On this day in history : 28th May 1907 – The first Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Motorcycle Races take place – ten laps of a 15 mile 1,430 yard course; a total distance of 158.125 miles….

Motor racing had begun on the Isle of Man in 1904, after an Act of Parliament imposed a restriction of 20 mph on mainland Britain’s roads…. The Secretary of the Automobile Car Club of Britain and Ireland approached the Isle of Man authorities as to holding races on public roads…. Permission was granted for a 52.15 mile Highlands course for the 1904 Gordon Bennett Trial; races were to take place on the open highway but the roads closed to the public for the duration….

Initially the races were for cars only – but in 1905 it was decided to trial motorcycles with a view to forming a British team for the International Motor Cycle Cup Races…. The following year the Cup Races were held in Austria – but amid claims of foul-play and cheating…. As a result an idea was formed for motorcycle races based on the same principle as the car races held on the Isle of Man…. It was proposed the races, in time-trial format, would run in two classes:- single-cylinder with an average 90 mpg and twin-cylinder 75 mpg fuel consumption….

1905 Matchless Motorcycle – image credit: sv1ambo CC BY 2.0

The very first TT race started at 10am on the 28th May 1907 over the ‘St Johns Short Course’ – a total of 158 1/8 miles….25 riders on road-legal touring motorcycles…. From the off the race was peppered with mishaps and dramas; the first lap saw a fall and a puncture, in lap 2 a rider had to stop and adjust a drive-belt, only to retire in lap 3…. During a compulsory 10 minute replenishment stop rider Oliver Godfrey’s Rex motorcycle caught fire….

The race was won by Charlie Collier in the single-cylinder class, on his Matchless motorcycle, in 4 hours, 8 minutes and 8 seconds….his speed averaged at 38.21 mph…. Charlie from Plumstead, London raced Matchless motorcycles along with his brother, Harry – which were manufactured by their father’s company H.Collier & Sons…. Harry also took part in the 1907 race but had to retire in lap 9 with engine problems…. Charlie was to take a second TT victory in 1910….

Charlie Collier – Fair use

The twin-cylinder race was won by Rem Fowler on his Peugeot-engine Norton motorcycle…. Rem, a skilled toolmaker from Birmingham, had nearly given up during the race after suffering problems with drive-belts and spark-plugs…. Then on lap 7 he crashed at almost 60 mph after bursting a tyre…. It was only because a spectator informed him he was leading the twin-cylinder race by half an hour that he decided to carry on…. He won his class in a time of 4 hours, 21 minutes and 52 seconds….

Rem Fowler on his Peugeot-engine Norton – public domain

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