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The race to reach 100 mph in motor-cycling’s Tourist Trophy

Posted in Historical articles, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Thursday, 9 August 2012

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This edited article about the Isle of Man’s Tourist Trophy originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 762 published on 21st August 1976.

Motorcycle racing, picture, image, illustration

Motorcycle racing by Graham Coton

Motor-cycling fans who go to the Isle of Man for the Tourist Trophy races can be sure of a visit packed with thrills.

As they watch the machines roaring around the 37-mile-long track, with its many corners and hills, they marvel at the expertise of the riders.

In fact, great skill and dexterity have always been required for the races run over the island’s public roads since 1907; and these have never been lacking in riders who have reached high speeds on this circuit.

In the days following the Second World War, the target many were aiming at was 100 mph, difficult because of the nature of the island’s roads.

This was very nearly reached in 1955 by Geoff Duke who clocked up 99.97 mph. At first, the time keepers announced his speed as 100 mph. But then they changed their minds after consulting their hand-held watches, a far cry from the accurate electronic timing methods of today.

The honour of being the first rider to pass the 100 mph mark went to Robert McIntyre in 1957 when he reached 101.03 mph on his Gilera. From the drop of the starter’s flag he was off like a bullet.

Towards the end of his eight lap race, he reeled off four laps in succession each at over 100 mph.

The lap record was put up to 104.08 mph in 1960 by John Surtees. He lapped at over 100 mph eight times between 1958 and 1960.

Following his motor-cycling career, in which he won six T.T. races, Surtees switched to motor racing and crowned his Isle of Man successes with the world motor racing championship, proof that, on the island, true champions are made.

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