Good luck to all competitors chasing their dreams in the Centenary races of the Manx Grand Prix.

A big shout out and thank you to all the marshals, medics and other volunteers who enable the races to happen.

The first MGP took place 16 years after the first TT although the initial request for amateur riders was put forward by the Manx Motorcycle Club in 1921.

That was dismissed out of hand by the Auto Cycle Union but two years later it finally got off the ground.

In the first year, and up to 1928, there was just one class, 500cc with a special award going to the rider on a 350cc machine over the five-lap race – one lap fewer than the TT. The 1923-1929 races went under the title of the ‘Manx Amateur Motor Cycle Road Race Championships’ and the race distance increased to six laps in 1926.

The year 1928 saw the first Senior and Junior format.

The first race in 1923 had 35 entries each paying an entry fee less than a quarter of the then TT entry, and the winner was Len Randles.

In 1930 the event was renamed the Manx Grand Prix and in 1933 the Lightweight trophy was included for the first time, the award going to the highest-placed 250cc rider in the Junior race.

The following year a separate race for 250cc machines was run concurrently with the Junior.

In 1936 Austin Munks became the first rider to win the Junior and Senior races in the same week and in 1947 he made more history by winning the Lightweight on a Moto Guzzi, the first victory for a foreign machine.

Also in 1936 Denis Parkinson won the Lightweight. He went on to claim other victories and by 1953 had taken his fifth MGP title, which at the time was more than any other rider.

Between 1939 and 1945 racing had been suspended because of the Second World War.

In 1958 the MMCC introduced a four lap ‘Snaefell race’ for newcomers on both 350cc and 500cc machines.

In 1960 a change in the regulations prevented winners from entering the Manx Grand Prix again and in 1962 streamlining was allowed for the first time.

In 1971 Nigel Rollason became the first rider to win the Senior on a two stroke machine he also went on to win the 1986 Sidecar ‘B’ race.

In 1973 the races celebrated their Golden Jubilee and Phil Haslam, brother of Ron, was the first rider to lap at over 100mph on his way to winning the Junior 350cc race.

The year 1978 saw the introduction of Newcomers’ races in the same categories as the main events.

In 1979, Millennium Year, the engine capacity for the Junior race was increased to 500cc and for the Senior 750cc.

In 1983 the Diamond Jubilee Manx saw the introduction of the Classic MGP races with classes that mirrored the main events.

I took part in the first Classic Senior on my Honda 500 four and finished in 13th position, my best result, with the race being won by John Goodall, in my opinion one of the best-ever MGP competitors.

In 1986 the first 110mph lap was set by Mike Seward.

In 2013 the Classic TT was introduced as part of the newly promoted ‘Festival of Motorcycling’, with stars of the TT riding exotic machinery alongside classic specialists.

Last year the classics return to MGP status. In 1989 Gloria Clark became the first female competitor at the Manx, which in my opinion was long overdue.

The first female to compete in a solo TT race was Beryl Swain in 1962 but it was a further 16 years until Hilary Musson was allowed to race.

Her daughter Gail competed in the Manx between 1998 and 2006 on Lightweight machines, breaking the 100mph barrier on her 125cc Honda.

The 2009 Ultra Lightweight 400cc race was a real moment in the history of road racing on the Mountain Course when Carolynn Sells became the first, and only female to date, to win a race.

In 1989 Richard Swallow became only the third rider to complete a hat-trick of wins at the Manx and in 1990 the first rider to win the same race four times in succession with another victory in the Junior Classic.

In 1994 Bob Heath became the first rider to take a Classic double and went on on to secure a tally of 11 victories at the Manx.

In 2004 Peel man Tommy Clucas set the first 120mph lap and, thanks to long-time sponsor and supporter of the Manx,Martin Bullock, those riders since then who have lapped at over 120mph receive awards as members of the ‘Tommy Club’.

The year 2007 saw the Senior race unable to take place for the first time in its history because of adverse weather conditions.

In 2015 Bruce Anstey – on a fabulous 500cc Yamaha – set the fastest-ever lap on a two-stroke machine round the Mountain Course at 126.261mph, going on to complete the fastest-ever lap on a 250cc machine, the first at over 120mph, when recording 120.475mph in 2017. He also broke the Superbike Classic record at 127.496mph but Dean Harrison won the race.

It’s great breaking lap records but winning the race is the real prize!

In 2018 John McGuinness won the Senior Classic after being unable to race for 18 months due to injury and in 2019 Anstey made an emotional return to take the Lightweight Classic and McGuinness won the Senior Classic for the third time in four years.

More history was made when Francesco Curinga became the first Italian rider to win on the Mountain Course for 50 years since Giacomo Agostini took the 1972 Senior TT. What will be the outcome of the Centenary Manx Grand Prix?

The Newcomers’ races in 1978 were well received with many riders going on to bigger things at the TT.

In the first event Phil Mellor won the Lightweight, 1981 saw Norman Brown take the Junior victory, but what a top three in the 1983 Junior –Robert Dunlop, Steve Hislop and Ian Lougher, who as a trio would go on to win a combined total of 26 TT races.

The 1985 (L) winner was Carl Fogarty, in the 1988 (L) Phillip McCallen, 1991 Senior (S) Jason Griffiths, 1992 (J) James Courtney, 1997 (J) Richard Britton, in 1999 Ryan Farquhar took (S), while the year 2000 saw Martin Finnegan win the (J). I an Hutchinson took first place in the 2003 (S) and in the 2006 (L) Michael Dunlop first made his mark on the TT course.

Isle of Man riders and those who have come to live here have also seen great success in the Newcomers’ races, with Rob Brew winning the first Junior in difficult conditions in 1978, Roger Luckman 1979 (J), Steve Richardson 1980 (S), Buddy Yeardsley 1981 (L), Brian Lund (L) and Ian Ogden (S) in 1982.

Ashley Gardner won the 1985 (J), Jim Hunter 1986 (S),Billy Craine 1987 (J), Duncan Muir 1994 (S), Paul Duckett 1996 (S), Graham Burden 2002 (L), Dan Kneen (class C) and Ryan Kneen (class A) 2008, Jonny Heginbotham (B) and Tim Venables, son of Brian, (A) in 2010. In 2013 Calum Collister took race (B), his dad Sean Collister was in the top 10 on 14 occasions, 2014 Billy Redmayne (A) and Dean Osborne (B), and 2016 Michael Evans (A).

Those who have won a Manx include Geoff Duke in 1949 who went on to win six TT races and world championships. Robin Sherry won the 1951 (J), Frank Fox – who was still racing competitively when I started – took the 1953 (J). In 1954, the year of my birth, Derek Ennett won the Junior –the first Manxman to do so – and two days later George Costain won the Senior.

One of my treasured possessions is a 1954 MGP programme that George signed for me.

Eddie Crooks, who ran a Suzuki dealership at Barrow-in-Furness for many years, won the 1959 (S), Dennis Craine, who at one time had a bike garage in Douglas, won the 1965 (L).

Roger Sutcliffe was the winner of the 1970 (S) and Steve Moynihan, an engineering wizard who has helped out so many competitors, took the 1971 (J).

Ken Huggett was the winner of the 1972 (J) and a much-loved sporting hero both sides of the Irish Sea, Danny Shimmin, won the 1976 (L).

In my collection at home I have the leathers which were synonymous with him.

The year 1980 saw Mike Kneen of the famous Onchan dynasty take the Junior and in 1981 Graham Cannell who, like a number of others, went on to great success, in his case on the British short circuits as well as the TT, took the (L) victory.

The same year Dave Broadhead won the Junior race.

He kindly loaned me his winning TZ Yamaha machine for my only MGP race on a proper Grand Prix bike.

Gary Radcliffe, who went on to great success in the TT and is still running race schools at Jurby, took the 1985 (J) race after being in the top 10 of the Manx on seven occasions; Ralph Sutcliffe, son of 1970 winner Roger, won the 1986 (L) – the first father and son winners at the Manx, and ‘Big H’ Paul Hunt won the 1988 (S) event before moving to the TT. In the same race Phil Hogg became the first MGP rider to lap in under 20 minutes. Mike Casey was the victor in the 1995 (S) and Gary Carswell the 1997 (S).

This century Nigel Beattie won the 2002 (L), Paul Duckett – after winning the Newcomers (S) in 1996 – went on to win the 2003 (S) MGP race.

Paul Corrin won the Ultra Lightweight race in 2005, as did history maker Carolynn Sells in 2009. Simon Fulton took the (S) race in 2010, Dave Moffitt the 2011 Supertwin and Dave Madsen-Mygdal – who has completed the Manx, TT and Classic TT on numerous occasions – took victory in the 2012 Formula Classic.

The first local MGP double-winner in the same year was Alan Holmes in 1957 taking the (S and J).

Chris Fargher – cousin of Graham Cannell – took the 1983 (J and L), Buddy Yeardsley won the 1981 Newcomers (L) and the 1985 (S), Brian Venables, nephew to my good friend and top racer Ronnie Russell, took victories in the 1994 (J and S).

The year 1995 saw Tony Duncan win both the (J and L) and Nathan Harrison in 2019 was the winner of both (S and J).

Don Crossley won the 1948 (S) and 1950 (J), while Norman Kneen – another very experienced competitor – took the 2003 (L) and 2004 (L Classic).

Three-times local resident MGP winners include Dan Sayle 2008 (L) 2009 (L) 2016 (L) – as well as his TT exploits as a sidecar passenger in the top three on no fewer than 14 occasions – Jason Griffiths, whose dad Selwyn won the 1964 (S), marked up victories in the 2000, 2002 and 2003 Junior Classic, Chris Palmer won the 2006 Senior Classic, 2010 Post Classic and 2012 Classic 350cc races, Dan Kneen not only won the Newcomers (c) but also the Ultra Lightweight and Junior races in 2008, Michael Evans won the Newcomers (a) 2016 and the next year secured double victories in the (J and S).

Chris McGahan has won four races, 2004 and 2005 Junior Classic 2009 Classic Lightweight and 2010 Classic Formula as well as being on the podium nine times.

For lots of us from the Isle of Man growing up with the Manx it was an ambition from an early age to be a racer one day.

For me, as I’ve said here before, my connection with the MGP and TT goes back to my parents divorce settlement when I was a baby.

The paperwork gave my dad access to me on Senior race day for both events. I remember what seemed like miles of walking to get on the hedge at Cronk y Voddy.

Youngsters who liked the races would customise their pedal cycles with a folded-up fag packet or lollipop stick making contact with the spokes to produce the ‘engine sound’.

If we were very lucky a piece of slightly damaged or discarded screen would attempt to be attached next to the handlebars.

Very occasionally a rider would give you his tie-on back number and you would then be the envy of all your friends.

I would creep out in what seemed like the middle of the night to walk to the TT Grandstand to watch the riders setting off in the still half-light.

Hearing competitors riding their machines from their digs to the start and with no other sound around would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Eventually I got a racing motorcycle and together with friends competed at Jurby road and airfield, and across.

After qualifying for a national racing licence I did the Southern 100 and eventually in 1976 competed in the Manx for the first time. I had jobs day and night to fund my racing, as most did.

There were generous sponsors for some riders who showed flair – Dennis Trollope, Wilson and Collins, Martin Bullock, Padgetts, Ray Cowles, Francis Beart, Syd Lawton and more.

For most in the programme where it listed details of sponsors it was wife, local pub, hotel they were staying at, mum, work or bike shops.

Looking back they were very special times and I remember seeing my dad watching as I went past at speeds approaching 100mph!

Always an ‘also-ran’ the only thing I ever won at the Manx was the yard of ale competition at the riders’ social night but eventually I was able to change my title to the 100mph Minister of Fun!

Most MGP wins: Bob Heath 11, Bill Swallow, Roy Richardson and Ryan Farquhar nine.

Most podiums Bill Swallow 19, Bob Heath 15, John Goodall 14, Bob Jackson 13.

For many people over many years the Manx Grand Prix has been a special part of our lives and in this centenary year we thank everyone who gave us the opportunity to take part in this historic event and take time to remember absent friends.

For full details of the MGP Centenary Programme of events contact

Thanks to Phil Wain and others for facts and to Dave Kneen and Bill Snelling for the photos.