The history of the TT races reflects the evolution of the motorcycle. No surprise there: from its inception the event was designed to improve the breed. This archetypically British tale of courage and endeavour has its roots in a railway carriage where, in 1906, some hardcore motorcycle obsessives were travelling home from a disappointing expedition to Austria…
Before the race
BESET BY REPRESSIVE legislation, the nascent British motorcycle industry struggled to compete with the liberated Continentals. In the early years of the 20th century the Brits were building bikes to be proud of, but they were ill-suited to international racing. By 1906 the British motorcycling elite were fed up with the the Continental approach to motorcycle sport. Road racers were limited to 55kg (110lb in old money) which ruled out fripperies such as suspension or effective brakes. As testbeds for practicable motorcycles these powered bicycles were next to useless. Also, the newly hatched FICM, as fragile as those 110-pounders so despised by the practical Brits, had failed to deal with sharp practices at the International Cup races in Putzau, Austria–not least the sidecar outfits which had patrolled the course loaded with mechanics and spares for the home team. During the long railway journey home the disgruntled British contingent talked of a real road race for real motorcycles. This was no idle dream: the conspirators included Charlie and Harry Collier of Matchless; Auto Cycle Club secretary Freddie Straight; and anglophile French petrolhead the Marquis de Mouzilly St Mars (president and later patron of the FICM), who offered a trophy for touring bikes: a ‘tourist’ trophy. Road racing was illegal on mainland UK but not so on the Isle of Man; the selection trials for the Austrian race had been held there. Once home they spread the word and drew up detailed plans which remained true to the original concept. The dream was made public by the editor of The Motor Cycle at the annual dinner of the Auto Cycle Club (ACC) on 17 January 1907. There would be no weight limit. Bikes would have to be fully equipped with saddles, pedals, mudguards and silencers; even a toolkit had to be included for running repairs. There would be classes for singles and twins with fuel-economy limits of 90 and 75mpg respectively.
MAURITZ SCHULTE, Siegfried Bettman’s partner at Triumph, wrote: “I was very pleased to see that the Auto Cycle Club Committee have practically decided to hold the TT race for motor cycles in 1907, if the Isle of Man authorities will give the necessary permission. To make this race of genuine interesting value to motor cyclists, the result of the competition should clearly show what full touring machines can do, when driven by experts under strict official official supervision.
“The rules and conditions laid down by the committee should be formed so as to exclude even the possibility of machines being entered which are built for this event only and are quite different from a maker’s fully equipped touring article. There should be no weight restrictions at all, the competing machines to weigh within 5lb of a maker’s standard touring model, the weights of which are well known to the committee. The engines of the first six machines to be examined after the event, to find out whether any ‘fakements’ have been resorted to. The minimum weight of rider to be, or made up to 11 stones. Petrol consumption to be restricted to 80-90mpg as the committee decide. The weight with all details of the 3½hp Triumph may be of interest—the complete machine weighs 150lb. The Triumph Co would be very pleased to enter a few machines of the usual full touring model, but would not compete if weight restrictions were imposed that would necessitate special machines being constructed, or if the rules would allow any maker to build ‘freak’ machines for the event.” Schulte went on to list the weight of all the components of the 3½hp model (eg flywheel and shaft, 25lb 8oz, carb, 1lb 9oz) to a total of 150lb 14oz.
THE ACC ANNOUNCED: “The rules for the above important competition have now been drawn up, and will be in the be in the hands of all probable competitors in the course of a few days. Briefly, they contain the following information: The race will take place in the Isle of Man on a date closely following on the 28th May, over a course about 162 miles in length. Makers will not be tied down as regards design, except as regards the following points: The competing machines must be touring motor cycles fitted with motor cycle saddles, toolbag, and tools weighing not less than 5lb, motor cycle tyres not less than 2in diameter, metal mudguards not less than 2¾in in width and a petrol tank which will hold not less than two gallons…The fuel to be used will be provided by the Club and will have a specific gravity of from .715 to .725 at 60ºF. The allowance for 1907 will be one gallon for ninety miles…Unless 20 entries are received the race will not be run…There will be no weight limit. IT must be distinctly understood that the race is not a consumption trial, but that the limit of fuel has been taken as being the simplest and most satisfactory way of limiting the speed.”
NEWS FLASH from the Blue ‘Un: “Entries can now be sent in for the above important race, to be held in the Isle of Man during the week ending June 1st. Entrance fees have been fixed as follows: trade, five guineas per machine; private owners entering their own machines, three guineas. Great interest is being taken in this event. The first entries received are as follows: MJ Schulte, two Triumph motor bicycles; HA Collier, two Matchless motor bicycles. The exact course for the race in the Isle of Man has not yet been decided upon, but it will probably take place on the roads in the south of the island, in which case the road over Snaefell will not be used.
“The manager of the Isle of Man Motor Co, of Douglas, informs us that they are at the present time building a motor bicycle specially for the above race and intend to enter same. The machine is being built from all-British fittings.”
UNDER THE ‘Other Business’ heading at the ACC’s AGM, RAC secretary JW Orde reported that he had approached the Isle of Man Highway Authorities and, “provided a good race was assured”, they had promised to close certain roads for “this competition, which would be not only interesting to motor cyclists, but would be of immense assistance to manufacturers”. Orde added that he was glad to see the minimum number of entries was limited to twenty. Personally, he would like to see the minimum to be 100, which would not be too many. He suggested as an encouragement that a £100 prize fund should be launched. He would ask the RAC for £25 and would gladly put himself down for £5; this was cheered by the ACC members. Other members immediately made pledges–the first TT prize fund was under way. “As the expenses in connection with this event will be considerable,” he added, “it is hoped that all who have the interests of motor cycling at heart will contribute.” It was reported: “A very keen discussion then ensued on the Auto Cycle TT rules, as to whether the race should be an educational or a purely sporting affair. Mr Van Hooydonk expressed his opinion that the race should be a purely sporting and not an educational affair. Mr Todd hoped that it would be both, and suggested that a special sub-committee meeting should be called at the earliest possible date to go into the matter more fully. Mr Orde then made an eloquent appeal to those present, pointing out that the petrol consumption question was introduced solely with the object of limiting the speed, and that the object of the competition was to encourage a large entry, and then show the public that the motor bicycle was an efficient, economical, and a safe method of locomotion. The proceedings then terminated with a hearty vote of thanks to the chairman.”
THE ACC ANNOUNCED: “A special class has been instituted for the encouragement of multi-cylinder motor bicycles, for which a special prize will be awarded. These machines will be allowed petrol at the rate of one gallon for every 75 miles [compared with 90 for the singles]. Every competitor will be compelled to stop once during the race to have his tanks filled. The club reserves the right to cut open any of the fuel tanks, and to take all such steps as it may deem necessary to examine the fuel system of any machine at the conclusion of the race. In the event of a tank being cut open, which is found to conform to the rules, the Club undertakes to make good the damage caused at its own expense. With the exception of the arrangement of the details of the control for filling tanks the TT rules may be considered complete…”
In due course it was decided: “Each man’s petrol allowance will be measured out into a can which he may seal if he desires it, and immediately before the race he must personally fill up his tank in the presence of an official. During the race there will be a compulsory stop, when the balance left in the cans will be handed to the competitors. Each man will receive one pint of petrol extra and beyond the amount allowed according to mileage, to allow for any residue which cannot be conveniently emptied from his tank. This amount will be deducted after the finish. After the race is over, the tanks will be drained, with the machines standing level, from the petrol pipe unions. In addition to the prize fund a separate trophy will be presented to the winner of each class. The Marquis Mouzilly St Mars will present the trophy for the winner of the single-cylinder class, as also a prize for the best performance on a foreign-built machine driven by a foreign driver. Mr SF Edge has promised a prize for the best performance of a British-built machine driven by a British subject, and Mr M Schulte will present gold and silver medals for machines fitted with change-speed gears which make the best performances. In addition to the trophies, it has been decided to award the following cash prizes to the riders of the machines: £25 to the rider arriving first in each class; £15 to the rider arriving second in each class, provided there are six starters or more in each class; £10 to the rider arriving third in each class, provided there are 12 starters or more in each class; additional prizes of £5 to the first private owner in each class if he is not among the first three and his performance is sufficiently meritorious. The Nala two-speed hub, offered as a prize by the GB Motor Company, will be awarded to the competitor who, having completed the course, makes the best performance on Professor Callendar’s formula: W divided by C multiplied by T where W represents the weight of machine and rider; C represents capacity; and T represents his time in seconds. With such excellent support a large entry should be the result, and the contest resolve itself into one of the finest sporting events in motor cycling circles…”
FROM THE letters pages of The Motor Cycle: “It seems to me that there is not as much interest being taken in this event as might be expected—at least, among amateurs. I think the reason for this is that the present rules practically bar real amateur riders, who have only one machine. For this reason: How many motor bicycles are there of, say, 3½hp that will go ninety miles to the gallon ordinary running, let alone riding ‘all out’ in a race, and whose tanks will hold two gallons? At the present moment I can think of only two makes with standard sized tanks which will carry this amount, viz, the Norton and the Rex—both twins. If firms enter, it will mean building special two-speed geared machines, which is almost sure to lead to freaks, and the general public will be as wise as ever as to the merits of different standard bicycles now on the market. There is also the question of weight to be carried. There is no mention of this made in the rules. I suppose it is thought that a machine carrying a rider of, say, eight stones will have no advantage over one carrying a rider of twelve stones. I should like to hear the views of other amateurs on the subject.”
H Rem Fowler
AS THE RACE date drew near the Blue ‘Un said: “It is hardly necessary for us to remind competitors in the Auto Cycle Tourist Trophy Race that a graduated gauge showing the amount of petrol in the tank would be of the greatest assistance. If a rider halfway through the race finds that half his allowance of petrol has not been consumed, he will naturally use the throttle less sparingly and improve his time…In addition to the 22 entries already published, H Rem Fowler, of the Birmingham MCC, has entered a Norton machine, and Harry Martin a Kerry…We should like to see a little more international element…It will be a good thing if Messrs Laurin and Klement decide to enter one or two of their intrepid riders, and we also expected some of the French racers would compete.”
MAJOR CG MATSON, writing in The Daily Mail, referred to the event as “a very sporting race”. He added: “The motor cycle is the self-propelled vehicle for the million, and is attracting greater interest every day from the enormous class who cannot afford a motor car.”
IVAN HART DAVIS took a tour of the Island on a 3½hp Triumph and concluded the proposed 15-mile course would be “excessively dangerous” because, assuming an average 30mph, a lap would take 30min so the last riders would barely have started when the first riders complete their first lap and passing would be made dangerous by clouds of dust. Hart Davis proposed a course from Douglas to Ramsey and back to Douglas by the mountain road: “This route will give riders fine scope for their skill because, owing to the length of the course, the will not be continually passing and re-passing each other.”
TT COMPETITORS heading for the island early for some practice were told: “The special petrol provided by the ACC for the TT is known as the RAC brand and has a specific gravity of .715 to .725. It can be obtained at Hampton’s, South Quay, Douglas at 1s 3d per gallon.” And, it was reported: “Thirty-one miles of the Tourist Trophy course in the Isle of Man is being treated with a dust laying preparation termed ‘Akondis’.”
THE FIRST TT took place during the morning on 28 May (the local press recorded it was “bitterly cold with dense clouds and a bitter east wind”). From the start at Tynwald Green the racers travelled east to Ballacraine, taking the road up to Kirk Michael where they turned left onto the coast road via the Devils Elbow to Peel, where they turned left again to complete the lap at St Johns. First away were the singles. Triumph stars Marshall and Hulbert were first away followed by 23 other riders, starting in pairs at one-minute intervals. Marshall took the lead when his teammate Hulbert stopped to change a plug, fell on the second lap but continued with a twisted ankle. Charlie Collier took over the lead on his Matchless; his brother Harry retired with engine trouble having set the fastest lap in the class at 23min 5sec (41.81mph). Charlie Collier, who used the pedals on his Matchless to good effect (he was a champion cyclist) won the single-cylinder class ahead of Marshall and Hulbert, averaging 94.5mpg. Marshall’s Triumph, with no pedals, averaged 114mpg, and it was argued that Marshall would have won if he’d been able to pedal. The following year pedals were banned.
It was the turn of the twins. Rem Fowler stopped 10 times during the race (not counting the teabreak). As well as changing an inner tube and plugs he twice stopped to take up slack in his drive belt and had to wire up a mudguard and the advance/retard lever. He also dropped his pump and had to go back for it as the rules required all riders to finish with a complete tool kit. At one point he decided to call it a day—only when a spectator told him that he was leading Billy Wells by half an hour did he continue, to win the twin-cylinder class and set the fastest lap overall (22min 06sec) at a speed of 42.91mph. His race time was over 13 minutes slower than Charlie Collier’s, reflecting these mechanical problems. After 4hr 20min and 158 miles, Fowler came home the winner at an average speed of 36.22mph; his fuel consumption was 87mpg.
Giving what might well have been the very first TT pit signal. ‘Pa’ Norton himself waved a piece of carboard with the word ‘oil’ writ large upon it to remind Rem to use the pump on the side of his tank. Most competitors received information from chums running alongside as they struggled slowly up Creg Willys, some of them pedalling like demons.
After the race
THE WEEK AFTER the race the Blue ‘Un’s ‘special correspondent’ reassured his readers: “Every doubtful corner was marked with a red hand-stamped ‘ACC’; and at every one of these points a man was stationed with a flag, so that the men could not go wrong. There is no doubt that the allowance of petrol worried the competitors to a considerable extent, even to preventing a larger entry.” In the event three of the one-lungers and one of the twins managed to get over 100mpg.
Several competitors had only a single day’s practice; the correspondent suggested that with more practice they would have been faster and thriftier as some finished the race with a lot of fuel left in their tanks: “This leads one to suppose that sufficient importance was not attached by all to the race, with the result that those who realised its import and took pains accordingly did best.”
THE MOTOR CYCLE’S ‘Special Correspondent’ reported: “The attention to detail and careful organisation have resulted in this, the second motor cycle event in the Isle of Man, being a most brilliant success. All round the course crowds of interested spectators watched the event, and the success which it has met with this year should tend to a more hearty support in 1908…25 out of 26 riders started, and 11 completed the course. Although we mention that the 1908 event might reasonably attract a larger number of entries, we do not think this, the first motor cycle Tourist Trophy Race, was at all unrepresentative. The fact of an amateur winning the twin-cylinder class should be an inducement to others to come forward next year and try their chance…
At half-time all the men had a brief rest of 10 minutes’ duration. Meanwhile a host of officials broke the tank and can seals, and carefully poured out the second allowance of petrol, so that the men could have a few moments in which to refresh themselves. The amount of petrol allowed for the single-cylinder machines was 1 gallon 6 pints 1 ounce and for the twins 2 gallons 17 ounces.” [In the event three singles and a twin did better than 100mpg. Marshall ( 3½hp Triumph), runner-up in the single-cylinder class, managed 114mpg; C Smyth (3½hp Brown) came home fourth at 129mpg. Hulbert (3½hp Triumph) made the most of his 90mpg, allowance, finishing the race with half an ounce of petrol in his tank.]
“Too much cannot be said of the consistent running of CR Collier, he being a man of great experience in road racing competitions having three times represented England in the International Cup Race, he knew the ropes thoroughly; that is to say, he knew what was required in the design of his machine, and he knew how to ride it.
Mention must also be made of the excellent performance of Fowler on the twin Norton, who ran most consistently, and who is credited with making the fastest circuit of the day at an average speed of over 43mph. Both he and Wells ran very well, though both experienced tyre troubles…I owe a great debt of gratitude to Major Lloyd for kindly conveying me in his car fitted with Elastes tyres on the day of my arrival, to Peel. Here a 3½hp Triumph motor bicycle, placed at my disposal by the Triumph Cycle Co, was awaiting me. This machine did exceedingly good work, taking me round the course on the day previous to the race, and conveying three separate press messages from St John’s to Douglas and back without a hitch.”
IXION WROTE: “I am well aware that many prominent motor cyclists are against road racing, and in this I think that they are entirely wrong, and this is not the first time that stress has been laid upon this point in the pages of The Motor Cycle. Any motor cyclist can make a spurt with flying colours at the end of a 200 miles legal limit reliability run, but put him on a rough and hilly course like that round which I rode only a few days ago, and tell him to drive as fast as he possibly can, and he will tell you a different story. It is useless to say fast speeds are not to be encouraged, human nature being what it is. This journal is no advocate of furious driving, but there are times when rapid travelling is justifiable, necessary, and enjoyable. Take the case of the ordinary motor cyclist on tour. He has had a long ride, he is in the open country in a district with which he is not well acquainted. He has had a puncture, the shades of night are falling fast, and he wishes to reach his destination before lighting-up time. Who can blame him if he hurries? He does, and what does he find next morning? Perhaps a few parts which require tightening, such as a loose petrol union, loose carburetter nuts, and so forth. Similar conditions prevailed last week—there were three cases of petrol unions coming away from the tanks, odds and ends were loose, compelling those who suffered these troubles to retire. In one case a competitor finished with his tank wedged up with a screwdriver…It is the pace that kills, and that same pace finds out the faults in such a way that no manufacturer whose machines competed last week will let the same defects occur next year. The Motor Cycle knows the value of roadracing, and will encourage it as long as the approximately perfect motor bicle is non-existing.”
“TT RACES BY BIOSCOPE: Mr Alfred Butt, the managing director of the Palace Theatre, who is, by the way, a keen motorist, made elaborate preparations for his bioscope staff to photograph the races in the Isle of Man. Notwithstanding the miserable weather, some excellent results were obtained, the Motor Cycle Tourist Trophy Race being fully shown. The theatre has been entirely redecorated, and the upholstery is an invitation in itself. The additional lights, without provoking a glare, reveal the luxurious decorations and improvements. A great feature is the hat, glass, or small parcel rack which is at the back of every stall; this affords a great convenience to all. The stage is of great depth.”
☛The first TT was held over 10 laps of the ‘short’ St John’s circuit which measured 15 miles 1,430 yards. So the competitors and their bikes had to survive 158 miles of potholed dirt tracks.
☛Of 25 starters, 18 singles and seven twins, only 12 finished. FW ‘Pa’ Applebee rode a Rex single, with his son Frank and Oliver Godfrey on twins. Billy Wells was on a Vindec and foreign competition came from a brace of German NSUs, one of them ridden by a German.
☛The trophy given by the Marquis de Mouzilly was (and is) a silver figure of Mercury on a silver wheel measuring nearly three feet tall. It was based on the Montagu Trophy given to the winner of the TT car races. A separate award for the fastest twin was presented by Dr Hele-Shaw. Prize money was £25 (worth over £2,000 today), £15 and £10 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
☛The ‘Grandstand’ was a row of beer crates for officials to stand on; the paddock was next to an ancient stone wall at the Tynwald Inn; the scoreboard was a blackboard from the nearby schoolhouse.
☛The course ranged from dry and dusty to water-filled potholes. Ballacraine to Kirk Michael, the worst section of the course because of its everyday use by cars, was sprayed with an acid solution in an attempt to control the dust. This had no effect on the dust but burned holes in the riders’ clothing.
☛The bikes were weighed at St Johns Railway Station then wheeled to an adjacent barn where they were held “approximately perpendicular and every drop of fuel was abstracted from the petrol union”.
☛Each bike was filled with its first allocation and parked in an enclosure “opposite stakes to which each man’s number was attached. Behind the stake was a numbered and sealed petrol can containing the second allowance of fuel, a funnel and a can opener”.
☛The fuel stop halfway through the race included a 10-minute tea break for riders.
☛Eight of 17 singles and three of eight twins completed the race.
REM (FOR REMBRANDT) Fowler entered the TT almost by accident. While chatting to ‘Pa’ Norton at the 1906 motorcycle show at Bingley Hall, Birmingham he was astonished to be asked if he would like to ride for Norton. He was hesitant about taking on crack riders such as the Collier Brothers, Bert Colver and Jack Marshall—this, after all, would be his first serious motor cycle competition—and had to be talked into it. Over to you, Rem…“Looking back over half a century of motorcycling, I think that my first TT race of 1907–which was the first race of all–was fairly well crowded with events and episodes. During the practice period two competitors were very concerned because my Norton had such a long wheel-base and spring forks. According to their ideas, spring forks were not safe and would make it very difficult for me to get the long machine round corners. The answer to that was: I won (the twin-cylinder class) and made the record lap which remained unbroken the next year. I had an abscess in my neck lanced two days before the race–in photographs the bandages could be seen flapping in the wind! I was in no fit state to ride for I was in a very run-down and nervous condition. Twenty minutes before the race, however, a friend fetched me a glassful of neat brandy tempered with a little milk. This had the desired effect and I set off full of hope and Dutch courage. Then the fun started. I carried four spare plugs and a spanner in my coat pocket (plugs had a habit of blowing their middles out) and I was lucky to finish on the last one. Also, my front tyre–beaded edge, of course–blew off and threw me when I was doing about 60mph in those days. I wasn’t hurt much, but I had a very anxious time changing the tube for a spare butt-ended one which I had carried round my shoulders. We had no front stands, which didn’t make things any easier. My most exciting moment, I think, was when I had to make up my mind whether to stop and maybe lose the race, or plunge blind through a wall of fire which stretched right across the road at Devil’s Elbow–caused by a bike which had crashed there. Owing to the density of the smoke and flames I had no idea where the wrecked machine was. A boy scout with a flag tried to stop me but I decided to risk it, and luckily came through OK. I shall never forget the hot blast of those flames. Yes, I think that the 1907 TT was the most hectic I have had in all my riding years.” For the record, Fowler reported that he stopped 10 times. As well as changing plugs and that inner tube, he came off not once but twice, wired on a flapping mudguard, wired up the advance/retard lever, tightened the Norton’s drive belt twice and had to retrieve a dropped pump because competitors were required to finish the race with a complete toolkit. He also received what was probably the first TT pit signal when ‘Pa’ Norton, worried that Fowler might forget to use the manual oil pump of the right of the Norton’s tank, waved a piece of cardboard with ‘oil’ stencilled on it (other riders received shouted information and advice from friends as they struggled slowly up Creg Willys).
Following the race a jubilant Rem Fowler took his TT winning bike to the Coventry MCC’s gymkhana and entered in the ‘to and fro’ race. He was beaten by a Mr GL Fletcher on his 1¾hp Motosacoche. You win some…
MANY YEARS later, Jack Marshall also had some vivid recollections: “Those who had pedals pedalled fit to bust themselves. Those who hadn’t frequently jumped off asnd ran.Creg Willes Hill was the worst of all, of course. A lot of chaps conked right out on that, and, being unable to restart single-gear machines on the gradient, had to go back to the bottom. You had to pick your time, of course, but there wasn’t much danger in it, for everyone was pedalling or running anyway. Our main troubles were punctures, broken and slipping belts, broken or stretched exhaust valves, seized engines–and crashes. We found our compulsory toolkits very useful, I can tell you! Also we carried spare belts wrapped round our waists and at least one spare butt-ended tube. The brakes weren’t much good and the roads, of course, were shocking. The Ballacraine and Kirk Michael corners were about the worst of all, but a good many of us fell off quite regularly on the Devil’s Elbow hairpin, which, with its downhill approach, was the ‘Governor’s Bridge’ of those days. In Peel there was an ‘S’ bend with a lamp post on each side of it. The authorities took the lamp-posts down in advance. I suppose they knew we should knock them down in any case and taking them down first saved man a chap from hurting himself! What did we wear? Why, just ordinary motor cycle clothing. Some of the chaps wore long leather coasts or raincoats, others even had rubber ponchos. I was one of the first to adopt a leather waistcoat, breeches and knee-boots, which for many years after that were called ‘TT boots’. Every machine had to have an efficient silencer, and no cut-out was allowed, as it was on the roads in the ordinary way those days. My single-gear ratio, by the way, was about 4 to 1, I had no clutch and no pedals—but I could run pretty well! Most of the riders lived at Peel, Ballacraine, Glen Helen or St John’s—there were a few in Douglas, but not many…The first TT was a great adventure and were all terribly keen and serious.”
A WEEK AFTER THE BIG RACE The Motor Cycle’s ‘special correspondent’ took stock: “My report in last week’s issue was, of necessity, somewhat meagre, and consequently some further details will be of interest. There is no doubt that the allowance of petrol worried the competitors to a considerable extent, even to preventing a larger entry, but those who persisted in their attempts to reduce the fuel consumption of their machines met, in several cases, with wonderful success, since three of the single-cylinder machines and one of the twins managed to run over a hundred miles to the gallon. All this goes to prove that the practising on the course was done in a very rough and ready manner. Five or six competitors in the single-cylinder class could have greatly improved their speed, and two of the twins could probably have done likewise. I think I mentioned in the last issue that two or three of the men had only one day’s practice, and those I have in mind were those whose residues in their tanks at the end of the race were the largest. This leads one to suppose that sufficient importance was not attached by all to the race, with the result that those who realised its importance and took pains accordingly did best. Now, although petrol consumption is an important point, in these days of scarcity of fuel, there are other points of even greater importance that this race goes to expose. I am well aware that many prominent motor cyclists are against road racing, and in this I think that they are entirely wrong, and this is not the first time that stress has been laid upon this point in the pages of The Moor Cycle. Any motor cyclist can make a spurt with flying colours at the end of a 200 miles legal limit reliability run, but put him on a rough and ready hilly course like that round which I rode only a few days ago, and tell him to drive as fast as he possibly can, and he will tell you a different story. It is useless to say fast speeds are not to be encouraged, human nature being what it is. This journal is no advocate of furious driving, but there are times when rapid travelling is justifiable, necessary, and enjoyable. Take the case of the ordinary motor cyclist on tour. He has had a long ride, he is in the open country in a district with which he is not well acquainted. He has had a puncture, the shades of night are falling fast, and he wishes to reach his destination before lighting-up time. Who can blame him if he hurries? He does, and what does he find next morning? Perhaps a few parts which require tightening, such as a loose petrol union, a loose carburetter, nuts, and so forth. Similar conditions prevailed last week—there were three cases of petrol unions coming away from the tanks, odds and ends were loose, compelling those who suffered these troubles to retire. In one case a competitor finished with his tank wedged up with a screwdriver. Do not these facts, then, preach their own little sermon? It is the pace that kills, and that same pace finds out the faults in such a way that no manufacturer whose machines competed last week will let the same defects occur next year. The Motor Cycle knows the value of road racing, and will encourage it as long as it is necessary, and this will be as long as the approximately perfect motor bicycle is non-existing. Turning to the race itself, I consider it to have been a grand success. The little sixteen miles triangular course, though not ideal from a spectacular point of view, was one which was well calculated to test the machines to the utmost. The road from Peel to Ballacraine was just sufficiently rough to find out the little weak points to which I have just referred, while the many corners and the stiff ascents (more especially the one out of Glen Helen) serves to test the hill-climbing properties of the machines entered. The fact that the course was short was also in its favour from a spectacular point of view, with the result that the starting point was being continually passed by the competitors, so that the on-lookers never lost interest in what was going on. The organisation was excellent, and I am glad to have an opportunity of saying something about it. Each doubtful corner was marked with a red hand stamped ACC; and at every one of these points a man was stationed with a flag, so that the men could not go wrong. In the morning of the race the machines were all weighed at St John’s railway station, and were then wheeled up to a barn adjoining the course, outside of which was a level strip of cement. On this the motor bicycles were held approximately perpendicular, and every drop of fuel was abstracted from the petrol union. Each man had his own sealed petrol can and funnel, out of which his first allowance of petrol was taken. The frame and filler were next sealed, and the machines were taken to a grass plot just outside the enclosure and jacked up, opposite stakes to which each man’s number was attached. Behind the stake was a numbered and sealed petrol can containing the second allowance of fuel, a funnel, and a can opener. Towards ten o’clock the men were placed on the starting line in pairs. The result was that, being started at one minute intervals, the competitors were got off smartly and quickly—in fact, everything passed off without a hitch. At half-time all the men had a brief rest of ten minutes’ duration. Meanwhile a host of officials broke the tank and can seals, and carefully poured out the second allowance of petrol, so that the men could have a few moments in which to refresh themselves. The amount of petrol allowed for the single-cylinder machines was 1 gallon 6 pints 1 ounce, and for the twins 2 gallons 17 ounces. In addition to this 1 pint was allowed to make up for any error in the design of the tanks. To Mr AG Reynolds especially is the credit of these arrangements due. The attention to detail and careful organisation have resulted in this, the second motor cycle event in the Isle of Man, being a most brilliant success. All round the course crowds of interested spectators watched the event, and the success which it has met with this year should tend to a more hearty support in 1908. The final results are interesting and instructive, and I give them in tabulated form, so that the performance of every rider can be seen at a glance. Twenty-five out of twenty-six riders started, and eleven completed the course. Although we mention that the 1908 event might reasonably attract a larger number of entries, we do not think this, the first motor cycle Tourist Trophy Race, was at all unrepresentative. The fact of an amateur winning the twin-cylinder class should be an inducement to others to come forward next year and try their chance. Our opinions with regard to an amateur’s chances has been fully confirmed by Fowler’s and Heaton’s excellent performances last week. Brice’s consumption—129 miles to the gallon—proves that the regulations are not difficult. As far as can be told at present, the prizes will be awarded in the following manner: First prize, CR Collier, £25 and the trophy; second prize, Marshall, £15; third prize, Hulbert, £10. Twin-cylinder class—First prize, Fowler, £25 and Dr. Hele-Shaw’s prize; second prize, Wells, Wells, £15. Private owners’ single-cylinder class.—Prize £5, RW Ayton. Twin cylinder class—Prize £5, W Heaton. SF Edge prize for the best performance of a British-made machine, CR Collier, 3½hp Matchless-JAP, 85mm bore and 76mm stroke, Brown & Barlow carburetter, with Gillett-Lehmann controller, coil and accumulator ignition, 26in x 2in Dunlop beaded-edge tyres. Brooks saddle. and Stanley-Dermatine belt. St Mars prize for the best performance of a foreign-made machine driven by a foreigner, M Geiger. Schulte prize for the best performance of a motor bicycle fitted with a two-speed gear, JA Dent. Marshall was most unfortunate in having a fall and also puncturing his tyre; but for this it would have been an even closer race between him and Collier. His machine ran with remarkable regularity, and he had a quantity of petrol to spare. The Rex team had exceedingly bad luck, and Godfrey was almost in tears when he found he had to retire. He had been running well, and had been exceptionally fast on the hills. Stanley Webb was another rider who experienced the worst of luck. He complained that his broken exhaust valve was due to the wrong type of valve being sent to him. He is a good rider, and I can testify to his speed on the hill out of Glen Helen on the day previous to the race. Mr J Edge kindly assisted me in observing some of the men on Glen Helen Hill, and a few notes on their performances on the second round may be of interest. Godfrey was apparently the fastest; Le Grand, on the GB, came up well on the low speed, CR Collier pedalled, but otherwise came up well ; Smyth dismounted and ran beside his machine. Dent came up well on his low gear; Silver mounted steadily but well; Martin slow; HA Collier pedalled, but came up fast; Ayton pedalled, being geared too high; Applebee fair; Marshall, Hulbert, Heaton, and Fowler very good. Too much cannot be said of the consistent running of CR Collier, he being a man of great experience in road racing competitions—having three times represented England in the International Cup Race, he knew the ropes thoroughly; that is to say, he knew what was required in the design of his machine, and he knew how to ride it. In his case. and in the case of all the other competitors, the machines in no way deserved the term freak. Indeed. but for the fact that most of them were rather lightly built, they differed in no way from ordinary touring motor bicycles. This being the case, there is more need than ever for the race to be encouraged, and I sincerely trust that the 1908 Little Tourist Trophy will be run on bigger lines than in 1907. Mention most also be made of the excellent performance of Fowler on the twin Norton, who ran most consistently, and who is credited with making the fastest circuit of the day at an average speed of over forty-three miles per hour. Both he and Wells ran very well, though both experienced tyre troubles. To Mr. AG Reynolds, who was the prime mover in the whole concern, the major credit of the organisation is due, but sight most not be lost of the other numerous workers, such as F Straight, the secretary, his assistant, Beasley, Mr Robert Todd and his son, Mr. Geoffrey Todd. Messrs AE Newton, JWG Brooker, JS Mallam, RDF Paul, and EMP Boileau, who assisted in the weighing, the sealing of the machines, and the measuring of the petrol. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Major Lloyd for kindly conveying me in his car fitted with Elastes tyres on the day of my arrival, to Peel. Here a 3½hp Triumph motor bicycle, placed at my disposal by the Triumph Cycle Co, was awaiting me. This machine did exceedingly good work, taking me round the course on the day previous to the race, and conveying three separate press messages from St John’s to Douglas and back without a hitch. The North British Rubber Co, makers of the Clincher tyres, inform us that the winning machine, as well as the second and third in the two-cylinder class, were fitted with their motor cycle tyres. The only private rider in the single-cylinder class who secured a prize also rode Clinchers. Dunlop tyres were used on the first three machines in the single-cylinder class. Collier’s and Fowler’s machines were both fitted with Price’s stands.”
THE WORLD-FAMOUS TT trophy presented by the Marquis de Mouzilly St Mars went to Charlie Collier for winning the single-cylinder race (and has been used ever since for the Senior TT). Automotive engineer Dr HS Hele-Shaw, best known for developing a multi-plate clutch, donated a trophy for the Twin-cylinder Class, but thereby hangs a tale because Rem Fowler never got it. Half a century later Harold ‘Oily’ Karslake (creator of the Dreadnought) researched this footnote of TT history. In a letter to Karslake dated 2 July 1957, Fowler stated: “I should like to say, definitely, that I never possessed, or even saw the trophy put up by Dr Hele-Shaw for the twin-cylinder class, in the First TT 1907. I had the cash prize of £25 and that’s all.” And even that wasn’t plain sailing—James Norton reckoned he was due half the prize money for supplying the winning machine. Fowler pointed out that he had paid full price for his bike and had paid all of his own expenses—and he added that with another rider on board the Norton might not have won. Fowler’s club, the Birmingham MCC, decided that his achievement deserved some tangible commemoration and bought him a hip flask inscribed: “Presented to H Rem Fowler by HG Parkes, Esq for the best performance made by any member of the Birm MCC during the year 1907. Winner of the ACC International Tourist Trophy Race, Twin Cylinder Class 28th May, 1907, Isle of Man”. Considering that Fowler started the race with a healthy (medicinal) dose of brandy, the flask was an appropriate choice by his admiring clubmates. In 2018 the flask went under the hammer and was bought by the national heritage agency for the Isle of Man, Manx National Heritage, for £25,000, complete with its leather case inscribed “H Rem Fowler. 32 Livingstone Rd, Kings Heath, Birmingham”.
HAVING ENCOURAGED AMATEUR riders to have a go at the TT in 1908, The Motor Cycle offered some advice on suitable clothing and training: “For clothing, Mr Bagshaw pinned his faith to good warm woollen vests and pants next to the skin, also a woollen shirt, thick socks, strong riding breeches with leggings, a leather waistcoat with sleeves, ordinary cloth coat and warm, thin gloves. A pair of mica goggles, a strong body belt and a heavy pair of boots should also prove useful. Personal training should commence at least three months previous to the race; but, before commencing, a strict medical examination should be first taken. A cold plunge first thing in the morning. One should not, however, be taken straight from bed, but, rather, should allow the body to cool a little. Dumb-bell exercise should follow for no more than a quarter of an hour, taking particular care that the breathing is attended to. After breakfast, have a short spin, and then attend to the ordinary work of the day. At night another spin, a light supper, exercise for another quarter hour, and early to bed. None or very little tobacco or drink should be touched. Drink, however, plenty of pure, cold water and have a hot bath once a week. When practising on the course, commence by going round two or three times quietly, and then once at a fast pace; return to the hotel, have breakfast, and then consider all the points of the course and what happened during your first ride. Each day’s practice will see you increasing both your speed and distance. Do not ride much during the daytime or you will have a tendency to become stale. About three days before the actual race see to the following: carburetter, magneto, valves, bearings, wheels for alignment and proper lubrication, piston rings, lubricating oil, etc. Mr Bagshaw, of course, did not mean this to be the only overhaul, but this particular supervision must be most carefully taken. The lecturer considered the physical strain of the race far greater than the mental strain. And he advised all motorcyclists to enter for the event ‘if at all possible’.”