Honda has plenty to celebrate today as the manufacturer celebrates 50 years of racing at the cornerstone circuit of their racing activities – the Isle of Man TT in the United Kingdom.

Honda’s relationship with the TT began in 1954, when the company’s founder Soichiro Honda vowed to take part.

Five years later a party of four riders and five engineers set foot on Manx soil to begin Honda’s love-affair with the Tourist Trophy races.

The first year saw a sixth, seventh, eighth and tenth place claiming the Manufacturers’ title in only their second international road race, but just two years later Honda won its first race in the hands of legendary rider Mike Hailwood.

Its riders had dominated practice for the 1961 Ultra Lightweight TT and Hailwood led a sweep of five Hondas in the top six placings, which he followed-up with a win in the Lightweight TT later the same day.

Since then Honda has carried on winning at the TT – its current tally of victories stands at 139 – and Honda Racing currently holds the outright lap record of 129.451mph which John McGuinness set on-board his HM Plant Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade in 2007.

Honda (UK) have celebrated the Japanese manufacturer’s 2009 TT campaign with a range of commemorative items including a previously unpublished image of the original 1959 Isle of Man TT team – consisting five riders (four Japanese and one American), the team leader and two mechanics – taken behind the main pit straight grandstand.

In association with the Isle of Man Post Office, a 50th anniversary of racing set of commemorative stamps has also been launched, each featuring one of Honda’s legendary riders spanning the decades of Honda’s competition at the TT.

The Treasury of the Isle of Man has approved the release of a new fifty pence circulating coin to mark Honda’s 50th anniversary of world championship racing, depicting multi winning TT rider John McGuinness on a CBR1000RR Fireblade.

An official anniversary book will also be launched in July following the TT, to ensure that all stories and results from the full fifty years are included.

Those going to the iconic event will also want to drop into the ‘Honda: The Golden Age 1959-1967’ anniversary exhibition at The Manx Museum, which will be open during the course of the 2009 TT.

Honda (UK)’s HM Plant Honda team – with 14 times winner John McGuinness and Steve Plater with sidecar duo Nick Crowe and Mark Cox – can be seen in action around the 37.75 mile mountain course between now and June 13th, on their class-leading CBR1000RR Fireblades in the Superbike and Superstock classes, CBR600RR in the Supersport class and Honda powered three-wheeler in the Sidecar TT.

IOMTT Honda 1959
The original 1959 Isle of Man TT team

2009 IOM TT HRC
Recreation of the 1959 photo in 2009

In association with the Isle of Man Post Office, a 50th anniversary of racing set of commemorative stamps will be launched into circulation on 11 May. Each stamp will feature one of Honda’s legendary riders spanning the decades of Honda’s competition at the TT, to include Naomi Taniguchi (50s), Mike Hailwood (60s), Alex George (70s), Joey Dunlop (80s), Steve Hislop (90s) and current 14-times TT winner John McGuinness (00s). The set of six stamps will retail at £4.50, with a collector’s First Day Cover available at £5.20 and specially designed presentation folder retailing at £5.25.

IOM TT HRC Commemorative Stamps

The Treasury of the Isle of Man has approved the release of a new fifty pence circulating coin to mark Honda’s 50th anniversary of world championship racing. This new coin, produced by Pobjoy Mint – Europe’s largest private mint – depicts Honda’s multi winning TT rider John McGuinness on a CBR1000RR Fireblade from his record breaking lap in 2007, above the celebratory dates 1959 – 2009. The design also contains the 2009 Isle of Man TT logo as well as the Honda Wing logo, highlighting the close association between the two organisations.

The coins are manufactured to the highest quality and the silver versions are struck four times to produce a stunning mirror–finish background with the design sculpted in striking relief. The reverse of the fifty pence coin bears a fine effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Ian Rank–Broadley FRBS FSNAD.

The commemorative coin and stamps will also be available jointly in a specially designed limited edition collector’s presentation folder. Imagery and a circulation date for the coin will be released in the near future.

A commemorative plaque at the site of Honda’s original TT team’s garage in Onchan (the site of the old Nursery Hotel) will be unveiled on Sunday 7 June by Shigeru Takagi, Senior Managing Director Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and President of Honda Motor Europe.

A stylish official anniversary book has been commissioned and will be launched in July following the TT, to ensure that all stories and results from the full fifty years are included. Written by seasoned TT author Mick Duckworth, the book recounts Honda’s history at the Isle of Man TT and its influence on the company over the years. Further details of the book’s price and availability will be released during the TT in June.

Honda (UK) is also looking forward to hosting some special guests on the island throughout this year’s TT, to include original Honda rider, Naomi Taniguchi, the 1959 team’s translator, Keiko Carran, as well as former Honda racing stars including Phillip McCallen and Ron Haslam.

General Manager for Honda (UK), Steve Martindale, commented, “Going to the TT is always exciting for racing fans and for Honda, as our relationship with the Island is something very special. The exciting racing which we’re sure to see from the HM Plant Honda team, combined with Honda’s celebratory activities is certain to make this year an exceptional anniversary of world championship racing for Honda. We would like to thank the Isle of Man Government especially, for their fantastic recognition of this significant year for Honda and the activities they have organised to help commemorate the occasion.”

Head of Honda (UK) Racing, Neil Tuxworth, commented, “The HM Plant Honda team is pleased to be so involved with Honda’s 50th anniversary celebrations on the Isle of Man this year and we feel we are taking one of the strongest teams we have ever entered, in terms of both riders and machinery, in all classes. Our aim is to try and win in every class and we’ll be putting all our efforts and the full race team behind our riders to ensure we are as competitive as possible on track and to try and add to Honda’s incredible TT victories from the last fifty years.”