The Isle of Man TT is simply the most unrelentingly dangerous race in the world, and there are plenty of motorsports fans around that world who are only discovering it now.
Put simply, the TT (Tourist Trophy) is a series of motorcycle races taking place every year on the Isle of Man between England and Ireland. Since 1907, racers from around the world have gathered on the small island to ride the 37+ mile Snaefell Mountain Course that winds itself through multiple towns on public roads closed every year by an Act of The Isle of Man's Parliament. That course boasts more than 200 corners, with 60 having special names for the locals to recognize.
Consider that. This all-out race is never run on some professional race course designed and laid out for maximum speed and greatest possible safety. On such a course, a MotoGP bike racer can dump the bike, spin and roll free, and walk back to the pits in his body armor with only minor bumps and bruises.
The TT uses roads that are used by the public until a few hours prior to the race – roads that are rarely prepared in any way for racing beyond being cleared of traffic. Those narrow passageways run past trees, hills, stone walls and fences. They corner by pubs, homes and churches. They're stretches of pavement that surround potentially deadly obstacles throughout most of the course.
The brave men who race the TT face this course at all-out professional racing speeds on supreme motorcycles built by Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and BMW. And, if they make a mistake, they will likely be injured and potentially lose their lives. In fact, following the conclusion of the 2014 TT, the official count of racer deaths at the Isle of Man TT stood at 242 throughout its history.
Those sports fans who are somehow unaware of the TT are usually stunned by its potentially lethal danger. They assume that such occurrences must set the event back whenever they occur, but – in fact – the races not only continue day to day and year to year despite the injuries, the individual races continue even if there has been a crash or a death. At NASCAR, Formula One or Indy Car, a death would red flag the day. Racing would end. The TT simply doesn’t stop.
It’s the races location on the Isle of Man that makes its all-out reputation possible. The island is a member of the British Isles, but not a part of the Commonwealth. Its government sets its own safety laws, financial laws, insurance regulations, etc. The race is allowed to take place on its home turf while the Isle of Man gives the rest of the world a double bird.
Read Part Two of our 2014 Isle of Man TT coverage here.