FACTS ABOUT THE T.T. RACES. By Capt. A. W. PHILLIPS, M.C., (f the Anto-Cvde Union.
AT this time of the year the interest of the entire motor cycling world is centred in the small island in the Irish Sea, which has added further to its illustrious history by providing the course for the Tourist Trophy Races.
Looking back to the year 1907, we find the original T.T. Race, for which the trophy was presented by the Marquis de Mouzilly St. Mars, and it is probable that at that time even the donor had no conception of the enormous benefits his generosity was conferring upon the motor-cyling community at large.
The original course only measured 158 miles in length, and the first race combined the elements of an ordinary trial with a speed event, insomuch as the regulations included a limited petrol consumption. There were two classes only, the entries being confined to single cylinder and twin-cylinder machines, without any restrictions as to the cubic capacity of the cylinders. Similar conditions governed the events of 1908. and 1909, but in the latter year pedalling was prohibited and the T.T. became a race pure and simple.
In the year 1911, the event was rendered far more strenuous than ever by being held over the famous ” Four Inch” or ” Mountain ” course, and the event was divided into two classes, i.e. the Senior T.T. and the Junior T.T., whilst a year later it was decided to institute the present engine capacities for the two categories, viz. :-500 c.c. for the Senior event, and 350 c.c. for the Junior. The distance for the races was gradually increased as the competing machines became more and more reliable, until in the year 1914, the Senior and Junior competitor had to cover six and five laps respectively.
The absence of all good sportsmen during their service for King and Country abroad led to the cancellation of the T.T. until 1920 when the old course was again used ; save for the addition of the famous piece of road including the Governor’s Bridge. The year 1922 saw the innovation of the lightweight race and in the following year further interest was aroused by including the Sidecar Race, which, with the new Ultra-lightweight category, extends the programme to include no fewer than five separate events.
The Influence of the T.T. Races upon Design.
Whatever may be the views of motorists in general as to the supposed superiority of foreign built auto mobiles, there is no possible shadow of doubt as to the predominant excellence of motor cycles of British origin and, furthermore, there is little question that the annual events in the Isle of Man have had a very remarkable
influence in assisting manufacturers to develop their machines on the lines of the highest possible efficiency.
The T.T. Races subject any competing machine to the most critical tests that have ever been inaugurated in the history of motor cycling, and the winning of the Trophy is a highly coveted honour, for the manufacturer and rider alike. A machine which can stand up to the rigours of the course and possess the requisite amount of speed to get a place, must necessarily be a very high class production, for not only is the engine tested to the utmost limits of its capacity by the terrific speeds it is called upon to
produce, but every other unit and component is stressed to the maximum degree, whilst the machine is being driven unsparingly by a daring rider. It is perfectly obvious that machines which are submitted to what virtually amounts to a destruction test must be specially built for the race, but the experience gained during these races is of the utmost value to manufacturers in developing subsequent models for
the general use of the public. It is the same story as motor racing with special cars and the truth of the saying. “time racing car of to-day is the touring car of to-morrow ” applies with equal emphasis in the ease of motor cycles.
In a brief article of this description it is impossible to elaborate upon the various technical aspects of the great annual event of the motor cycle world, neither is it altogether necessary, for the call of Sport resounds with equal clearness to the call of Science on this occasion, and many thousands of spectators thronging the course are there to witness a most wonderful and thrilling sporting event, in which machines and men together are striving to gain the honours of the day.
The conditions of the T.T. Races call for every essential feature of the ideal sporting event and the riders, whether they are successful or not, must possess courage, endurance, superb physique, perfect control of all their faculties, and excellent judgment. The successful T.T. rider must possess even more than these, for without technical knowledge his machine would be little more than an unresponsive mass of metal, with little chance of completing the course within the specified time.
A rider may be sufficiently daring, but lack the intimate knowledge of just how far his mount may be stressed without risk of breakdown, he may lack the subtle sympathy with his engine so necessary for success, and in a word he must be, as it were, a part of the mechanism during the arduous practice runs as well as on the day of the event.
To be a spectator of a T.T. Race is one of the most thrilling experiences of a life time. There is the breathless excitement as each successive machine swoops down the course, with its rider crouching low over the petrol tank, leaping the hump-backed bridges, twisting round the narrow mountain roads, taking corners at angles which seem to set all laws of gravity at defiance and jumping in the air when passing over bad parts )f the road. The excited spectators watch a little cloud of dust in the distance and see it grow into the form of the favourite speeding on his way. In a flash he is past and as the other competitors follow close in his tracks, one wonders if his machine will stand up to the terrific pace for the remainder of the laps. Rumours of spills and crashes are whispered among the breathless onlookers and the whole event is a succession of thrills from beginning to end.