TT Career Summary
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Born Peter Valentine Harris on 6th August 1927 led by his father and
following his brother John, Pip, developed a love for motorbikes very early on.
His first grass-tracking event was in 1946 on a Grindley Bitza designed for Sand racing, this blew up in the first season!
Undaunted by 1948 he moved on to road racing on a 596cc Norton bought from Jack Surtees, father of John. Deciding he wanted something bigger he tried for a short time the 1000cc Vincent machine 'Gunga Din' and a Vincent Black Lightening before returning to Norton Watsonian.
1955 saw a change to Matchless and in finally in1958 due to lack of full
works support he moved to long stroke BMW engines.
His first one (having to fund himself and the budget being rather tight!) bought on a half share with Jack Beeton.
Pip had two 'main' passengers. Firstly Charles Billingham and then Ray Campbell who proved to be his regular long-term passenger.
His biggest disappointment was never winning the Isle of Man TT. Although he had a pair of second placings and two thirds.
His greatest race was the 1960 Dutch TT obviously because it was his first and only Grand Prix win. This was the year he was ranked 3rd in the world sidecar championship behind Germany's Helmut Fath and Swiss Fritz Scheidegger.
His favourite English course was Oulton Park, (I remember this circuit too). Indeed his final meeting was at this circuit in 1973.
Pip won the ACU British Championship Sidecar Event 3 times. He was the
first winner of the £500 sidecar event, a lot of money back then!!
His international results were
Belgian Grand Prix 1951 - 3rd, 1956 - 2nd
Italian Grand Prix 1951 - 3rd, 1956 - 2nd
Dutch TT 1960 1st
A few asides:-
Pip always enjoyed a good scrap with Chris Vincent.
One race he particularly remembered was breaking the Silverstone lap record by 5 mph, starting from scratch, beating the works Nortons.
I asked him to sum up how he felt about his racing career he said
'I enjoyed every minute of it'.
(A very proud daughter)
Caroline Skelton nee Harris
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