Why the TT races matter

Published: 04 June 2007

Ben Oliver salutes those who take part in the Isle of Man TT races

Just like the motorcycle itself, if the Isle of Man TT races were invented today they’d be banned by tomorrow. Instead, the event is celebrating its hundredth anniversary this month and the Manx government seems happy to continue supporting it in the full knowledge that every year, a few of the 20,000 bikers who ride to the island won’t be going home the same way. Three died last year, and more than 200 riders, marshals and spectators have lost their lives since the TT began, many in ‘Mad Sunday’ when spectators are allowed to take to the track on their own bikes. Can you imagine the Monaco GP course being thrown open to you and me in our Mondeos last weekend? Not quite.

That’s why we love the TT. But why applaud an event that costs so dear? This isn’t just a nut-job libertarian rant; I have no problem with speed limits and safety measures designed to stop the incompetent from killing the innocent. But if a bunch of bikers are prepared to race at over 200mph across a 37-mile road course with kerbs and potholes and cats-eyes and road markings and stray cows and ponies just for the sport and thrill of it, and put no-one at risk other than themselves and onlookers who are just as aware of the risks, and if a government is prepared to support the wishes of consenting adults – then those on four wheels salute you.


By Ben Oliver

Contributing editor, watch connoisseur, purveyor of fine features