Jimmie Guthrie

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Jimmie Guthrie
Nationality British
Born (1897-05-23)23 May 1897
Hawick, Scotland
Died 8 August 1937(1937-08-08) (aged 40)
Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Isle of Man TT career
TTs contested 12 (1923, 1927-1937)
TT wins 6
First TT win 1930 Lightweight TT
Last TT win 1937 Junior TT
Podiums 12

Andrew James "Jimmie" Guthrie (23 May 1897 Hawick, UK – 8 August 1937) was a Scottish motorcycle racer famous for 19 motorcycle Grand Prix wins and 3 victories in the North West 200 and 6 wins at the Isle of Man TT Races in his career.

Biography[edit]

TT Race Marshal Signal Box on the A18 Mountain Road looking north towards Guthrie's Memorial and the Point of Ayre.

During the 1937 Isle of Man TT Races he won the Junior TT but retired on lap 5 of the 1937 Senior TT race at The Cutting on the A18 Mountain Road section of the course. After his death while competing in the 1937 German Grand Prix, a memorial was erected to him in 1939. Paid for by public subscription the memorial was built at the place where he retired in his last Isle of Man TT Race and The Cutting has been called Guthrie's Memorial (Ordnance Survey Map SC 435 935 GB Grid) ever since.[1] The inscription on the memorial reads as follows;-

"James Guthrie, 1897-1937. Erected to the memory of Jimmy Guthrie, of Hawick, a brilliant Motor Cycle Rider, famous on the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Course for his wonderful riding and great sportsmanship. He won the race six times. Beat many world's records and was first in numerous foreign races. He died while upholding the honour of his country in the German Grand Prix, August, 1937."

A further memorial was created on the Hohenstein-Ernstthal or Sachsenring course in 1949 at the site of the fatal accident and is called the "Guthrie Stone." There is also a memorial stone and bronze bust of Guthrie in his native town's park.

War Service[edit]

After a period as an apprentice engineer, Jimmie Guthrie joined the local regiment, the 4th (The Border) Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers. The 4th Bn Kings Own Scottish Borders were part of the 52nd (Lowland) Division and while moving from Scotland to Gallipoli were involved in the Quintinshill rail crash near Gretna Green with the 1/7th Bn Royal Scots which resulted in the death of 210 officers and men from the 52nd Division. While serving with the 4th Bn Kings Own Scottish Borderers, Jimmie Guthrie saw service at Gallipoli and in Palestine. The 52nd (Lowland Division) also served in France in 1918 during the Second Battles of the Somme and Arras. During this time on the Western Front in France, Jimmie Guthrie served as motor-cycle dispatch rider.

Hawick & District MCC[edit]

After war service and returning to his native Hawick, Jimmie Guthrie and his brother Archie joined the local Hawick Motor-Cycle Club. After participating in many local hill-climb and grass-track races the Hawick MCC nominated Jimmie Guthrie him to race at the Isle of Man TT races for the 1923 season. Although, Jimmie Guthrie did not return to the Isle of Man TT Races until 1927, he competed at the Scottish Speed Championships at St Andrews and won the 1926 and 1927 championships.

Isle of Man TT Race Career[edit]

The 1923 Isle of Man TT was the first race on the Snaefell Mountain Course for Jimmie Guthrie competing in the Junior Race that produced a first-time win for Stanley Woods. It was an inauspicious beginning for Jimmie Guthrie starting the 1923 Junior Race at number 38 riding a Matchless motor-cycle and retiring at Kirk Michael on lap 1 with valve problems.[2]

A return to the Isle of Man TT after an absence 4 years, the 1927 Isle of Man TT races held contrasting fortunes for Jimmie Guthrie. Starting the 1927 Junior TT Race with number 36 riding a New Hudson motor-cycle, Jimmie Guthrie retired on lap 5 at Ballacraine with a broken petrol-pipe[3] This was followed by a fine second place, 8 minutes and 17 seconds behind the winner Alec Bennett riding for the works Norton team in the 1927 Senior TT Race. Again riding a New Hudson motor-cyle at number 18, despite being delayed at the TT Grandstand on lap 2 to tighten a loose foot-rest,[4] Jimmie Guthrie finished the race in 4 hours, and 4 minutes at an average race speed of 66.02 mph.

After lying in 6th place, Jimmie Guthrie in the 1928 Junior TT Race was 2½ minutes behind the leader Alec Bennett.[5] During a refuelling stop at the TT Grandstand on lap 3, as Jimmie Guthrie prepared to pull-out the engine backfired and set a fire to a petrol overspill and caused the Norton motor-cycle to catch fire which led to a retirement from the 1928 Junior TT Race.[6] During the 1928 Senior TT Race, Jimmie Guthrie retired at Kirk Michael on lap 1 with an engine problem and the race was won by Charlie Dodson riding a Sunbeam at an average race speed of 62.98 mph. For the 1929 Isle of Man TT Races, Jimmie Guthrie was a non-starter for the Junior and Senior Races after suffering injuries from a crash at Greeba Bridge during practice.[7]

Despite a retirement at Crosby on lap 6 of the 1930 Junior TT Races for Jimmie Guthrie, this followed by winning his first TT Race, the 1930 Lightweight Race riding an AJS motor-cycle at an average race speed of 64.71 mph. The 1930 Senior TT Race was another retirement for Jimmie Guthrie on lap 2 at the Creg-ny-Baa with an engine mis-fire.[8]

Norton Team 1931-1937[edit]

In 1930 Jimmie Guthrie set a number of world speed records on a Norton International at the concrete bowl track in Montlhery, France.as well as the one-hour world record at a speed of 114.09 mph, he also broke the 50 km, 50 mile, 100 km and 100 mile records.[9]

After his first Isle of Man TT win, for the 1931 season Jimmie Guthrie joined the works Norton team run by the engineer Joe Craig. In the 1931 Junior and Senior TT Races, Jimmie Guthrie finished in 2nd place to Tim "Percy" Hunt in both races who completed the first Junior/Senior double win for the factory Norton team.

Despite hitting and killing a sheep during practice at Glen Duff, Jimmie Guthrie went on to compete in the 1932 Isle of Man TT Races.[10] On lap 4 of the 1932 Junior TT Race, Jimmie Guthrie retires at the TT Grandstand after slipping-off at Governor's Bridge. The 1932 Senior TT Race produced another 2nd place for Jimmie Guthrie and Stanley Woods went on to win race at an average race speed of 78.47 mph and completing his first Junior/Senior double win.

After hitting the bank at Hillberry Corner on lap 1 of the 1933 Junior TT Race, Jimmie Guthrie loses valuable time. After recovering from this delay, Jimmie Guthrie is up to 2nd place, then slips-off on melting tar at the Quarterbridge on lap 4 and finishes in 3rd place behind winner Stanley Woods and Tim Hunt. The 1933 Senior TT Race produces another Junior/Senior double win for Stanley Woods and a 1-2-3-4 win for the works Norton team with Jimmie Guthrie finishing in 4th place from team-mates, Tim Hunt and Jimmie Simpson.

After Tim Hunt had retired from racing after a crash at the 1933 Swedish Grand Prix, it was Irishman Stanley Woods who became the defacto Norton team-leader. However, after a dispute over prize-money, Stanley Woods leaves to join Moto Guzzi, promoting Jimmie Guthrie to the vacant team-leader position. For the 1934 racing season Jimmie Guthrie won the 500cc 1934 North West 200 at an average race speed of 80.37 mph from Ernie Nott riding for Rudge and John "Crasher" White riding for Norton. The 1934 Isle of Man TT Races also produced a Junior/Senior double win for Jimmie Guthrie, winning the 1934 Junior TT at an average race speed of 79.16 mph and the Senior TT Race at an average race speed of 78.01 mph. In both races the 2nd place finisher was Jimmie Simpson riding in his last TT Race meeting before retirement from racing.

The 1935 racing season started for Jimmie Guthrie with another win in the 500cc 1935 North West 200 at an average race speed of 76.53 mph from team-mate S. Darbishire and Henry Tyrell-Smith in 3rd place riding for AJS motor-cycles. The 1935 Isle of Man TT Races was used by Associated Talking Pictures for the backdrop for the motion picture No Limit starring George Formby. The 1935 Junior TT Race provided a Junior TT double win for Jimmie Guthrie at an average race speed of 79.14 mph and Norton with a 1-2-3 race win with Walter Rusk and "Crasher" White filling 2nd and 3rd places.

1935 Senior Isle of Man TT Race[edit]

The 1935 Senior TT Race was postponed to the next day due to poor weather. Despite the delay, the race produced one of the most dramatic TT races. The race was led away by Jimmie Guthrie at number 1 while Stanley Woods starting at number 30 had a 15 minute wait. By the last lap of the 1935 Senior TT Race, Jimmie Guthrie had built-up a lead of 26 seconds. As the Moto Guzzi pit-attendants made preparations for Stanley Woods to refuel on the last-lap, the Norton pit-crew signalled to Guthrie to easy the pace on the last lap. Stanley Woods riding for Moto Guzzi went straight through the TT Grandstand area without stopping on the last lap and set a new overall lap record of 26 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 86.53 mph. Despite the Norton team telephoning the signal-station at Ramsey on the last lap to indicate to Jimmie Guthrie to speed-up the pace, Stanley Woods won the 1935 Senior TT Race by 4 seconds from Jimmie Guthrie in 3 hours, 7 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 84.68 mph.[11] After the race Jimmie Guthrie said;- "I went as quick as I could but Stanley went quicker. I am sorry but I did the best I could."[12]

Final Result 1935 Senior TT (500cc)[edit]

Saturday 22 June 1935 - 7 laps (264.11 miles) Mountain Course.

Rank Rider Team Speed Time
1 Republic of Ireland Stanley Woods Moto Guzzi 84.68 mph 3.07.10.0
2 Scotland Jimmie Guthrie Norton 84.65 3:07.14.0
3 Northern Ireland Walter Rusk Norton 83.53 3:09.45.0

Following on from the dramatic win by Stanley Woods in the 1935 Senior TT Race, the 1936 Junior TT Race proved to be highly controversial marred by disqualification and protest. After leading for five laps, Jimmie Guthrie was forced to stop between Hillberry and Signpost Corner to replace the drive chain.[13] Although continuing in 2nd place the lead passed to Norton team-mate Freddie Frith. At Parliament Square in Ramsey on the lap 6, Jimmie Guthrie was 'black-flagged' for receiving out-side assistance and disqualified. However, Guthrie denied the charge and continued the race to finish in fifth place which was won by Freddie Frith to record his first Isle of Man TT win at an average race speed of 80.14 mph. The Norton race team protested the disqualification and Jimmie Guthrie was posted in 5th place in the final race classification and was awarded 2nd place prize money.[13] The 1936 Senior TT Race was won by Jimmie Guthrie by 18 seconds from Stanley Woods riding now for Velocette and provided revenge for the dramatic defeat by Stanley Woods the previous year.

The 1937 Isle of Man TT Races continued the "Norton Habit"[14] for Jimmie Guthrie winning the 1937 Junior TT Race at an average race speed of 84.43 mph from fellow Norton team-mates Freddie Frith and John "Crasher" White in 2nd and 3rd places. The 1937 Senior TT Race was won by Freddie Frith at an average race speed of 88.21 mph riding for Norton after winning the 1936 Junior TT Race. On lap 5 of the 1937 Senior TT Race, Jimmie Guthrie retired on the Mountain Section of the course just below the 'The Cutting.'

TT victories[edit]

Year Race & Capacity Motorcycle Average Speed
1930 Lightweight 250cc AJS 64.71 mph
1934 Junior 350cc Norton 79.16 mph
1934 Senior 500cc Norton 78.16 mph
1935 Junior 350cc Norton 79.14 mph
1936 Senior 500cc Norton 85.08 mph
1937 Junior 500cc Norton 84.43 mph

TT career summary[edit]

Finishing Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th DNF
Number of times 6 5 1 1 1 10

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times pp18 dated 17 June 1939
  2. ^ Isle of Man Examiner dated 15 June 1923
  3. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 18 June 1927.
  4. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 18 June 1927
  5. ^ Isle of Man Examiner dated 8 June 1928
  6. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 9 June 1928
  7. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 15 June 1929
  8. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 21 June 1930
  9. ^ "Jimmie Guthrie". Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  10. ^ Isle of Man Examiner dated 3 June 1932
  11. ^ Motor Cycling 15 June 1935 pp.252
  12. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 22 June 1935 pp5
  13. ^ a b Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 20 June 1936.
  14. ^ Pictorial History of Norton Motor-Cycles by J.S. Reynolds London. Temple Press / National Motorcycle Museum. (1985) pp32 ISBN 0-600-35170-X

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Pol Demeuter
500cc Motorcycle European Champion
1935-1937
Succeeded by
Georg Meier
Preceded by
Freddie Frith
350cc Motorcycle European Champion
1937
Succeeded by
Ted Mellors