The World Championship YearsDuke, McIntyre, Redman, Hailwood, Agostini and Read dominate the 50's and 60's during the World Championship days
In 1949, the TT became the venue for the Motorcycle World Championships and held the first ever round of the new series that year. The world championship status brought the world’s top riders to the TT in the 1950's and the decade was notable for the emergence of Italian manufacturers Mondial, MV Augusta and Gilera and their riders Carlo Ubbiali, Tarquinio Provini, Geoff Duke and Bob McIntyre. Bill Lomas and Ken Kavanagh on the Moto Guzzi’s were also prominent.
In 1957, Scotsman McIntyre became the first rider ever to lap the Mountain circuit at 100mph, much to the annoyance of Duke who came agonisingly close two years before when he lapped at 99.97mph.
The late fifties and early sixties were the golden era of the TT, with riders like John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read and Jim Redman competing in entertaining battles, both with machine and each other. This era is also notable for the first appearance of a Japanese bike company in 1959, Honda, shortly followed by the other leading Japanese marques – Kawasaki, Suzuki and finally Yamaha.
In 1961, Hailwood won his first of 14 TT’s, becoming the first rider to finish with three wins in a week, with the 125cc and 250cc races on Honda machinery and the Senior on a Norton. Hailwood would later go on to win five consecutive Senior titles.
Many consider the battle between Agostini on the MV and Hailwood on a Honda in the 1967 Senior TT as the greatest ever race on the Island. Between 1966 and 1972 Agostini managed 10 race wins of his own, while in 1967 Hailwood set another lap record at 108.77mph, which would stand for a further 8 years.
That record stood until 1975 when Mick Grant, on a two-stroke triple Kawasaki, increased it to 109.82mph, breaking Hailwood’s absolute lap record. The following year saw the final time the Isle of Man was part of the World Championship, but also the TT’s introduction to the burgeoning skills and talents of the now legendary Joey Dunlop.