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Car TT Centenary 4 October 2004

The Isle of Man is planning to commemorate the first Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy Race for Cars with a glittering programme of events in September 2005.

The first international race was held in September 1905 with cars setting off from Alexander Drive, Douglas, on a 52-mile course.

On September 10 next year, the Island will salute those pioneers with a re-enactment lap of the course to be driven by an array of cars dating from 1905 to 1922.

The centenary plan has won the support of the prestigious Royal Automobile Club, organisers of the very first race. As a result, the Club has agreed to allow the original tourist trophy to be displayed on the Island during the 2005 programme, which is being put together by Douglas-based F.A.D. International.

The company organised smaller celebrations to mark the 90th anniversary of the race 10 years ago on behalf of sponsors, Flemings Bank.

FAD's Brian Adams explained:

"The first Tourist Trophy Race for Cars, staged on the Isle of Man in September 1905 was a remarkable moment in history. It was adventurous, exciting and, for many who witnessed it, spellbinding. It was the first event of its kind in the world. And it paved the way for the development of one of the milestone inventions of all time.

"Cars are being sourced from that inspirational era between 1905 and 1922 when the race was held on the Isle of Man. Drivers and passengers will be invited to wear period costume and we hope they will be joined by street actors to help create a festival atmosphere worthy of the centenary."

It is against this background that the Isle of Man will draw on its unique motoring heritage and celebrate in style from September 7-12 next year. As well as the main re-enactment on the Saturday (September 10, 2005), the organisers are hoping to present a unique assembly of 'TT Heroes' representative of winning cars from 1922 onwards, through the years when the Tourist Trophy earned the description of Britain's greatest motor race.

An Old Time Music Hall show, looking and sounding as it would 100 years ago, will be staged at the Gaiety, the Island's celebrated Matcham theatre, recognised as one of the finest examples of its kind in the British Isles.

Speed Trials are planned, and a Gala Charity Dinner with invited celebrities from the world of motorsport will round off the programme. In between, a centenary Championship Golf Tournament will be played at the Island's famous Castletown links.

Brian went on:

"It will be a celebration steeped in atmosphere, enriched by the evocative sights and sounds of automobiles spanning the years, reflecting the full spectrum of engineering and design capabilities. Half a dozen car clubs have been invited to send around 50 cars each to witness the celebrations and enjoy the centenary programme."

The Porche Club of Great Britain, which has staged two national events involving hundreds of its members on the Isle of Man in the past four years, is one of the invited clubs.

Chairman David Newton said:

"The significance of the first race of its kind in the world and the role played by the Isle of Man in making that historic event possible, cannot be over-estimated.

"We are honoured to be invited to attend and delighted that our marque, which has played its own definitive part in the development of supremely engineered cars, will be represented at what is clearly going to be a unique and memorable celebration."

The Veteran Car Club (VCC) and the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) are lending their support to the re-enactment in a bid to find an impressive list of cars to take part.

Tourism Minister David Cretney, whose department is backing the Car TT centenary, said he was excited at the prospects for the event and the business it should create.

He added:

"One hundred years on from that first race, our enthusiasm for motorsport has not waned. It has served us well. Apart from it being a defining moment in history, the original race and the circumstances which surrounded it also made it pivotal in the subsequent establishment of the motorcycle TT races and the lasting impact they have had in terms of world motorsport heritage and the Island continuing to be of great interest as a mecca for two and four wheel enthusiasts.

"I believe it is a centenary which we should mark in the best way we can ­and I look forward to welcoming some of our many friends from the world of motorsport to join with us for the occasion."

1905 Race - Background & Result by Brian Adams

How did the Isle of Man become the Birthplace of British Motorsport? For the answer, we have to turn back the clock to 1904 and some enterprising legislation on the part of Tynwald.

Following the success of Englishman Selwyn F. Edge in the Gordon Bennett section of the Paris-Vienna race, it was decided to hold elimination trials for the British entry in the 1904 'Gordon Bennett'. But then, as now, the UK government turned its back on the prospect of closing public highways for racing. Eyes turned instead to the Isle of Man where, at record speed, Tynwald passed the necessary law to close Manx roads in time for the trials.

The story had begun ... and the following year heralded the first Tourist Trophy car race over four laps (52 miles each) of virtually the same course used for the 1904 trials.

Douglas, the Island's capital, was at that time an enterprising new seaside resort and the event was timed to extend the holiday season. Cars, drivers, mechanics and officials were welcomed by the boatload.

The number of entrants on September 14, 1905, the day of the race, had dwindled from the original 53 to 42, of which 31 were British. Winner of the 208-mile race was John S.Napier in an 18hp Arrol-Johnston. He also clocked up the fastest lap in one hour, 31 minutes and 9.6 seconds, averaging 34.2mph. Percy Northey took second place in a 20hp Rolls Royce and Norman Littlejohn was third, driving a 14hp Vinot. Eighteen cars completed the course, six ran out of fuel, 17 retired and one ran out of time following long repairs after an accident. The combined value of the cars taking part in the 1905 race was put at £50,000. The equivalent value in the first years of the 21st century would be well in excess of £3 million.

The horses used to tow competitors to the start line were nicknamed "hay motors"

Organising the 2005 Car TT Centenary

FAD International's Project Manager for the 2005 Car TT Centenary and the man who is steering the car elements of the programme, is 51-year-old Eddie Fitzgerald, a leading figure in motor sport in Ireland who has also officiated at historical events in Sweden as well as Silverstone, Thruxton and Oulton Park circuits. He is involved in meetings at Ireland's Mondello Park and for the past three years has helped stage the Motor Sport Ireland Show at the RDS in Dublin, where visitors have topped the 30,000 mark.

In 2003, Mr Fitzgerald became Event Director of a festival to mark the centenary of the Irish Gordon Bennett Races, staged in counties Kildare, Carlow and Laois. Run along a section of the original route, the feature sprint attracted 106 cars covering a timeline from 1903 to 2003, and included the Napier which won the original race.

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