How production bikes saved the Mountain course in 1977
FORTY YEARS AGO A NEW PRODUCTION-BASED FORMULA RACING SAVED THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS PURE ROAD RACING COURSE FROM EXTINCTION
After the TT lost its World Championship status in 1976, the Isle of Man authorities worked with the ACU to develop a new formula of racing. This would hopefully ensure the future success of the 37.73-mile course and would allow organisers to embrace other events to form a meaningful world championship on pure road courses. The new TT formula featured bikes with production engines in aftermarket frames and covered three different classes: Formula One (four-stroke from 600-1000cc and two-stroke 350 to 500cc); Formula Two (four-stroke from 400-600cc and two-stroke 250-350cc), and Formula Three (four-stroke from 200-400cc and twostroke 125-250cc). For 1977 and 1978 the TT Formula was run just at the TT, but a new ‘championship’ then included the Ulster GP for 1979 and would eventually grow into an eightround World Championship, bolstered by a mix of street and circuit races in Europe and Scandinavia – and even one in Japan. By 1987 only the TT Formula One survived, but even that got the chop after 1990 when it was overshadowed by the World Superbike Championship, launched in 1988 to run on purpose-built racing circuits that, by nature and design, offered much improved safety.
Production-based racing classes however have proved the lifeblood of the TT, with the event continuing to grow in stature. And these days, those Formula bikes are the stars of the Classic TT.