Remembering Daley

Daley Mathison flying over Ballagarey during Superstock pracice

Whether on TV or from the course, we watch the TT and marvel at the amazing skills of the drivers.   Close to the hedge, even closer to an unforgiving stone wall and sections with a mountain on one side and nothing on the other.  While amazing Peter Hickman’s lap record of 135.452 mph doesn’t tell the whole story.  With speeds approaching 200 mph, decisions have to be made while traveling up to nearly 300 feet per second.  Think about it, the length of a football pitch EVERY SECOND. 

As they say – fast in the fast parts and slow in the slow parts, but with 264 turn there are many more fast than slow. 


The riders, much like jet fighter pilots but with even less room for error have to rely on lap after lap after lap of practice, instinct and lightning fast reflexes.  The course is unforgiving and there is no room for error. 

But errors are made and friends are lost.  On June 3, 2019 Daley Mathison made an error. No one will ever really know what happened, if it was the smallest error in his line, something mechanical or debris on the course, what we do know is that we lost an amazing young rider, a father, a husband and a friend.  

I got to know Daley in 2018 and spent some time with him during practice week this year. Such a passionate young man, dedicated to the sport and even more dedicated to Natalie and Daisey. My heart goes out to his family and others who he touched.

Daley – rest in peace, you are missed.

I hope you enjoy a few of my photos of Daley and remembering him doing what he loved to do.

Supersport practice- Braddan Bridge
Supersport practice- Braddan Bridge
Daley’s final lap of the Mountain Course at Ballaugh Bridge
Daley’s final lap of the Mountain Course at Ballaugh Bridge
Daley’s final lap of the Mountain Course at Ballaugh Bridge
Daley giving it full gas at the start of the 2018 Superbike Race, with Daisies on his knee sliders to honor his daughter.

Back home, with my head still spinning

Peter Hickman won 3 races at the 2019 TT

WOW – it has happened, I am on the plane headed home and the last three weeks have flown by like the motorbikes hitting the end of the Sulby straight, and the 2019 Isle of Man TT is in the books.  

My hope is it will be remembered not for the rainy days but the incredible skills of the riders, the tireless efforts of their crews and the perseverance of the marshals as they were at their stations waiting for the racing to commence, only to have another day canceled.

There is a spirit to the Isle of Man, part of it comes from the community that is part of nature of living on an island and part is showing off for the TT. For weeks before the riders, crews and spectators arrive homes along the course and throughout the island are trimming hedges, painting homes and preparing to show off the Isle as the it becomes the center of the Road Racing universe.

I am truly one of the lucky ones, I have had pleasure of making some amazing friends over the last three years. 

  • Rob, a Deputy Sector Marshal and good friend.
  • Pete & Jen, my amazing hosts who set an high bar for making visitors feel like family. 
  • Allan ‘Kipper’ Killip, who began as a Traveling Marshal in 1962 
  • Jim Hunter, a Traveling Marshal (#2)
  • Malcom Wheeler, who with his wife Julie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at this year’s TT, where they had spent their honeymoon.  Malc was on the podium 3 times in the mid-80’s.
  • Trevor Denning, Deputy Chief Technical Officer
  • A Senior TT Party that starts the day with bacon baps and has an amazing view of the course.
  • A 50th surprise birthday party, 
  • Dozens and dozens of dedicated marshals. 

And of course the riders  – 

  • Peter Hickman
  • Michael Rutter
  • Lee Johnston
  • Sam West
  • Dominic Herbertson

And with the mighty come the fallen, I had also gotten to know Dan Kneen who was killed in 2018 and Daley Mathison who perished in a crash this year. No one will every really know what happened, but all should remember the amazing spirit and skills of these two young riders, who passed doing that they loved. 

Daley Mathison on his BMW S1000RR Superstock flying over Ballagary

For 2019, we have also had the chance to see the newest Superbike how it would fare alongside the time and race tested machines.  The all new BMW S1000RRmade its TT debut and quickly proved to be the fastest cat in the jungle. 

Needless to say, there are a lot of stories to share.  I hope that if you follow my blog, you will come and see for yourself what has enticed generations of motorcyclist to make the pilgrimage to the Isle of Man.

Stay tuned, my plan is to post a new blog every Tuesday and Thursday for the next few weeks or until I run out of things to share.  

Please send me a questions or topics of interest you have and I will try to respond.

Man and Machines Surviving the TT

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.

Dominic Herbertson up out of the saddle launches over Ballaugh Bridge
Dominic’s moto touches down, he is further off of the saddle.
Touchdown and his bike almost bottoms out.
Dominic’s suspension rebounds and he is still high on the saddle.
Now full gas, front wheel lifting and rear tire compressing.

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.

Back on Track at the IOM TT

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.

Peter Hickman has passed Michael Dunlop on lap 2 of the Superbike Race
Landing after flying over Ballaugh Bridge, puts incredible stress on both men and machines.

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.

Peter and his Smith’s Racing Team (photo courtesy of IOMTTRACES.com)

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.

A TT Sunny Sunday

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.  

The Birchall Brothers hope to continue their sidecar domination.
A lot of life is just hanging on.
Swinging in close to the crowd at Kirk Bradden.
Michael Dunlop out quickly, but had trouble on the mountain and had to be retrieved.
Peter Hickman had the fastest Superstock lap on his new BMW RR.
Lee Johnston on the his Ashcourt Racing BMW

Heading back on the course today for lots of racing and practice.

Superbike Are On the Road

Michael Dunlop on his first practice lap on his new S1000RR Superbike

4:00 PM on Monday afternoon the skies darkened, the rain clouds moved in and within minutes, the speakers in the paddock blasted out the news that the evenings practice was canceled. Not unexpected but not what was hoped for.

Tuesday morning was bright, sunny and cool and we headed up to the former Jurby Airfield and current Motordrome for some early morning testing. The Jurby course is a short course where the teams can get some time in and make adjustments without having to worry about riding the entire TT Mountain course.

We went up hoping to get a few photos of the new 2020 S1000RR. TT veteran Michael Rutter was supposed to be on the bike for the first time, in addition to his Superbike and Mugen Electric.

2020 BMW S1000RR in the morning sun.

There are only five of the new RR’s on the Island. Peter Hickman and Michael Dunlop each have their Superbike and Supersport and then there is this one. Furnished courtesy of BMW Motorrad UK to Performance Bike Magazine. This is the M-Sport model, just as it came out of the crate.

Performance Bike Magazine had arranged with Michael Rutter, the TT Officials and Motorrad UK to take the bike out for a test lap on the Mountain course, immediately after the conclusion of the Monday’s official practice session.

As the side car practice ended at 8:50 PM, Michael Rutter got on to the new 2020 RR for the very first time.

Michael Rutter on his first ride of the new 2020 S1000RR flying over Ballagary

I have only heard two bits of detail from his first ride:

  • He absolutely loved it; and
  • He hit 192 mph.

Not bad for the first time on the bike!

More to follow tomorrow.

The Isle of Man Roars to Life

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.

Newcomers wear orange bibs in the practice sessions.
Riders line up for Practice Session #1, for Super Sports and Lightweights.
Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston relaxes while getting ready for the sessions to start.
Michael Dunlop flies through on a hot lap on his Honda 600.

One more day to wait before the big bikes come out onto the course.