Notes From A Small Island: The 2012 Isle of Man TT

A crash at 142mph is fairly reasonable in anyone's book. At Mugello, Silverstone, Brno it would be noted and not given a second thought. A slide across the track, maybe, and into some welcoming gravel. On Mona's Isle, however, it is a different story.

Simon Andrews crashed at that speed on Saturday. He misjudged his velocity on the entry to Graham Memorial and ran out of two-lane blacktop. After hitting a bank and laying in the road for probably longer than was entirely necessary, he was taken to hospital with nothing more than a broken ankle, wrist, shoulder and blood in his eyes. He should be dead.

But this is the Isle of Man. A place where Giacomo Agostini raced Mike Hailwood raced Phil Read, once upon a time. It was a Grand Prix. Not so now as the dangers of the place proved too much and Barry Sheene, who did just one lap of the place on a 125, was instrumental in it being removed from the calendar.

Heroes are made here. But they are only heroes in certain places. John McGuinness has now won 19 TT races. Those who follow MotoGP in Spain will have no idea who the man is but McPint does six laps of the 37.73-mile circuit at average speed of 129mph. Read it again. Average speed. On normal roads. His lap record is 131.5mph and tomorrow it will fall, so long as the rain doesn't intervene.

The Isle of Man was ridden on Wednesday by Randy Mamola and Kevin Schwantz in a parade lap. They came back with eyes like saucers. And they weren't pushing. Josh Brookes, who should know better, chased three-time winner Michael Dunlop over the mountain and declared at the end he will race the TT, once he finds a team boss who will let him.

It is a legendary place, full of history, it makes you feel alive. If you haven't been, go. The TT stirs the soul. If a bike and rider coming past you three feet from your face at 180mph down a hill on a public road doesn't raise even a grin, you are already dead.

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...since I last replied to one of your posts (or so it seems), "Good Sir rumerz". Well spotted. I originally thought you meant a Bryson reference in the body...but it was right there, in the title...

And your stock price took another huge jump up. A fellow Bryson-ite... It reminds me of the type of people who used to post comments here by the multitudes, and who used to outnumber the "awesomely brainless" (thank you, Bryson) "clattering buttocks" (thank you, James May)...


I watch every bit of TT available here in Texas. It's definitely on the bucket list. The interview a few years back with Rossi hiding in a bush...was PRICELESS.

Having done the trip to Peru in January to see the Dakar, and been lucky enough to ride the transport stages 3 days in a row with the riders and drivers (bikes/cars and buggies), IOM is my next trip, planned for 2013. Plan to buy maybe an old (70's) Laverda or Guzzi or Morini over there, ride it around the course and other parts of UK and Europe, and then bring it back to Australia to add to the garage.

How a US fan can get Guy Martin's movie? Cant find it anywhere after months of looking in a format that plays on US DVD players.

Are you looking for "Closer to the Edge"? I think dukevideo has it available in a compatible format.

I was aware but thought it was only for euro players. I will confirm.

My goal is to get there next year in person. Want to see McGuinness and Martin run. These men, all of them, are amazing athletes that must need wheelbarrows to cart their cojones around in.

I emailed Duke Video USA about two months ago to check if a US version was planned, and they answered that there were no current plans to do so. It's a shame as I'd love a blu-ray copy for my collection (and subtitles for Guy Martin!)

I live in Australia,and purchase from in UK ( better service and pricing, than

You should be able to have your DVD player modified so that it will play all formats....

These folks that do the TT are the real deal. Anyone averaging more than a buck on public roads(though blocked) is a semi God in my book.

Without those two letters on your resume, you'll never be fully qualified for true GOAT consideration.

to organize an MM gathering at the TT

btw, will be hitting Laguna and Indy. Always need drinking partners.

Really sorry to hear that yet again he's been in a nasty crash. Last years' Snetterton foray was unbelievable, I've never seen bike parts go so high in the air, he was unlucky to hit the oil, very very lucky to be alive.

Then there was the one in WSBK the year before.

The riders that do the IOM TT are incredibly brave. Get well soon Simon, and here's to an injury free season sometime soon!

Considering the out pouring of grief for the riders we have lost recently on 'safe' circuits, and the number fatalities that occur on the island almost every year now (and other 'street' races), I am uncomfortable with the tone of this article and the responses.

My grandfather loved the TT and visited in the 50's and 80's and spoke of his enjoyment and I try to understand the passion that many people feel for the TT - but I find myself unable to share this passion. I have seen to many deaths on TV from my love of motorsport and that the Isle of Man is now just to dangerous.

The IOM is both compelling and insane. I admit to feeling the intoxicating spirit of it, like a moth drawn to fire. But the danger of the place is pure insanity. It should be stopped. I know I'd regret hearing or reading that the event has been relegated to history, but I truely believe that is what should happen.

Why should it be stopped?

The riders are willing to take the risk. The track side marshals, medical/support personal and spectators are willing to take the risk and all of them are exposed to considerably more risk than at a traditional race track.

I've never been to the Isle of Man and I don't have any first hand knowledge of community feeling over there but I'd be very surprised if the event could take place at all without the majorities support.

Watching an on-board lap of the TT is the closest anyone could ever get me to riding that course at speed. To watch these guys brake from 180 for a tight right hander that is still three corners away is confidence on a level that is almost supernatural.

The amount of concentration needed is astounding... it makes the saying "being in the zone" my buddies and I sometimes use a trivial and childish affair.

I have been riding at tracks for over ten years now, and I would like to say I'm jealous, but to be completely honest, I'm glad I don't have what it takes, it is just too frightening. But god, do I love to watch it.

You can wander round the paddock and pits, if you walk ten minutes from most of the popular spots you can find your own corner virtually. It requires a bit of planning and effort to get across and find accommodation. The positive side of this is generally only proper fans go across and there's respect and a friendly atmosphere all round. One of the few events in sport where you don't need a Journo/Celeb/VIP/Corporate pass to have a decent experience.

Actually, nothing can prepare your senses for the first bike that passes you when you're at IOM TT. The first bike leave you just speechless and you just look to facial expressions from people next to you in order to understand the emotion that you experience. People who are new to the TT share the wonder and disbelief about what is observed.

The first place I saw the TT was at Bray Hill. The swelling sound of an engine, the visual explosion of colours of a motor and driver, the sound of suspension bottoming out, the belly of the fairing scraping over the tarmac and the racer disappearing wheeling over Ago's Leap. That seems to happen in fractions of seconds, with your mind still gasping for processing power to understand.
Later, when you are more used to the situation, and you have also been watching on other places, you sense things you don't experience at other races. The smell, the pressure wave before the bike, the sensation of bikes passing you at a distance 5 meters at 250km/h between the hedges.

David Jeffries, I saw him entering the second lap, and some minutes later the session was red flagged. Waiting, racers returning, more waiting, rumours, a Marshall in tears. Yes, it is dangerous, and sport seems to trivial to lose your live at. It is difficult to accept that people loose their lives for a passion.

IOM TT is the spiritual home of motorcycle racing. You feel it when you drive your motorcycle from the ferry. A few streets away and you are on the circuit, on the same road as Hailwood, Woods, Duke, Dunlop and others. That is a magical feeling, and it is not the same as a track day at Assen of other circuit.

I love motorcycle racing, love motogp & sbk but I'll happily swap my visits to these races for a yearly visit to the TT and the Manx. These people who race there are a special breed, and I would like for everybody who likes racing to see it once from the bottom of Bray Hill. It is the spiritual home of racing...

It's interesting how many of the people commenting on that site think that Gardner has no place saying the IOM is too dangerous because he has never done it. Personally I wouldn't expect someone who think it's too dangerous to try it. The stats speak for themselves.

Wow. Having looked at the stats, I'm not entirely sure if they held the race every year before WWII but it looks to me like every TT since then has had at least one fatality.

Wow, that's a bit of a surprise! Not too often that you have short circuit racers wanting to leave those safe confines and race on public roads! I'll be looking forward to seeing how he does, hope he can find a team/boss. Another Aussie, representing!

No, not that many high profile short circuit drivers make the transition to the road. Jeremy McWilliams raced the NW200 last may, came second in the supertwins race.
A couple of years ago also Robby Rolfo seemed very interested in competing the IOM TT. He was there a couple of times and stated that after his short circuit he wanted to race there. He was such a road racing fan that for a couple of years he was wearing a Joey Dunlop helmet in the British GP.
Would be nice to see Josh taking the challenge some day.

I may quote from the australian Goodwill message of a silicon disc that rests on the moon brought there by the crew of Apollo11:"May the high courage and the technical genius which made this achievement possible be so used in the future that mankind will live in a universe in which peace, self expression, and the chance of a dangerous adventure are available to all."

...and the chance of a dangerous adventure are available to all.

The IOMTT for me is about freedom and the right to for everbody to rule his own life at will.
Nobody forces anybody to race at the island and nobody can.
It sure is the Mount Everest of motorcycling and not for the faint hearted.
Those sory loosers who are to weak to hack it there shall stay home and do not touch this magnificent event.

The problem for me is that I remember names like Tom Phillis, Kenny Blake or Robert Holden (to mention the most well known) who represented and whose deaths were lamented.
Watching the event on screen makes me feel weak, apprehensive yet in awe, I can't even contemplate how hard it must be to learn the circuit for those who haven't been there often.