Oliver's Mount Gold Cup
Named after Oliver Cromwell, Oliver’s Mount is the only public roads circuit in England and first saw motorcycle races take place in 1946 with its layout remaining almost the same since those early days, the introduction of the Farm Bends section in 1991 (done to reduce speeds through the start and finish) the only alteration.
It’s played host to some of the world’s greatest road racers with the International Gold Cup, first held in 1950, seeing the likes of Geoff Duke, Bob McIntyre, John Surtees and Phil Read all racing, and winning, in the 1950s and 60s when the meeting became one of the most prestigious races to win, particularly when it was broadcast live by the BBC cameras.
This trend has continued throughout the decades with 1976 and 1977 500cc World Champion Barry Sheene and Mick Grant the stars of the 1970s and 1980s whilst subsequent years saw it become the home of the leading road racers of the generation including Guy Martin, John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson, Ryan Farquhar and Michael Dunlop.
Cast your eye over the list of winners of the Gold Cup and it reads like a who’s who of the sport and in addition to all those riders who have lifted the trophy, when you add in the likes of Hailwood, Hocking, Amm, Hennen, Gardner, Crosby and Hislop, all of whom have contested the race, you’ll get the picture.
Reigning World Champions Giacomo Agostini, Jarno Saarinen and Klaus Enders were persuaded to venture over for the 1972 International Gold Cup meeting and the fans flocked back. As the decade progressed, the now legendary battles between Sheene and Grant saw tens of thousands of fans line the hillside and, indeed, Sheene won his last International race at Scarborough in September 1984 when he clinched his fourth Gold Cup.
The 1970s and 1980s would go on to be halcyon days for the venue as it hosted all of the country’s major Championships and Britain’s finest from this era can be found in the record books, amongst them Peter Williams, Geoff Barry, Dave Potter, Roger Marshall, Tony Rutter, Phil Mellor, Charlie Williams, Trevor Nation, Rob McElnea, Mark Salle and Keith Huewen.
As the 1980s progressed, Oliver’s Mount faced another stiff challenge as it lost its British Championship status but the Gold Cup continued to hold its prestige. Star names like Carl Fogarty and James Whitham added their name to the trophy, renamed the Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup in 1989 in memory of the 1985 and 1986 winner, and circuit specialists came to the fore including four-time winner of the Gold Cup David Jefferies, Dean Ashton and Jason Griffiths with Phillip McCallen another rider to taste success.
Fans have continued to support the venue and a staggering 64,000 people witnessed the 50th Anniversary meeting in September 1996 with Sheene, Fogarty, Agostini, Read and Redman amongst the many stars in attendance.
More recently, the leading road racers have regularly been in action at the Gold Cup with Guy Martin making his road racing debut at the venue and going on to be the most successful ever at the Gold Cup having won the trophy a record eight times. Double TT winner Dean Harrison is now seen as the man to beat having taken over the mantle from Martin