St John's Short Course

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St John's Short Course
Location St John's, Isle of Man
Time zone GMT
Major events Isle of Man TT
Length 25.51 km (15.85 mi)
Turns 45+
Lap record 17 minutes 51 seconds (H.H.Bowen, BAT, 1910)

The (St John's, Ballacraine, Kirk Michael, Peel, St John's) Short Course describes a road-racing street circuit used for the Isle of Man TT held between 1907 and 1910. The Isle of Man TT races were run in a time-trial format on public roads closed for racing by an Act of Tynwald (the parliament of the Isle of Man).

The first motor-cycle race was held on 28 May 1907 over 10 laps of the Short Course of 15 miles 1,470 yards and was for road-legal touring motor-cycles with exhaust silencers, saddles, pedals and mud-guards.[1]

The startline was situated in the village of St John's in the Isle of Man. The Short Course was based on a number of public roads on the Isle of Man including the primary A1 Douglas to Peel road, A3 Castletown to Ramsey road and the primary A4 Peel to Kirk Michael Coast Road. The highest point of the course is on the primary A3 Castletown to Ramsey Road at St John's Chapel situated on the Cronk-y-Voddy straight at 780 ft above sea level.54°14′27″N 4°36′23″W / 54.24083°N 4.60639°W / 54.24083; -4.60639 (high point)

History[edit]

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 an Act of Parliament placed a speed restriction of 20 mph on automobiles the Secretary of the Automobile Car Club of Britain and Ireland approached the authorities in the Isle of Man for the permission to race automobiles on public roads.[2] The Highways (Light Locomotive) Act 1904 gave permission in the Isle of Man for the 52.15 mile Highlands Course for the 1904 Gordon Bennett Trial.

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. An accident at Ramsey Hairpin forced-out one of the pre-race favourites and the inability of the motor-cycle competitors to climb the steep Mountain Section of the course forced the organisers to use a 25 mile section of the Gordon Bennett Trial course. This ran from Douglas using the primary A5 Douglas to Port Erin road to Castletown. Then from Castletown to Ballacraine using the A3 Castletown to Ramsey Road and returned to the start at the Quarterbridge in Douglas via Crosby and Glen Vine along the current Snaefell Mountain Course in the reverse direction using the A1 Douglas to Peel road.[3]

During the 1906 International Cup for Motor-Cycles held in Austria, the event was plagued by accusations of cheating and sharp practices. During a conversation on the train journey home between the Secretary of the Auto-Cycle Club, Freddie Straight, Charlie Collier and Harry Collier brothers of the Matchless Motor-Cycles and the Marquis de Mouzilly St. Mars lead to a suggestion for a race the following year for road touring motor-cycles based on the automobile races held in the Isle of Man on closed public roads. The new race was proposed by the Editor of "The Motor-Cycle" Magazine at the annual dinner of the Auto-Cycle Club held in London on 17 January 1907.[4] It was proposed that the races would run in two classes with single-cylinder machines to average 90 mpg and twin-cylinder machines to average 75 mpg fuel consumption. To emphasise the road touring nature of the motor-cycles there were regulations for saddles, pedals, mudguards and exhaust silencers.

First Race 1907[edit]

The 1907 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy was the first of the Isle of Man TT races. The races took place on 28 May 1907 over the St John's Short Course. The race was ten laps of the 15 mile 1,430 yards course a total of 158 1/8. miles.

It was at 10 am on the Tuesday 28 May 1907 that 25 riders started in pairs in a time-trial format for the 1907 Isle of Man TT Race for road-legal touring motor-cycles with exhaust silencers, saddles, pedals and mud-guards.[5] The race and the single cylinder-class was won by Charles R.Collier riding a Matchless motor-cycle in 4 hours, 8 minutes and 8 seconds at an average race speed of 38.21 mph. His brother, Harry Collier also riding a Matchless motor-cycle had problems with an engine seziure on lap 2 and eventually retired on lap 9.[6]

1907 Single Cylinder TT Race[edit]

Tuesday 28 May 1907 – 10 laps (158 ⅛ miles) – Short Course.

Rank No Rider Team Speed Time
1 4 United Kingdom Charlie Collier 3½ hp Matchless 38.21 mph 4:08.08.2
2 2 United Kingdom Jack Marshall 3½ hp Triumph 36.60 mph 4:19.47.3
3 1 United Kingdom Frank Hulbert 3½ hp Triumph 35.50 mph 4:27.49.4

The 1907 Twin-Cylinder class and overall race was initially led by Rem Fowler riding a Norton motor-cycle. The overall lead fell away as Rem Fowler suffered a number of problems with drive belts and sparking-plugs and on lap 7, crashed at nearly 60 mph at the "Devil's Elbow" on the Kirk Michael to Peel section of the course when a tyre burst. Fowler nearly gave up, but was told by a spectator that he led the twin-cylinder class by 30 minutes from Billy Wells and went on to win at an average race speed of 36.22 mph and set the fastest lap of the race at 42.91 mph.

1907 Twin-Cylinder TT Race[edit]

Tuesday 28 May 1907 – 10 laps (158 ⅛ miles) – Short Course.

Rank No Rider Team Speed Time
1 United Kingdom Rem Fowler Peugeot-Norton 36.21 mph 4:21.52.8
2 United Kingdom W.H. 'Billy' Wells Vindec 32.30 mph 4:53.44.5
3 United Kingdom W.M.Heaton Rex 30.50 mph 5:11.03.5

For the 1908 race the fuel consumption was raised to 100 mpg for single-cylinder machines and 80 mpg for twin-cylinder machines and the use of pedals was banned. The race was won by Jack Marshall on a Triumph motor-cycle at an average speed of 40.49 mph. For the 1909 event the fuel consumption regulations was abandoned along with the use of exhaust silencers. The single-cylinder machines where limited to a capacity of 500cc and the twin-cylinder machines to a 750cc engine capacity. Due to the concern over increasing lap-speed, the 1910 event saw the capacity of the twin-cylinder machines reduced to 670cc. However, Harry Bowen riding a BAT twin-cylinder motor-cycle increased the lap record to an average speed of 53.15 mph, later crashing-out of the 1910 event on the wooden banking at Ballacraine.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Motocourse History of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races 1907–1989 by Nick Harris pp11 (1990)(1st Edition) Hazelton Publishing ISBN 0-905138-71-6
  2. ^ Island Racer 2004 pp 112–113 Mortons Media Group Ltd ISSN 1743-5838
  3. ^ Island Racer 2005 pp64 Mortons Media Group Ltd ISSN 1743-4830
  4. ^ Isle of Man TT by Charles Deane pp10-11 (1st Edition)(1975) Patrick Stevens Ltd ISBN 0-85059-172-4
  5. ^ Isle of Man TT by Charles Deane pp13 (1st Edition)(1975) Patrick Stevens Ltd ISBN 0-85059-172-4
  6. ^ The Motor Cycle dated 5 June 1907 p.446

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°12′11″N 4°38′25″W / 54.20306°N 4.64028°W / 54.20306; -4.64028