race and lap records in the process - his lead at the end of the opening lap some five seconds, increased to 15 after four laps, further increasing the distance to a final 24.2 seconds at the flag.
Behind him a three way scrap was the focus of attention as Richard Coates, Joey Dunlop and Neil Richardson battled for second place - which ultimately went to the Ulsterman crossing the line 1.7 seconds in front of Richardson with the local man on the Paul Bird Vimto Honda claiming fourth.
In the 125cc/400cc class it was a win for the younger of the Dunlop brothers, Robert who brought his Crossan Honda home sixth overall, having had a race long dual with Darran Lindsay, who had led early on, only to be passed by the Ballymoney rider who rode into a convincing lead of six seconds.
Third was British 125cc Champion, Chris Palmer having his debut ride at Billown.
Robert Dunlop set the class fastest lap of the race and increased the race record into the bargain.
The first of the two Sidecar races brought the Wednesday evening programme to a close.
The six lap Agrimark/Today's Group Race proved to be a record breaking affair for Dave Molyneux and passenger Craig Hallam, who was in some pain as a result of a broken shoulder blade sustained the previous weekend at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough.
The Honda backed pairing took the lead from Ian Bell and Neil Carpenter on the opening lap at Iron Gate, never to be headed, although the leaders were harried throughout the race by runners up who crossed the line 2.6 seconds adrift but thirty seconds ahead of eventual third placemen Roy Hanks and Phil Biggs.
Hanks and Biggs had been disputing third place from the change of the lights with Kenny Howles/ Doug Jewell and Greg Lambert/Ivan Murray.
Roy and Phil took third was just 0.5 of a second with Kenny and Doug keeping Greg and Ivan at bay by 0.1 of a second.
The weather was set fair; overcast but dry for "Championship Day" the afternoons racing commenced with the S & S Motors 250cc/600cc Race.
Point Two of a second separated the first three in this race at the conclusion of ten very hard fought laps of the 4.25 mile Billown Circuit.
Slough based New Zealander Blair Degerholm on Richard Turner's Intersport Honda took the initial advantage from Plumbridge rider Adrian McFarland on his AMF Yamaha, as 250cc mounted Ian Lougher challenged Jason Griffiths on Patsy O'Kanes' R6 Yamaha for third place. Lougher soon losing the tow from his fellow Welshman.
Degerholm, McFarland and Griffiths diced it out for lap after lap, the Kiwi leading for the first four laps as they passed the start/finish line, then McFarland headed the trio for the next four as the race approached its climax.
Griffiths who had 'apparently' been happy to sit in third position since the second lap had the final trick up his sleeve as he rode round the outside of his two adversaries at Stadium Corner on the last lap taking the tight inside line into Alexander Bridge before charging down the bypass to the awaiting chequered cloth - one tenth of a second ahead of the New Zealander with the Ulsterman a further tenth behind in third.
Fourth was Uel Duncan on his 600 Honda with Ian Lougher taking fifth overall and first of the 250's as Neil Richardson finished sixth to complete the leader board. Not surprisingly, Jason Griffiths set a new race record for the race.
Next up was the second of the Classic Races, sponsored by Eurocars and run over eight laps.
Millisle, Co.Down racer, Karl Wilkie denied Onchan's Derek Whalley a 'Classic double' as he powered his 750 Rob North Trident to a five second to victory leading from the second lap.
Behind the leading duo a three-way scrap unfolded between Jeff Jones, Colin Bevan and Cumbrian Les Trotter.
Trotter on the 500cc Crooks Suzuki left the fray at half distance when the twin expired. Jones and Bevan continued the battle until midway through the seventh lap when the rear sprocket split on his Weslake, leaving Jones to take a comfortable third ahead on Kewaigue's Alan Phillips on his Rocket-3.
Charles Weild and veteran Vin Duckett filled fifth and sixth places, both on Seeley G50's. Dave Thurlow finished eighth to take the '250' honours.
The Dunlop name was once again to the fore in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 125cc/400cc Supersport Race as Robert took his first race victory of the year by a wheels length from Ian Lougher with Darran Lindsay third, with Joey brought the McMenemy Honda home in fourth place ahead of circuit debutante Chris Palmer.
Another Newcomer, Bill Philp took sixth overall winning the 400cc class on his Kawasaki.
Robert, Ian, Darran and Joey circulated together for the first three laps swapping positions at every opportunity.
The younger Dunlop and Lougher made a jump on the other pair on the third of the six laps and as the Welshman seemed happy to slipstream his rival until the final corner and then sprint to the line.
It was not to be as Robert retook the advantage and the chequered linen that was awaiting them.
Robert set a new race record, Ian had the consolation of increasing the lap record three times during the race, finally hoisting it to 96.65 mph on his last lap.
Locals, Dave Madsen Mygdal and Paddy Martin were second and third in the 400cc class.
The penultimate race of the 1999 Meeting was the Agrimark Sidecar Championship scheduled for nine laps - the race was restarted after 1997 winner Greg Lambert crashed out at Ballawhetstone without serious injury.
The six-lapper restart saw Dave Molyneux leading Ian Bell and Kenny Howles with little change after a further circuit, then the leading outfit pulled out with electrical problems leaving Bell and Carpenter to take the honours.
However, a slight overshoot allowed Howles and Jewell to catch right up and indeed lead the way into the sixth and final lap when Bell and Carpenter regained command of the race, taking the Championship by 4.6 seconds.
Rod Bellas and Geoff Knight took the remaining rostrum place.
In winning the Sidecar Championship, Ian Bell completed a unique double - having won the Solo Championship back in 1987!
Thirty riders lined up on the grid for the Ronaldsway Shoe Company Solo Championship Race run over twelve laps.
Once again it was New Zealander Blair Degerholm who made the early running with Joey Dunlop, Adrian McFarland and Jason Griffiths vying for second place.
By lap four it was the maestro in front and in full control to take the chequered flag by 4.3 seconds at the end of the fifty-one mile race.
McFarland on the Rendezvous R1 Yamaha broke free of Griffiths on the O'Kane R1 and eventually reeled in the Wilson & Collins Kawasaki mounted Kiwi, passing him with four laps to go.
Blair finally got ahead on the last lap as Adrian suffered from a reoccurrence of tennis elbow.
Locals, Jason Griffiths, Gary Carswell and David Madsen Mygdal took fourth, fifth and sixth places.
First 250 was Ian Lougher, taking seventh; Uel Duncan was once again the first 600 in eighth place, whilst Ryan Farquhar on the Winston McAdoo 600 Honda was tenth and best Newcomer.
The "King of the Roads" including Billown has amassed a total of thirty-one wins at the Southern '100' Road Races in twenty-six years.
So ended the forty-fifth Southern '100' Road Race Meeting, one which had a traumatic and tragic opening, but concluded on a 'high' as everyone celebrated the efforts of the riders and all concerned with the meeting, whilst not forgetting those who are no longer with us.
The Southern 100 has for over forty years brought immense pleasure to competitors, officials and enthusiasts alike and sometimes a little sadness too.
The hard working Club officials ensure that the race organisation is first class and that the friendliness for which the meeting has become renowned is maintained and that the social activities match the racing!
George Peach, Ellerslie, Malew St., Catletown, Isle of Man, IM9 1LT
Telephone. (01624) 822546
Our email address is racing @southern100.com
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