The starting line at the TT 1907
What was that first race like over one-hundred-years-ago? Read on to hear the first-hand experience of the man who was first over the finishing line back in 1907.
On a dry but cold day back in May 1907, twenty-five competitors gathered at Tynwald Hill for the first race in the ‘International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy’
First over the finish line was Harry Rembrandt “Rem” Fowler who won the twin- cylinder class.
This is his account of that historic event which set the pace for the now world famous TT races.
“Looking back over half a century of motor cycling, I think my first TT race of 1907- which was the first race of all- was fairly well crowed with events and episodes.
Rem Fowler at the 1907 races
During the practice period two competitors were very concerned because my Norton had such a long wheel-base and spring forks.
According to their ideas, spring forks were not safe and would make it very difficult for me to get the long machine round corners.
The answer to that was: I won (twin cylinder class) and made the record lap which remained unbroken the next year.
I had had an abscess in my neck lanced two days before the race- in photographs the bandages could be seen flapping in the wind!
I was in no fit state to ride for I was in a very run down and nervous condition.
Twenty minutes before the race, however, a friend of mine fetched me a glassful of neat brandy tempered with a little milk.
This had the desired effect and I set off full of hope and Dutch courage.
Then the fun started. I carried four spare plugs and a spanner in my coat pocket- plugs had a habit of blowing their middles out and I was lucky to finish on the last one.
Also my front tyre-beaded edge of course- burst off and threw me when I was doing about 60 mph.
I wasn’t hurt much, but I had a very anxious time changing the tube for the spare butt-ended one which I had carried round my shoulders.
We had no front stands then, which didn’t make things any easier.
My most exciting moment was when I had to make up my mind whether to stop and maybe lose the race or plunge blind through a wall of fire which stretched right across the road at the Devil’s Elbow- caused by a bike which had crashed there.
Owing to the density of the smoke and flames I had no idea where the wrecked machine was.
A boy scout with a flag tried to stop me but I decided to risk it and luckily came through OK.
I shall never forget the hot blast of those flames.
Yes, I think the 1907 TT was the most hectic I have had in all my riding years.”
last updated: 08/04/2008 at 16:59
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Do you like the way the TT races have evolved over the past hundred years or do you crave for the old days of motor racing?