Home racer George Costain’s main claim to fame was winning the 1954 Senior Manx Grand Prix, making it the first ‘Manx’ double in the September races – his fellow islander Castletown’s Derek Ennett having taken the Junior honours two days previously.
George, a true gentleman of the track, died on Tuesday, January 9, aged 89, and left a true legacy in the sport. That Manx double by George and Derek is often thought to have been instrumental in the Southern 100 becoming a reality.
In 1955 the first Southern 100 was run on July 14, with both Derek and George entered and Derek winning the very first race on the Billown Course, the 250cc race. However, George’s debut resulted in an unwanted DNF in the 500cc race which was run over 24 laps, a 100 mile race.
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George returned annually to his home circuit for the next four years, taking three third places and a second place in the 250cc race in 1957.
He started his TT career in 1955 riding for Reg Dearden on whose Norton he had won the Senior Manx. He rode in 10 TTs with a best 13th place in the 1956 Senior and gained nine silver replicas in the nine races he finished.
Once George had decided to hang-up his racing leathers, away from his butchery business in Castletown he joined the race organisation of the Southern 100 Races in 1961 and continued in various roles until he retired after the 2007 Southern 100.
George took on the role as travelling marshal in 1961 and continued until 1970. The following year he took up steward duties and filled that position up to and including 1979.
From 1980 to 1984 he was race committee chairman, a position he had previously held between 1971 and 1974, while 1985 to 1997 saw George back on the roads as official car driver. He then took a short sabbatical before becoming a line judge from 2002 to 2007.
George may have stepped down from his official duties after the 2007 Southern 100, but he was still to be seen at every race meeting on the Billown course, reminiscing with the modern day competitors, the old-timers, officials and enthusiasts alike.
The final media launch he attended was in 2015 when the Southern 100 International Road Races celebrated its diamond jubilee, where both he and fellow ex-racer and
long-time official Allan ‘Kipper’ Killip were presented with special framed photographs.
Ill health prevented ‘Sparra’ from attending the friendly races for the last two years,
although he kept up to date with the races through Manx Radio and communications from the club.
Condolences from all at Classic Racer to all of George’s family and friends.