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16 October 2014

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Bob McIntyre breaks 100mph lap at TT 1957

Pim Fleming in an interview he did with Gordon Small in Classic Motorcycling Legends in 1992 remembers: “Bob stripped the complete clutch, rectified a fault and rebuilt it in 12.5 minutes. He then went out and lapped 8mph faster than John Surtees, which in the conditions was quite phenomenal. He had dropped to 23rd place and finished fifth.”

For all the stories about his quietness, modesty, good humour and generosity, there can be no doubting that once he was on a racing motorcycle he was a different character. Ewen Haldane remarked that “winning was everything to him”, while five-times TT winner and six-times world champion Geoff Duke said: “He was the most determined rider that I came across.”

Bob Mac was an unmistakable character on a motorbike. With his stocky frame, outstretched arms, tucked in knees, clenched jaw, white helmet with Glasgow-based Mercury Motorbike Club sticker on the front, the crowds were left in no doubt who was flying by.

Bob McIntyre's career was chequered: for every Grand Prix win there was another race where technical faults would let him down and let the trailing field overtake him. Legendary racer Geoff Duke says of McIntyre: “If Bob Mac had the opportunities I had I'm sure he would have been world champion. He was an outstanding rider.”

The general consensus is that Mac drove his bikes hard, and some would say too hard. It is argued that if he had just let up a little, he would have finished and won more races than he did. But McIntyre always rode to win and always sought perfection.

There is a full list of all Bob's races at the end of this article, the information having been compiled by TT racer and Bob Mac fan Robbie Allan. However, here it is worth focusing on the TT win and the events at Monza in 1957 achieved when Mac was 28.

Gilera's number one rider at the time was Geoff Duke, but he had been injured at Imola. Duke recommended that the Italian outfit sign up McIntyre as team leader, which they duly did.

McIntyre had only a few races on the Gileras by the time of the Isle of Man TT's 50th anniversary gathering. Mac had known some success already on the island, of course, but as he once told a reporter about the most dangerous circuit in the world: “You never really master the Isle of Man circuit.”

He did, however, come closer than any of his fellow racers to mastering the course. He won the Junior TT on his Gilera four-cylinder 350cc in a record average speed for the mountain course of 94.99mph. The second-placed rider finished 3.5 minutes slower than McIntyre.

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