As I travel and share stories about the Isle of Man and the TT, I always tell people that if you only go the Isle of Man and only watching fast motorcycles, you are missing half of the experience. This small island nation is a truly an amazing place to explore. There are rugged coastlines, lush National Glens, rolling hills, historic churches and cemeteries, as well as the an amazing waterwheel built in 1854.
I could go on and on, but I will just share a few photos and you can start planning your days off at the 2020 TT.
As I travel to BMW Dealers in the US and give my presentation the TT Experience, I always dedicate a few minutes to the sidecars. Sidecar racing is a bit difficult to describe until you see it. It’s much like the rest of the TT but more so. I always describe it a cross between Star Wars and insanity.
Just look at this photo, doesn’t it look like a speeder?
Flying over Ballaugh Bridge just like the solo riders, the sidecars are an amazing test of the riders, the passengers and the machine. Their graceful flight belies the impact of the landing. (#5 – Pete Founds & Jevan Walmsley).
The passengers, appropriately and affectionately called Monkeys, must have strength, flexibility, balancing and an unyielding trust in their driver. The have very little to hang onto in trying to balance the weight distribution and counteract the force of turning, the passenger lays out and has turbulent landing.
Just a few yards down the course, they pick up speed with the passengers tucked in and they are gone.
Ben and Tom Birchall below have won the last 8 sidecar events at the TT, and on Monday they made it #9. They move as a unit, smooth and graceful and FAST! Really, really FAST!
If you find this short post intriguing, check out the video 3-Wheeling!By my buddy Chris Beauman.
With a single lap of 37.73 miles and 264 turns, there can be no doubt that part of the TT is survival for both the men and machines. Although not the fastest point of the race but one of the clearest illustrations of the physical demands of the race is at Ballaugh Bridge.
Coming over the bridge at over 60 mph, everyone is launched into the air.
The following sequence is from Monday’s Superbike Race and to give you an idea of speed, these are continuous shots at 12 frames per second.
This sequence is less than a 1/2 second out of the race. Now think 6 laps for the big bikes. 226 miles with 1,584 bone-shaking, bike-bashing turns, with miles and miles of rough roads in between.
Amazing athletes, amazing machines and really no surprise when one breaks down on the side of the road.
WOW – two days in a row! That, in and of itself is enough to bring a smile to visitors to the 2019 Isle of Man TT. With a positive forecast Gary Thompson, the Clerk of Course created an ambitious schedule of racing and practice to run throughout the day and evening. Roads closed at 10:00 AM and reopened for 90 minutes between 4:30 and 6:00 to allow people to get home for work and then closed for another evening race.
The first Superbike started just a few minutes late due to a non-race related medical incident.
I spent the morning and afternoon at the iconic Ballaugh Bridge, just past the 17-mile mark. Where I have shot in the past and know the marshals.
Having had some issues with his Superbike at Sunday’s practice combined with turning in some of the fastest sector times of the week on his Superstock bike, on Sunday night Peter’s Smith Racing crew turned his Superstock bike into a Superbike. One of the really cool parts of the rebuild is that Peter’s new S1000RR – had a Road Bike Engine in it!
After being a few seconds behind in the initial sectors, Peter consistently gained time on race leader Dean Harrison.
A red flag after a tragic incident on the course shortened the race, Hickman was in the lead and declared the winner.
The good weather and celebration was muted due to the tragic death of Daley Mathison on the third lap of the course. I will have another post about Daley next week.
A rain day today but the forecast and the schedule look good for Wednesday.
Pulling back the curtain on Sunday morning offered little hope there would be any racing. Checking all of the weather apps on my phone offered little encouragement. Socked in and puddles in the street, I was trying to decide how I was going to spend the day.
But as the hours ticked by, the sky brightened, and the road closing schedule was unchanged – All roads closing at 12:45 and practice for sidecars at 1:30. Although 1:30 morphed into 3:00 due to damp roads, eventually you could hear engines revving on the grid via race radio.
I had been dropped off at Braddan Bridge, less than 2 miles from the start. I have shot well from there in the past and it was relatively easy to get back to the house if things didn’t go well.
But things did go! And finally, there were motorbikes around the course. A small group of who had traveled from Florence were sitting on the wall behind me, beaming, and there was great energy in the crowd who had be patiently waiting, many in very damp tents.
For just over two hours, there were sidecars, superbikes, superstocks and supersports flying by Braddan Church.
Riders tested as many bikes as they could as quickly as possible, some taking two laps and some pitting every lap to make adjustments.
With only two practice sessions on the Superbikes they would be racing on Monday.
The afternoon wrapped up with one lap practice for the TT Zero bikes, I love the idea of the electric bikes but they are hard to shoot because I can never hear them coming.
Heading back on the course today for lots of racing and practice.
With apologies to both Dr. Seuss and The (Manx) Cat and the Hat, for the most part the 2019 Isle of Man TT has been too wet to play.
Practice was supposed to be Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Although previously unscheduled, there was practice on Sunday and again on Tuesday but even though the roads looked good at the start and here in Glen Vine, up on Snaefell Mountain, the visibility was so low the medical helicopters wouldn’t have been able to fly.
But that was for Friday, let’s rewind a bit.
I am here at the TT to collect and tell a few stories about the oldest, fastest and most dangerous race in the world. Mostly, I do this with my camera. This year, my favorite video producer Jon Phillips has joined me for a week at the TT. In addition to shooting stills, our plan was to shoot video interviews with some of the riders that I got to know last year and create a YouTube Channel to share some of the drivers’ insights with fans in America.
This is special year, and it will be even more special if the weather clears. This will be the TT’s introduction to the brand new and amazing BMW S1000RR. When first introduced in 2009, it was revolutionary. The new model is NOT an evolution, but total redesign. We will have lots of comments from top drivers. Including Peter Hickman and Michael Rutter.
Stay tuned while we get the edits done over the next few weeks and in the meantime, here are a few photos.
The 2019 Isle of Man TT began as I am sure so many others have done over the last 110 years, in the rain. The roads were scheduled to be closed at 6:00 PM on Saturday and with the on and off rain throughout the day, everyone was wondering if there would be fast bikes on the roads tonight and how long they would be out until the conditions changed again.
At about 4:00 it was official, the first day of practice was canceled and it felt like there was a collective sigh of relief and the teams quietly went back to settling in and getting ready.
May / June weather on the Isle of Man always has a good probability of rain and as such, the practice and race schedules have contingencies build it. Practice would be Sunday at 1:30 and even with a delay until 2:40, the island suddenly roared to life.
Solo and Sidecar Newcomers we first out on the course for a sighting lap and then followed by Super Sports and Lightweights.
One more day to wait before the big bikes come out onto the course.