The isle of Man TT
Every year at the end of May and the beginning of June, road racing enthusiasts from all over the world flock to a tiny island in the Irish sea. They come to the Isle of Man to witness what can only be described as the greatest motorcycle racing event on the Planet.
If you’ve been to the IOM road races and had to describe the TT to someone who hasn’t, you might find yourself tongue tied looking for the proper adjectives to do it justice, or you break into a grin and shake your head before you utter words like, “unbelievable, unreal or incredible”.
The IOM TT is akin to a religion to fans of two wheels. It is the oldest and most dangerous race in the world, part sprint race, part endurance race, part time trials. The course measures 37.73 miles long with over 264 turns and corners snaking their way through towns and villages until it reaches Snaefell Mountain. Along the side of the course, which are public roads the rest of the year, there are what the riders refer to as “furniture”, furniture includes trees, stone walls, fences, gates, houses and whatever you might find at the side of the road. Speeds of over 200mph are reached on the Sulby straight, an account in 2003 by Sports Illustrated writer Franz Lidz described it as “38 miles of terror”. Any lapse in concentration or the smallest mistake can prove fatal. There have been 258 recorded deaths since the race’s inception in 1907.
Sitting at the side of the road a few feet away from the racing surface ads to the excitement and on more than one occasion I’ve had the air literally sucked out of my lungs by a motorcycle being piloted by some of the world’s best road racers and replaced but the intoxicating smell of oil and race fuel. Racing on the IOM is not for the faint of heart, it takes a special breed to take on this course. These riders are akin to modern day gladiators.
Valentino Rossi, who holds nine grand prix championships came to the Island in 2009 and proclaimed
“I understand why people love this because it’s fucking awesome – it’s unbelievable, great. But, unfortunately, it’s too dangerous. Sometimes, riders are crazy.’
‘The Isle of Man is very difficult. If you make a mistake, maybe it’s the last mistake.’
As intense as the TT is, in the paddock area, the riders can be found interacting with their fans, signing autographs and posing for photographs. The food court provides everything from pizza, baked potatoes with all the toppings, fish and chips, pork sandwiches with crackling to Davidson’s Ice cream and little fried donuts sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. O’kells Beer tent is the center of the social world in the paddock with live music in the evening and a local beer selection and bar. There is literally something for everyone.
If the TT is on your bucket list, take it off, go and experience the greatest motorcycle event on the planet, take in the sights and sounds, and be that person that tries to explain what he or she has witnessed. This is the temple of Road Racing Purity It is truly the greatest show on earth.