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Behind the scenesISLE OF MANN


Behind the scenes

Article published in Superwheels magazine in 2006.

Everyone thinks of the TT as the race of madness, of excesses, where riders with a slight touch of madness whiz by risking their lives. But the passion for this sport? The feeling of dependence that this kind of events arouse and create in those who participate? I was lucky enough to walk a little behind the stage of this fantastic event and the impressions reported are below.

Read the story published in the magazine.

I state that I have participated as a spectator 3 times in the TT, but this year, after talking with my friend Giulio, an expert in non-official non-FIM races, we had the idea that allowed me to live a special experience, even though we were in its 99th edition (perhaps subdued compared to the previous ones).

Probably the top, in terms of turnout and involvement, will be on the occasion of the centenary next year.

The starting point was to create a service that explored certain aspects of the competition: the most characteristic pilots, the private individuals who run for pure passion and the stars of a “parallel” world that orbits around the race; try to understand why and with what spirit you participate in such a dangerous race; all those characters who gravitate around the competition but are not the protagonists, so the marshalls, the security officers, the firefighters.

I don't know if it's a blow of the ass, but things immediately turn out well at the departure from Heysham. The departure is scheduled for 3 am and there are still a couple of hours to go to the check inn.

The natural meeting point is the only pub outside the port.

Bikers everywhere, beers, fish and chips, the usual things in short.

Socializing in these situations is natural.

One of the tables next to ours is occupied by two people and a boy. They are in civilian clothes, but their charge and the ethyl level bodes well despite their lack of motion.

Paul and Jan introduce themselves during the evening and the latter begins a series of dirty jokes, apologizing to the girls, but which even those who speak a little English cannot understand.

After a few pints I'm standing at the counter with Paul. I tell him I'm my third TT and he lets slip that this is his 30th edition (!!!!). I observe him, he doesn't look that old but I believe him. They are all marshals, including Jan, who can't stand up now, but who the next day I will see whizzing on the Bray Hill pedestrian crossing to solicit curious spectators who linger on the catwalk.

He confides in me that he has not skipped an edition and that he is his nephew, the boy who follows them is his first experience with him.

I turn around and imagine him in 30 years in the same situation as his uncle.

We drink the last beer together and meet on the circuit in the next few days.

The arrival on the island is always the same. We need to settle down, occupy the accommodation and plan future days which, as always, will be very intense. The tests are there in the late morning and I take the opportunity to collect my pass and take a couple of friends to one of the most shocking points of the track, especially for those in their first experience: Bray Hill. The result is, as in previous editions, shocking. The first steps are used to metabolize that something and someone tremendously fast passes about a meter from traffic lights, sidewalks and spectators.

Once you realize the obvious, that is, that these individuals are endowed with a certain streak of madness, the dismay begins. I also take the opportunity to chat with Paul, now sober, who checks the spot near the traffic light.

Although they are all volunteers, the professionalism of these individuals is really appreciated, Paul recommends me the best point to be able to take pictures and even escorts me to the predetermined points. At the end we say goodbye promising to see each other in the evening for a beer ..

The search continues, but it takes the time to put a couple of gears on my KTM to stop along a series of houses, in pure Anglo-Saxon style, a few steps from the entrance to the pits, where fairings and various pieces of engines protrude from the garages. cycling.

They say that the sidecar pilots are among the purest of this event, animated by a fierce passion

I park immediately to ask the first man in the suit if it is possible to take some pictures.

"Of course"

I arm myself with reflex cameras and enter the cave: in the dim light, 3 people work on the carcass of number 51: Bert, Belgian, Marwin, Scotsman, Hans, German.

The man who welcomed me at the entrance is Dick and he comes from England.

A true European Economic Community team !!!

They take advantage of the intrusion to take a break to the sound of sandwiches with coffee, which are placed on the flat surfaces of the vehicle.

Bert, who among other things in the race sits next to Dick, who is the driver, confides in me that this is his third consecutive participation. It all began by responding to an advertisement on the internet and since then she has been unable to think of a May that is not on this island.

The side participates in formula 2, the 600cc ones.

They show me the excursions of the shock absorbers and how to make them stiffer to withstand the dips in the circuit.

The garage belongs to a friend of Dick's who every year hosts them for free for the entire duration of the event.

But that's not all, the avenue looks like an external branch of the official pits, a few tens of meters to enter the garage that houses side number 32 of the English couple Alan Langton and Stuart Graham. In the workshop there is only Stuart's cousin, David, who helps the rider and passenger in setting up the vehicle. In the meantime, the crew arrives and the vehicle is quickly covered by the hull for the inevitable souvenir photo.

They too started their experience at the event in different years, but since then they haven't skipped a single edition !! There is no denying that this TT is a kind of virus, which is difficult to escape or escape once contracted !!

From there, the pits are a stone's throw away, but when you enter, things don't change that much. We are really far from the atmosphere of other international competitions, the "official" ones. Here it is very easy to see the favorite Martin Finnegan, or other drivers fighting for several victories in the various classes, who after the TT Super Stock race, entertain himself with a group of fans sipping a beer !!

But my intent is to search in the rear and the hunt continues.

There is everything believe me !!

Complete families of pilots who invite the curious to munch on sandwiches, avoiding children playing between mechanical parts and frames, rolling around on the lawns.

Drivers sitting in a circle who, waiting for the tests, sip beers and pose for the photos of the fans.

This is TT, welcome.

And wandering in the rear, among small vans, I know Bred Dunlop, mechanic, brother, companion of William, newcomer in the Junior Supersport TT class. He is English, he is 16 years old against his brother's 18, he comes from the eastern part of England, near Norwich, and the main sponsor of the team (there are 2 of them) is the father who owns a used car dealer.

We chat about this and that while he fine-tunes the last details before the rehearsals: the brother is stretched out on the lawn with the girl enjoying the company and the beautiful sun of the island, looking for the concentration that allows him to do what he is then the desire of all freshmen to their first experience: to finish the race.

I just have to enter the areas reserved for race staff, where the vehicles are checked by the judges for checks.

Here there are even the inevitable girls, quite nice I would add, to confirm that the official teams also participate and that they cheer with their presence a purely male environment where, the nice Ulrich, German marshall with decades of experience at the event, will lend himself with pleasure in a photographic game with 2 of the beauties walking around the boxes.

In the end he will leave me the e-mail address to receive the shots in good company, but honestly I would have preferred that the request had come from the other 2 protagonists, prettier, more attractive and without the mustache of my ruddy friend!

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