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Manx Grand Prix
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30 Years of Newcomers' Race 14 August 2008

The MMCC Newcomers' Races reach their thirtieth anniversary on Monday 25th August when the first pair of riders set off down Glencrutchery Road to commence their ‘Manx Grand Prix’ racing career.

Unbelievable as it might seem, Tuesday 5th September 1978, saw the first of the ‘present day’ Newcomers Races got underway, with one Bill Snelling having the honour of getting the race underway on his Velocette single. The Senior (500cc) class was won by Dave Ashton riding an RG500 Suzuki.

1978 was not the first time the ‘Manx’ race programme had seen the inclusion of a Newcomers event in the schedule. The first time had been twenty-one years earlier in 1957, when the organisers were faced with a very pleasant problem - entries were oversubscribed. A total of 380 had been received for the two races being run that year, the Junior and Senior Grands Prix.

The Race Committee decided on a four lap race for Newcomers, where a total of one hundred and seventeen entries were received for the event! The MMCC faced a similar problem in 1958 and the race became known as the “Snaefell” Race, which attracted even more entries, 125 in all. However, with the current Newcomers' Races which started in 1978, we have seen eighty-seven races run to date, which apart from producing some fine racing has seen many future ‘stars’ blossom. Some have gone on to become multiple TT winners, some even to the pinnacle of road racing, world champions.

No less than 2208 competitors have entered the Newcomers Races, with 1853 having faced ‘Mr. Starter’ on Glencrutchery Road, thus starting their Mountain Course racing career. 1432 have completed their respective race distance, normally four laps, some 151 miles. Of these 496 have received the much coveted Silver Replicas.

To complete the statistics, the total laps completed so far are 6314 a race mileage of 238,227.24 miles! Since the current series of races started in 1978, thirteen race winners have gone on to win one or more Manx Grand Prix Races.

Local rider ‘Buddy’ Yeardsley from Laxey set the ball rolling winning the Senior Manx Grand Prix in 1985 some four years after having collected his initial laurel wreath when taking victory in the 1981 Newcomers Lightweight race. In the same year 1985, Tom Knight became the Newcomers Senior winner, and then won the Senior Manx in 1991.

Phillip McCallen made history in 1988 winning the Newcomers Lightweight race and Lightweight Grand Prix in the same year. Four years later another Ulsterman, James Courtney taking victory in the 1992 Lightweight Newcomers and twelve months later claimed the Junior and Lightweight Manx Grand Prix wins. Ricky Mitchell repeated the feat in 1995 and 1996, firstly taking the Newcomers Junior race win and followed that with, so far the one and only Junior - Senior double.

1997 and 1998 saw Darran Lindsay collect the winner’s laurels in the Newcomers Senior and inaugural Ultra Lightweight Manx Grand Prix. Then in 1999 and 2000 Ryan Farquhar took victories in the Senior Newcomers race and the blue-riband event of the meeting the Senior Manx Grand Prix.

Martin Sharpe became the second rider to have a ‘one-year’ Manx career, as he won the Newcomers Lightweight Race on the opening race day and picked up the Ultra Lightweight trophy on the final day of racing in 1999.

Southern Irish rider, Seamus Greene claimed the 2000 Newcomers Senior victory, eventually winning the Senior Race in 2005.

Manxman Chris Dowling achieved the ‘double in millennium year with victories in the Newcomers Lightweight race and Ultra Lightweight Manx Grand Prix.

Northern Ireland’s Barry Davidson had four years between his two race wins, the first in 2002 taking the Newcomers Junior laurel wreath, then claiming the Lightweight Manx Grand Prix laurel wreath in 2006. Whilst fellow Ulsterman, Samuel Dunlop took only two years to complete his unique double, with the Newcomers Lightweight race in 2005, then the Lightweight Manx Grand Prix victory in 2007.

Last year also provided Oliver Linsdell with a ‘double victory, as he headed the field home in both the Newcomers Lightweight race and the Ultra Lightweight Manx Grand Prix.

However, it should not be forgotten that as mentioned earlier Newcomers races were run during the Manx Grand Prix in 1957 and 1958. In the Senior Newcomers of 1957, Londoner, Ned Minihan took the race victory and then four years later took the prestigious Senior Manx Grand Prix win, thus making a unique piece of Manx Grand Prix racing history.

So in 2008 we await to see who will join the ranks of MMCC Newcomers’ Race winners, and who of the past victors, still competing may add a Manx Grand Prix victory to their racing CV's.

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