The Dutch TT has been a popular event on the racing calendar since it was first held in the 1920s. Here are five fascinating facts about the home of MotoGP’s Dutch Grand Prix!
Header image: Michiel Jelijs, CC BY 2.0
What does TT stand for?
TT stands for Tourist Trophy. TT races are known as some of the most challenging – and most famous – races in Europe. The first Tourist Trophy race was held on the Isle of Man in 1905, though this was a race for cars. The Isle of Man TT became a motorcycle race in 1907 and continues to be one of the most popular motorcycle events each year.
Other famous TT races include the RAC Tourist Trophy – the world’s oldest continuous motor race; the Eifelrennen – held annually in the Eifel region of Germany from 1922 to 2003; and the Australian Tourist Trophy – which is currently awarded to the winners of the Bathurst 12 Hour race.
The first Dutch TT was held in 1925
The Dutch TT race was established in the 1920s, with a race held on the country roads connecting Rolde, Borger and Schoonloo. The race was able to go ahead for the first time in July 1925 after the Dutch government relaxed laws regarding racing on public roads. A single lap of the track was over 28km long.
From 1926 to 1955, the event was run on a circuit which ran through the villages of De Haar, Barteldsbocht, Oude Tol, Hooghalen, Laaghalen and Laaghalerveen. The present circuit – nearby the site of the epic 16km track – opened in 1955 and has been used to host the Dutch TT race since 1956. Until 1992, parts of the track consisted of public roads.
Home race heroes at the Dutch TT
The very first winner of the Dutch TT race was Dutch rider Piet van Wijngaarden, who won at an average speed of 91.4 km per hour. Since the event became a round of the World Championships in 1949, four Dutch riders have won at the circuit.
Paul Lodewijkx took victory in the 50cc race in 1968; Wil Hartog won1977’s 500cc race – becoming the first Dutch driver to win a 500cc Grand Prix race; Jack Middelburg was victorious in the premier class in 1980; and Hans Spaan won the 125cc race in 1989.
Wilco Zeelenberg is the last Dutch driver to finish on the podium at the event, doing so with his third place finish in the 250cc race in 1994. He also finished third in the same race in 1990 and 1991.
2020 ended a record streak
TT Circuit Assen was the only circuit to have held a motorcycle Grand Prix in every season since the series was created in 1949. Sadly, that impressive record came to an end in 2020. The 2020 Dutch TT was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tickets sold out for the event’s return in 2021.
The Dutch TT was traditionally held on Saturday
Traditionally the Dutch TT was held on the last Saturday of June. The race weekend would begin with practice on Thursday, before qualifying on Friday and the main event – the race – on Saturday. However, ahead of the 2015 race, it was announced that the race would take place on Sunday from 2016 onwards.
The move was made to boost spectator numbers on the earlier days of the weekend, as well as to fall in line with the other races on the MotoGP calendar.