JMU 922: Geoff Duke Ltd.

JMU 922: Geoff Duke Ltd.

British motorcycle racing legend Geoff Duke – a six-time Isle of Man TT winner and world champion – has died at the age of 92.

Geoff was one of the first major stars of grand prix motorcycle racing in the 1950s.

He made his name at the famous Isle of Man event, earning a factory Norton ride after winning the 1949 Senior Clubmans TT and Senior Manx Grand Prix.

In his first year with Norton, he set a record pace on the way to TT victory and came within one point of the 500cc world championship, finishing second in the 350cc class too.

The following year he dominated both the 350cc and 500cc championships to claim his first world titles, adding further TT wins along the way, and he successfully defended his 350cc crown in 1952 despite his season being curtailed early by injuries.

Duke switched from Norton to Gilera for 1953, focused solely on 500cc racing and dominated. A further three world titles were notched up, along with another TT win in 1955.

Geoff also dabbled in sportscar racing with Aston Martin, a podium finish in a DB3 in Goodwood’s Easter Handicap in 1952 being the high point in results terms.

The 1955 crown proved to be Duke’s last world championship victory and he retired after 1959 with 22 500cc and 11 350cc wins to his name, plus six titles across the two classes.

Gray Southard and I met Geoff at the 100th Anniversary of Norton Rally at the National Motorcycle Museum in 1998. Ever the gentleman, Geoff was happy to pose in front of 5003 NX, having owned a J-type himself in the 1950s.