Honda has revealed how it will mark its 50th year of racing during the 2009 Isle of Man TT.
The world famous company made its racing debut at the TT in 1959, and is aiming to add to its massive tally of wins with the impressive line up of 14-times winner John McGuinness, the outright lap record holder, Steve Plater, already a TT winner, and sidecar aces Nick Crowe and Mark Cox.
The pair will be competing on the latest machinery for the HM Plant Honda team.
While the main focus for the 50th anniversary will be on the racing, Honda does have plans to commemorate the landmark in other ways.
Honda (UK) has issued a previously unpublished image of the original 1959 Isle of Man TT team - consisting of five riders (four Japanese and one American), the team leader and two mechanics - taken behind the main pit straight Grandstand. Almost to the day 50 years later, current familiar Honda faces stood in the same spot to strike a pose for a modern day re-enactment of the photo, which Honda is pleased to unveil alongside the original 1959 team image.
In association with the Isle of Man Post Office, a 50th anniversary of racing set of commemorative stamps will be launched into circulation on May 11.
Each stamp will feature one of Honda’s legendary riders spanning the decades of Honda’s competition at the TT, to include Naomi Taniguchi (1950s), Mike Hailwood (1960s), Alex George (1970s), Joey Dunlop (1980s), Steve Hislop (1990s) and McGuinness (2000s). 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.
The Isle of Man Treasury has approved the release of a new 50 pence circulating coin to mark Honda’s 50th anniversary of world championship racing. This new coin, produced by Europe’s largest private mint Pobjoy Mint, shows 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 50 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 June 7 by Shigeru Takagi, Senior Managing Director Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and President of Honda Motor Europe.
At the NEC International Motorcycle Show last December, Honda (UK) ran a competition for one lucky winner to win a Ride of a Lifetime pillion ride around the 37.75 mile TT mountain course with TT Honda legend Ron Haslam.
Yvette Digby of Buckinghamshire was the lucky winner and she said:
‘When I found out that I’d won, my first reaction was “my husband and son will be so jealous”.’
‘I only went to the bike show because my son was going, his wife was too as she wanted to look at different bikes as she hopes to upgrade from her 125 and so was my husband, so I didn’t want to stay behind. I wasn’t particularly in to bikes, but was amazed at how interesting the show was and it really changed my opinion about bikes and biking generally.’
‘Now I’m even more pleased I went as otherwise I wouldn’t have entered the competition. I am thrilled to win the prize - the first thing I’ve ever won - and so is my husband as I’ll be taking him on the trip to the Isle of Man TT with Honda and we’re looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere of the whole event and exploring the Island, as we’ve never been there before.’
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 50 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 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.
Honda (UK) would like to thank the Isle of Man government and Manx National Heritage for organising the Honda: The Golden Age 1959-1967 anniversary exhibition at The Manx Museum, Douglas, which will be open during the course of the 2009 TT.
The exhibition charts the growing involvement of the company in the 1960s, reflecting Soichiro Honda’s belief that the TT represented the pinnacle of motorcycle racing achievement. The exhibition will include early Honda memorabilia, memories of Japanese riders, mechanics and local residents who remember the impact of Honda on the Isle of Man, as well as film highlights.
With historic motorcycles and photographs on display, this is one not to be missed by any fan of classic racing. The exhibition is runs from the end of May to September 2009 and admission is free.
Honda (UK) General Manager Steve Martindale said:
‘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.’
Neil Tuxworth, head of Honda (UK) Racing, added:
‘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 50 years.’