The History of the Isle of Man TT

The History of the Isle of Man TT

For such a small island it is amazing that the Isle of Man has gone down in motorcycle racing as the place to test your nerve and skill on two wheels. The IOM TT is legendary not just in motorcycle racing fraternities but also is famous to the public across the world. It was one of the very first TT’s to emerge in the new motor sport and became known for its incredibly dangerous circuit that unfortunately has taken the lives of many brave racers. Normally a quiet and peaceful island the Isle of Man comes to life during the TT and many top riders around the world want to pit their skills on what is possibly the hardest circuit in TT.

1907 Beginnings

1907 Beginnings
1907 Beginnings

It all started back in 1907 when motorcycle racing was in its very infancy. The gentlemen who could afford a racing machine decided to have a competition on the quiet roads of the Isle of Man and the rest they say is history. The TT was originally called the Tourist Trophy and just about anybody that owned a two wheel machine could compete. But the circuit is full of tight bends and hairpin corners that many of the early amateur riders just could not cope with its difficulties and consequently there were many crashes and even fatalities. Racing was not allowed on the mainland but the island’s authorities were more lenient and the local government saw the TT as a source of great revenue. The Isle of Man was perfect, it had already given permission in 1904 for a Highlands Course that was used for the Gordon Bennett Car Trials so it was a natural progression for motorbikes to be included in these trials, but the early machines could not handle the steep inclines so the course moved away from the hilly highlands.  

The New Route

The New Route
The New Route

 A new circuit was designed for motorcycle racing which ran from Douglas to Castletown and then up to Ballacraine on the main A3 road, then it looped back to Douglas taking in Colby and Glen Vine. It is more or less the same circuit that is used in today’s IOM TT apart from the riders going in the alternative direction. The very first TT was won by J Campbell in four hours and nine minutes.

The Current TT

It was the editor in chief of the popular Motor-Cycle magazine that proposed the current race formula at a dinner of the Auto-Cycle club. The race was fiercely competed until the outbreak of WWII, and the first post war winner was Harold Daniel who set speeds of eighty two mph. And it was in 1949 that the IOM TT circuit became a part of the Motorcycle World Championships. Top riders from all around the world now descended on the Isle of Man to compete and the big Japanese manufacturers started to dominate. The IOM TT has never looked back and is still considered to be one of the most thrilling courses to ride on today.