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Suzuki RG 500 motorcycle ridden by Mike Hailwood in 1979

Date made: 1979

Maker: Suzuki motors

Description: This Suzuki RG 500 motorcycle was ridden to victory by Mike Hailwood in the 1979 Senior Tourist Trophy (TT) race.
The machine is painted in Hailwood's racing colours of red, white and gold. The gear change is on the left hand side, as Hailwood had damaged his right foot racing cars.

Mike Hailwood is still regarded as Britain's greatest ever motorcycle racer. He returned to the TT in 1978 after an 11 year absence, and single-handedly re-invigorated the event. In 1979 he returned for his farewell TT. Only Suzuki had the confidence to supply a machine for him to ride, and he scored his 14th and final TT win in the Senior. Suzuki presented the machine as a souvenir to Hailwood later that year.

In 2022 Manx National Heritage had the motorcycle examined by an engineer who noted that a thumb choke has been added on the handlebar. This is so that Hailwood could keep the engine revving whilst slowing into corners. Two strokes are prone to seize if allowed to suddenly cool when the power is reduced. The rear tyre is not branded. It appears to be a prototype or special and has been slashed post-race to prevent it being used again. The rubber has now hardened to the extent that it would not be possible to remove it without cutting it off. The frame appears to have been cut and lengthened at the back. The reason for this is not clear.

Mike Hailwood is considered one of the greatest racing legends of the TT, having achieved a record-breaking 14 TT wins in the 1960s and 1970s, and is still a hero to a generation of fans. He was born in Oxfordshire in 1940 and his father, a pre-war racer, owned a large motorcycle dealership. Hailwood began racing at 17 and showed huge natural ability. He rode for both Honda and MV Agusta, winning nine World Championships.

Hailwood’s TT career began in 1958, the highlight being the 1967 Senior race against Agostini, which he won after a thrilling battle. Following a period in car racing, he returned to the TT in 1978 and made a triumphant comeback with victories in the 1978 and 1979 races.

He was tragically killed in a car accident with his daughter in 1981.

Measurements: 203cm x 67cm x 117cm

Materials: metal: iron, steel, plated, other, paint: other, plastic: other, polyester, GRP, fibreglass, PVC polyvinylchloride, rubber

Object name: motorcycle

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: L22219

Subject tags : #TT&MOTORSPORT


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Met him outside the Castle Mona after he won the senior TT in 1966. I was 14 and addicted to the T T and the Isle of Man - Anthony Barrett Report this

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