Motorcycle Features

Isle of Man Races

 

The Isle of Man TT or Tourist Trophy is an annual motorcycle racing event run on the Isle of Man in May and June of most years since the inaugural race in 1907. The former Classic TT, now called the Manx Grand Prix, is the amateur ‘feeder’ race, held in August.

 

Sean Corlet photo

 

Michael Dunlop took his second win of the day at the Isle of Man TT Races on Saturday, 8th June, 2024, when he won the Entire Cover Insurance Supertwin TT Race 2, on an MD Racing Paton motorcycle, giving him his 29th TT win.

This record-breaking 29th Tourist Trophy victory was fittingly scored by a family name that is more associated with the event than any other. In 2024 the Dunlop moniker boasted 60 wins: Michael 29, Joey 26 and Robert five, over the course of almost 50 years.

 

Michael Dunlop – Harvey Milligan photo

 

 

IoM TT

The Isle of Man TT event begins on the UK Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May and runs for thirteen days. It is easily the most dangerous motor racing event in the world, as hundreds of competitors and some spectators and officials have died.

 

 

The IoM TT is run in a time-trial format, racing against the clock, on closed public roads. It consists of one week of practice and qualifying sessions, followed by one week of racing. Separating practice and racing was the traditional ‘Mad Sunday’, on which the public was allowed to trace the same course in cars or on bikes. In 2022, race organisers put an end to that lunacy and Mad Sunday was cancelled henceforth.

 

1907 Norton Peugeot-powered winner of twin-cylinder TT race

 

The first Isle of Man TT race was held on Tuesday, 28th May, 1907 and was named the International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy. The event was organised by the Auto-Cycle Club and covered 10 laps of the St John’s Short Course of almost 16 miles. Eligible bikes were road-legal ‘’touring motorcycles with exhaust silencers, saddles, pedals and mudguards’.

From 1911, the Isle of Man TT transferred to the much longer Snaefell Mountain Course of 37.40 miles (60.19 km) that now measures 37.73 miles (60.72 km). Its elevation goes from near sea-level to 400 metres.

 

1911 Indian – Oliver Godfey winner

 

The race program expanded in 1911 from a single race with two classes to two individual races for 350cc Junior TT motor-cycles and the 500cc Senior TT race. The race did not take place from 1915 to 1919,  during the First World War, but it resumed in 1920. A 250cc Lightweight TT race was added in 1922, followed by a Sidecar TT race in 1923.

 

 

There was no racing on the Isle of Man between 1940 and 1945, due to the Second World War, but racing recommenced with the Manx Grand Prix in 1946. The Isle of Man TT ran again in 1947, with an expanded format that included Clubman’s TT races. 

 

 

In the period 1949-1976 the Isle of Man TT became part of the FIM Motor-cycle Grand Prix World Championship (now MotoGP), as the British round of the World Motor-Cycling Championship. 

 

 

Quoting safety issues, there was a boycott of the Isle of Man TT races from the early 1970s by many of the leading competitors, motorcycle manufacturers and national motorcycle sporting federations. The two IoM race events have seen more than 250 associated deaths.

 

‘Mike The Bike’

 

The Isle of Man TT’s world championship status was transferred to the United Kingdom by the FIM and run as the British Grand Prix for the 1977 season. 

 

Giacomo Agostini

 

The Isle of Man TT Races then became an integral part of the TT Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 World Championships between 1977 and 1990.

After 1989, the IoM event was redeveloped by the Isle of Man Department of Tourism as the Isle of Man TT Festival  and incorporated new racing events, including Pre-TT Classic Races and Post-TT Races.

 

1962 Gilera 500 – Geoff Duke

 

It has been alleged that winning an IoM race was made easier by the FIM boycott in 1976, because the world’s leading riders no longer had to compete at the IoM TT to gain world championship points. However, our feeling at Historic Vehicles is that the road races typified by Irish and IoM events have spawned a breed of specialised motorcycle racers who can stand comparison with any circuit racers.

 

 

Some different IoM classes

 

In 2013, the Isle of Man Classic TT was developed for historic racing motorcycles, and, along with the Manx Grand Prix, formed part of the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling, held every August. Classic TT classes for historic racing motorcycles were integrated into the Manx Grand Prix. 

 

 

The 1911 Isle of Man Junior TT race was open to 300cc single-cylinder and 340cc twin-cylinder motorcycles, contested over five laps of the Snaefell Mountain Course. In 1912, the upper limit was 350cc and this engine capacity prevailed until 1976, after which the category was changed to 250cc machines until 1994, when it was replaced by the 600cc Supersport class.

The 2015 specifications for entries for the Superstock TT are production-based four-stroke motorcycles on treaded road tyres:  750-1000cc, three- and four-cylinders;  and 850 -1200cc, two-cylinder.

The 1923 TT was the first time the Sidecar TT race was run, over three laps of the Mountain Course, but the event was dropped in 1926, due to lack of entries.

The Sidecar race was re-introduced from the 1954 event for Sidecars not exceeding 500cc engine capacity, run on the Clypse Course. A non-championship 750cc class for sidecars was introduced at the 1968 event. From 1975, the previous classes were replaced by a 1000cc engine capacity class.

 

 

The new FIM Formula 2 class for Sidecars was introduced in 1990 and the 2015 specifications require 501-600cc, four-cylinder, production-based motorcycle engines.

For the 1911 Isle of Man TT, two separate races were introduced. The first event was a four lap Junior TT race and a separate Senior TT race for 500cc single-cylinder and 585cc twin-cylinder motorcycles, over five laps of the new 37.5-mile (60.4 km) Snaefell Mountain Course.

 

 

A Production TT for roadster-based motorcycles with engine capacities of 250cc, 500cc and 750cc was run from 1967 until 1976. The Production TT was reintroduced for the 1984 races in three classes, then reduced to two classes on safety grounds for the 1990 races. For the 2005 races the Superstock class replaced the previous 1000cc and 600cc Production TT classes that had been part of the race schedule since 1989.

 

 

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