1948 pt5. The 350 race
The revered and respected name, R.L. Graham on naturally AJS, stands out as the established stylish speedster. Wilmott Evans ready for a second pounding but on a 348 AJS this time. Phil Heath on his Norton, plus young Archer on his Velocette, a rather well noticed practice surprise Jack Simister also Norton mounted.
Jack Daniels had won the Manx 500 on a 998 Vincent HRD shortly before this, but was not considered to be much of a challenge on his 348 Velocette after finishing down in 13th place in the1948 Junior Manx. I have long been a friend of Jack’s son Gordon Daniels we both left dashing around on Café racers to head for competition, he to road racing and I to grass track sidecar racing. Sitting in his Cwmbwrla/Hafod, garage chatting of long gone exploits, as if by appointment an old man came in and smiled, Jack’s photo still hangs there showing the finish at Eppynt and Gordon Bennett who had been part of Jack’s pit team in IoM that year smiled and said, "we fooled everyone for Eppynt!, one handlebar had snapped off, over two laps from home at the Island event- and Jack still brought it home in 13th place, we knew it would be hard to beat, so covered things up immediately and kept all under our hats"!.
So on to the 350, the start of 25 entrants left only one dismayed on the line. Les Graham streaked away, 200 yards behind Les Archer and Daniels jousted things out for second place. ‘Motor Cycling’ reported a high level of animated and vocal support from Welsh spectators enthusiastically urging Daniels on. By the second lap end Les Graham was lapping a leading sand racing exponent H W Billington. Jack Simister hung on to a fourth place that BSA rider R.H. King was cornering superbly enough to worry him for. Towards a tiring 4th lap Daniels slipped by Archer and seemed to be lapping faster and faster. Tough and wily old Wilmott Evans grabbed 4th place and Graham led by 25 seconds, Daniels set about Graham’s lead and it was down to 15 seconds at the finish, a shock and warning to all. The long ordered Velocette KTT had been brought from Handel Davies’s showrooms on the Saturday prior to departure to Isle of Man races date by Jack and Harold Bragg, partners in their Bragg & Daniels motorcycle business at Swansea. Harold recalled the test runs of that Velocette KTT immediately after purchase, disappointment the first reaction to a machine that did not respond at all like their previous racing machines. An hour or so of puzzlement followed for both over its refusal to be run slowly or without slipping its clutch to get in a power band rev. range. Megaphones were a new discovery to both, without instructions they took an afternoon to find the power to revs range the new machine needed. (Harold, a Sgt. In the wartime RASC soon found the best way was to keep high revs and keep slipping the clutch, the next week it was ‘off to race it’!). The 350 event had Swansea Club’s Paddock marshal Jim Rees announcing worriedly to fellow Clubman Ron Davies after watching Jack Daniels efforts to hang onto Les Graham’s speedy works AJS that Jack had better remember he had a wife & family to consider!. Now 90 plus, Jim and Ron still chuckle at the gravity of their concern.
Ten laps - placings
1, R L Graham (AJS)
2,J D Daniels (Velocette)
3, L R Archer (Velocette)
4, Wilmott Evans (AJS)
5, F. P Heath (Norton)
6, J Simister (Norton)
Winners time, 48 mins. 38 secs. Approx. 64.15 MPH.