What Is the Isle of Man TT?
The Isle of Man TT is one of the oldest and most dangerous motorcycle races in the world. The event has expanded to become two weeks of festivals and racing, drawing around 50,000 spectators to the Isle of Man each spring. Keep reading to learn more about the Isle of Man TT.
- Venue: Isle of Man TT Mountain Circuit
- Location: Isle of Man
- First Race: 1907
- Duration: 7 Days
- Lap Length: 37.730 miles (60.718 km)
- Race Length: 1-6 laps (depending on category)
- Series: International Isle of Man TT Races
- Governing Body: FIM
- Most Rider Wins: Joey Dunlop (26 wins)
- Most Manufacturer Wins: Honda (23 wins)
- First Prize: £20,000 ($24,900 USD)
Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT)
The Isle of Man TT (or Tourist Trophy) is an annual series of time-trial motorcycle races. Typically held in May or June, seven classes of motorcycles compete in a week of qualifying sessions followed by a week of races. Racing takes place on the Isle of Man TT Mountain Road Course, a 37.7-mile (60.7 km) circuit made up of public roads that are closed for the event. The premier competition is the Senior TT class race, which takes place on the final Saturday of the event. The Isle of Man TT is notorious for being the most deadly race in motorsports; over 260 riders have been killed to date.
Isle of Man TT History
First held in 1907, the Isle of Man TT is the oldest motorcycle race in the world. The inaugural race was held on St John’s Short Course, a 15-mile road circuit. It was organized by the Auto-Cycle Club, the predecessor to today’s ACU, Britain’s governing body of motorsport. Two classes competed in a 158 mile (226 km) time trial. Charlie Collier won the Single Cylinder class on a Matchless-JAP, and Rem Fowler won the Twin Cylinder class on a Norton-Peugeot.
Since then, motorcycle classes have been added and removed, and the circuit has gone through several different versions to reach the current one. The first race under FIM rules was held in 1949. There have been a few interruptions in the race’s long history, such as cancellations for both world wars, a 2001 cancellation due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, and 2020 and 2021 cancellations caused by the COVID pandemic.
Qualifying is held over one week prior to the week of racing, with each class competing in separate sessions. To compete in the Isle of Man TT, riders must hold an FIM International or FIM Europe Race License and a TT Mountain Course License. In qualifying, riders are started in a two-by-two formation at 10-second intervals from pit lane. Riders are required to complete at least two laps, with one lap within 112% of the time set by the third-fastest qualifying rider.
Isle of Man TT Classes
The Isle of Man TT consists of seven different classes, each of which compete in different time trials:
- Senior TT
- Lightweight TT
- Junior TT / Supersport TT
- Superbike TT
- Superstock TT
- Sidecar TT
- Zero TT (all-electric)
Isle of Man TT Format
The Isle of Man TT is run in a time-trial format, with riders in the same trial departing at ten-second intervals from the start/finish line on the Glencrutchery Road. The races range between one and six laps in length, depending on the class. The rider that completes the required number of laps in the shortest time is declared the winner for their class.
Isle of Man Schedule
Below is the weeklong schedule for racing at the Isle of Man TT.
|First Saturday||Supersport TT Race 1||4|
|First Saturday||Sidecar TT Race 1||3|
|Tuesday||Superstock TT Race1||4|
|Tuesday||Supertwin Race 1||4|
|Wednesday||Supersport TT Race 2||4|
|Wednesday||Sidecar TT Race 2||3|
|Thursday||Zero TT Race||1|
|Friday||Superstock TT Race 2||4|
|Friday||Supertwin TT Race 2||4|
|Second Saturday||Senior TT||6|
Teams and Riders
There are more than 60 different teams that compete in the Isle of Man TT, each sponsoring a single rider. The Senior TT class allows up to 60 riders in the race, with the other classes permitting up to 50 riders to start. Most riders compete in multiple classes, and there are typically many more riders that attempt to qualify than those that actually start. The most successful rider in the Isle of Man TT is Joey Dunlop, with an incredible 26 wins.
Why is the Isle of Man TT important?
The Isle of Man TT is important because it is the oldest motorcycle race in the world. Set on a 37.7-mile mountain course, the race is known as being one of the most challenging in the sport. One of the most dangerous races in motorsports, the Isle of Man TT is also notorious for the number of fatalities among riders throughout its history.
How does the Isle of Man TT work?
The Isle of Man TT is a motorcycle race in time-trial format. Riders are released individually from the starting line at ten-second intervals. The rider that completes the required number of laps in the shortest time is declared the winner.