It started in 1907 and is probably the most famous motorcycle race in the world. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) started as a way to get people on holiday to come out to a remote island in the Irish Sea and spend money. It worked and has continued ever since, but a dark shadow hangs over the TT. Will this reputation eventually end one of motorcycling’s most revered events?
Why Isle of Man TT Fans Keep Coming Back for More
On May 27th, the 2017 Isle of Man TT kicked off. For the next week, a little island considered a “British crown dependency” hosted thousands of visitors wanting to watch the incredible racing. There are very few events left in the world where you can get so close to the racers, and the racing.
Many spectators set up on street corners directly on the race course. This is because the TT is a true road racing course that uses public roads as the race track. It was only in 1927 that race officials closed the course to public traffic during the racing event. A racer—Archie Birkin—had crashed and died as he tried to avoid a truck, so race officials banned public traffic during the race, but that wasn’t the only incident that has plagued this age-old event.
Over its 107-year history, the Isle of Man has lost 255 racers to fatal on track incidents. This year, three more people joined that roster: Davey Lambert, Jochem van den Hoek, and Alan Bonner. Such losses have come to be a norm around this race, and has earned it the title of deadliest race in the world.
Despite this dark shadow, the event continues on. Fans choose to honor those who are lost and view them and their compatriots as heroes of the course. This hasn’t kept race officials from trying to make the event safer though. Sections prone to crashes have been widened, curbing has been removed, and hay bales have been replaced by state of the art airfences. However, every time another racer succumbs to injuries sustained on the course, some people wonder if organizers are doing enough.
By contrast, our very own Pikes Peak International Hill Climb had been compared to the Isle of Man after several racers perished while running the race. This led PPIHC organizers to make new rules that banned certain types of sportbikes. Two years after this controversial rule change, the PPIHC has seen no motorcycle racer fatalities. Should the Isle of Man TT consider emulating PPIHC’s safety success?
The attorneys who ride at the Metier Law Firm remind you to leave the fast riding on the racetrack—have a safe ride out there Colorado!