The World Championship YearsDuke, McIntyre, Redman, Hailwood, Agostini and Read dominate the 50's and 60's during the World Championship days
The TT first became a venue for the Motorcycle World Championships in 1949. The world championship status brought the world’s top riders to the TT in the 1950's. 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, the Scotsman Bob McIntyre became the first rider ever to lap the Mountain circuit at 100mph, much to the annoyance of Geoff Duke who came agonisingly close the previous year, achieving 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 the Japanese bike company, Honda, shortly followed by the other leading Japanese marques – Kawasaki, Suzuki and finally Yamaha.
In 1961, Mike Hailwood won his first of 14 TT’s, becoming the first rider to finish with three wins in a week, with the125 and 250 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 Giacomo Agostini on the MV and Hailwood on a Honda in the 1967 Senior TT as the greatest ever race on the Island. Between 1965 and 1972 Agostini managed 11 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 Mike Grant, on a two-stroke triple Kawasaki, increased it to 109.80mph, breaking Hailwood’s absolute lap record. The following year saw the end of the Isle of Man’s association with the British Grand Prix, but also the TT’s introduction to the burgeoning skills and talents of the now legendary Joey Dunlop.