Manx and the Speed Kings – Part One
Each summer a small island in the Irish Sea becomes the focus of motorcycling enthusiasts from around the world.
The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency between Great Britain and Ireland. The island is about 32 miles long and, at its widest, 14 miles wide. It has been inhabited for more than eight thousand years. English is the main language spoken but the island has its own Celtic origin language (Manx). The Isle of Man’s Tynwald (parliament), is believed to be the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world.
The island used British stamps until 1958 when Great Britain’s regional issues began. The Isle of Man Post Office was founded in 1973 to secure postal independence and, since then, the island has issued its own stamps.
The first issue was a fifteen pence commemorative which depicted the Vikings landing on the island in 938.
Among other things the island is known for is the Manx cat, quite unique in having either no tail or a short one and longer hind legs than other domestic cat variants.
Isle of Man 2011.
In 2011 the Isle of Man Post Office issued the above set of six stamps featuring artwork from a series of distinctive old Manx cat postcards entitled ‘Tales of the Tailless’ together with a Presentation Pack and a First Day Cover. The stamps bear the inscriptions ‘Ellan Vannin’, Manx-language for Isle of Man, and ‘Kys ta Shiu’ which means How are You. Some of the stamps also have poems referring to the manx cat.
But the island is possibly better known for the motorcycle races that take place there.
Each year in May and June the Isle of Man adopts a kind of motorcycle mania as the world’s greatest road racers flock there to test their riding skills against the incredible ‘Mountain Course’ – a 37.73 mile (60.72 kilometer) beast of a course over some of the island’s public roads. The International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) Races have been held most years since the inaugural race in 1907, and is often called one of the most dangerous racing events in the world. The unique motor cycle race events that have taken place since 1907 give thanks to the 1904 Isle of Man Parliament Act that permitted road racing on the island.
1975 set, former famous winners.
The above stamps feature top left Tom Sheard, winner of the Senior race on a Douglas motorcycle in 1923. Top right 1925 Junior TT winner Wal Handley and his Rex-Acme bike. Bottom left Geoff Duke and bottom right Peter Williams, winner 1973 International Formula Race on a Norton.
1982 issue from the Isle of Man Post Office – Top left first TT race winner in 1907, Charlie Collier on his Matchless motorcycle. Middle top stamp shows Freddie Dixon winning in 1927 on an HRD machine. Having previously won the sidecar race on a Douglas outfit in 1923, Dixon became the first man to win TT races in the Solo and Sidecar categories. Top right Jimmie Simpson riding a Norton in 1932 (first man to finish the course with an average speed of 80 miles per hour). Bottom left 14-time winner Mike Hailwood riding a Honda to victory in 1961. That year he became the first man to win three different engine capacity TT races, two riding Hondas and one on a Norton. Hailwood is one of the few motorcycle racers to have become a successful Formula One racing car driver. Bottom right is rider Jock Taylor and sidecar passenger Benga Johansson, sidecar race winners in 1978, 1980 and 1981. Jock Taylor was tragically killed in 1982 during a race in Finland.
TO BE CONTINUED
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