Geoff Duke, one of Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s first superstars, has passed away at the age of 92.
The English racer made his Grand Prix debut in 1950 in just the second ever world championship season. After finishing second in the 350cc and 500cc classes that season, Duke would sweep both titles in 1951 and take the 350 title in 1952, all riding for the Norton works team. Duke switched to a Gilera the following season and then won three consecutive 500cc titles.
Duke was a favorite to win the 500cc title again in 1956 but was suspended for six months for his support of a rider’s strike to demand more money from the FIM.
Duke’s Grand Prix success includes wins in six Isle of Man TT races, including the 1949 Clubmans Senior TT, 500cc Senior TT in 1950, 1951 and 1955 while adding 350cc Junior TT wins in 1951 and 1952. Duke is also credited as the first rider to wear one-piece racing leathers.
“The Duke” retired after the 1959 season with six World Championships, 33 Grand Prix wins and 50 podium finishes in 89 races. Duke became a businessman, developing the first roll-on-roll-off ferry service to the Isle of Man.