On 14 September 1905, history was made as the Tourist Trophy was staged for the first time in what would become a long and illustrious history. Lord Raglan, Governor of the Isle of Man, wanted to showcase Douglas as a new seaside resort, so the 208 mile course of four 52 mile laps, encompassed most of the town.
The complex entry requirements were as difficult to navigate as the circuit itself. Following criticism that the weight restriction was too low for touring vehicles, some manufacturers withdrew their entries prior to the race. Others substituted axle caps with rags and drilled holes in the chassis to lighten the load.
A regulation was therefore soon passed that the car should be “fit for purpose” and identical to production models.
The Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland established a camp with facilities to weigh entries and measure fuel allowance, which they did on Tuesday and Wednesday preceding the race.
The petrol regulation was extremely contentious amongst drivers. Set at 22.54 mpg, some vehicles were more fuel efficient than others and a few manufacturers attempted to cheat by concealing hidden tanks, which the Club thwarted with inspections and seals on the petrol caps.
On the day of the race competitors were released in pairs. Ironically the starting point, Alexandra Drive was such a steep incline that horses had to pull the cars into place. The tight turns of the course were challenging enough, but competitors also contended with five level train crossings along the route. Drivers participating in the race were given the train timetable to avoid being hit at level crossings.
The Hon. Charles Rolls was one of the first to be released in a Minerva. Rolls had performed exceptionally in trial runs and was the favorite to win, but on the day he attempted to shift gears too radically and destroyed his chances of victory. Other vehicles, including Gladiators and White Steamers, connected with the hard stone walls lining the laps and ended up skewed on the banks.
John Napier was released second from last in an Arrol Johnston car. It was a good choice of car for the course, both agile and fast. Despite this, the exhaust broke, when brackets holding it snapped. Napier was forced to undertake remedial repairs and eventually won the race in 6 hours 9 minutes and 14 seconds at an average speed of 33.9 m.p.h.