The Cyril Smith Collection of Motor Racing Memorablia
Lot 168
The Cyril Smith Collection of Motorcycle Racing Trophies and Memorabilia,
Sold for £ 1,495 (US$ 1,881) inc. premium

Lot Details
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The Cyril Smith Collection of Motorcycle Racing Trophies and Memorabilia,
comprising trophies and awards for various motorcycling events during the late 1940s and 50s, including the 1953 25th Ulster Grand Prix Trophy 'Winner Side Car Race 500cc class', the 1952 German Grand Prix Trophy in the form of a Silver Salver, the 1954 Moto-Club d'Avignon Grand Prix International Trophy, a 1955 Hockenheim-Ring enamelled and cased award, a 1950 BMCRC Mell and Hutchinson Trophy winners plaque, a 1952 International DMV-Rennen "Rund um Schotten" silver cigarette case, a 1952 Gran Premio de Espana, Barcelona, RMCC trophy, a 1956 Brasserie Des Allies, Chimay, trophy, a 1956 XXVI Monte-Carlo Rally badge (Tommy Wisdom driving with Cyril Smith as navigator), Assen TT tiles for 1955 and 1958, other smaller awards and trophies, including several for Cadwell Park, a large quantity of monochrome images of motorcycle events, sidecars and other machines, some negatives, an original mixed media illustration of Cyril Smith by Sallon and Cyril Smith's 1952 World Championship framed Federation Internationale Motorcycliste certificate and a quantity of related ephemera and correspondence.

Footnotes

  • Cyril Smith

    Despite looking more like a bank manager than a motorcycle racer, Cyril Smith was nevertheless one of the top sidecar exponents of his day, winning the FIM World Road Racing Championship in 1952. Cyril's son-in-law Stan Dibben, World Sidecar Champion in 1953 with Eric Oliver and who raced with Cyril for three years, recalls him as 'a man of great courage and determination, happy to help without question those around him, and never really given the respect his remarkable talent deserved.'

    Cyril joined the Royal Tank Regiment as a volunteer before the outbreak of the WW2. He served throughout the war in the famous 50th RTR, which spent a remarkable 95% percent of its time on overseas deployment actually in contact with the enemy. He fought in the horrendous battle in North Africa at El Alemein under General Montgomery, then on to the invasion of Sicily, then Italy and finally to the fight against the Communists in the Greek Civil War. He was published in the London Gazette on the 23rd March 1944 as Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service in Italy and was one of the youngest Squadron Quartermaster Sergeants in the British Army at 23; he was demobilized along with the rest of 50th RTR in Greece in 1946. The mementos of his wartime activity, including a Ghurka Knife, a secret list of Italians fighting with the Allies and hundreds of photographs, have been donated to the Tank Museum of the RTR at Bovington in Dorset, where they can be viewed as part of the 50th RTR archive. Nicknamed 'Smudge', a special poem was written in his honour by the Sergeants' Mess of B Squadron 50th RTR in September 1943. An extract reads:

    In times when things have struck us pretty hard,
    And "Jerry" pressed down on us with lines of steel,
    Fighting tooth & nail & boot, with nothing barred,
    Old "Smudge" was there with Faith we all could feel.

    When things looked grim & tanks were off the track,
    When shot and shell were falling like the rain,
    Our "Smudge" comes smiling through from somewhere at the back,
    And with his handy hammer, he gets them back again.
    The one who pulled us from the mire,

    When all we had left was our faith in God
    The man who turns out, although still under fire
    And smiling still, he quickly does his job.

    Postwar motorcycle racing was to bear witness to the same endearing combination of warmth, courage and gritty determination. On returning home, Cyril was employed at the Norton factory as a test rider, and started sidecar racing part-time in grass track events – he was the first British grass track champion. He made his road-racing debut at Cadwell Park in 1949 and won the famous Hutchinson 100 event at Silverstone in 1951. Quitting his job at Bracebridge Street he turned professional for the '52 season only to suffer serious head injuries in a crash at a minor event at Mettet in Belgium. Confounding the doctors, he was back in action soon afterwards, finishing a magnificent 2nd at the Swiss Grand Prix on his Norton-Watsonian behind Albino Milani's more powerful Gilera. Eric Oliver had won the Sidecar World Championship three years on the trot when he was forced to sit out the start of the 1952 season through injury. Having lived in Oliver's shadow, Smith needed no second invitation. Although he won only one of the Championship's five rounds (the German Grand Prix at Solitude) he and passenger Bob Clements were never off the podium all season; they were worthy winners.

    Smith had to give best to a resurgent Oliver in 1953, finishing runner-up, and in 1954 placed 3rd behind BMW-mounted winner Wilhelm Noll. Staying loyal to Norton in the face of ever-increasing BMW dominance, Smith still managed to place 6th in the World Championship as late as 1957. He retired from racing in 1959 and took a job as service manager at the Cowie's motorcycle dealership in Stockton-on-Tees. In November 1962 the racing world was shocked to hear of his death; Cyril was found dead in his room at a hotel in Keswick, apparently having taken his own life. His funeral at Redcar was attended by many stars of British motorcycling. Fittingly, the wreath was shaped like a streamlined Norton-Watsonian sidecar outfit.
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