Matthew Richardson

Honda: The Golden Age

When the fledgeling Honda Motor Company wanted to break into Europe, they knew their machines had to prove themselves at the greatest motorcycle race in the world, the Isle of Man TT. At that time part of the World Championship series, the TT attracted the biggest names in the racing world. It was also the toughest and most challenging event of its kind.
In 1959, the first Japanese riders to reach the Island experienced a culture shock when they encountered western lifestyles for the first time, and this was only a few years after the Second World War. Yet they won over young hearts and minds, and helped rebuild bridges.
Not only that, Honda machines proved themselves reliable — and fast. They were soon picking up race victory after race victory and the likes of Jim Redman, Luigi Taveri and Mike Hailwood were queueing up to ride them.
When they walked away from Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 1967, Honda had won everything there was to win on two wheels at the Isle of Man TT. A legend was born, and the Honda name would go from strength to strength. Yet founder Soichiro Honda never forgot how it all started, and the Isle of Man retains a special place in Honda company history.
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