A  History of Classic Racing  50cc Motorcycles


The 1965 50cc Tourist Trophy Race 

This re-write is based on articles in the Media, further research through Jeep's archives and input from the motorcycle public. Also my many thanks to Bill Snelling of Boss of FoTTofinders Bikesport Photo Archives and Chief Information Officer at TTracepics.com for the use of the many pictures on this page and other pages on this site.

Taveri’s Win on the Honda twin:

Overview: After, all but, retiring on the first lap, Swiss 125cc world Champion Luigi Taveri chalked up Honda's third victory of the week in Friday morning's storm-toned three-lap 50cc TT. For the first 10 miles a misfire cut his four-stroke twin’s normal 20,000 revs to between 17 to 18,000, putting him third on corrected time behind Suzuki teamsters Mitsuo ltoh, winner in I963, and New Zealand’s Hugh Anderson, the I964 victor and reigning class World Champion.

When interviewed after the race Luigi commented “Me almost decide to stop,” “But then it clear and me think: OK, me going.” And he went! He finished the first lap in second place to ltoh; took the lead next time round; and, after plug trouble had slowed Mitsuo ltoh, the Japanese rider, he won by nearly a minute, from Anderson, with Germany’s Ernst Degner (Suzuki) third. Picture: 1965 50cc TT. 

Postponed for half an hour because of bad weather, the race was run in rain squalls and gale-force winds. Often competitors were blown from one side of the road to the other on the exposed Mountain sections. “It was like riding on ice,” said Anderson.

Of the 28 starters, only 11 finished. And, of those, the last four were  flagged off at Governor’s Bridge to avoid delaying the start of the Senior Race.  The, first three finishers alone won silver replicas. No bronze replicas  were awarded. Fourth man, Charlie Mates (Honda), finishing over l minute 22  seconds was outside qualifying time.

Hugh Robertson Anderson MBE (born 18 January 1936) is a four-time Grand Prix motorcycle road racing World Champion and a 19-time New Zealand national champion. He is also a two-time Isle of Man TT winner.

He joined the Suzuki factory racing team in 1961, racing the factory's 50cc, 125cc and occasionally 250cc racers. During his team membership, Anderson was double World Champion (50cc and 125cc) in 1963 and retained his 50cc World Title the following year. In 1965, he was crowned 125cc World Championship on his factory Suzuki. Anderson's last race for the Suzuki factory was at the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix at Fisco in October 1966.

Although a plug change robbed him of a win, Hugh Anderson, last year's winner, still managed to bring his Suzuki home in  second place. Here he rounds Quarter Bridge.

In the 1994 Queen's Birthday Honours, Anderson was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to motor sport. In 1995 he was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

Riding a very well-judged race, Honda teamster Luigi Taveri took on four Suzuki works riders single-handed and beat them all to score his third T.T. win.

Luigi Taveri (19 September 1929–1 March 2018) was a Swiss professional Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. He competed in the FIM motorcycle Grand Prix world championships from 1954 to 1966. Taveri is notable for being a three-time 125cc road racing world champion. Although he specialised in the smaller engined machines, Taveri is the only competitor to have scored points in six Grand Prix classes: 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc, 500cc and Sidecars. In 2016, he was named an FIM Legend for his motorcycling achievements.

Taveri made his world championship debut in the 1954 season, racing in the 500 cc class on a Norton motorcycle. In 1955, he took his first win in the 125 cc race at the Spanish Grand Prix. He took one more win in 1955, in the 250 cc class at the Dutch TT. He participated in the Isle of Man TT on several occasions from 1955 to 1966 with three victories and several second places amongst his results.

During his career he rode for MV Agusta and he became a works rider for Ducati, MZ, Kreidler and in 1961 for Honda. His final Grand Prix victory at the 1966 125cc Italian Grand Prix came 11 years and 133 days after his first win, marking one of the longest winning careers in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing history. Over his racing career Taveri had 30 victories and 89 podiums in all classes, including three Isle of Man TT victories. After retiring from competition, he continued in the sport by demonstrating historic machines. Taveri died on 1st March 2018 of complications from a stroke at the age of 88.

Grandstand, - Douglas, IoM  Friday. June 18, 1965.  

For ever unpredictable, the Manx weather fouled up the start of the 50 cc Race for half and hour last Friday. A reporter commented: After a night of rain and mist, "conditions have improved slightly this morning". Yet with drifting fog patches and head-winds gusting up to over 40 mph on the Mountain and frequent showers affecting the whole 37.75-mile course, the start has twice been delayed. But, half an hour late, the competitors have now lined up on  the Glencrutchery Road starting grid.

two works teams teams are non-arrivals, it's certain to be a straight fight between the 10-speed Hondas of Luigi Taveri and current title-leader Ralph Bryans and the 12-speed, water-cooled, Suzuki two-stroke twins of Hugh Anderson, Ernst Degner,  Michio Ichino and Mitsuo  ltoh.  

With the Kreidler and Derbi teams both, now confirmed as non-arrivals the field of 37 came down to 28, small but still far more than for any of the season's earlier tiddler events. Ignoring the “boy racer" Honda CR110s, Derbis, Itoms and  Yamaha, it was a contest between the four works  Suzukis ridden by Hugh Anderson, Michio Ichino, Ernst Degner and Mitsuo Itoh, the two Hondas, ridden by Ralph Bryans and Luigi Taveri; with either Dave or Mike Simmonds having a chance of a place with the Tohatsu machines.

In retrospect, some two weeks before race day, when Dave and Mike had started this years preparation for their visit to the Island with their ex-works Tohatsu machines, the weather had changed from raging gales over the mainland to bright sunshine on the Island. But then as the days of practice and racing went by, the Manx weather reverted and gave way to heavy drizzle and low cloud, with high wind, which caused a half-hour  postponement to the start of their 50cc race.

Race day and the roads were still soaking wet but by then the rain had almost stopped, visibility was reasonably good all round the course and a brisk wind had sprung up. 

They’re Off, The flag falls and Taveri’s away but his Honda is reluctant to start and he’s hardly out of sight before the next man, Ichino, gets going, 10 seconds later.  Another 20 second gap and Anderson and Bryans set off together. Surprisingly Bryans’ four-stroke is also hesitant, looks as though the Hondas are in trouble.

Both Honda twins  took some coaxing before they would fire on both pots, Ichino’s Suzuki was almost as bad and the Tohatsus were  even more sluggish; but all went off without resort to plug  changing. 

After slicing 37 seconds off Hugh Andersons record in practice, Ralph Bryans (Honda) was in a class of his own; he was favourite to win and it put him 16s better than Degner and 25s better than Anderson. But Bryans certainly caused a sensation on the opening lap for as he screamed down Bray Hill, the little Honda twin suddenly became a single at Quarter Bridge where he managed to dive up the slip road to change a plug and at Ballacraine it appeared as if Anderson was now leading by 1 sec from  Taveri. Picture: Ralph Bryans, front wheel in the air.

Degner starts alone, 50 seconds after Taveri; then Itoh, 10 seconds later and all the works men are away. At Ballacraine, 7 miles out, Taveri leads on the road, followed by Ichino and Anderson. And Hugh’s on his  own.

The Privateers, Dave Simmonds (Tohatsu), Ian Plumridge (Derbi), Phil Horsham (Honda), Mike Simmonds (Tohatsu) and Charlie Mates (Honda) follow Degner and Itoh through Ballacraine. But Alan Dawson (Derbi) is out with plug trouble.

 Dave Simmonds - Tohatsu

Ian Plumridge -Derbi

Phil Horsham - Honda (1964)

Mike Simmonds - Tohatsu

Charlie Mates - Itom

"So at a mile from the start, Bryans ducked off the circuit and starts to potter back to the pits to retire. When he is almost in Douglas, the engine begins chiming again on the second cylinder, a smart about turn and he re-joins the course and Ralph was back in business. But his delay had cost him nearly three  minutes".

At Ballaugh, Taveri still leads from Anderson and Itoh, Hugh Anderson is 10 seconds faster than Luigi. Meanwhile, Mitsuo Itoh (Suzuki), the 1963 winner and the only Japanese ever to win a TT, was determined to make a historic double. At Ramsey, with two-thirds of the lap completed, Itoh and on drying roads, had caught up the 20sec starting interval on Anderson and almost 30sec on Taveri, he is right on Anderson’s heels and ahead of Degner. Just ahead on the Mountain road, Itoh was out braked by Anderson into Creg-ny-Baa.; Along by the start, at the  end of  the lap, Itoh coolly whipped out of Anderson’s slipstream and steamed ahead.  Obviously he had horses to spare.   Picture below: Ernst Degner - Suzuki.

Still leading on the road, Taveri, riding No. 1, arrived at Ramsey almost exactly 40 sec ahead of Anderson, riding his Suzuki No 9, who had  started just that much behind him, but next man through was Itoh, No 14, who had pulled back half the 20 sec interval  between himself and Anderson and was leading the race. Ralph Bryans was going strong but had lost 3 minutes 5 seconds through  his early stop.

Over 3 min down and Bryans is making no impression. Ichino’s in trouble changing plugs near Kirkmichael, where Chris Walpole (Itom) has stopped with engine trouble: Mike Simmonds has seized at Ballaugh.

Buffeted by the murderous wind, the leaders struggle up the Mountain. Taveri still leads on the road at Creg-ny-Baa, followed by Itoh and Anderson nose to tail, Hugh re-passing his team-mate as they round the right-hander. but along by the start straight, at the end of the lap, Itoh again skilfully whipped out of Anderson’s slipstream and pushed on ahead. Obviously his set up was good and the power always available. However along the straight Itoh was wagging his head to indicate to his pit attendants that the strong wind  was making things difficult.  Picture: Michio Ichino-Suzuki. 

Taveri was next past the pits, but with time correction it was Itoh who led the race after getting  round in 29 min 1.4 sec (77.99 mph), Taveri who was second  12.2 sec behind, and Anderson who was third, 19 sec behind  the leader. After having been halted for some time within the first few miles Michio Ichino came in after a very slow lap, had a plug changed and, reluctantly, his Suzuki consented to fire on both cylinders and he was away on his second lap.

Now Taveri has started his second lap and also Anderson with again, Itoh in his slipstream. A long gap, and Degner’s through. Taveri’s is now approaching approaching Ballacraine by the time Bryans completes his first lap. unfortunately Horace Crowder (Brian Woolley Yamaha) retires to the pits at the end of the first lap with a sick engine. And here is the first-lap order:  Itoh leads by 12.2 seconds from Taveri, followed by Anderson, Degner, Bryans, Mates, Dave Simmonds, Horsham, Plumridge, and the Hondas of George Ashton, Ernie Griffiths and Brian Kettle.

Horace Crowder-Yamaha 1965 Bray Hill

Ernie Griffiths - Honda - Bray Hill

George Ashton Honda 1965

Brian Kettle - Honda

Casualties at the end of the first lap. Chris Walpole, Mike  Simmonds, Alan Dawson, Horace Crowder, 

The Second Lap  

AT Ballaugh, the second time round, Itoh’s ahead of Anderson and is still 13 seconds up on Taveri based on corrected time. Anderson’s carburation is not quite spot on, possibly on the lean side and his team-mate, Degner, was troubled even more so; he was lying  well down the field. Picture: Mitsuo Itoh (Suzuki) 1965 50cc TT

Ichino’s in trouble, he now struggles in for a plug change near Kirkmichael, the same spot where Chris Walpole (Itom) has stopped with engine trouble, all this as Taveri weaves through Ramsey, visibly faster than he was on the first lap. Next to reach Parliament Square is Itoh, and he is now only 10 sec up on the Swiss flyer. Picture: Michio Ichino (6) Suzuki 

Chris Walpole's Itom in the early 60s. Note the modification to the Cow-Horn exhaust with a small reverse cone producing a certain amount of back  pressure for more power.

Over the Mountain once again, Taveri’s round the Creg., and he must be in the lead, for nearly a minute passes before the next rider appears. It’s Anderson! So now Itoh must be in trouble, Bryans too. Ralph's scoreboard indicator is stuck at 'R' for Ramsey, and he’s out at the Gooseneck with a silent engine.

Taveri and Anderson are well away on their last lap.  And now Itoh struggles in for a second plug change as Degner flashes past.

Here comes Taveri’s lap time for the second circuit: 28 minutes 16 seconds (80.77mph) only 0.36 outside Anderson's 1964 lap record,  despite the conditions. And, Luigi leads the race by nearly half a minute from Hugh. Mitsuo Itoh's third and is coming down behind Hugh, and ahead of Degner though the pit-stop will alter that and Dave Simmonds comes onto the leader-board behind Mates. Picture: Mitsuo Itoh chasing Anderson - Cronk-ny-Mona 

Itoh’s lead was a comfortable buffer over Taveri with Anderson a further 7.6 seconds astern. Degner had lost 54.4sec. to Anderson and fifth man was now Bryans, more than two minutes astern of Degner. The privateers’ race was comfortably headed by Charlie Mates (Honda), from Dave Simmonds, whose Tohatsu had lost its customary sharpness.

Horsham has retired with engine trouble at Ramsey and Plumridge, the little Derbi is running well, is seventh ahead of Ichino and Griffiths, while Jim Pink (Honda) has snatched tenth spot and is now leading Kettle and Ashton.

Not so. fortunate. was Don Juler (Itom) who found himself blown on to the bank at, of all places, Windy Corner. After straightening everything out on the Itom he resumed the race and was buzzing along down-field using every bit of power the little engine could muster. Picture: Don Juler on the Itom. Note the 'Cow-Horn' exhaust on the engine. This would herald his coming from a few hundred yards away .

By a strange quirk-of fate, as Taveri’s Honda twin recovered. from a slightly off-key first lap, Itoh’s Suzuki twin began to lose its fine edge. So, although Taveri was only 10s down on Itoh at Ramsey on the second lap, he was not speeding up as dramatically as the time difference indicated.

For the last lap fleeting bursts of sunshine were helping the wind to dry out the road as Taveri strove to keep ahead of Itoh and, if possible, draw away from him. By Ballaugh the wily little Swiss had cut Itoh’s advantage to 10 seconds and over the Mountain Taveri continued to pull away while Itoh lost ground. Running on only one cylinder, Itoh spluttered back to the pits to change plugs, a stop which cost him 1 minute 12s, Taveri took the lead and Anderson came up to second spot, just 27 seconds behind the leader. Picture: The RC115 of 1965 ridden in this race by Luigi Taveri. I do not know if this is a works bike but I have no other reference.

As an indicator of the commitment shown by the Swiss rider: by the end of lap 2, Taveri, whilst covering his second circuit achieved 80.77 mph which is not so far below the 81.13 mph lap record set up by Anderson last year and please, at this point bear in mind that the weather and high winds did not lend them selves to easy riding. He is now the race leader, with almost half a minute in hand over Anderson. Itoh was third, 1 minuet 30 Seconds behind Anderson and with Bryans stuck at the Gooseneck with a dead engine, there were minutes and more minutes between this fourth and fifth place rider, Charlie Mates who, on a production Honda, was lapping at around 66 mph. In sixth spot came Dave Simmonds, averaging 63.97 mph on a sick-sounding Tohatsu. Brother Mike was already out on his Tohatsu with a dead engine.

In spite of slowing, Itoh was credited with third place for the lap, although his pit stop, when it came into the reckoning on Lap 3, would drop him even further. Only 2minutes 6seconds behind him was Degner, again on a Suzuki.

LESS than five miles after restarting from his pit stop, Ichino’s out of the race with engine trouble at Greeba Castle. But nothing stops Taveri.  He has already reached the Bungalow before the second lap leader-board is completed. And now, battling with the treacherous wind, he sweeps down the Mountain The flag goes out anticipating Taveri's arrival and it’s a fair guess that he  was reflecting on the luck that smiled on him and dealt the "favourite" Ralph Bryans, leader in the world championship, such a cruel blow. But that’s  racing and Luigi comes in to score his third TT victory.

A quarter of an hour later, Mates, on his private HONDA takes fourth place. But Dave Simmonds Tohatsu has given up for the race and he has retired at Ramsey. So Ian Plumridge, who had improved his positions through the lap has now finished in fifth spot with Griffiths ending the leader-board. Jim Pink came in at seventh place ahead of Ichino who is the last man to complete the three laps, the other four finishers were flagged off at Governor’s so that the Senior race could start on time. These four riders consist of No 8 Brian  Kettle - Honda. time speed 59.91mph, No 9 George Ashton - Honda. time speed 59.51mph, No 10 Trevor Burgess - TIS Itom (Trevor's Itom Special). time speed 57.56mph, No 11 Michio Ichino - Suzuki. and were given their positions using the 2nd lap timings. Picture: Trevor Burgess No,38 on the TIS (Itom),

Anxious to get the following Senior Race started on time, the ACU decided to flag off survivors at Governor’s Bridge and send them back to the start by back roads. To quell any thoughts of unfairness to those still in the race, they were credited as finishers, but only their times for the second lap were taken into account. This put Michio Ichino (Suzuki) in a quaint situation. It had been reported "Ichino’s out of the race with engine trouble at Greeba Castle and has retired on the last lap", also the leader board had indicated his stop but, nevertheless, he was initially credited as a finisher in eighth spot based on his first two lap times!

Later reporting showed that some change had been made and the listing below shows the final sequence of the finishing order. 

Provisional Posting.

Final Posting

Interesting points for the third and last lap: Taveri could have afford to ease off, but he didn’t. He knew  from signals that Anderson could not challenge and Degner had even more slender  hopes, but Luigi wanted to make certain of his third TT win.  Point 2: the fourth Suzuki, of Michio Ichino, had been off-colour from the start of the race and he never entered the reckoning. Point 3: In the highly unpredictable wind over the Mountain, Taveri was thankful that the wheel discs, to aid streamlining, had been removed. Point 4: The sixth man, Ernie Griffiths (Production Honda), came in more than 25 mins behind Taveri.

No. 1 Luigi Taveri,  No. 9 Hugh Anderson,  No. 11 Ernst Degner.

Return to The Isle of Man TT Races