History of the Tourist Trophy – Page Two
During the period 1928 through 1959 and again from 1964 through 1969, production sports cars were allowed to run, even though it was still called the Tourist Trophy. A handicapping system was used so that, in theory at least, tourers had an even chance. Sports cars were allowed again from 1998 through 2001. Otherwise, TTs have been for Touring Cars except in recent years—starting in 2005—when they have been for Grand Tourers.
In 1928, the event moved off of the Isle of Man to Northern Ireland using what was called, the Ards circuit. It was 13.6 miles around an irregular triangle on public roads. An accident in which eight spectators were killed during the 1936 race spelled the end of the Ards circuit. In 1937 and again in 1938, TTs were held at Donnington Park, a 3.125-mile purpose-built course. Starting in 1950 and ending after 1955, the events went back to Northern Ireland using what is called the Dundrod Circuit, 7.42 miles of narrow, twisty public roads. Although potentially dangerous, it was the only place the RAC could find to lay out a true road course. At the first race after WWII—1950—21-year-old Stirling Moss demonstrated his potential, winning in an XK120 Jaguar. He repeated the next year, this time in a C-Type Jaguar.
Perhaps the most noteworthy year was 1955, the year of the horrendous tragedy at Le Mans. For one thing, it was Golden Jubilee year for the Tourist Trophy. Also, it was one of the events that decided the World Manufacturers Championship. Fifteen manufacturers entered including those in the run for the championship: Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Porsche. John Fitch called parts of Dundrod “narrow and treacherous.” In Racing With Mercedes, he wrote that, “I’d considered it extremely dangerous when I competed there in 1953 and found no reason in 1955 to change my opinion.” On the second lap, Jim Mayers in a Cooper crashed and was killed, as was Bill Smith in a Connaught. Later in the race, Richard Mainwaring was killed when his Elva overturned. Mike Hawthorn and Desmond Tittering were leading on the last lap in their Jaguar when the engine blew. Stirling Moss and John Fitch took the checker in a 300SLR. The Tourist Trophy was never held at Dundrod again. After Moss and Peter Collins won the final race—the Targa Floria—Mercedes-Benz won the Championship.
In 1956 and the following year, there were no TTs, but from 1958 on, all have been on purpose-built courses in England. Goodwood, Oulton Park, Silverstone and Donnington Park, all have hosted England’s premier race. In 1958, Carroll Shelby, with co-driver Steward Lewis-Evans, was third in an Aston Martin and the next year, Shelby, with Jack Fairman and Stirling Moss won in the same marque. In recent years, TTs have been at Silverstone including 2011 when Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr won in a Nissan GT-R GT1.
[Source: Art Evans]