TT Centenary: Mad King Molyneux

In 2006 11-times TT winner Dave Molyneux flipped his outfit at over 140mph. He promptly retired. But this year he's back for win number 12

Moly's a mad bugger. Those are his words, more or less, not ours. Last year Manxman Dave Molyneux, with some 11 TT victories under his belt, flipped his outfit while going flat out through Rhencullen, just after Kirk Michael village. We can assume he was travelling somewhere close to 150mph when the wind got under the sidecar and turned it upside down - all very Donald Campbell. He and his passenger Craig Hallam fortunately escaped with their skins, but his outfit, as you can see, got somewhat barbequed. It now resides in the Manx Museum. In Moly's workshop now, and still far from completion, are the bare bones of its successor.

Following the crash, Moly said from his hospital bed that he was retiring, but he rescinded that offer within days. Apparently it was said to placate his distressed wife. But Moly is Moly and, apparently, Mrs Moly understands, so the most successful TT sidecar racer ever is back again, wanting nothing less than a podium.

"Why am I doing it again? Because I'm mental. Because I've done it all my life. Because, quite simply, I enjoy it. And because it just didn't feel right signing off my career with a crash."

What Moly hasn't mentioned was that he was more seriously injured in the crash than he let on at the time, or even cares to let on now. He broke his shoulder in two places, as well as dislocating it. And he severely gashed his right calf. The calf injury alone took 14 weeks of treatment. But the shoulder eventually needed surgery, which Moly self-funded to ensure it was repaired fully in time for this year's TT. After initially being told by the surgeon that his career was over - at the time he was restricted to just 20 per cent movement - Moly's shoulder is now back and working. It's not up to full strength yet - he's still having physio - but by June he'll be ready.

And Moly will have a special treat for sidecar fans come June. As a tribute to the late George O'Dell (TT winner and world champion) Moly has built a replica of O'Dell's outfit from the 70s and will drive it in the Centenary Parade with O'Dell's TT passenger Kenny Arthur in the chair. Moly? Sentimental? No!


Sidecars first came to the TT in 1923. Restricted to 600cc they were nonetheless barely slower than the solos. The inaugural race was won by Irishman Freddie Dixon from Murray Walker's dad, Graham Walker. Dropped after 1926, they made a post-war comeback in 1954 on the 11-mile Clypse Course, then moved back onto the full Mountain Course once again in 1960.

Did they have a golden era? Probably in the period mid-60s to mid-70s. A colourful entry of Germans and Swiss, like Siggy Schauzu, Klaus Enders, Max Deubel, Helmut Fath and the marvellously named Heinz Luthringhauser made exciting watching on their front-exit BMW Rennsport GP racers, challenged of course by a
flying wing of valiant Brits.