At the beginning of the 1900s, the UK Parliament imposed a speed limit of 20 mph on motorcycles, so the Secretary of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, Sir Julian Orde, searched for another venue without the restrictions imposed on them by the UK Parliament. They found one in the Isle of Man and having an autonomous parliament; they did not have to obey the UK Parliament and allowed the race.
The Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) was first held in 1907. By an Act of Parliament, the public roads used in practice and the races are closed to the public over the two weeks. However, on Sunday between the training and the tracks, the public can ride over the course on their bikes. The TT was first named the International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy. The race consisted of 10 laps of the race which was 15 miles, 1470 yards and all contestant’s bikes had to be roadworthy. Two years later, in 1911, the course was changed to the Snaefell Mountain Course of 37,4 miles.
The first races consisted of two courses in 1907, and in 1911 there were two races, one event for 350cc and another for 500cc. During the two World Wars, the tracks were suspended for the duration. In 1922 another race was included in the TT for 250cc bikes, and in 1923 a motorcycle with sidecar race was added.
After the Second World War, in 1946, the races were once again staged and in 1947 more formats were introduced and these included the Clubman TT race. In 1949 the Isle of Man TT joined the Moto GP as the course for the British venue for the World Motorcycle Championships. In the 1970s, due to safety concerns and “starting money” for the riders and the competitors, the manufacturers and the sporting federations started boycotting the IOMTT.
The all-time top winner of the TT is Joe Dunlop who has won 26 IOMTT’s! Close behind him is John McGuiness with 23 wins, but whether he will beat Dunlop’s record remains to be seen as he is reaching retirement age. Third, on the winner’s list is Michael Dunlop with 19 wins.
The Isle of Man is an independent island between Ireland and England, but still recognises Britain and the Monarch. Every year, apart from the competitors and their teams, there are over 40 000 spectators, and they all contribute to the Islands economy by 25 million pounds.
The IOMTT has become known as the most dangerous motorbike course in the world. Since its inception in 1907, there have been 150 fatalities at the IOMTT, some during the practise laps and some during the races. The deadliest was in 1970 when six people died during the TT. There are 264 corners – all on public roads – with speeds over 200mph.