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When No-one Knew Who Honda Was

To celebrate Honda’s 700th motorcycle Grand Prix victory last Sunday, Motor Sport Magazine have taken a look back to where it all began: the 1959 Isle of Man TT.

Honda’s nine staff – including five riders, who did double duty as mechanics – flew to the Isle of Man from Tokyo, via Hong Kong, Bangkok, Calcutta, Karachi, Beirut, Frankfurt and London. They flew most of the way in a BOAC Comet, the world’s first commercial jetliner.

During the previous months they had spent their time learning how to eat with a knife and fork, how to wear a suit and tie, instead of traditional Japanese dress, and also mourning the death of a team-mate, who had died while doing stunts for a Japanese biker movie. All these men were members of the Honda Speed Club, a gang of keen young Honda employees who raced and did movie stunts on Hondas.