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17 October 2014

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Motorcycling

Bob McIntyre breaks 100mph lap at TT 1957

Bob in action

Photo courtesy of McIntyre family

Bob McIntyre thrilled motorcycle racing spectators wherever he went. He possessed an incredible determination to win, astonishing concentration levels and his racing style was to go flat out to test his machines and his rivals to their limits.

His career is most memorable for his one-hour speed record at Monza in 1957 and his Isle of Man Junior and Senior TT wins that year, when, riding a Gilera 500cc, he also became the first rider to complete a lap at an average speed of over 100 mph.

But McIntyre offered more than that – he was a proficient mechanic, and helped to design the bikes he raced. He was a popular figure at race meets, forever signing autographs and encouraging inexperienced competitors.

What has been fascinating researching this piece on “Bob Mac” is with just how much affection he is remembered over 40 years after his death, aged just 33. “Ah, Bob McIntyre? Now you're talking!” and “The man was pure class” have been typical of the remarks about his racing ability and his gentlemanly conduct.

Ewen Haldane, along with Alistair King, Sandy Bowie, Jimmy Davie, Jimmy Buchan and Jimmy Drysdale, were McIntyre's Scottish racing contemporaries in the 1950s. Haldane took part in 15 TT races and remembers McIntyre with great fondness. “He had a smashing sense of humour. He was the type of guy who would help anybody. When I started competing at the TT, I remember Bob going around giving me and the new riders his notes on the gear ratios we would need to tackle the course. He once spent over four hours taking me and three other Scottish riders over the first 15 miles of the course to point out where we could gain a few seconds. That was the type of man he was.

“Bob's popularity was such that after races were over and the spectators allowed into the pits, his site would be mobbed! To give you an idea of just how popular he was, there was this one time a chap came to me in my isolated pit section and asked me to pass on a message to Bob that he should come and stay in this man's bed and breakfast the next time he was in the Isle of Man, and make use of his workshop facilities, for free! A total stranger! Needless to say, I slept in my van the next visit!”

Robert McGregor McIntyre was born in Scotstoun in Glasgow in 1928. He worked in the shipyards on the Clyde and then for motorcycle dealers Cooper Brothers of Troon, who were also his first racing sponsors.

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