If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

1923 And All That

In 1923:
  • The President of the largest steel maker in the US was Charles Schwab. He later died a pauper, living on borrowed money for the last 5 years of his life.

  • The President of the largest gas company was Edward Hopson. He went insane and died in a sanatarium.

  • The President of the New York Stock Exchange was Richard Whitney. He served a term in Sing Sing prison for embezzlement and was released to die at home.

  • The greatest speculator in wheat, Arthur Cutten, died penniless.

  • The President of the Bank of International Settlements shot himself in a fit of melancholy

  • The 'Great Bear' of Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, also shot himself.

In the same year, the winner of the world's most important motorcycle road race, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, was a man called Stanley Woods. What became of him?

  • Between 1923 and 1939, he won 10 TT races

  • He lived on the Isle of Man and rode motorcycles all his life

  • He returned to the TT for its Golden Jubilee in 1957 at the age of 54 and, riding a 350cc Moto Guzzi, lapped the circuit at an average speed of 82 mph.

  • He died in 1993 aged 90, a wealthy man.

The moral:

Fuck work: ride motorbikes.


  1. And here he is in 1979 at Jurby with my father, (you know, the one with all those bound volumes of the BMW owners club magazine!!). Muggins here was behind the camera.


    If I recall correctly, by then he'd had both hips replaced, and had to be lifted onto the bike, and push started. But once he was away there was no stopping him, and I think he actually lapped quicker that his last proper race, as the roads have improved so much...

  2. Fantastic. "Thanks for sharing", as they say. That's a great photo. I love the idea of the 'motorcycling Centaur': when the body can't do it any longer, you put the brain on a bike and wham - another lap record. Great story.

  3. I like your reasoning Richard.

  4. Nah. That's not DVG1D ;-)

    There aren't many racing bikes with a pillion seat.

    (Excepting Mamola's Ducati)

  5. For illustrative purposes only, or perhaps "serving suggestion".

  6. Actually Richard, it's kosher.

    See MD's photo; and, Google Images ["stanley woods" +velocette]

    All have the pillion!

  7. Just been directed over here by JuliaM, Must have just missed you before - and who was it who invented the `pillion` cos I'd like a word.

  8. @ Julia - that was written by Harriet Ridley, who has plenty of racing experience and whose views I respect. All the other write-ups I have seen say much the same thing. I think there is a future in these 3-wheelers, although it's not for me just yet.

    @ Joe - I wasn't saying anything was or was not kosher, just that a photo of SW aboard a Velo to illustrate a story involving a Guzzi was perhaps using a bit of blogger's licence.

    @Hog - welcome to the blog and thanks for your comment. 'Pillion' was originally a woman's light saddle for a horse (from the Gaelic for 'cushion'), which suggests that our male biker ancestors knew their place - in control, and in front of 'er on the back. I always view the rear half of a dualseat as a bracket for mounting the speed limiter.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I've just dug out the photo album again and found another shot of him. Sorry it's not very good, but it looks as if it was rather gloomy by then...

    Father has written the following on the back of it:

    "Stanley Woods on 1939 Velo at Signpost corner 8th June '79 aged 75! Did lap in 33 minutes & averaged 68mph."


    I may have been wrong about his times, but those figures aren't bad in any case!

    Sorry - removed the previous post due to misteaks...

  11. That's amazing. A 75-year-old bloke on a 40-year-old bike averaging a speed like that. When you think how hard you have to go to average 60 on similar roads, with a modern bike, modern tyres and so on, it's a hell of an achievement.


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