Alec Bennett was born on April 21, 1897, in what is now Northern Ireland. The Bennett family emigrated to Canada in 1905, living first in Alberta, then in Vancouver, B.C. Little is known of his early motorcycle racing but by the time he was 16 he was already a competitive force on the dirt tracks of B.C. In 1920, he left Canada for England to pursue his dream to be a motorcycle factory test rider and a motorcycle racer. Alec Bennett’s post-First World War racing career consisted of only 29 races but he won 13 of them – a remarkable winning percentage. Of those 13 victories, 11 were in classic races. In competition at the Isle of Man races, Bennett won the Senior Tourist Trophy three times and the Junior Tourist Trophy twice. He won the Grand Prix of France four times and the Grand Prix of Belgium twice. All of his European wins were in the premier 500cc class. The races were not for the faint of heart. When he went to the Spanish Grand Prix for the first time in 1923, the 12-hour race was on a 60-mile course that included two mountain peaks and an open stretch of near-desert. After his front fork broke, Bennett rode until his hands swelled to the size of boxing gloves. Only then did he drop out. When he retired, he did so as the most successful racer of his generation. He died in in 1973 at the age of 76. To this day, no Canadian rider has come close to matching his record. He was the most successful motorcycle racer Canada ever produced.
Image via Vintage Norton