Isle of Man
Isle of Man, England
Om Isle of Man:
The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is a motorcycle racing event held on the Isle of Man that was for many years the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world and remains statistically the most dangerous race in the world. The event was part of the FIM Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship during the period 19491976 before being transferred to the United Kingdom after safety concerns and run by the FIM as the British Grand Prix for the 1977 season. The Isle of Man TT Races became part of the TT Formula 1 Championship from 1977 to 1990 to preserve the event's racing status. From 1989 the racing has been developed by the Isle of Man Department of Tourism as the Isle of Man TT Festival.
The race is run in a time-trial format on public roads closed for racing by the provisions of an Act of Tynwald (the parliament of the Isle of Man). The first race was held on Tuesday 28 May 1907 and was called the International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy. The event was organised by the Auto-Cycle Club over 10 laps of the St John's Short Course of 15 miles 1,470 yards for road-legal touring motorcycles with exhaust silencers, saddles, pedals and mud-guards.
The winner of the single-cylinder class, and overall winner of the first event in 1907, was Charlie Collier riding a Matchless motorcycle in a time of 4 hours, 8 minutes and 8 seconds at an average race speed of 38.21 mph. The winner of the twin-cylinder class was Rem Fowler riding a Peugeot engined Norton in a time of 4 hours 21 minutes and 52 seconds at an average race speed of 36.21 mph. The trophy presented to Charlie Collier as the winner of the 1907 Isle of Man TT Race, was donated by the Marquis de Mouzilly St. Mars. It featured a stylised version of Olympic God Hermes by Giovanni Da Bologna as a silver figurine astride a winged wheel. The trophy was similar in design to the 18 carat gold Montague Trophy presented to John Napier (Arrol-Johnston) as the inaugural winner of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy car race in 1905 now known as the RAC Tourist Trophy. The Marquis de Mouzilly St. Mars Trophy is now presented annually to the winner of the Isle of Man Senior TT Motor-Cycle Race.
The 2007 Isle of Man TT was the Centenary event which ran between 26 May and 8 June 2007 and featured a special Re-enactment of the 1907 Isle of Man TT Race held on the village green next to Tynwald Hill in St John's on Monday 28 May 2007. The vintage parade of 100 classic motorcycles for the Centenary Re-enactment on the original St John's Short Course was flagged away by former World Motor-Cycle Champion Geoff Duke. The first of the participants to be flagged away was the recently restored twin-cylinder Peugeot-Norton ridden by Rem Fowler during the first Isle of Man TT Race in 1907. Also participating in the 2007 Re-enactment was TT race competitor Guy Martin riding a 1938 Triumph Tiger 100 500 cc and other former TT competitors including Alan Cathcart, Sammy Miller, Nick Jefferies and Mick Grant also completed the Re-enactment lap.
Early TT race history (19041910)
Gordon Bennett and Tourist Trophy car races
Motor racing began on the Isle of Man in 1904 with the Gordon Bennett Eliminating Trial and were originally restricted to touring automobiles. As the Motor Car Act 1903 placed a speed restriction of 20 mph on automobiles in the UK, Julian Orde, Secretary of the Automobile Car Club of Britain and Ireland approached the authorities in the Isle of Man for the permission to race automobiles on public roads. The Highways (Light Locomotive) Act 1904 gave permission in the Isle of Man for the 52.15 mile Highlands Course for the 1904 Gordon Bennett Eliminating Trial which was won by Clifford Earl (Napier) in 7 hours 26.5 minutes for 5 laps (255.5 miles) of the Highlands Course. The 1905 Gordon Bennett Trial was held on 30 May 1905 and was again won by Clifford Earl driving a Napier automobile in 6 hours and 6 minutes for 6 laps of the Highland Course. This was followed in September 1905 with the first Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race for racing automobiles, now known as the RAC Tourist Trophy and was won by John Napier (Arrol-Johnston) in 6 hours and 9 minutes at an average speed of 33.90 mph.
International Motor-Cycle Cup Race (1905)
For the 1905 Gordon Bennett Eliminating Trial it was decided to run an eliminating trial for motorcycles the day after for a team to represent Great Britain in the International Motor-Cycle Cup Races. An accident at Ramsey Hairpin forced-out one of the pre-race favourites and the inability of the motorcycle competitors to climb the steep Mountain Section of the course forced the organisers to use a 25-mile section of the Gordon Bennett Trial course. This ran from Douglas south to Castletown and then north to Ballacraine along the primary A3 road and returned to the start at the Quarterbridge in Douglas via Crosby and Glen Vine along the current Snaefell Mountain Course in the reverse direction. The 1905 International Motor-Cycle Cup Race for 5 laps (125 miles) was won by J.S. Campbell (Ariel) despite a fire during a pit-stop in 4 hours, 9 minutes and 36 seconds at an average race speed of 30.04 mph.
Isle of Man TT Race (1907)
The Norton Twin motorcycle which won the first Isle of Man TT races in 1907.
BAT single-cylinder motorcycle
During the 1906 International Cup for Motor-Cycles held in Austria, the event was plagued by accusations of cheating and sharp practices. A conversation on the train journey home between the Secretary of the Auto-Cycle Club, Freddie Straight and the brothers from the Matchless motorcycle company, Charlie Collier and Harry Collier and the Marquis de Mouzilly St Mars led to a suggestion for a race the following year for road touring motorcycles based on the automobile races to be held in the Isle of Man on closed public roads. The new race was proposed by the Editor of "The Motor-Cycle" Magazine at the annual dinner of the Auto-Cycle Club held in London on 17 January 1907. It was proposed that the races would run in two classes with single-cylinder machines to average 90 mpg-imp (0.031 l/km) and twin-cylinder machines to average 75 mpg-imp (0.038 l/km) fuel consumption. To emphasise the road touring nature of the motorcycles, there were regulations for the inclusion of saddles, pedals, mudguards and exhaust silencers and the first event, the 1907 Isle of Man TT race, was won by Charlie Collier at an average race speed of 38.21 mph and the winner of the twin-cylinder class was Rem Fowler riding a Norton motorcycle at an average race speed of 36.21 mph.
For the 1908 race, the fuel consumption was raised to 100 mpg-imp (0.028 l/km) for single-cylinder machines and 80 mpg-imp (0.035 l/km) for twin-cylinder machines and the use of pedals was banned. The race was won by Jack Marshall on a Triumph motorcycle at an average speed of 40.49 mph. For the 1909 Isle of Man TT races, the fuel consumption regulations was abandoned along with the use of exhaust silencers. The single-cylinder machines were limited to a capacity of 500 cc and the twin-cylinder machines to a 750 cc engine capacity. Due to the concern over increasing lap-speed, for the 1910 Isle of Man TT the capacity of the twin-cylinder machines were reduced to 670 cc. However, Harry Bowen riding a BAT twin-cylinder motorcycle increased the lap record to an average speed of 53.15 mph (85.54 km/h), later crashing-out of the 1910 event on the wooden banking at Ballacraine corner.
Snaefell Mountain Course
Nick Jefferies on his Honda RC30
The first TT race over the Snaefell Mountain Course or Mountain Course was the 1911 Isle of Man TT Races. This was followed in 1923 with the introduction of the Manx Amateur Motorcycle Road Races a race originally reserved for amateurs and raced on the same Mountain Course. In 1930 it changed its name to the Manx Grand Prix.
For the 1911 event two separate races were introduced. A four lap Junior TT Race for 300 cc single-cylinder and 340 cc twin-cylinder motorcycles and was the first event on the new course and was contested by 35 entrants. It was won by Percy J. Evans riding a Humber motorcycle in 3 hours, 37 minutes and 7 seconds at an average speed of 41.45 mph. The Senior TT Race was open for 500 cc single-cylinder and 585 cc twin-cylinder motorcycles and was contested over 5 laps of the new 37.5 mile Snaefell Mountain Course. The new technical challenges of the Mountain Course forced changes on entrants and motorcycle manufacturers alike. The American Indian Motor-Cycle factory fitted a two-speed gearbox and chain-drive. This proved to be the winning combination when Oliver Godfrey won the 1911 Isle of Man Senior TT race riding an Indian in 3 hours, 56 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 47.63 mph. In contrast the Matchless motorcycles were fitted with a six-speed belt drive and Charlie Collier riding a Matchless motorcycle finished second in the 1911 Senior TT race but was later disqualified for illegal refuelling. During practice for the 1911 race Victor Surridge died after crashing his Rudge motorcycle at Glen Helen.
For the 1912 event the single and twin-cylinder classes were combined with a 350 cc capacity limit for the Junior TT and a 500 cc capacity for motorcycles for the Senior TT race. In 1913 Major Tommy Loughborough replaced Freddie Straight as secretary of the Auto-Cycle Club and promptly decided to make the races more difficult. The Junior and Senior races were to be run in sections. The Junior TT race was divided into two races of two and four laps and the Senior TT race consisted of a three lap race followed by a four lap race combined with the Junior TT event. In 1914 the Junior TT was reduced to 5 laps and the start-line moved to the top of Bray Hill to increase paddock space of the competitors. The use of crash-helmets was made compulsory. The 1914 Junior TT was held in heavy rain and mist on the Mountain Section of the course and was won by Eric Williams riding an AJS motorcycle in 4 hours, 6 minutes and 50 seconds at an average speed of 45.58 mph. The race was marred by the death of Frank Walker riding a Royal Enfield motorcycle who had been leading until a puncture on the third-lap. In the following pursuit of the leaders he fell twice and on the last-lap over-shot the finish line in Ballanard Road and crashed into a wooden barrier placed across the road and posthumously declared a third place finisher by the ACU race committee.
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Motorcycle racing in the Isle of Man did not restart after the end of the First World War until 1920. Changes were made to the Mountain Course and competitors now turned left at Cronk-ny-Mona and followed the primary A18 Mountain Road to Governor's Bridge with a new start/finish line on Glencrutchery Road which lengthened the course to 37 ¾ miles.
1926 magazine cover featuring a Douglas motorcycle in the Isle of Man TT
The 1920 Junior TT Race included for the first time a new Lightweight class for motorcycles of 250 cc engine capacity. The Lightweight class of the 1920 Junior TT race was won by Ronald Clarke riding a Levis and he may have won the event overall but crashed at the 33rd Milestone on the last lap, finishing fourth overall. The 1921 Senior TT race was won by Howard Davies riding a 350 cc Junior TT AJS by a margin of 2 minutes and 3 seconds from Freddie Dixon and Hubert Le Vack. For 1922 the ACU introduced for 250 cc motorcycle a Lightweight TT race and the first winner was Geoff S Davison riding a Levis motorcycle at an average race speed of 49.89. The 1922 Junior TT Race was won by local Isle of Man competitor Tom Sheard riding an AJS motorcycle at an average race speed of 54.75 mph. Despite crashing twice, a broken exhaust and a fire in the pits, Stanley Woods riding a Cotton managed to finish in 5th place in the 1922 Junior TT Race. In the 1922 Senior TT Race, Alex Bennett riding a Sunbeam motorcycle led all 6 laps from start to finish to win from Walter Brandish riding a Triumph.
More changes to the course followed in 1923 with the adoption of a private road between Parliament Square and May Hill in Ramsey. The course had previously had negotiated Albert Road and Tower Road in Ramsey and the new course length was now 37.739 miles (revised to 37.733 miles in 1938). Part of the Mountain Course was named 'Brandish' after Walter Brandish crashed at a corner between Creg-ny-Baa and Hillberry and broke a leg. The first Sidecar TT race was held in 1923 over 3 laps (113 miles) and was won by Freddie Dixon and passenger Walter Denny with a special Douglas banking-sidecar average race speed of 53.15 mph. The Senior TT Race of 1923 was held in poor weather and local course knowledge allowed local Isle of Man competitor Tom Sheard riding a Douglas motorcycle to win his second TT Race to add to his first win in the 1922 Junior TT Race on an AJS motorcycle. Another first-time winner of a TT race in 1923 was Stanley Woods riding to victory in the Junior TT Race on a Cotton.
In 1924, an Ultra-Lightweight TT Race was introduced for motorcycles of 175 cc engine capacity following the introduction of a Lightweight TT Race in 1922. The 1924 Ultra-Lightweight TT was allowed to begin with a massed-start for competitors rather than pairs for the normal time-trial format of the Isle of Man TT Races. The first winner of the Ultra-Lightweight TT in 1924 was Jock Porter riding a New Gerrard motorcycle at average speed of 51.20 mph. The Lightweight TT and the Senior TT Races of 1924 were run in conjunction and Eddie Twemlow (the brother to Ken Twemlow) riding a New Imperial motorcycle won at an average race speed of 55.44 mph. The Senior TT Race of 1924 like the Junior TT Race of the same year was also run at record breaking pace and was the first with a race average speed over 60 mph and was won by Alec Bennett riding a Norton motorcycle.
After numerous retirements in 1924, Wal Handley won the 1925 Junior TT Race over 6 laps of the Mountain Course for Rex-Acme motorcycles at an average speed of 65.02 mph. Later in the week Handley became the first TT rider to win two races in a week when he won the Ultra-Lightweight TT Race again on a Rex-Acme motorcycle. The 1925 Senior TT Race was sensationally won by Howard Davis while competing against the works teams with a motorcycle of his own manufacture a HRD Motorcycles at an average speed of 66.13 mph. Further changes occurred in 1926 with the scrapping of the Side-Car and Ultra-Lightweight TT Races from the lack of entries. Most of the Snaefell Mountain Course had now been completely tarmaced including the narrow sections on the A18 Mountain Road. Another change in 1926 was the ban on alcohol based fuels forcing competitors to use road petrol. Despite these changes the prestige of the Isle of Man TT Races had encouraged the Italian motorcycle manufacturers Bianchi, Garelli and Moto Guzzi to enter. The 1926 Lightweight TT Race produced one of the most notorious events in the history of the Isle of Man TT Races described by the magazine "The Motor-Cycle" as the "Guzzi Incident." The Italian rider Pietro Ghersi was excluded from second place for using a different sparking-plug in the engine of his Moto Guzzi. The 1926 Senior TT Race produced the first 70 mph lap and was again set by Jimmy Simpson on an AJS motorcycle in 32 minutes and 9 seconds an average speed of 70.43 mph.
More changes occurred in 1927 with a fatal accident during practice to Archie Birkin a brother to Tim Birkin of the Bentley Boys fame. The corner in Kirk Michael where the accident occurred was renamed Birkin's Bend and from 1928 practice sessions were held on closed-roads. The newly developed 'positive-stop' foot gear-change by Velocette gave Alex Bennett his fifth TT Race win in the 1928 Junior TT Race at an average race speed of 68.65 mph from his team-mate Harold Willis. The 1929 Lightweight TT Race was led for 5 laps by Pietro Ghersi on a Motor Guzzi competing in his first TT race since the disqualification in the 'Guzzi Incident' of 1926. Despite Pietro Ghersi setting the fastest lap at an average speed of 66.63 mph, engine failure gave the win to Syd Crabtree. During the 1929 Senior TT Race a number of riders crashed at Greeba Castle after Wal Handley clipped the hedge and crashed. This included Jimmy Simpson, Jack Amott riding for Rudge and Doug Lamb who later died of his injuries on the way to Nobles Hospital. Charlie Dodson completed a Senior TT double by winning the 1929 Senior TT Race at an average race speed of 72.05 mph.
TT Racing in the 1930s
The 1930s were a decade in which the Isle of Man TT races became the predominant motor-cycling event in the racing calendar, and are seen as the classic era of racing in the Isle of Man. A number of changes occurred to the Mountain Course during the 1930s, with extensive road widening on the A18 Mountain Road and the removal of the hump-back bridge at Ballig for the 1935 racing season in the Isle of Man.
1930 magazine cover featuring AJS motorcycles racing in the Isle of Man TT
The 1930s produced a number of changes for the Isle of Man TT Races in which the event became more commercialised. The George Formby film No Limit (1936 film) used the 1935 Isle of Man TT races as a backdrop for filming. Also, the 1930s saw increasing use of the TT races by motorcycle manufacturers to show-case their products. As a result, the 1930s produced an increased pace of motorcycle development, with the introduction of supercharging and over-head camshaft engines, plunger rear suspension, and telescopic front forks. These technological improvements were played out by the different British motorcycle manufacturers such as AJS, Rudge, Sunbeam, and Velocette gradually being eclipsed by the pre-eminence of the works Nortons. Increasing interest by foreign manufacturers in the 1930s produced works entries from BMW, DKW, NSU, Bianchi and Moto Guzzi at the Isle of Man TT races. The increased competition produced a frantic search for more engine power and better handling. At first, better handling was the best way to produce faster lap times, but as the power advantage of supercharged machines increased, their lap speeds began to match and finally overtook the others. Consequently, by 1938, most British manufacturers had a supercharged machine under test. Increased professionalism by the TT riders during the 1930s was the reason for Stanley Woods parting with Norton motorcycles, despite the winning of four TT races in 2 years, over the issue of prize money. Woods joined Husqvarna, and later rode for Moto Guzzi and Velocette.
The 1930 Senior TT Race was won by Rudge with Wal Handley becoming the first TT rider to win in all three major TT Race classes and the first lap under 30 minutes of the Mountain Course. The 1931 TT Race meeting was again dominated by the battle between Rudge and Norton motorcycles. The 1931 Senior TT Race provided Tim "Percy" Hunt with a popular Junior/Senior double win and also produced the first 80 mph lap by Jimmy Simpson on a Norton motorcycle. The 1932 TT Race meeting was watched by Prince George, Duke of Kent the first royal visitor to the Isle of Man TT Races. The 1932 Senior TT Race provided Stanley Woods with the Norton Habit and another Junior/Senior double win. Also on the first lap, Wal Handley, riding for Rudge, crashed at the 11th Milestone sustaining a back injury and retired. The place on the TT course where the incident occurred was renamed Handley's Corner. The 1933 Senior TT Race gave Stanley Woods another Junior/Senior double win, with works Nortons taking the first four places, ridden by Jimmy Simpson, Tim Hunt and Jimmie Guthrie. The 1934 TT Races was another double Junior/Senior win for Jimmie Guthrie and the last TT race for Jimmy Simpson. For the 1935 TT Races, Stanley Woods provided another surprise by moving to Moto Guzzi and was a debut event for the Italian Omobono Tenni. The 1935 Senior TT Race produced one of the most dramatic TT races, as the Moto Guzzi pit attendants made preparations for Stanley Woods to refuel on the last lap, but Woods went straight through the TT grandstand area without stopping and went on to win by 4 seconds from Jimmie Guthrie. Despite disqualification during the 1936 Junior TT Race, Jimmie Guthrie won the 1936 Senior TT Race, avenging his dramatic defeat the previous year. The 1937 TT Races produced the first foreign winner, when the Italian TT rider, Omobono Tenni won the Lightweight race. Jimmie Guthrie was killed a few weeks later while riding for the Norton team during the 1937 German Grand Prix. The 1938 TT Races produced the first German winner when Ewald Kluge won the 1938 Lightweight TT Race and became the first overall European Motor-Cycle Champion for the works DKW team. In the 1939 Isle of Man TT Races, the works Norton team did not compete, as the Norton factory were changing over to war production. Although the 1938 model Norton was provided to Harold Daniell and Freddie Frith to race, the 1939 TT Races provided Stanley Woods with a tenth TT win, aboard a Velocette in the Junior TT Race and a well judged first win for Ted Mellors riding a Benelli in the 1939 Lightweight TT Race. The Blue Riband race of the Isle of Man TT Races was won for the first time by a foreign competitor when Georg 'Schorsch' Meier won the 1939 Senior TT Race riding for the factory BMW motorcycle team. In the 1930s, TT winners were allowed to keep the trophies for a year. The 1939 factory BMW motorcycle that won the 1939 Senior TT Race spent the war years buried in a field, and the Senior TT trophy was discovered displayed in a shop in Vienna at the end of the war.
Post-War TT racing and the FIM World Championship (19471976)
Motorcycle racing did not return to the Isle of Man and the Mountain Course until September 1946 with the first post-war event the 1946 Manx Grand Prix. For the 1947 Isle of Man TT Races a number of changes occurred to the race schedule and the rules governing the races. First, the inclusion of a Clubmans TT Races for Lightweight, Junior and Senior production motorcycles. Second, and more important the rules governing all international road racing were changed to effectively ban all forms of supercharging. The 1949 Isle of Man TT Races was the first event of the inaugural Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship (now known as MotoGP) and Les Graham the first 500 cc World Champion finished 10th in the 1949 Senior TT Race. For the 1951 Isle of Man TT the Ultra-Lightweight TT Race was re-introduced that was won by Cromie McCandless riding a Mondial motorcycle at an average race speed of 74.84 mph.
From 1947 to 1959 there occurred a number of course changes and improvements. Road widening occurred between the 33rd Milestone and Keppel Gate for the 1947 season and further major changes for the 1954 Isle of Man TT Races with significant alterations to Ballaugh Bridge, Creg-ny-Baa, Signpost Corner and Governor's Bridge. Also the 1954 Isle of Man TT Races was the first year of the Clypse Course, the re-introduction of the Sidecar TT Race and the first female competitor, Inge Stoll, to enter an Isle of Man TT Race.
The 1950s may be seen as a decade when the course and race changes the Isle of Man TT Races evolved into the motorcycle event that occurs today. Perhaps seen as the golden-era, the 1950s for the Isle of Man TT Races mirrored changes in the motor-cycling industry and motor-cycling technology and the increasing globalisation of not only of motorcycle racing, but also of the motorcycle industry. As with the 1930s, the period from 1947 to 1959 the dominance of the British motorcycle industry was gradually eroded by increased European competition. Again throughout the 1950s this was played-out through increased technological change.
The introduction of the Featherbed frame and the abortive Norton Kneeler concept by the works Norton team it was not sufficient to challenge the multi-cylinder European motorcycles from Gilera and Moto Guzzi. Financial problems led to the demise of the Norton team and along with other traditional British motorcycle manufacturers AJS, BSA, Matchless and Velocette and were replaced by European competition from CZ, DKW, Ducati, Mondial, MV Agusta and NSU at the Isle of Man TT Races. By the end of the 1950s, the East Germany motorcycle firm MZ used the Isle of Man TT Races to improve their Walter Kaaden designed two-stroke technology. The 1959 Isle of Man TT Race was the first race for the fledgling Japanese Honda team when Naomi Taniguchi finished in 6th place in the 1959 125 cc Ultra-Lightweight TT Race on the Clypse Course at an average race speed of 68.29 mph.
Pre-war, the Isle of Man TT Races was seen as the preserve of British, Irish and Commonwealth competitors. This stranglehold was first broken by Omobono Tenni as the first foreign winner in 1937. As the Isle of Man TT Races became a World Championship event in 1949, the post-war period produced race wins from European competitors such as Carlo Ubbiali and Tarquinio Provini. The first New Zealand winner was Rod Coleman in 1954 and first competitor from Southern Rhodesia was Ray Amm when he raced at the 1951 Isle of Man TT Races. Despite a win by Eric Oliver at the first post war Sidecar TT race, this also became dominated by German and Swiss competitors such as Walter Schneider, Fritz Hillebrand, Fritz Scheidegger and Helmut Fath. For the Senior TT Race this was still dominated by new British TT competitors, Geoff Duke winning the 1955 Senior TT Race, John Surtees riding for MV Agusta and Bob McIntyre in the 1957 Isle of Man TT races were headlined when he recorded the first 100 mph (160 km/h) lap, riding for Gilera motorcycles. The 1958 Isle of Man TT Races was the debut event for another British rider with the 18-year-old Mike Hailwood who would dominate the next decade.
For the 1960 Isle of Man TT races the Sidecar TT Race returned to the Snaefell Mountain Course for the first-time since 1925, along with the Ultra-Lightweight and Lightweight classes with the abandonment of TT racing on the Clypse Course. A number of changes occurred to the Mountain Course during the 1960s with further road widening at Ballig Bridge and at Greeba Bridge. Other safety features included the introduction of a safety helicopter for the 1963 Isle of Man TT races and was used for the first-time when Tony Godfrey crashed at the exit to Milntown Cottages during the 1963 Lightweight TT race.
Despite problems with the sidecar class, the winner of the 1960 Sidecar TT race was Helmut Fath riding a BMW outfit at an average speed of 84.40 mph. The 1962 Isle of Man TT races produced the first winner of the newly introduced 50 cc Ultra-Lightweight race when Ernst Degner won the 2-lap race (75.46 miles) for Suzuki at an average speed of 75.12 mph. This was followed with Mitsuo Itoh becoming the first Japanese winner of an Isle of Man TT Race winning the 50 cc Ultra-Lightweight TT race again for Suzuki in 1963. For the Diamond Jubilee race in 1967 the Production TT races were introduced consisting of three races; a 250 cc, a 500 cc, and a 750 cc run at the same time but each having a separate "Le Mans" start at 5 minutes after each other. John Hartle was the winner of the first 750 cc production class at an average race speed of 91.40 mph riding a Triumph Thruxton Bonneville. The 250 cc class was controversial due to the use of racing exhausts by the Bultaco team. In the 1968 Isle of Man TT races the Production race rules were changed. But the changes the winner, and 2nd placed man, of 250 cc Production race were under protest and were excluded for the same offence (using a racing exhaust) but later reinstated on appeal by the R.A.C.because of the lack of an official translation of the law in Spain on the subject of silencing. 1968 was also the last year of the 50 cc Ultra-Lightweight class with Australian Barry Smith winning for Derbi at an average speed of 72.90 mph. The first non-championship event for sidecars not exceeding 750 cc was introduced in 1968 and won by Terry Vinicombe riding a BSA sidecar outfit. The 1969 Production TT races were honoured by the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh as starter. The race went off without any controversy with a new set of rules being strictly enforced and were therefore probably the first really fair production races. The result was a 750 cc race in which Malcolm Uphill twice topped the 100-mph lap on the works Triumph Bonneville and set an average race speed of 99.99 mph. The 500 cc and 250 cc classes provided their own dramas with Graham Penny bringing his 450 cc Honda home first after the leader Tony Dunnell on a three-cylinder Kawasaki crashed. The 250 race had a fresh leader on each lap ending with Mike Rogers taking the laurels on his 250 cc Ducati Mach 1 giving Ducati their first Isle of Man win.
From 1949 to 1976 the race was part of the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship and was the home of the British Grand Prix. The event came under increasing scrutiny due to safety concerns despite efforts by the ACU to retain its world championship status. When Italian rider Gilberto Parlotti was killed during the 1972 TT, his close friend and the reigning world champion and 10-time TT winner Giacomo Agostini, announced that he would never again race on the Isle of Man. More riders joined Agostini's boycott and by the 1976 season, only a handful of serious Grand Prix riders were among the entrants. Shortly after the 1976 TT, the FIM made the long-anticipated announcement that the TT, once the most prestigious race on the Grand Prix calendar, was stripped of its world championship status. The Grand Prix action was moved to the UK with the 1977 British Grand Prix being held at Silverstone.
TT racing (1977 on)
TTXGP bikes in the paddock before their first practice session in the 2009 TT
In the early 21st century, the premier TT racing bikes complete the Snaefell course at an average speed exceeding 120 mph (190 km/h). Record holders include David Jefferies who set a lap record of 127.29 mph (204.85 km/h) in 2002. This was surpassed by John McGuinness during the 2004 TT on a Yamaha R1 setting a time of 17 min 43.8 s; an average lap speed of 127.68 mph (205.48 km/h). McGuinness lowered this even further at the 2007 TT, setting a time of 17:21.99 for an average speed of 130.354 mph (209.784 km/h) becoming the first rider to break the 130 mph limit on the Snaefell Mountain circuit. The most successful rider was Joey Dunlop who won 26 times in various classes from 1977 to 2000 followed by John McGuiness with 20 victories.
For 2009, the Manx government added a new event to the June race schedule. The Time Trial eXtreme Grand Prix (TTXGP) was billed as the first zero-emissions motorcycle race. While any technology could enter, as a practical matter zero emissions means electric.The difficulties include the battery power-to-weight ratio how to modulate battery power to achieve a high-average speed on the many fast-flowing sections on the first half of the course until reaching Ramsey, whilst retaining sufficient reserves for the high torque-demands of the climb up the mountain. The bikes need sufficient battery power to complete the course at the required performance levels without the weight-penalty associated with excessive power reserves
For 2010 onwards a new format was adopted, with the race renamed TT Zero
The Oxford Companion to World Sports and Games notes,
The oldest motor-cycle racing circuit still in use is the Snaefell Mountain Course over which the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races are run. Starting at the town of Douglas on the south-east coast, the course takes a wide sweep to the west and north to enter the town of Ramsey on the north-east coast and thence return to the starting point, each lap measuring 37¾ miles (60.7 km) and taking in over 200 bends while climbing from sea level to an altitude of over 1,300 ft (396 m). This circuit is the epitome of the natural road course, all the roads used being ordinary public highways closed for the racing and practice sessions.
Traditionally held in the last week of May and the first week of June, the TT races create a carnival atmosphere. Picnicking crowds flanking the circuit are reminiscent of the community festivals that are part of another form of cycle racing in a different country Le Tour de France.
During the TT Festival it is difficult to travel across or around the island because of the road closures. There is a TT access road in Douglas that gives access to the centre of the Mountain Course during the event.
The TT races are extremely dangerous because riders achieve high speeds on very narrow, twisting streets, roads and lanes flanked by stone walls and buildings. Between 1907 and 2009 (at the end of 2009 TT races period) there have been 240 rider deaths during official practices or races on the Snaefell Mountain Course (this number includes the riders killed during the Manx Grand Prixs and Clubman TT races). The worst year for fatalities was 1970 when six riders lost their lives at the TT. Another racer died at the Manx Grand Prix later in the same year.
Due to the ongoing dangers and safety concerns, annual doubts are raised over the future of the TT. On "Mad Sunday" any member of the public can ride the mountain section of the course, which is open one way from Ramsey to Douglas. In 2012 there were just four accidents on the open day - while in previous years there had been dozens. In 2013, eleven spectators were hurt when a rider lost control at Bray Hill on the outskirts of Douglas. Källa: Wikipedia