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Motorcycling

Bob McIntyre breaks 100mph lap at TT 1957

Going into the Senior TT the following week, McIntyre's confidence was high. He had recovered from the physical strain of keeping the bike on the road at such high speeds. There was a sense of expectancy about the race, as evidenced by a column in the TT programme. Jimmy Simpson, who broke lap records on the Isle of Man in the '20s and '30s, wrote: “In this Golden Jubilee Year let us also hope that we shall have the Golden 100mph lap.” Geoff Duke in 1955 had come agonisingly close to breaking the ton, registering 99.97mph fastest lap speed on a Gilera. Interestingly, the first TT in 1907 witnessed a fastest lap speed of 41.81mph!

McIntyre, with racing number 78 on his red and white Gilera, got off to a great start in the race and it soon became evident that barring technical problems, as had happened all too often to Mac, no-one was going to catch him.

In fine conditions, Bob McIntyre broke the 100mph average speed on four of the eight laps. The fourth lap was the fastest at 101.12mph. Not surprisingly, he won the race to add the Senior title to the Junior victory. Quite a double!

At the end of 1957, Gilera and the other Italian (Mondial, Moto Guzzi and MV) teams pulled out of Grand Prix races. McIntyre was left without a team or sponsor and went back to riding the Potts' Nortons. Gilera focused their energies on breaking speed records at Monza and targeted the classic hour, where a rider goes as far as he can in 60 minutes round a track.

Bob McIntyre

Photo courtesy of McIntyre family

The Italian riders were unable to give Gilera the results they were looking for, so in stepped McIntyre. He found that the 500cc Gileras were just too powerful to control for an hour in a speed bowl, so he insisted that he try it on the lighter 350cc machine. Part of Mac's mechanical team, Charlie Bruce told Gordon Small in Classic Motorcycling Legends what happened:

“Bob screwed up the friction damper so the throttle couldn't shut and sometimes he had to stand on the footrests to hold the bike down.

“Before Bob was specially summoned from Glasgow to do the job, several other Gilera riders had tried it. Bob noticed that they had ridden round half way up the curved banking of the speed bowl where it was very bumpy. So he went right to the top of the bank where it was also very rough but the wall was virtually vertical.”

McIntyre broke the one hour record, travelling 141 miles in 57 gruelling laps of the track. This was seven miles further than the best efforts of the Gilera riders.

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