Celebrating 100 years of the TT Races!Every year, the Isle of Man welcomes thousands of leather-clad, thrill-seeking visitors looking for an adrenaline rush at the most iconic motorcycle event in the world: The Isle of Man TT.
2019 celebrated the 100th year of the TT races. They were first held in 1907, however, 12 years have been missed due to the two world wars and the UK foot and mouth epidemic, meaning 2019 marks the centenary running.
There is nothing on Earth quite like the Isle of Man TT Races. No other motorcycle race is held on such a challenging track, and the skill, bravery and concentration levels shown by the world’s best riders are immense; navigating over 200 corners at speeds approaching 200 mph.
The races take place on 37.73 miles of public roads, and runs all over the Island, allowing riders and spectators to experience the variety of our landscape from coastal paths and mountain scenery to the bustling capital of Douglas. Locals and visitors are also treated to two weeks’ worth of entertainment alongside the races, including an RAF Red Arrows display to fireworks, a funfair and plenty of refreshments from Manx-made artisans.
2019 saw the return to the Mountain Course of the 2018 record breakers: Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman. In perfect conditions they pushed the lap record to over 134mph and finally to 135.452mph - making the Isle of Man TT the fastest road race on the planet.
To celebrate the 100th year of the TT Races, Locate IOM have compiled the top TT facts from the past century:
1. TT stands for ‘Tourist Trophy’. The first road race of the Tourist Trophy was held in 1907 after Sir Julian Orde, then Secretary of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, ventured to the Isle of Man to find a place where vehicles could race on public roads unencumbered by speed limitations.
2. The course contains over 200 corners and 73 of the course’s sharp turns and winding paths have names - including the particularly sharp bend ‘Ballagarey Corner’ which riders have since dubbed ‘balla-scary’.
3. The current TT lap record was set in 2018 by Peter Hickman with an average speed of 135.452mph.
4. The late Joey Dunlop won the TT a record 26 times, a record made in the 2000 TT and it still holds true today.
5. The middle Sunday is known as ‘Mad Sunday’. Traditionally, fans watch in fancy dress and the public are allowed to take to the course on their bikes, with no speed limits on the mountain section.
6. 1954 was the first year for a female competitor in the IOMTT races. Inge Stoll took part as a passenger in the sidecar race, making way for many future female competitors, who now regularly compete alongside the men.
7. In 1962, Beryl Swain became the first woman to compete in a solo race. She raced in the Ultra Lightweight, finishing in a reputable 22nd place. Beryl was jazzed to race again but the International Federation of Motorcycling revoked her international racing license. Their excuse: the death of a female rider around the deadly Isle of Man TT circuit would make for bad press. It wouldn’t be until 1978 that another female racer would compete on the Mountain Course.
8. Jenny Tinmouth is the fastest woman to race the TT clocking in with a lap speed of 119.945mph.
9. Top Gear’s James May rode an entire lap of the course on a motorbike built with Meccano.
10. Isle of Man-born Olympic gold medallist, Mark Cavendish, cycled a section of the TT course in 2013 and hit an incredible 62mph going down the mountain.
11. The one-lap TT Zero race was introduced in 2010 for motorcycles powered without the use of carbon-based fuels and zero toxic/noxious emissions.
12. Sidecar races were introduced into the TT in 1923 and were an immediate fan favourite!
13. Geoffrey Duke was the rider to make famous 1-piece leathers that are now ubiquitous with road racing.
14. The first 100mph lap was achieved by Scotsman, Bob McIntyre, in 1957- he went on to win the race that year.
15. The first Motorcycle race on the Isle of Man commenced on May 28th, 1907 under the name, ‘International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy’.
16. The TT has long been a favourite amongst the royal family. HRH King George, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince William have all taken in the races .
17. Ian Hutchinson made TT history in 2010, become the first and only rider to ever make a clean sweep of the solo events- Hutchinson’s 5 victories bested McCallen’s previously held record of 4 wins in a single week.
18. Every year upwards of 45,000 fans travel to the Island to take in the races.
19. The Isle of Man’s Mountain course roads become one way for the races and the duration of the festival.
20. The Mountain Course rises from sea-level to 1,300 feet.
21. Joey Dunlop nearly missed the 1985 TT because his boat from Northern Ireland sank! Not to worry though, all passengers were safe and the boats were salvaged from the sea, stripped, and still ready to race in that year’s TT.
22. Michael Dunlop was the first person to lap the course in less than 17 minutes.
23. In 1907, the course length was only 15 miles long.
24. Dave Madsen-Mygdal has finished the Isle of Man TT more times than any other competitor, a staggering 122 finishes.
25. Stanley Wood’s TT debut in 1922 was a series of unfortunate events as he stopped at the starting line to pick up Spark Plugs that fell from his jacket. He finished the race in 5th place after clipping curbs, stopping to put out a fire in the grandstand, falling off his bike and pulling over to fix an exhaust belt. His breaks were rendered useless at the end of the race- but roared back onto the course in a time of 3:55:33.
26. The Simon Andrews Legacy Lap takes place during ‘Mad Sunday’ to honour and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to road racing. 2018’s lap saw approximately 10,000 bikes and 11 miles of convoy.
27. Many say the ‘Greatest Race of All Time’ was the 1967 Senior TT wherein Mike Hailwood bested Giacomo Agostini in a race that was neck and neck the entire way before disaster struck as the Italian’s chain broke at Windy Corner and was consequently disqualified for missing Governor’s Dip before pulling into the pit.
28. Currently, Honda holds the record for most Senior TT wins by a manufacturer (24).
29. The 2010 Races were documented in the 2011 film “TT3D: Closer to the Edge” featuring fan favourite, Guy Martin.
30. As tradition, Isle of Man Scouts still maintain the scoreboard at the Grandstand.