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24 September 2014

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You are in: Isle of Man > History > TT 1907

Photo courtesy of IOM Department of Tourism

The starting line at the TT 1907

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.

Photo courtesy of IOM Department of Tourism

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.

"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 "

Rem Fowler

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
created: 15/05/2007

Have Your Say

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?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

My first TT was 1956 it was amazing but the following year 1957 was brilliant 8 laps Gileras,MVs,Moto Guzzi's, BMW,Norton,matchless,AJS,BSA, VELO'S and more specials the most memorable TT. Then the 60s Honda,125(5)250(6) 350&500(4s)YAMAHA 125&250(4s) SUZUKI 125(2)250(flat4) two strokes the sounds unbeleivable Today well? all the races look the same sound the same not enough enries and where have all the road blkes gone Personally I like the MANX GP better the Classic's take you back to the real day's of the TT. Long may all racing on the Island continue

dave carter
I love the sound and smell of old British bikes. The TT races underlines how wonderful they where.

brew fowler
i love old and new motorcycling on the tt, but the romance has gone with the new bikes too competative how about rem fowler stopping to adjust his belt and change a tyre on his outings around the tt could we not have the modern bike riders at least have to stop for a bike safety cheak every ten miles that should bring in a bit of a pit culture like formula one and bring it more into line as a race not a suicidal speed frenzy.

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