Oliver's Mount is the British mainland’s only natural "roads" circuit and has over the years been the proving ground for many future world champions and TT stars, just take a look at some of the legendary names who have appeared at the Scarborough circuit :
Cecil Sandford, Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Bob McIntyre, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Giacomo Agostini, Klaus Enders, Jarno Saarinen, Kent Andersson, Takazumi Katayama, Mick Grant, Barry Sheene, Bob Smith, George O'Dell, Jock Taylor, Wayne Gardner, Joey Dunlop, Steve Hislop, Robert Dunlop, Carl Fogarty, James Whitham, Ian Lougher, David Jefferies, Dave Molyneux, Nick Crowe, John McGuinness, Tim Reeves, Bruce Anstey, Guy Martin, Ryan Farquhar and Ian Hutchinson to name but a few.
Oliver's Mount has survived when other road circuits have vanished from the racing calendar. Despite fixture clashes and loss of championship status, the riders have continued to support the venue. Six times World Champion Geoff Duke went out of his way to encourage top Continental riders to visit the track and frequently remarked that no other circuit presented him with "greater difficulty, or more fun and thrills, than Oliver's Mount."
Geoff Duke made no secret of the fact that Oliver’s Mount was his favourite circuit and went on to win numerous Internationals first on Nortons and then with Gileras. In September 1951, Duke, then the reigning world 500cc and 350cc champion could not compete in the first official International motorcycle road-race meeting held on the Oliver’s Mount circuit as he was honeymooning in Switzerland. So he sportingly offered the trophies he had won outright at Scarborough in 1949 for competition among the foreign riders.
In the recessive mid-1980's when the crowds stayed at home with attendances generally down by 40 percent, circuit owners were forced to axe meetings and implement cutbacks. During the 1984 season the Donington circuit attracted only 3000 to a two day combined European and British Championship meeting which ruined their season and fried their books. However during the same season the Scarborough September International meeting still attracted a 20,000 crowd.
One of Scarborough's biggest annual tourist attractions, Oliver’s Mount has drawn a huge following throughout its celebrated history. Up until the mid-1950s the biggest crowd ever seen at Scarborough was when nearly 40,000, poured through the gate to watch John Surtees and Geoff Duke go head-to-head in the September 1953 International meeting. These 39,980 enthusiasts arrived in 3,356 cars, astride 6,511 motor-cycles and in 25 coachloads bringing the Scarborough town traffic to a standstill in many places. Duke then regarded as the “greatest rider in the business” screamed his giant red-tank Italian Gilera four motorcycle into first place in the 500cc final to win the News Chronicle Gold Trophy and narrowly miss setting up a new course record. They also saw newly crowned 350cc world champion Fergus Anderson riding Italian works Moto-Guzzi machines, break the 250cc course lap record, win the lightweight event and take the 350cc laurels.
So great was their enthusiasm, the crowds broke onto the course during racing and on Saturday night they almost mobbed the most famous names in motor-cycle racing, as they swamped the prize-giving ceremony. Scarborough and District Motor Club president Dennis Tesseyman paid a special tribute to the club’s secretary, Mr Jack Claxton who had now realised his dream - an International race meeting of record calibre.
One rider who reckoned Scarborough to be one of the best events of the year is Mick Grant. ‘It’s a real riders circuit that has to be treated with respect’, remarked Grant who freely admits to being a supporter of the pure road-type circuit. Legendary duels between the ‘local hero’ Grant and ‘Londoner’ Barry Sheene, regularly attracted 35,000 through the gate in the 1970's. The twisty, narrow Oliver’s Mount is a great bike leveller and Sheene’s incredibly quick 680cc Suzuki had no great advantage over Grant’s better handling 750 three-cylinder Kawasaki on the short straights and hairpins that tested each rider’s nerve in the braking stakes. Their battles for points in Britain’s most important road race series caused fierce loyalties amongst the crowd to the point of Sheene complaining of fist waving and insult hurling by Grant’s fans.
However it didn’t stop Barry Sheene naming Oliver's Mount as his favourite circuit, out of the many he raced on in one of the most illustrious racing careers on two wheels, lasting more than a decade and a half : "Yes, I think so, mainly because of the atmosphere and the fact that the actual racing was so much fun with the track being so tight." After an epic 1970’s duel in which he narrowly beat Mick Grant, he announced "I never thought a bloody cockney would be applauded by 20 odd thousand Yorkshire people after beating their favourite racer. You buggers must really love your racing !"
At the 50th Anniversary celebrations in September 1996 a record crowd of over 63,000 people squeezed through the gates to see their heroes from yesteryear, who could between them boast 32 World Championships. The star line-up included 15 times World Champion Giacomo Agostini reunited with his former factory MV Agusta, Jim Redman on the fabulous Honda-6, Barry Sheene on a Suzuki RG500 and World Superbike Champion Carl Fogarty on his Honda RC45.
If you've never watched the close-up, action-packed racing through the beautiful wooded parkland at Oliver's Mount, give it a try. There’s no greater thrill for a race fan than to see race bikes brushing the banking only yards away from where you stand - you can leave the binoculars at home !.
Situated just five minutes from Scarborough’s town centre, the races have been likened to a 'miniature TT by the seaside'. Amusement arcades, lively nightlife, ice cream, fish and chips, scenic countryside ride outs on great roads, good beer and friendly locals are all key features of a stay in Scarborough.