As I watched that soggy Saturday’s events unfold, completely open mouthed, one line kept running through my head which I remembered from childhood, drummed into me by my cycling big brother: “Ride a Raleigh, ride a wreck – ride a Rudge, and break your neck!” The Birmingham manufacturer’s own salers promotion line in period line was only slightly more positive – reading simply “Rudge it, do not trudge it”. Yes, well, perhaps some advertising writers in those days were a little too… buttoned-up?
The 1933 Rudge TT Replica or ‘TTR’ was produced in 350cc and 500cc forms as a single-cylinder with radially-disposed four-valve head – and very impressive it proved to be, when new, not just 83 years after initial manufacture. Through 1933 the Rudge’s leading riders included Tyrrell Smith, Ernie Nott and Graham Walker, perhaps better recognised today as the late ‘father of Murray’ but himself a great British motor-cycling celebrity of the period, and subsequently as he commentated on the Isle of Man TTs each year.
Another senior runner featuring at the sharp end of a Revival race has - for many years now - been American past winner of the Glover Trophy Formula 1 feature, James King. The tall, softly-spoken American has been in his 50th year of racing this season, and has certainly been driving as well as ever. He actually entered his first race in the USA aged 21, the minimum for Sports Car Club of America competition, in 1966, “…beginning in the spring semester of my senior year at university,” he recalls. He then adds: “Exactly one year later, I was driving a ‘Deuce-and-a-half’ Army truck – and plenty of Jeeps and 3/4-ton trucks as well – as a Spec/4 combat engineer in Vietnam”.