Isle of Man TT 2017

Isle of Man TT Official Website

The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race[3] is an annual motorcycle sport event run on the Isle of Man in May or June of most years since its inaugural race in 1907.

The Isle of Man TT has been traditionally 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 event consists of one week of practice sessions followed by one week of racing. It has been a tradition perhaps started by racing competitors in the early 1920s for spectators to tour the Snaefell Mountain Course on motorcycles during the Isle of Man TT on “Mad Sunday“,[4] an informal and unofficial sanctioned event held on the Sunday[5]between ‘Practice Week’ and ‘Race Week.’

The first Isle of Man TT race was held on Tuesday 28 May 1907 and was called the International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy.[6] The event was organised by the Auto-Cycle Club over 10 laps of the Isle of Man St John’s Short Course of 15 miles 1,470 yards for 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 (current length 37.73 miles). The race programme developed from a single race with two classes for the 1907 Isle of Man TT, expanding in 1911 to two individual races for the 350cc Junior TT motor-cycles and the Blue Riband event the 500cc Senior TT race. The race did not take place from 1915 to 1919 due to the First World War. It resumed in 1920. A 250cc Lightweight TT race was added to the Isle of Man TT programme 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. It recommenced with the Manx Grand Prix in 1946 then the Isle of Man TT in 1947 with a greatly expanded format that included the new Clubman’s TT races. The Isle of Man TT became part of the FIM Motor-cycle Grand Prix World Championship as the British round of the World Motor-Cycling Championship during the period 19491976. Following safety concerns with the Snaefell Mountain Course and problems over inadequate ‘start-money’ for competitors, a boycott of the Isle of Man TT races occurred from the early 1970s by many of the leading competitors, motorcycle manufactures and national motorcycle sporting federations.[7] It is still billed in popular culture as the most dangerous motorsport event in the world, with over 250[8] fatalities in its history. An on-site account of the 2003 race by Sports Illustrated writer Franz Lidz called the spectacle “38 Miles of Terror… a test of nerves and speed that may be sports’ most dangerous event.” [9] In 1976, the Isle of Man TT lost its world championship status and was transferred to the United Kingdom by the FIM and run as the British Grand Motor-Cycle Grand Prix for the 1977 season. The Isle of Man TT Races then became an integral part of the new style TT Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 World Championships between 1977 and 1990 to develop and maintain the international racing status of the Isle of Man TT races.[10] The event was redeveloped by the Isle of Man Department of Tourism as the Isle of Man TT Festival from 1989 onwards. This included new racing events for the new Isle of Man TT Festival programme including the Isle of Man Pre-TT Classic Races in 1989 followed by the Isle of Man Post-TT Races from 1991 and both held on the Billown Circuit. In 2013, the Isle of Man Classic TT was developed by the Isle of Man Department of Economic Development and the Auto-Cycle Union for historic racing motorcycles and along with the Manx Grand Prix now forms part of the ‘Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling’ now held in late August of each year.

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Map of the Isle of Man race course.

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Joey Dunlop (memorial above) died in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2000 while leading a 125cc race (he had already won the 750cc and 600cc events) on Pirita-Kose-Kloostrimetsa Circuit. He appeared to lose control of his bike in the wet conditions and was killed instantly on impact with trees.

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