Manx Grand Prix race winner Alan Holmes dies

Alan Holmes before the start of the Senior Manx Grand Prix Practice in 1957
Alan Holmes before the start of the Senior Manx Grand Prix Practice in 1957

Double Manx Grand Prix race winner Alan Holmes has died at the age of 91 after a short illness. Holmes passed away on Tuesday 15th December.

Holmes, who was born in Castletown and educated at Douglas High School for boys at the top of Bray Hill, made history in 1957 when he became the first Manxman to achieve the ‘double’ in the Junior and Senior Manx Grand Prix races. This achievement has only been matched on a few occasions since, only occuring for a second time 37 years later at the 1994 event.     

Holmes won his first-ever race at Andreas Airfield in 1952, an event which he, along with some other local riders, helped to get off the ground. He was also instrumental getting racing started at Jurby Airport. That year, Holmes finished third in the Clubman’s Senior TT, held around the Snaefell Mountain Course.

The Manx GP beckoned a few months later, however it didn't all go to plan. A split petrol tank saw him retire in the Junior race, but Holmes would then finish seventh in the Senior.

Holmes made his short circuit debut in 1954 after moving to the UK to take up a position with Castrol. He missed the Manx GP that year, although he did compete in the North West 200, but would record a second in the 1955 Junior and a third in the 1956 Senior. The following year Holmes secured his historic double.

Holmes entered a total of eight races at the Manx GP, finishing five, collecting five replicas and setting three lap records. 

After his success at the Manx GP, Holmes, riding a Norton arranged by Reg Dearden, entered the Isle of Man TT in 1958. Unfortunately, he retired in the Junior TT when the conrod broke and finished 25th in the Senior having been delayed by a 12-minute pit stop with carb problems.

Holmes' career was brought to a premature end after crashing at Oulton Park later that year. He fractured his skull and was hampered by double vision, an issue which would stay with him for several years.

Our thoughts are with Alan's family and friends at this difficult time.

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.