Snaefell Mountain Course

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Mountain Course
Location Douglas, Isle of Man
Time zone GMT
Major events Isle of Man TT, Manx Grand Prix
Length 60.73 km (37.733 mi)
Turns 200+
Lap record 17:06.682 — 132.298 mph (212.913 km/h) (Bruce Anstey, Honda, 2014)

Snaefell Mountain Course or Mountain Course[1] is a road-racing street circuit used for the Isle of Man TT and Manx Grand Prix Races held in the Isle of Man from 1911 and 1923 respectively. The racing is held on public roads closed for racing by an Act of Tynwald (the parliament of the Isle of Man). It is the oldest motor-cycle racing circuit still in use.

The course is 37.733 miles (60.73 km)[2] in length and the start-line is situated on the A2 Glencrutchery Road in the town of Douglas. The racing circuit is based on a number of public roads on the Isle of Man including the primary A2 Douglas to Ramsey road, A1 Douglas to Peel road, A3 Castletown to Ramsey Road and the primary A18 Snaefell Mountain Road. The highest point of the course is situated on the primary A18 Mountain Road between the Bungalow and Hailwood's Height at spot height 422 metres (1,385 ft) above sea level ( 54°14′47.47″N 4°27′57.18″W / 54.2465194°N 4.4658833°W / 54.2465194; -4.4658833).

History[edit]

Route of the Snaefell Mountain Course

Motor racing began on the Isle of Man in 1904 with the Gordon Bennett Trial and were originally restricted to touring automobiles. As the Motor Car Act 1903 placed a speed restriction of 20 mph (32 km/h) on automobiles in the United Kingdom, the Secretary of the Automobile Club of Britain and Ireland approached the authorities in the Isle of Man to seek permission to race automobiles on public roads.[3] Tynwald's The Highways (Light Locomotives) Act 1904 gave permission in the Isle of Man for the 52.15-mile (83.93 km) Highroads Course for the 1904 Gordon Bennett Trial.[4]

For the 1905 Gordon Bennett Car event it was decided to run a trial for motor-cycles the day after for a team to represent Great Britain in the International Motor-Cycle Cup Races. The inability of the motor-cycle competitors to climb the steep primary A18 Snaefell Mountain Road section of the course forced the organisers to use a 25-mile (40 km) section of the Gordon Bennett Trial course. For this reason, the 1907 Isle of Man TT Race used the 15 miles, 1,470 yards (25.49 km) St. John's Short Course. The 1906 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race for automobiles the Highroad Course was reduced from 52.12 miles (83.88 km) to 40 miles, 2 furlongs and 60 yards. For the 1908 Tourist Trophy Race for racing automobiles, the course was again reduced to 37.5 miles (60.4 km) with the removal of the Peel and Sandygate loops and was known as the Four Inch Course.[5] The name of the course derives from the regulations for the 1908 Tourist Trophy adopted by the Royal Automobile Club which limited the engines of the competing automobiles to a cylinder diameter of four-inches (102 mm) . The Four-Inch Course was adopted by the Auto-Cycle Club for the 1911 Isle of Man TT Races. The Four-Inch Course subsequently became known as the Snaefell Mountain Course or Mountain Course when used for motor-cycle racing.[6]

Course Changes 1920–1939[edit]

Brandywell TT Race Marshal Shelter and Weather Station on the A18 Mountain Road/B10 Sartfield Road looking north towards Snaefell Mountain and North Barrule

For the 1920 Isle of Man TT Races, changes were made to the Mountain Course and competitors now turned left at Cronk-ny-Mona and followed the primary A18 Mountain Road to Governor's Bridge with a new start/finish line on Glencrutchery Road which lengthened the course from the pre-World War I length of 37.50 miles (60.35 km) to 37.75 miles (60.75 km). More changes to the course followed in 1923 with the adoption of a private road between Parliament Square and May Hill in Ramsey. The course had previously had negotiated the A2 Albert Road and Tower Road in Ramsey and the new course length was now 37.739 miles (60.74 km). The official course distance for the Snaefell Mountain Course was amended in 1938 to 37.733 miles (60.73 km) which is the current course length.[7]

For the 1934 Isle of Man TT Races major alterations to the Mountain Course were carried out which included the removal of the East Snaefell Mountain sheep-gate.[8] This was followed by the removal of the hump-backed bridge at Ballig and the road work was completed for the Manx Grand Prix in September 1935. Road widening occurred on the Mountain Course at the Highlander, Laurel Bank, Glen Helen (between the Old Quarry and Brew's Restaurant), and at Brandywell with the removal of the Beinn-y-Phott sheep-gate for the 1935 Isle of Man TT Races.[9] Road Improvements occurred at the 26th Milestone, Greeba Bridge and on the Sulby Straight for the 1938 Isle of Man TT Races. Further road widening and landscaping occurred at the Water Works Corner and road widening between the Gooseneck and the 26th Milestone for the 1939 Isle of Man TT Races.[10] A memorial to Jimmie Guthrie was built in 1939 at the The Cutting at a cost of £1,500.[11]

Course Changes 1947–1999[edit]

Major road widening occurred on the Snaefell Mountain course at the 33rd Milestone, including the removal of fence posts at road level and the removal of a section of a grass bank before the start of the 1947 Isle of Man TT Races.[12] Changes to the Mountain Course occurred for the 1953 Isle of Man TT Races including road widening at Bedstead Corner, elevation works at Signpost Corner and Cronk-ny-Mona, and the widening of the corner at Gorse Lea.[13] Before the commencement of racing for the 1953 Manx Grand Prix, the cottage at Appledene Corner was demolished between the 6th and 7th Milestone road-side marker on the primary A1 Douglas to Peel road on the Mountain Course.[14] Further changes occurred to the Mountain Course to facilitate racing on the Clypse Course and during the winter of 1953/54 road widening occurred on the primary A18 Mountain Road at Creg-ny-Baa, Signpost Corner, Cronk-ny-Mona, and at the approach to Governor's Bridge.[15] The approach to the Quarterbridge on the primary A2 Douglas to Peel road was widened and re-profiled and the jumps at the Highlander and adjacent to Ballagarraghyn Cottages were removed for the 1954 Isle of Man TT Races.[16] Other major course alterations for the 1954 Isle of Man TT Races included road widening at Appledene, Handley's Corner, Barregarrow, Rhencullen, Ballaugh Bridge, Ginger Hall (Sulby), and Kerrowmoar.[17] During the winter of 1957/58 the hotel at the Bungalow tram-crossing was removed on the Mountain Section of the course.[18][19]

During the 1960s further road-widening occurred at Ballig and also at Greeba Bridge on the primary A1 Douglas to Peel road. In 1963 a roundabout was added to the road junction at the Quarterbridge.[20] The winter of 1970/1971 and road-widening occurred on the A18 Mountain Road at Verandah by cutting into the hillside.[21] During the winter of 1975/76 road-widening and landscaping by the Isle of Man Highway Board occurred at Snugbrough on the primary A2 road at the 2nd Milestone.[22] The winter of 1986 further re-profiling occurred at the Quarterbridge road junction with a new road traffic system including two new mini-roundabouts, the removal of a traffic island, and trees. Road re-profiling and widening occurred at Quarry Bends during the winter of 1987. During the winter months of 1991/1992 the A18 Mountain Road was closed for repair work to the road foundation between the 26th Milestone and the Mountain Box and also between the Windy Corner and Keppel Gate.[23]

Course Changes from 2000[edit]

Governor's Bridge road junction between the A18 Bemahague Road and the A2 Governor's Road.

From 2003 to 2006, road repair work was carried-out on the primary A3 road from Barregarrow to Cronk-y-Voddy, including Handley's Corner and the 11th Milestone. In 2004 the western-side embankment is removed from Guthrie's Memorial on the A18 Mountain Road. Also, during the winter of 2004/2005 road widening occurred at Windy Corner followed by Brandish Corner during the winter of 2005/2006 by the Isle of Man Department of Transport. In October 2007 the Isle of Man Department of Transport began road widening at Braddan Bridge on the Mountain Course with the creation of a new roundabout incorporating the 'Jubilee Oak' Tree on the A1 Douglas to Peel Road. The Department of Transport also announced the proposal of building a new section of road and roundabout for the Mountain Course with a link road from Signpost Corner to Governor's Bridge using the existing A18 Bemahague Road. This road widening scheme began in February 2008[24] with the removal of trees on the Bemahague Estate which included Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, and the creation of a small mini-roundabout. Further work by the Isle of Man Department of Transport in July and September 2008 included the installation of a storm drain and the completion of the mini-roundabout. The Isle of Man TT Races and Manx Grand Prix continued to use the original A18 Bemahauge Road that runs parallel to the new link road and the Governor's Dip for motor-cycle racing. In July 2008, the Isle of Man Department of Transport announced a £4 Million road safety scheme for the Quarterbridge road junction, including the building of a new roundabout and the demolition of the Quarterbridge Hotel.[25] In August 2009, for the 2009 Manx Grand Prix a section of grass bank is removed from the southern side of Keppel Gate. This is to provide a run-off area after the crash in evening practice by the Australian TT competitor Cameron Donald and a further incident involving a TT Travelling Marshall at Keppel Gate during the 2009 Isle of Man TT Races. Further road construction and repair work is carried out by the Highways Division, Isle of Man Department of Infrastructure, and the Isle of Man Water Authority between Cronk Urleigh and the 13th Milestone during the winter of 2010. This is followed by major road resurfacing work between the 13th Milestone and Westwood Corner near Kirk Michael, Barregarrow Hill, and Sulby Straight from Kella Crossroads to Sulby Bridge during the spring of 2011. The Highways Division modify the road junction at Signpost Corner including improved drainage, elevation changes, and repairs to the road surface in November 2010[26] and the same major repair process of road resurfacing is repeated for the Quarterbridge road junction in February 2011.[27] The Isle of Man Department of Infrastructure during the winter of 2011/2012 remove and re-position roadside fence-posts from the Brandywell Corner to the 32nd Milestone and from the Windy Corner to the 33rd Milestone. During the winter of 2012/2013 the stone TT Marshal shelter at Guthrie's Memorial is demolished. The roadway at Hillberry Corner undergoes repairs to the carriageway and is resurfaced and re-profiled by the Highways Division of the Isle of Man Department of Infrastructure during the Spring of 2014.

Official lap records[edit]

The official lap record for the Snaefell Mountain Course is 17 Minutes and 6.682 seconds at an average speed of 132.298 mph (212.913 km/h) set by Bruce Anstey during the 2014 Superbike TT Race. The race record is held by Michael Dunlop in 1 hour, 45 minutes and 29.980 seconds; an average race speed of 128.747 mph (207.198 km/h) during the 6 lap (236.38 Miles) 2013 Superbike TT race.

The lap record for the Sidecar TT is 19 minutes and 24.24 seconds at an average speed of 116.667 mph set by Nick Crowe and passenger Daniel Sayle during the 2007 Sidecar Race B.[28] The race record for the Sidecar TT is 58 minutes and 59.28 seconds at an average race speed of 115.132 mph for 3 laps (113.00 miles) of the course, held by Dave Molyneux and Daniel Sayle during the 2009 Sidecar Race A.[29]

In the 2006 TT practices New Zealander Bruce Anstey achieved the unofficial current top speed record of 206 mph (332 km/h)[30] at the end of Sulby straight on a Suzuki 1000cc machine. This speed value was registered by the on-board datalogging equipment and cannot be considered as an official record.

Cycling[edit]

The same course has also been used for cycle racing, including individual time trials and, from 1936, the Manx International massed-start road race. The first race held on the 18 June 1936 was won by Charles Holland of the Midland Cycle and Athletics Club in 1 hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds for one lap of the Mountain Course.[31]

The overall cycling lap record for the Snaefell Mountain Course is held by Chris Boardman set in 1993 in a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes and 54 seconds.[32] The cycling record for an electric hybrid bicycle is held by Mat Dibb set in 2014 in a time of 1 hour, 28 minutes and 37 seconds. [33]

Cars[edit]

On 6 June 1990 Tony Pond completed the first 100 mph average speed lap in 22 minutes, 9.1 seconds driving a Rover 827 Vitesse.[34]

In 2011 Mark Higgins completed a lap in 19 minutes, 56.67 seconds at an average speed over 113 mph driving a U.S.-spec 4-door Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

In 2014, Mark Higgins broke his own record driving a USA 2015 specification Subaru WRX STI with a lap time of 19 minutes, 15.88 at an average speed of 117.510 miles per hour (189.114 km/h) [35]

Named corners[edit]

TT Race Marshal Signal Box on the A18 Mountain Road looking north towards Guthrie's Memorial and the Point of Ayre.

It is estimated that there are over 200 corners on the Isle of Man Mountain Course and about 60 corners have names. The first corner to be named after a competitor was Edges Corner in 1920 on the primary A21 Johnny Watterson's Lane on the Mountain Course between Cronk-ny-Mona and the A22 Ballanard Road in Douglas used for racing between 1911 and 1922.[36] Part of the Mountain Course was named Brandish Corner after Walter Brandish crashed in the right-hand gutter while trying to pass another competitor at Upper-Hillberry Corner (previously Telegraph Hill) between Creg-ny-Baa and Hillberry Corner and broke a leg during practice for the 1923 Isle of Man TT Races.[37] During an early morning practice session for the 1927 Isle of Man TT, Archie Birkin swerved to avoid a fish-van travelling to Peel and collided with a wall and was killed. The corner in Kirk Michael on the A3 primary road where the accident occurred was renamed Birkin's Bend. From 1928 practice sessions for the Isle of Man TT Races and Manx Grand Prix were held on closed-roads. The Ballameanagh Corner between the 11th Milestone and the 12th Milestone is renamed Handley's Corner after Wal Handley riding a Rudge motorcycle, crashed during lap 1 of the 1932 Isle of Man TT in the Senior TT Race sustaining a back injury and subsequently retired from the race. In 1939 a stone memorial to Jimmie Guthrie was built at The Cutting on the A18 Snaefell Mountain Road and the S-bend corner is renamed Guthrie's Memorial.[38]

A crash during an evening practice session for the 1950 Isle of Man TT Races by Bill Doran between Ballig Bridge and Laurel Bank the corner was renamed Doran's Bend. A stone shelter in a style of a small mountain Alpine Lodge was built in 1955 in memorial to Les Graham the inaugural 500cc World Motor-Cycle Champion on the A18 Mountain Road[39] The corner is named Les Graham Memorial or sometimes referred to as the Bungalow Bridge. The uphill section of the Mountain Course from the Bungalow to the highest point of the course near Brandywell is renamed Hailwood Rise in memory of Mike Hailwood the former world motor-cycle champion in 1981 and the highest point of the course is named Hailwood's Height adjacent to the Brandywell road junction.[40] In 2003 the 32nd Milestone was renamed 'Dukes'[41] after the 1950s world motor-cycle champion Geoff Duke and the 26th Milestone renamed Joey's after the former Formula 1 TT motor-cycle champion Joey Dunlop.

In 2013 the Isle of Man Government took the unusual step of renaming corners after active competitors, with 21 times Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness, the most successful active rider, and Dave Molyneux, the most successful Manxman with 17 wins, the men honoured.[42]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Isle of Man Centenary TT – ACU/MMCC Official Race Guide pp67 Isle of Man Department of Tourism and Leisure (2007) Mannin Media Group Ltd
  2. ^ Official TT Guide 1992 pp 45 Mannin Media Publication/Isle of Man Department of Tourism
  3. ^ Island Racer 2004 pp 112–113 Mortons Media Group Ltd ISSN 1743-5838
  4. ^ The Statutes of the Isle of Man Vol VII from 1896 to 1905 pp569 Edited by C.T.W Hughes-Games Brown and Sons Ltd
  5. ^ TT Pioneers – Early Car Racing in the Isle of Man pp 103–104 Robert Kelly, Mercury Asset Management (1996)(1st Edition) The Manx Experience, The Alden Press ISBN No 1 873120 61 3
  6. ^ TT Pioneers – Early Car Racing in the Isle of Man pp 103–104 Robert Kelly, Mercury Asset Management (1996)(1st Edition) The Manx Experience, The Alden Press ISBN No 1 873120 61 3
  7. ^ Official TT Guide 1992 pp 45 edited by Norrie White Isle of Man Department of Tourism (1992) Mannin Media Ltd
  8. ^ Isle of Man Examiner dated 31 May 1934
  9. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 25 May 1935
  10. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times pp4 dated 13 May 1939
  11. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times pp18 dated 17 June 1939
  12. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 12 May 1947
  13. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times pp7 dated 25 April 1953
  14. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp12 dated 14 August 1953
  15. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp12 dated 5 January 1954
  16. ^ TT 100 – The Authorised History of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Racing by Mick Duckworth pp111 (2007)(1st Edition) Lily Publications ISBN 1-8996067-4
  17. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp6 dated 28 May 1954
  18. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp1 dated 10 April 1958
  19. ^ TT 100 – The Authorised History of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Racing by Mick Duckworth pp29 (2007)(1st Edition) Lily Publications ISBN 1-89960-67-4
  20. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp5 dated 6 June 1963
  21. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times pp1 dated 6 January 1971
  22. ^ TT 100 The Official Authorised History of Isle of Man Tourist Tophy Racing page 21 by Mick Duckworth Editor Miles Coswell (2007)(1st Edition) Lily Publications Ltd ISBN 1-899602-67-4
  23. ^ Official Isle of Man TT Programme 1992 pp 45 edited by Norrie White Isle of Man Department of Tourism (1992) Mannin Media Ltd
  24. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp5 dated 5 February 2008
  25. ^ Manx Independent pp3 dated 4 July 2008
  26. ^ Isle of Man Examiner page 5, Isle of Man Newspapers Ltd (2010) Johnson Press Publishing 2 November 2010
  27. ^ Isle of Man Examiner page 5, Isle of Man Newspapers Ltd (2011) Johnson Press Publishing 25 January 2011
  28. ^ TT Centenary News – Issue 3 pp11 dated 6 June 2007 – Isle of Man Newspapers Ltd ISSN 1471-7905
  29. ^ Bike Sport News – TT 2009 Special Issue 238 page 7 dated 16 June 2009 BSN Ltd
  30. ^ http://www.motorcycledaily.com/20june06_ttspeed.htm New Isle of Man Top Speed Record (retrieved 12 August 2006)
  31. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp15 dated 29 January 2008
  32. ^ Isle of Man Examiner – Brialtagh Ellan Vannin page 30 Finial Whistle Isle of Man Newspapers Ltd (2014) Johnson Press Publishing – Sheffield Web 19 August 2013
  33. ^ Manx Independent – Manninagh Seyr page 57 Isle of Man Newspapers Ltd (2014) Johnson Press Publishing – Newsprint (Knowsley) Limited   18th September 2014
  34. ^ Williams, David (2 April 2002). "Tony Pond". Motor Sport (The Guardian). Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  35. ^ Isle of Man Examiner – Brialtagh Ellan Vannin page 13 Isle of Man Newspapers Ltd (2014) Johnson Press Publishing – Sheffield Web 10 June 2014
  36. ^ TT 100 – The Authorised History of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Racing by Mick Duckworth pp29 (2007)(1st Edition) Lily Publications ISBN 1-89960-67-4
  37. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times pp3 dated 9 June 1923
  38. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times pp18 dated 17 June 1939
  39. ^ Isle of Man Examiner pp9 dated 10 June 1955
  40. ^ Isle of Man TT Festival Fortnight 1–12 June 1981 – Official Souvenir Programme page 17 Isle of Man Tourist Board The Auto-Cycle Union (1981) J.M. Noble Ltd, Isle of Man
  41. ^ TT News – Issue 1 pp20 dated 1 June 2003
  42. ^ http://www.visordown.com/motorcycle-news--racing-news/tt-corners-named-after-mcguinness-and-molyneux/22610.html

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°10′04″N 4°28′40″W / 54.16778°N 4.47778°W / 54.16778; -4.47778