Back in 1907, nobody involved with the first Isle of Man Tourist Trophy motorcycle road race could have envisaged that not only were they creating history, but that the event would still be going strong over a century later. Or, for that matter, that it would become probably the most famous motorcycle race in the world, celebrated by many and denounced by others as too dangerous. Ian Kerr MBE reviews Classic TT Racers – The Grand Prix Years 1949-1976.
It has become the subject of many books — some detailing the actual history, the races and the results as well as the riders. With over a hundred years to cover, no publication can claim to cover every year and every aspect. Besides, it is out of date as soon as another year passes. As every record tumbles, another piece of history is written!
Sensibly, the author, Greg Pullen, has taken a close look at a specific period in the island history by focusing on the Grand Prix years 1949-1976 when the TT hosted the British round of the World Championship. During those 29 years, it became one of the most important rounds for both riders and manufacturers who ultimately sold motorcycles on the back of success there. Bike development also benefitted with the result that machines became quicker and the risks became greater, leading to it eventually being taken out of the calendar as being too dangerous.
Pullen has taken a detailed look at the manufacturers who secured a podium finish in the blue riband and Senior (500) TT. As a result, he found an almost chronological timeline of a move from British domination through Italian manufacturers to the Japanese machines that still dominate racing there, albeit with four-strokes rather than two.
The events and personalities involved in these crucial years are also mentioned in the 160-page hardback book published by Crowood, lavishly illustrated with 105 colour plates and 52 black and white images. Sixteen chapters cover the early success of the British motorcycle manufacturers, Norton, Velocette, AJS and Matchless and their riders, before looking at the origins of the Italian Fours from Gilera and MV before focussing on the Big Four Japanese manufacturers, ending with an epilogue and a list of the podiums.
The author has done his research well, collaborating with some of the noted historians, and come up with a readable tome that will give most people a thorough grounding and knowledge of the bikes and period without going too deeply into the minutia.
Like many other books, it can be easily dipped in and out of or used as research. While many of the facts and figures are well-known, thanks to the logical progression through the well-laid-out book, the perspective is different; therefore it deserves a place on the bookshelf of every TT fan and those interested in GP racing machines.
At a good price of £25, it is available from all good bookshops or direct from the publishers Crowood at www.crowood.com
#motorcyclebookreviews #isleofmantt #iomtt #motogusto