Geoff Duke

From WOI Encyclopedia Italia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Geoff Duke OBE (born 29 March 1923 in St. Helens, Lancashire) was a British multi-time world champion Grand Prix motorcycle road racer.

The name of Geoff Duke is synonymous with powersport, for he dominated motorcycle racing in the 1950s, winning six world championships and five Isle of Man TT races. Duke came to prominence after winning the 1949 Senior Clubmans TT and the Senior Manx Grand Prix and was to become the very first post-war motorcycling 'superstar', popularly known amongst the racing fraternity simply as 'the Duke'. He was signed up to the Norton works team for the 1950 TT, finishing second in the Junior and breaking both lap and race records in the Senior.

After winning three World Championships for Norton he surprised everybody by moving abroad to Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Gilera in 1953. With Gilera, he had a string of three consecutive 500cc world championships. His support for a rider's strike demanding more start money led the FIM to suspend him for six months, dashing any hopes for a fourth consecutive title. In 1955 he was declared the first rider to lap the Isle of Man TT course at 100 mph. His final race was the 1959 Junior when he finished fourth on a Norton.

Duke cut a distinctive figure on racing circuits as he was the first rider to wear one-piece leathers - he had enlisted his local tailor, Frank Barker from St Helens, to make the first of his now famous one-piece race suits. He was named Sportsman of the Year in 1951, awarded the RAC Segrave Trophy and, in recognition of his services to motorcycling, was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1953.

Highly honoured by the Isle of Man, where he made so many of his world record breaking rides, a point on the Mountain Course has been named after him. Three sharp bends at the 32nd Milestone between Brandywell and Windy Corner now carry the title 'Duke's'.

After retiring from racing Duke became a successful businessman and formed Scuderia Duke with Gilera to produce racing machines.[1]

Motorcycle Grand Prix Results

Year Class Classification Machine Victories
1950 350cc 2nd Norton 1
1950 500cc 2nd Norton 3
1951 350cc 1st Norton 5
1951 500cc 1st Norton 4
1952 350cc 1st Norton 4
1952 500cc 7th Norton 0
1953 500cc 1st Gilera 4
1954 500cc 1st Gilera 5
1955 500cc 1st Gilera 4
1956 500cc 7th Gilera 1
1957 500cc 4th Gilera 0
1958 500cc 3rd Norton 1
1959 250cc 10th Benelli 0
1959 350cc 5th Norton 0
1959 500cc 4th Norton 1