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Competitor Profile: HR [Reg] Armstrong

TT Career Summary

No of times122111112

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Reg Armstrong’s TT career spread over seven years was preceded by a two year ‘learning of the Mountain Course’ in the Manx Grand Prix, where in 1947 and 1948 he finished in 4th place both times, firstly in the Lightweight, then the Senior. The handsome Dubliner was no respecter of the stars of the day – on his AJS he rode a steady pace to find himself in 6th place at the start of the final lap, he overtook Bob Foster to move into 5th and at the chequered flag he just missed 4th place by one second to lap record holder Harold Daniell. Using the same machine in the Senior, he came home in 7th. He had arrived! Riding for the Velocette factory in 1950, he retired in the Junior and took sixth in the Senior. Back on AJS machines for the 1951 TT, this time factory models, he was vying for third place in the Junior when the chain snapped at Cronk-ny-Mona, he managed to cruise to Governor’s then dismounted and pushed in to take 23rd place. Further disappointment was to follow in the Senior when he was forced to retire. For 1952, Armstrong was signed up by Joe Craig to ride ‘works’ Nortons as back-up rider for Geoff Duke. He did not let either himself, Duke or the team down coming 2nd in the Junior and winning the Senior at 92.97 mph. [Geoff took the Junior honours and took 2nd in the Senior.] Nineteen Fifty-three was to see both “Norton” team-mates move over to the Italian Gilera concern. It was to be a dramatic Senior debut on the four-cylinder machine for Armstrong holding second place behind his team mate; then Duke falls at Quarterbridge, putting the Dubliner into pole position. After refuelling, he is down to 2nd, as the last lap starts. Then the chain starts to slip on the Acore bike, leaving Reg to ‘nurse’ the ailing machine home in third place. 1954 saw Reg retain his ride with the Acore factory, but also rode for the German NSU concern in the 250cc class, where he finished 3rd in what was a NSU benefit 1,2,3. Foul weather greeted riders for the Senior TT and racing was delayed until 12 noon, when conditions slightly improved to allow riders to get away. However, it was soon to deteriorate to such an extent that the race to stopped at the conclusion of the fourth of the scheduled six laps. Armstrong was credited with fourth place. Reg and Geoff were in a class of their own in the 1955 Senior TT, with Reg backing his team leader to the chequered flag. The 1955 racing concluded and Reg Armstrong announced his retirement from International Racing. Never far from his sport, Reg was invited to become team manager of the new Honda Racing team in 1962 – a task he enjoyed and the results attained speak for themselves. He was tragically killed in a road accident when his car skidded off the road in November 1979; he was just 52 years old.

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