Little Bits of History

May 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 28, 2017

1907: The first Isle of Man TT race is held. The Tourist Trophy Race is a yearly motorcycle sporting event held on the island situated between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland in the Irish Sea. The island’s topography is hilly with only one peak topping 2,000 feet and there is a central valley. It is 32 miles at the longest point and 14 miles wide at the widest. Motor racing began on the island in 1904 due to legal constraints in England limiting the speeds for cars to 20 mph or less. The Automobile Car Club of Britain and Ireland sought permission from the government of the island to use their public roads for an elimination time trial race using the Highroads Course for the event. It took the winner 7 hours and 26.5 minutes to make five laps of the 52.15 mile course.

In 1905, after the winning time came in at 6 hours and 6 minutes with an extra lap driven, it was thought to give motorcycles a chance to run the course on the following day. There was an accident at Ramsey Hairpin and the bikes had difficulty climbing the steep Mountain Section of the course and so they rode on a 25 mile section of the Gordon Bennett Trial course instead. That day’s event had five laps or 125 miles covered and was won in 4 hours and 9 minutes despite a fire during a pit stop. The average speed was 30.04 mph for the race. It was such a success that the TT Races were officially organized and have run yearly since 1907. The original race was held on St. John’s Short Course and consisted of 10 laps for a distance of 158 miles. Charlie Collier won the race on his 3 ½ hp Matchless motorcycle at an average speed of 38.21 mph in 4:08:08.2.

Since 1911, the Snaefell Mountain Course has been used for the road racing event. It is 37.733 miles long and is closed to public during race events. It is the oldest motorcycle racing circuit still in use and is one of the deadliest as well with 248 people having died during the TT Race and the Grand Prix Race also held on the course. Glen Helen died in 1911 during a practice run of the course and 14 officials, spectators, and other non-racers have died on the course. The difficulty of the course lies in part to the over 200 turns along the less than 38 mile course.

The Isle of Man TT Race has been administered by the Auto-Cycle Union (the Auto-Cycle Club) since its inception. It was one the most prestigious motorcycle races in the world and was seen as a test of both machine and man. The fastest lap at the race was run by Michael Dunlop in 2016 when he made a lap in 16 minutes and 53.929 seconds. He also holds the race record of 1 hour 43 minutes, and 56.129 seconds for an average speed of 130.685 mph, also in 2016. The unofficial top speed reached during a race belongs to Bruce Anstey who hit 206 mph in 2006. The lap record for the Sidecar TT is 19 minutes and 22.928 seconds with an average speed of 116.798 mph with Ben Birchall driving and Tom Birchall as the passenger in the sidecar. This was set in 2016. The most wins is held by Joey Dunlop with 26. He is the uncle of Michael.

You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle! – Dan Aykroyd

A motorcycle is an independent thing. – Ryan Hurst

If I’m out trailriding, I have a favorite motorcycle. Riding on the road, I’ve got a favorite. If I’m jumping, I have a favorite, and if I’m racing, I have a favorite. – Evel Knievel

It wasn’t until I went to college and I got my first motorcycle that I understood the thrill of speed. – Vin Diesel



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