Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 30th May 2017

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is one of the most exhilarating motorbike races on the planet, and this year will be no exception. From the 27th May 2017, competitors take on the challenge of a 37-mile plus mountain course designed to push them to their limits. To celebrate the importance of the TT, we’re looking back on the history of the event and what makes it so special.


Early Days


The first TT started in 1907, but the foundations of it were made by Julian Orde, the Secretary of the Automobile Car Club of Great Britain and Ireland. Due to the 1903 Motor Car Act placing a restriction of 20mph on cars in the UK, Orde went to the Isle of Mann in 1904 to see about getting a race organised. The race became the Gordon Bennet Car Trial.


In 1905, a trial race for motorbikes was introduced, but the inability of the bikes to compete on the steep climbs of the mountain section led to it being redirected. The new route went from Douglas south to Castletown and then north to Ballacraine, returning to the start at Douglas via Colby and Glen Vine. This race was proposed by the Editor of ‘The Motor-Cycle’ Magazine at the Auto-Cycle Club annual dinner, held in London in 1907.


During the early days, the Mountain Circuit amounted to a cart and horse track with gates in between fields. It was the duty of the first rider to open


World Championship Status


In 1949, the TT became a venue for the Motorcycle World Championships, which elevated its status. The TT attracted the world’s top riders during the 1950s, including Carlo Ubbiali, Geoff Duke, Bob McIntyre and Ken Kavanagh.


The late fifties and early sixties are known as the golden era of the TT, as riders like Mike Hailwood, Phil Read and Giacomo Agostini were all competing against each other. Hailwood won his first TT in 1961 and went on to win another 13 more throughout his career. His race against Agostini in 1967 is considered to be the greatest race in the history of the TT.


During the 1980s, Joey Dunlop rose to fame. He recorded the first 115mph plus lap in 1980 and won the first of six consecutive Formula One TT’s in 1983.


Our ambassador, Ron Haslam, has enjoyed a lot of success as well. He debuted in the 1978 TT races and came fourth in the Formula Two race. In 1981, Ron was involved in a controversial decision alongside Graeme Crosby, as the organisers decided to give the win to Crosby. However, Ron came back the next year and claimed an undisputed victory.


Modern era


The 1990s and 2000s saw the arrival of racers like John McGuinness and Carl Fogarty. At the 100 year anniversary of the TT, McGuinness set a new lap record of 130.354 by winning the Superbike and Senior races.


Over the years, many talented racers have entered the TT. We’re looking forward to the excitement of this year’s event and it’s sure to be as memorable as every other race that’s taken place on the Isle of Man.


For more information on the event you can check out