Hillary Musson

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Something we wanted to reflect upon with the TT almost upon us – Hilary Musson – the first woman to compete solo in the Isle of Man TT after the ban on women was revoked – passed away aged 76, earlier this year. Bob Pickett looks back…

Hilary’s introduction to bikes came aged 16, when her dad bought her a Triumph Tiger Cub obtained from Freddie Frith.  At this time she was courting (later husband) John, who also had a bike. They rode to Cadwell Park for a day at the races. Hilary was hooked.

John and Hilary Musson with daughter Gail
John and Hilary Musson with daughter Gail PHOTO: Mortons Archive

In 1969 a local club arranged a Ladies race.  Riding John’s Triumph Daytona, Hilary finished 4th out of a field of 9.  Due to a lack of interest no more ladies races were organised, so Hilary began competing against males.  Quickly becoming apparent she needed her own bike, Hilary was introduced to Japanese two strokes… a lifelong association began.  In 1974 and 1975 Hilary won the British Racing Club 250 Production Championship, placing 3rd in the newly introduced Avon Production Championship in 1976.

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Hilary decided she wanted to compete in the TT (“The TT would have been my second choice to the Manx GP (MGP) but women were still not allowed to compete”) and set about gaining her International Licence.  Thankfully the TT organisers had moved with the times and accepted Hilary’s application on merit.  She took part from 1978 to 1985 with a best result of 15th in the Formula 3 race, only suffering one DNF in that time.

The cost increase (Hilary “When we started you would do a practice and a race on the same tyres, now it can be a tyre change every lap!”) saw her TT career end. She had to wait until 1989 for the MGP organisers to play catch-up and allow her to race.  She then moved to the Southern 100, competing until 1993.

Daughter Gail followed in Hilary’s footsteps, becoming the first woman to top 100mph on a 125cc machine in 2004.

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2006 saw Hilary and John move from the village of Brinkhill in Lincolnshire to the Isle of Man, Hilary becoming a MGP Marshall. In 2007, Hilary was marshalling at the 26th Milestone when a serious accident occurred that claimed the life of the rider and two spectators.  Hilary was seriously injured in the incident and her left leg was amputated.

Despite this, Hilary was determined to continue in racing, working under The Tower giving updates to race crews, a role she continued up to 2022.

Sadly Hilary was diagnosed with a brain tumour, passing on 10th March 2023, leaving behind husband of 58 years John, daughter Gail and Son-In-Law Michael.

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If anyone would like to make a donation in her memory, please do so to Naseem’s Manx Brain Tumour charity or IoM Ambulance Service.


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