Honda's Motorsport Challenge, Which Began With The Isle of Man TT Race Declaration
"My childhood dream was to be a motorsport World Champion with a machine built by myself. However, before this dream could be achieved, it was obvious that a stable enterprise with the finest precision equipment, and an excellent level of in-house design was needed. These three requirements prompted me to market a utility machine to give us the necessary foundation on which to build, and it's ironic that the time spent on this side of the business has kept me away from racing. From results witnessed at the San Paulo races, and looking calmly at what is happening in other areas of the globe, we now know what is needed to compete with the Western world.
Progress has been rapid, it has to be said, but I am still convinced that by following my long-standing concepts, we can win on the tracks, and I will not rest until we do. Everything is in place, and the time has come to challenge the West. I hereby avow my definite intention to participate in the TT races, and I proclaim with my fellow employees that I will pour in all of my energy and creative powers to win."
Read the entire Isle of Man TT Race Declaration (1954)
This is a shortened version of the message Soichiro Honda, then President of Honda, sent out to his workers on 20 March 1954. At that time, a victory in the World GP series was unimaginable for the majority of Japanese, but Honda did not flinch. He had set himself this noble target, and by issuing the written declaration, allowed his enthusiastic staff to become part of his long-held dream.
The History Of Motorcycle Racing And The Road Racing World Championship In The 1950s
The first motorcycle was sold in 1894, a product of Germany, while the first race - of about 400km - was held in France only a few years later. From 1906, Britain held the Tourist Trophy (TT) races on the Isle of Man, and the motorsport scene blossomed throughout central Europe in pre-war days. After the Second World War, in 1949, the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme) was founded, establishing the format for road racing that is still recognizable to this day in the World GP series. The first race held under FIM rules was the Isle of Man TT event of June 1949.
Why did Soichiro Honda set his sights on the TT race? The answer is simple - the Isle of Man race was the most difficult to win and had come to symbolize the very essence of the sport. Honda felt that by declaring his ambition to win this demanding race, it would bring his company a great deal of interest, as indeed it did, from all over Japan.