The Truth About Road Racing

*This may not be an easy read, but I think it’s an important one.

Road racing. It’s exactly that. Racing on a road. A public road, albeit closed. On two wheels. On a motorbike. Between the stone walls, hedges and curb stones. Through the trees, mind that damp patch and try to hit that apex. Trees, barbed wire fences, lampposts line the roadsides. There are bridges, hairpins and maybe a Mountain to contest. Roundabouts and chicanes maybe. A mass start or a time trial.

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This is road racing and it isn’t for everyone.

Before I moved to the Isle of Man myself and my family made the pilgrimage over to the Isle of Man TT and Manx Grand Prix almost every year. I remember kids at school asking me why was I going to an Island where there will be nothing to do? Are you sure you mean Man and not White? Is there even electricity. To answer those questions – yes I meant Man, yes there is electricity and that little journey over the Irish Sea is more than just a holiday. It’s a community flocking to a small island to witness one of the greatest ever spectacles. Standing at the bottom of the road watching these racers fly through is something I don’t think you can comprehend at 6 or 7. I can still remember how it felt though. That jumping feeling when one flew past, maybe a little step back. Okay, a rather large step back, but I was hooked. I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t help but watch. I’d run down to the bottom of my grandparent’s road ready to watch. When you’re small you don’t have to be anywhere early… people just let you push in. It was great! At that age you don’t understand the ins and outs of road racing or probably motorsport in general. My Poppa (Grandad) used to track race, he always had a motorbike. I guess it’s all kind of in my blood. The speed, the danger, the mechanics. My Mom followed BSB, WSBK and MotoGP religiously. All you really see at the age though is the race bikes in the paddock, the racers who you meet and talk to and then the races themselves. You cling onto a favourite at that age, you idolise without even realising. You’re oblivious to everything else that goes on. I suppose you think these racers are invincible and that everything will be okay; it’ll t-cut out mentality. Until one day you’re that little bit older and suddenly the world is no longer rainbows and butterflies.

I was 9 when myself and thousands of race fans lost their racing hero – David Jefferies. I cried and I cried. The whole atmosphere on this little island changed, the whole island was devastated – something we would unfortunately encounter again and again.  I didn’t see it, in fact I wasn’t anywhere near where the incident happened, but even at 9 my heart sank hearing the words ‘red flag’ and the press release that followed. Flowers and items in memory were laid by Jefferies family, team-mates, friends, fans. They still are to this day. I guess at that point for me it was a realisation. Jefferies was a TT winner, in fact he won nine in the six years he contested. He knew his way round; he knew his bike. Yet in a split second – gone. The realisation for me at that age was simple. This sport is dangerous. This sport can seriously injure people, or worse fatally. This sport is not for the faint-hearted. This sport is something you need to understand before you immerse yourself in it. This sport is where you need to be prepared for every eventuality. It could be due to a mechanical issue, rider error or even a rabbit. With some fatalities we will just never know except it was a racing incident. I remember my Mom consoling me telling me ‘it’s what they do, they know the risks’. I couldn’t understand how anyone could say bye to their wife, children or parents, put a flammable tank between their legs and ride the nuts off a motorbike with the knowledge they might not make it home alive. I was 9. I was angry. I was upset. The rider I loved, the rider who made me giddy over Suzuki’s, the rider who ignited my road racing spark was gone.

Two months later I found myself back on the Isle of Man for the Manx Grand Prix. I was only 9. I can’t remember what happened in those two months, I can’t remember how I felt, but I’m pretty sure even at 9 I was questioning why I was stood at the bottom of the road once again ready to watch yet more road racing on the same course that took my hero. Yes, it was my family’s choice as to where we went on holiday, but ultimately it was my decision as to whether I watched the racing or not. I chose to. I was drawn to the racing. Not because of the chance of death, not because of the risk, but because of the elation and emotion that everyone feels when you hear ‘xxx WINS THE SENIOR TT’.  You feel like you’re part of something special. Sat by your little radio with Manx Radio AM blaring out, alongside other race fans who are waving their programmes, shouting ‘GO ON FELLA!’, waving their arms around, jumping up in the air. It’s unbelievable. And all this is happening whilst you are stood at the end of a road, sat on a hedge or in a field. They are, in some places, inches away from you. Probably within touching distance. It is scary. You have to be prepared for it, you have to know that motorsport is dangerous. Not just road racing, but motorsport in general. You’re don’t usually get that type of danger at Silverstone or Brands hatch. You’re shoved behind a tall fence or in a grandstand. You don’t often get the danger of a curb stone, a brick wall or a lamppost either. You have to pay for admission, which these days can cost the world, and the majority of the time you have to be pretty important to take a walk down pit lane to the garages. There’s none of that b*llshit at a road race. The paddock is open for everyone to walk around without any charge. You can find yourself a space in a hedge, provided it’s not prohibited’ for free. Take yourself a few beers and a packed lunch and you’re set for a day’s racing! You can congregate on the start line and watch the racers set off down Bray Hill one by one. You can be right where the mass starts take off from at the Southern 100, NW200 or Ulster Grand Prix. Whether you go with friends or go alone, you’re bound to make new friends, race friends, friends who just get it. Nowadays you have to pay to sit in the main grandstand at the start/finish of the TT course and they have started to put up paid-for Grandstand at various points around the course. Some people who only know this are likely to pay, but old school race fans will just perch on a wall, in a hedge, in a field where it’s free (or a donation is payable). You begin to learn that road racing fans aren’t like ordinary race fans. You begin to learn that road racers aren’t like track racers.

There are people I work with who just don’t get it. There will be people in Tesco’s complaining that roads are closed, no food is left or that there’s simply too many motorbikes. They live here, love the Isle of Man, but just don’t understand why for almost 5 weeks of the year specific roads close for racers to jump on their motorbikes to race the roads we drive on daily. They don’t understand why people make the pilgrimage from all over the world to be on this little, not usually tropical, island. One year I noticed some motorbikes had Australian number plates. Turns out the riders had shipped their bikes over so they can ride on the famous TT course. A number of people often ride through Europe, jump on the Eurostar or ferry, cross the English Channel, ride up from Dover to Liverpool or Heysham, sail the Irish Sea just to get to the races. That’s days of travelling. That’s commitment. That’s what we do to watch and immerse ourselves in what this bizarre sport we love. I don’t expect outsiders to understand. Not many people I know would be happy to sit on a grass bank with ants and whatever else is lurking for a day’s racing. Not many find it appealing especially if you’re in the middle of a field and the only toilet you have is a bush… Personally, it doesn’t bother me. I’m 100% content sat on a grass bank, in a hedge or on a stone wall. I’m in awe of these racers. It’s a pleasure to watch these people do what they do best. Hitting those apexes, navigating through the shade of the trees, dancing on the foot pegs. I don’t expect everyone to understand, I especially don’t expect them to understand after recent events where even road race fans are questioning their love for the sport. I know I have been hence why I’m writing this today. Ask a road racing fan on a good day how they feel about road racing and before you know it you’ll be hooked yourself. Catch a road racing fan on a bad day and they’ll tell you how much they hate it. A few weeks later you’ll catch that same road racing fan back in a hedge. But why? Because it’s all we know, it’s under our skin, it’s part of us. I truly believe that a road racing fan carries the death of a racer around with them for a while regardless of whether they witnessed it or not. The turn up on a hedge the next day because it’s what that racer would want. It’s a sign of respect, it’s a show of solidarity.

Some of these racers didn’t make it home alive, but were they doing what they loved? Yes. Some have been critically injured, but were they living life to their fullest? Yes. Some may have lost finger tips, some may have lost a limb, but did they know the risks? Yes. The additional danger in road racing is quite clearly obvious and it isn’t rocket science. 1. Racing on two wheels comes with an additional risk in comparison to rallying for example. 2. The furniture. 3. No run off area, kitty litter or similar. Those of the three main differences. In a racing incident it can be difficult to distinguish a fault, a reason specifically when the mechanical factors appear to be sound after inspection. A rider error can be hard to take, but it’s a stark reminder that they’re only human.

Over the years my eyes were opened to even more road races. There isn’t just the Isle of Man TT or the Manx Grand Prix – there are many! North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix in Northern Ireland, Skerries 100 in Southern Island. The Southern 100 down south on the Isle of Man and many more, but these are to name a few. There have been huge achievements at all of the above, but with great achievements come sadness and at each of the above road races there have been fatalities. You also find road racing in Spain and other European countries, however they’re not as well publicised here in the UK. In fact, the only time road racing gets a mention in the press is when there is are life-threatening injuries or fatalities.

You’ll find The Time, The Independent, The Huffington Post and many more only ever mention the Isle of Man TT, Southern 100, Skerries 100 if a rider has died. They might mention if Cal Crutchlow grabs a podium position in MotoGP, but they won’t mention that Peter Hickman is the world’s fastest road racer as he set a new lap record around the Isle of Man TT course. They won’t mention that Dean Harrison won the Supersport TT this year and that before Hickman smashed the outright lap record at the TT Harrison was actually the world’s fastest road racer at the Ulster Grand Prix or that John McGuinness had signed for Norton. The only recent ‘news’ the world knows about McGuinness is that his Honda spat him off at the NW200 leaving him partly broken. People on the outside are only aware of a handful of riders this year: Dan Kneen, Steve Mercer, Adam Lyon, William Dunlop, James Cowton and Ivan Lintin, People on the outside are only aware of these riders for the worst possible reason. They have either been fatally killed whilst racing or critically injured. Of course this is news, serious news, but they are also people. They’re not just racers. They have families. They might have a girlfriend or wife, possibly even children. The risks are well-known by both the rider and their families. McGuinness has said ‘we look selfish at times; we just can’t help it.’ Their wife will probably be the one holding their helmet whilst their husband zips up their leathers on the start line. Their children are probably holding their gloves whilst their daddy puts on his helmet. Their partners go into a relationship with them as racers whether that be on a road or a track. Their children are brought into this crazy world of road racing from birth and it’s all they know. Paul Shoesmith, who lost his life in June 2016, had two young boys. You’d see Shoey’s tent in the paddock and know that his two little boys wouldn’t be far away razzing round the paddock on their little balance bikes. They loved it! This racing world is all they know. It’s not just a few weeks of the year. The racing world is their life, their family. It’s in their blood regardless of whether they decide to take up racing later in life or not. I hope people can at least understand that part of this crazy world rather than criticising the life they choose.

It was Senior Race Day in 2015. Myself, my partner and his family decided we’d go up to the K Tree, but it was pretty much full! Instead we headed to the 11th milestone and set-up camp on a hedge. The buzz around the Senior TT is unreal despite having a Superbike race on the Monday, this is always the one racers want to win. The Marquis de Mouzilly St. Mars trophy is awarded to the winner. It’s prestigious. It’s special. However, that day in 2015 I witnessed my first ‘big’ crash. I heard a bang, saw a fireball and jumped down behind the hedge as I saw bike bits fly towards me. It was horrifying. The adrenaline had kicked in after a few short seconds and I was ready to deal with whatever had just happened, but I wasn’t signed-on to marshal that day. I was there to spectate. There were adequate numbers of marshals and in a situation like that too many cooks’ rings all too true. The helicopter came, although it felt like hours before it arrived, and I believe there was an off-duty nurse spectating who offered her assistance. It also felt like hours until the helicopter left, but you’re never really certain as to whether that’s a good thing or not. Steve Mercer unfortunately had to ride through the smoke and potentially the fireball that lit up the sky. He pulled into the field next to us and sat there facing away from the road. He just wanted to be alone. All of a sudden the realities of road racing were all too clear. I remember a marshal walking down the pavement after it happened asking if everyone was okay with blood over his orange jacket. He was so calm, collected. Seeing that crash was upsetting, but it never stopped me from watching road racing. The love was still there, just a little tainted. After I’d calmed down and made sure others around me were okay, I looked at Twitter. Rumours were rife. I remember seeing riders’ names strewn left, right and centre. None of which were correct might I add. None of us could even see a number on the bike and we were there, we saw it. This happens every damn time, but unfortunately we live in a world now ruled by social media. There appears to be some kind of sick trophy that people want to grab and say they were the first to announce a death.

Social media wasn’t really a thing when I watched as a child. Smartphones didn’t exist and you were lucky if you were able to send a picture message without trying 273 times. You listened to Manx Radio and if you wanted to document anything you either had a camera or a camcorder. You couldn’t upload photos or videos onto Twitter or Facebook. The latest news wasn’t in your hand. Now I’m constantly fighting with people to keep the rumours they’ve heard to themselves rather than plastering them over social media where families could potentially be given false information. Would you like to see that your boyfriend, husband, wife had died in a racing incident on Twitter? These people either call themselves race fans or their people who want it banned. It boils my blood how social media can be turned into such a negative form of communication. A lot of road racing fans use Twitter, for example, to keep up with the results, the latest updated whether that be yellow flags, red flags. Those of us who know the sport, who respect the sport know that nothing good ever comes of speculation. Twitter is full of racers, teams, team members, family and friends. I have many friends who are directly involved in road racing whether they race themselves, are family or friends of a racer or even part of a team. There’s a little network behind the scenes of Twitter both publicly and privately. When an incident happens we don’t gossip or share information over a public platform. If something needs to be said, it’s done privately. That little network is what holds this community together sometimes. This community knows nothing is official until a press release is published. This community knows the heartache. This community knows this is road racing and this is dangerous. This community is a family. We are all well informed of the risks, of the consequences. Please don’t try and tell us our sport should be no more, that we should suppress such natural born talent on a motorcycle because some people who aren’t even involved in this sport are worried about the consequences.

The past few weeks have been ones of loss, heartbreak and tears. Practice week of the 2018 Isle of Man TT brought up heartache and loss. The Isle of Man lost one of its own – Dan Kneen. This little island will take a while to heal from the loss of Dan, it won’t be quick nor easy. With the support of Dan’s family, the Tyco BMW team and the races went on as scheduled with the knowledge that this is exactly what Dan would have wanted. On the same evening Steve Mercer was also involved in an incident where he was said to be in a critical condition. As per the schedule, we continued knowing that these racers wouldn’t want the races to be stopped. During the Supersport Race Adam Lyon’s was fatally injured on the Mountain section after a competitive start to his Mountain course career. At the Skerries 100 only last weekend it was announced that we lost another of the Dunlop dynasty – William. Brother of Michael, nephew of Joey, son of Robert. Northern Ireland once again along with the entire road racing community are mourning the loss of another of the greatest road racing families in history. I still don’t really know what to say about William other than he was a gentleman both on and off the roads. He’ll be sorely missed by many. Only yesterday at the Southern 100 we lost another road racer – James Cowton. The death of a road racer regardless of whether they are a newcomer or experienced always comes as a shock. It always takes time to come to terms with a loss, and for some it will never leave us.

This is by no means a direct comparison, but for a bit of perspective in 2018 so far FIVE people have died attempting to climb Mount Everest. In 2017 there were SIX. In 2016 there were SEVEN. Now, you tell me that road racing is dangerous and that it should be banned? Ban it because people died doing what they loved, people died living their dream? Ban it because it’s not safe? It’s just not the answer and it’s not what the families of these racers need to be hearing. They will grieve, they will go through every possible emotion, but they will eventually find some comfort and may even find themselves back in the paddock involving themselves because it’s all they know. Whilst writing this my thoughts are with those who are no longer here to live their dream and especially with the families of William Dunlop and James Cowton. Ivan Lintin remains in a critical condition following yesterday’s incident and has been transferred to Liverpool for further treatment – keep fighting!

I’m not too sure how much more this sport, the families, friends and fans can take, but what I do know is we’ll get through it & help those who need it. Don’t get me wrong it’ll take time, lots of time. This season has been horrendous, one of the worst I’ve known, but we’ll get there, we’ll get through it. The truth is road racing is dangerous. Motorsport in general is dangerous. I hope that this gives an insight into this crazy world of road racing especially if you’re someone who just doesn’t get this sport. It’s difficult to understand at times, it’s difficult to love at times. It’s a sport I hate to love sometimes, but a sport I can’t help but love.

Steve Mercer posted something quite poignant today on Facebook for his first post since his incident at TT and I thought I would leave you with this little sentence – ‘We are bike racers and bike racers fight.’

Words by Samantha Wanless

86 thoughts on “The Truth About Road Racing

    • what an amazing insight in to the world of road racing. it goes unnoticed too, how many jockeys die doing the sport they love. i know one thing, my son would not have traded a minute of racing, road, track or endurance, for anything else. he lived his life to the full, travelled the world doing the sport he loved. he saw and met the world and loved every minute of it. it is a different mentality from the norm admittedly, but isn’t it great that some of us want to live a year as a lion rather 10 years as a sheep. Dee

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      • Simon was a well respected, well loved rider , still missed and still talked about . X

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  1. Great piece , coming from Ireland I know too well the whole road racing scene and like yourself was hooked from an early age.
    The first heartbreak was Tom Herron , spoke to him on that morning wished him luck and he was killed later that day .
    I thought my heart would break it was terrible and couldn’t understand why. I still go to road races and stand in awe of the speed , skill and atmosphere of these events .
    I have a bike myself and know the risks every time I go out on it .
    For the against camp what angers me is the fact they label it madness and bloodsports .
    You couldn’t ride at the speed these guys do if you hadn’t your A game on and the last thing any true race fan or competitor want to see is anyone crashing or worse still not making it pack to the pits to their friends or family .

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  2. You sit and chat..it’s heaven..the bird sing and the crows and jackdaws chatter…!!then you hear the faint sound of bees…!!!..then in a split second the hairs on the back of your neck r tingling ….there..!!!!!! a gladiator of the road flash’s passed….!!!! you r on a high….!!!!!!he is wide eyed and buzzing ..!!!!! 🏍🏁🍊🇮🇲..

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  3. Wow….Superbly written by someone who really knows the the highs and lows of our sport and I recognise, and mirror, so much of the ultimate elation and the crushing sorrow that ‘we’ as part of the road racing family share with our heroes.

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  4. As one of those guys on the other side of the fence, I can only agree. I race roads because there is nothing like it. No one makes me, it is selfish and hard on my loved ones, even if m’y kids have Brown up in road race paddocks.
    It is a lifestyle, but it is our choice. We know the risks . And we do it anyway. Because we love it.
    Éric LENSER.

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  5. Wow, I’ve sat here reading this with goosebumps on my arms, nodding and agreeing with everything you’ve written. I can’t bring myself to look at the photos I’ve taken yet but I will.

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  6. I never made it across as my Dad thought we wouldn’t have survived the crossing from Liverpool when we were kids. Perhaps he was trying to protect us? Who knows. I know that I always follow road racing. Anything else isn’t quite the same. I do wonder if my Dad hankered after doing some. He had plenty of bikes and he’d disappear at times when we were little late 50s/early 60s and we would never know quite where he was. It was always road racing with him and anything else was ‘tame’. He grew up riding bikes on the wild roads in Northumberland that must have been very much like the Isle of Man.

    Excellent writing that encapsulated what road racing is.

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  7. I think that was very true as a cross over for more than 20 years I seen the highs and the. Lows of road racing I hope to move over to the Island this year some one very special introduced me to tha Isle of Man and I haven’t looked back you have to look to the future. The people of the Isle of Man are special breed and road racing is in their blood

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  8. Beautiful,Sincere and so very very true. Road Racers and true followers (fans) are a Breed Apart. Long Live Road Racing. To all the riders that have left us RIP, and to the injured get well soon. X 🏍🏍🏍 X.

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  9. Very well written, it’s a sport that once you have done it nothing else comes close, I see the circuits as just keeping my hand in for the real track…the roads…but as you say…. most don’t get it…

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  10. I needed to read that as I’m really questioning my love for the sport right now. I’m heartbroken over William , when I was racing he was starting on his Apprillia 125 in Nutts corner with his dad. Road racers are the most talented riders in the world and my god what a display they put on at the TT this year in particular! Such a cruel sport when it goes wrong. Thanks for posting that Sam.

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  11. summed up perfectly.hit the nail on the head.i have seen first hand what it does to people but if they take time to read this ,they will see road racers are special breed but only doing what they love.

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  12. What a great read haveing been brought up with Roar raceing in the sixtes and seventies liveing at Brookhill near Lisburn we went to all the races and lost a lot of friends over the years so congrats on a great artical i have already printed it of to show to our freinds may the races go on for ever we hope to be back next year for the Ulster R I P to all are heros
    Michael

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  13. I couldn`t agree more. I first witnessed Road Racing at the TT in 1989 on a visit. 8 years later I moved over to the island with my now wife. I also started marshalling that year and have marshalled every TT and MGP since. Am now a deputy Sector marshal and love the racing.As you rightly say though,even hardened fans,and marshals sometimes hate it. I currently hate it but when MGP comes round will I be out there in my orange tabard. You bet I will.

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  14. It has to be remembered that places like the TT and the Ulster or the North West were used because there were no other racing circuits available. Indeed in 1906 or 7 when the TT started racing in the UK wasn’t possible. Now though places like Donington Park or Silverstone are available for racing at world champi9nship level so the TT no longer draws riders of the caliber of Rossi or Marquez to compete on a closed public roads course. Sure accidents occur in MotoGP and recently Keith Heuwen reported that over a hundred had occurred at the Spanish Grand Prix weekend alone. The big difference is that a rider has a better chance of walking away from a crash at Jerez than at the TT. That leaves the TT out on the fringes of motorcycle racing and that cannot be a good thing. With so many fatalities it also tends to drag down the rest of Motor cycle racing with it. Winning the TT remains an Everest to climb for some and if that is what they want to do they know the risks just as anyone knows what can happen scaling a dangerous mountain. I think the biggest lesson to be drawn from the last few weeks is that lessons don’t seem to be being learnt. If you hit your thumb with a hammer often enough you soon learn either not to use a hammer again or you put your thumb out of the way so it can’t be hit. The TT course is virtually unchanged for decades and perhaps it was time that it could be shortened in length and purpose built sections added much as happened to other famous road courses such as spa or Le Mans. The final point I would make is it absolutely necessary that bikes should lap at 135mph average? The answer is clearly not as exciting races can be run on bikes half the capacity and at much less frenetic speeds. I was a friend of Steve Hislop and spoke to him often about racing at the TT and he declared to me over 20 years ago that the speeds riders were doing were too high and that was why he did no more after 1994 and even then he only did the races because his contract to race on the mainland required it.

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  15. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain this so intense that’ll be possible for people who don’t know anything about road racing, to understand why both the racers and the spectators are doing what we are doing..!!
    Yours Sincerely
    Erik B Dk

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  16. What about amazing read and yes it’s true only those who really understand the sport would get this little story rip to all that have left us early xx😘😘

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  17. One word ; WOW !!!

    Superbly written, the choice of words perfectly capturing the emotions of Real Road Racing !!

    It’s more than “racing” ….. it’s a lifestyle, it’s an extended family, it’s that “something” that lots of people will unfortunately never understand !!!

    …. an excellent read, WELL DONE !!!

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  18. How eloquent and poignant and honest – we understand,we love the sport and have been watching since we were kids – the first race I seen was at Aghadowey a very small short circuit in Northern Ireland my old cine footage shows Joey racing at that meeting a eeting that my cousin raced on an RD250 – I was 7 and that was 42 years ago and I was hooked

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  19. Very well written. You have summed it up perfectly. I have been one of the wives holding the helmet and gloves and watching my husband leave the start line not knowing if he will make it back ok but he was off riding the course he loved. Even though you know the risks it’s exciting. There is no place like The Island.

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  20. In life, there is always a price to pay,these men have paid the ultimate price but,given the choice, I know each and every one of them would have it no other way. We are honoured to be able to watch these men push the boundaries of human endeavour and I for one stand in awe of them.

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  21. What a beautifully written article, thank you. This year has been devastating so far and my thoughts are with all family and friends and for those still fighting. We’re racing two bikes in the Classic later in the year, it does make you think whether we should put the riders through this but it is their choice. Let’s hope for a good and safe Classic and Manx. My thoughts go out too to all the marshals, I’ll be out there marshalling too at some stage in August.

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  22. I must have been about 7 years old when I approached Geoff Duke for an autograph. He was my hero. Names like Taruffi, Stanley Woods and Ray Amm come to mind.
    Yes I was bitten too.

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  23. A great read ! We race tracks ,my son rides ……I understand to a crertain extent ,particularly those that spectate ,but y o y ,in these days , can’t any more be done to make it safer !!?? No one wants to see these accidents or fatalities ,and surely we would sacrifice a not so great view for a life ?? I wonder how ,knowing the probabilities of life changing accidents acouring health and safety law lets it continue as it is run today ! We look back at bike racing from days gone by and express terror in the lack of protection our racers use to have in the way of clothing ,protection gear etc ……will we in years to come express the same terror at what we see happening today at the TT……or does it also come down to cost ???

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  24. Nice piece. I understand where you are coming from, even though I’m more of a circuit racing fan (MotoGP, SBK, BSB and so on). I also think that grown men and women are allowed to make their own choices when it comes to risk vs reward. Wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends know what they get when being together with a racer. The ones my hearth really breaks for are the kids. They don’t have a choise. I’ve half jokingly suggested that only childless people should be allowed to race. I know it’s a bit ridiculous but when tragedy strikes that’s how I instinctively feel. Cheers . /David

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  25. Beautifully written. This is an article that just hits the mark. I am a 50 something academic that simply loves road racing. I have made the pilgrimage from Australia to the IOM twice and I am currently planning the third. I love sitting on the hedges, ar many different sections of the course chatting with like minded racing fans. It is an honour and with great pride to watch, McGuiness, The Dunlops, Connor Cummins ride – it is just something. People die exploring, climbing, riding, flying, cave diving all the time – we just don’t hear about it until there is a catastrophe…
    Everyone feels they have the right to comment on everything even when it is uninformed –
    Thanks Sam for this article

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  26. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been going for 23 years and was hoping to take part in the Manx Grand prix. I had the full backing of my wife,family and friends and I knew the risks. Unfortunately due to a racing incident earlier this year I won’t be able to participate. I am gutted. It won’t stop me from attendingthe TT every year I’m able to go. We all know how dangerous it can be but we all love it because its a way of life. The Isle of Man is a majestic place where dreams come true and hero’s are born. Long live the TT.

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  27. An amazing read as a road racing fan it’s hard to take we’ve lost William Dunlop such a loss from a family that live road racing that always draw big croweds to an event when advertised. Iv no dout micheal Dunlop will line up on a start line soon it’s what they do it’s their life and we the road racing fans will flock to watch our heros risk life n lim to see them take that podim 1.2.or 3 no matter what Road Racing will live on

    Liked by 1 person

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