Ken Kavanagh

Isle of Man TT winner


In 1951 Ken Kavanagh sailed to England as part of Australia’s Isle of Man motorcycle road race team and the start of a pioneering journey into the history books.

Combining his talent with an indomitable spirit, Kavanagh set the benchmark for future generations of Australian riders chasing grand prix glory in Europe.

As a factory-backed Norton rider, Kavanagh was the first Australian to win a world championship 500cc Grand Prix with a famous victory the 1953 Ulster GP.

Kavanagh finished fourth in that year’s 500cc championship.

Three years later as a star member of Moto Guzzi’s factory squad, Kavanagh won the 350cc Junior TT hitting the headlines as the first Australian to win at the Isle of Man.

Kavanagh’s fame in the 1950’s extended to him having a permanent reservation for a hotel suite in Bergamo, with the northern Italian city near Moto Guzzi’s headquarters later becoming his permanent home.

And Kavanagh remains one of the few riders to have raced one of the most terrifying grand prix bikes ever built – Moto Guzzi’s innovative, V8-engined 500cc streamliner.

In 1958 Kavanagh briefly dabbled in Formula One with a Maserati 250F in South American and European F1 events.