Charles Dodson

Charles Dodson

6/12/1901 - 12/9/1983

Charles "Charlie" Joseph Pownall Dodson was born in Didsbury near Manchester. Son of a barrister he was a successful motorcycle racer between 1925-1934. Most of his results came on a Sunbeam but he also rode an Excelsior and New Imperial.

At the 1926 Ulster Grand PrixTeam, Charlie finished third in the 350 cc race on his Sunbeam. One of his best races was the 1928 Senior TT on the Isle of Man was run in truly terrible weather. Jimmy Simpson led the first two laps but retired on lap 3 with engine trouble, putting Dodson into the lead. Graham Walker passed him on lap 6 and pulled out a margin of 3 minutes. But with just 13 miles to go, Walker was sidelined with mechanical trouble. Dodson was handed an unassailable lead. He went on to win his first T.T. by over 8 minutes from George Rowley on his A.J.S. Dodson's time of 4 hours 11 minutes 40 seconds, an average speed of 62.98 mph was the slowest since 1924, an indication of the weather conditions.

At the 1929 Junior T.T. on the Isle of Man, Charlie finished 4th and then went on to win his 2nd Senior TT with an average speed of 73.5 mph on his Sunbeam model 90.

He switched to racing cars and had sucess with MG before becoming one of the works Austin drivers.

The 1934 season opened with the Junior Car Club’s International Trophy at Brooklands. Dodson was driving one of the 1,087 cc MG Magnettes won his class as well as the prize for the best performance by an all-British car. Then at Mannin Beg, Norman Black won driving an independent Magnette, with Charlie second and George Eyston third, a clean sweep for Magnettes.

The R.A.C. Tourist Trophy was held on the 13 2/3 mile Ards Circuit just outside Belfast at the beginning of September. Charlie was on the leader-board from the start and with four laps left to go, he was 2 minutes 23 seconds ahead of Hall, but Hall was closing at the rate of 40 to 50 seconds a lap. However it started to rain and with his heavier car his challenge faded. Charlie pressed on to win by 17 seconds. However a serious accident happened when Jack Chambers in a Riley lost control and crashed into the crowd killing 8 spectators and injuring 40 others, 18 of them seriously. The TT was moved to Donington Park for 1937.

He drove a monoposto Magic Midget in the British Racing Drivers Club’s 500 mile race and at the Nuffield Trophy at Donington Park, he raced a Magnette but retired with the big end gone whilst lying fourth.

In 1935 Charlie Dodson transferred to the Austin team, and at the first event of the year in May, the J.C.C. International Trophy at Brooklands, had

supercharger trouble just before half distance and retired.

Four low-chassis Austin 'Grasshopper' cars were built in 1936 and tested at Brooklands prior to the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Unfortunately due to industrial unrest in France (an unusual occurance!)  the 24-hour race was cancelled, so the cars were tucked away to await the 1937 race. In 1937 only three cars were entered. All three retired early on with similar problems, the breakage of the copper oil pipe delivering oil to the centre main bearing. The Dodson/Hadley car retired while running in23rd place after 998.408 kms.

The cars were then rebuilt with modified bodywork and had superchargers fitted. They were then entered for the 1937 TT at Donnington Park, Dodson and Hadley came 2nd in class, only one minute behind the class winner.

After WW2 in 1949 he raced a Jaguar sports car at Silverstone.

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