The Isle of Man TT is one of most iconic events in the world that choosing a TT-based “Icon” to feature on TheCheckeredFlag this week has been the cause of much debate in this writer’s head.
How could you possibly narrow it down to just one when there’s so much out there. Dunlop. McGuinness. Molyneux. Hailwood. The Snaefell Mountain Course itself.
In the end there was one element to the TT that stood out. Over the years much has changed during the two-week event. The course has evolved from its debut in 1904, the rules and bikes have naturally changed over time and the event’s World Championship status was removed from 1977 onwards. There is, however, one thing that has stayed constant throughout the TT’s 107 year history: the Senior TT Trophy.
Based on the Montague trophy, an award for the winner of the TT automobile races, which pre-date the motorcycle TT, the Senior TT Trophy was donated to the Auto Cycle Club, now known as the Auto Cycle Union by Joseph the Marquis de Mouzilly St Mars, who was president of the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme between 1905 and 1906.
The trophy depicts Mercury, the Roman Winged God of the Messengers, standing on top of a winged wheel, both of which are made from silver. The effigy sits on a tiered plinth featuring engraved shields with the names of every Senior TT winner, names such as Duke, Hailwood, Dunlop, Agostini and McGuinness.
Over time the trophy has grown in size as more and more names earn the right to be engraved on one of the shields. A new base had to be added in 1937, raising the trophy to a staggering 108cm in height and causing it to be carried in two parts due to the sheer weight of the trophy at 23.7kg – the original alone weighed in at 11.5kg.
Insured for over £1.5million, the trophy is kept under tight security in the Isle of Man and whenever it goes on display, which is very rare, it is transported in two specially-built boxes and is handled with gloves, with a silver cloth used to polish it on every occasion.
An annual trip out for the trophy is on Senior TT day, when the winner is presented the trophy after the 6 lap, 225 mile race. However, the winner gets very little time with the trophy before it is put under lock and key, although they can make arrangements for a viewing and to have photos taken with their prize at a later date.
The man who has lifted the trophy most times is Mike Hailwood, who took seven Senior TT victories, although current champion John McGuinness could equal that record if he wins the 2014 event. The third most successful Senior TT rider is Giacamo Agostini, who won five Seniors.
This year’s Senior TT will take place on Friday June 6 and will, as usual, close the two week TT Festival. Despite a wrist injury McGuinness remains a favourite to take the trophy in 2014, while Michael Dunlop will be looking to score his first Senior victory, having won every race he competed in at the 2013 TT except the Senior.
The 2014 Isle of Man TT races began last night (Monday) with Newcomers’ practice and the opening qualifying sessions. Qualifying continues all this week, with racing beginning on Saturday (May 31) with the opening Superbike and Sidecar TT races. Monday’s action will see the first Supersport TT and the Superstock TT, with TT Zero, Supersport Race 2 and Sidecar Race 2 making up the program for Wednesday. The Lightweight and Senior TTs complete the schedule on Friday, and TheCheckeredFlag will be keeping you up to date throughout the week.