Saturday, February 23, 2008

H.C. Lamacraft

Dennis Quinlan sent these photos of H.C. Lamacraft, which are all from the Keig Collection books - which are unfortunately no longer in print (but which can be found online via ebay or - there are 6 volumes).

Top pic is from the 1934 Junior TT at the Isle of Man, and a youthful HCL is sitting stride his mkIV KTT Velo, which is the machine mentioned in my post as having been sold to David Vincent (and on which he earned his Gold Star at Brooklands in 1935). Henry finished 10th in the '34 Junior TT, earning a Silver Replica (of the statue of Hermes, used as the trophy) at an average speed of 71.17mph. He rode in the TT races every year between 1934 and 1939 (when racing ceased due to WW2). The mkIV KTT can be distinguished from the mkV model in the following 3 photographs by the changes in frame design; the earlier bike has twin front downtubes (from the steering head to the engine), and is an open-type frame utilising the engine crankcases as a stressed element of the frame. The later frame (introduced in 1935) was identical to that used on the KSS mk2 and MSS models, and is the 'full-cradle' type, which means the engine sits within a continuous loop of tubing.

The next two photos both show the same machine, in 1935, on which he entered both the Junior (#10) and Senior (#16) TT's of that year. The mkV KTT Velo would have been brand new, and knowing how Veloce worked, had probably come into Henry's hands about a week prior to the race! Interestingly, HCL did better in the Senior TT on his 350cc Velo against 500cc opponents (making 10th place) than in the Junior TT, where he won 12th place.

Dennis adds,
"Often their times on the same bike in the Senior were faster... HCL was a remarkably consistent rider [with lap times within 10sec/lap over a ~32min lap], and [his lap times] show slowing on the 5th lap in both events...due to the pit stop for fuel...These [pit-stops] appear to be a bit hap-hazard & no real effort made to minimise the time for the stop. Although there is the story of the fuel rep delivering a fuel nozzle to the Velocette camp & Harold Willis [development chief for Veloce - and one of the Great Minds of motorcycling] being very interested in the smoothness inside the pipe, which, presumably allowed fuel to flow more quickly. Shortly afterwards, the rep returned, and embarrassed, asked for it back... of course it then went to the Norton camp of Joe Craig..."

It's interesting to compare his riding kit with some photos from just a few years earlier - he's wearing what became the standard racing outfit from the late 20's until around 1950 (when Geoff Duke had one-piece racing leathers made up by his tailor, to gain a little extra speed). Lace-up high-top boots, leather jodhpurs, double-breasted button up jacket with collar, gloves with long gauntlets. In the third photo, he's switched to horse-riding boots with no laces (or just laces at the ankle, to make them easier to pull on and off).

The motorcycle is the same, presumably, in the last photo, taken at the 1938 Junior TT, but time has taken a toll on the bike - the lining and logo on the petrol tank are gone, as is the chrome on the wheels, curiously. I will speculate that this is the very machine to which he added a supercharger (seen in the earlier post), as the tank looks identical. The question - did he remove the blower for the TT, or did he add it afterwards, searching for more performance. Lamacraft did purchase a mkVIII KTT by 1939, so perhaps the mkV was surplus, and he felt free to experiment with the obsolete machine.

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