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Hilary Musson, Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) rider

Date(s): June 1978

Creator(s): Manx Press Pictures

Scope & Content: Hilary Musson first began racing in 1969 when a local motorcycle club arranged a ladies only race. The lack of support, with a take up of only 8 entrants, saw future ladies' races cancelled and as Hilary wanted to continue to race she “got stuck in with the lads”.

In 1978 Hilary was the first woman to compete as a rider in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) races since Beryl Swain had her race licence revoked in 1962. The TT having moved with the times accepted Hilary on merit, her sex no longer an issue. Hilary competed in eight consecutive TTs from 1978 to 1985. The changes she saw in that time, with the sport becoming more expensive, made it harder for smaller race outfits to compete.

“When we started you would do a practice and a race on the same tyres, now it can be a tyre change every lap!”

The Manx Grand Prix (MGP) was slower to move with the times. The fear of bad publicity if a woman rider was killed or injured in a race persisted and it wasn’t until 1989 that Hilary was allowed to enter. She continued to race into the 1990s at the Southern 100, her last race being in 1993.

In 2006 Hilary and her family moved to the Island and she became involved in racing again, this time as a marshal at the MGP. The following year Hilary was marshalling the TT at the 26th Milestone when a serious incident occurred, claiming the lives of a rider and two spectators. Hilary was seriously injured in the accident and as a result of her injuries her left leg was amputated. It is a cruel irony that after so many years of racing it was when working for the safety of others as a marshal that Hilary was seriously hurt.

Hilary continued to be involved in motorsport on the Island, assisting under the tower at The Grandstand, giving updates to crews on course incidents, a role she treasured, “It enables me to still be a part of the races”

Sadly Hilary died in March 2023.

Language: eng

Collection: Photographic Archive

Level: ITEM

ID number: PG/13633/1/1978/472/1

Subject tags : #TT&MOTORSPORT


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