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Nerves of Steel: The Isle of Man TT Race

November 9, 2011 by Matt

Isle of Man TT Race Motorcycle Bike Air Jump

I normally focus on car-related news, design and engineering here at Spannerhead, but the recent discovery of a little event called the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race prompts me to take a little detour into the two-wheeled world.

Held annually over a 37-mile public road course lapping the Isle of Man, the race features some of the most insane—and I do mean genuinely crazy—racing I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine another motorsport where simply crossing the finish line intact would require a greater percentage of luck versus skill. If the entrance application had a “Do you have a death wish?” question, all the entrants would check the box.

The course record of just over 17 minutes, 12 seconds was set in 2009 by John McGuinness, a time that works out to an average of 131.5 mph—meaning the bike was traveling at an even faster clip for much of the race. The all-time wins leader is Joey Dunlop, with 27 victories under his belt, over a fourth of all the Isle of Man TT races that have ever been held. As with the Nurburgring, course familiarity probably helps.

To see the bikes in action, click on the jump below.

Filed under: Motorcycles, Racing


  1. John D says:

    Holy cow. I’ve never seen any kind of racing that looked so fast AND dangerous. I was getting tense just watching it. No margin of error at all. Like Formula 1 and rally racing combined. Those are some of the most painful crashes I’ve ever seen and I doubt there are many survivors…

    • Matt says:

      No kidding. I hate to reference the movie this came from in any kind of positive sense, but it’s like real-life pod racing. I’d have to have Jedi-like reflexes to be able to handle it.

      Yeah, the crashes are brutal. It’s a dangerous race; there have been 237 deaths associated with the event in the century or so it’s been held. And as terrible a number as that is, and completely awful, it actually makes me feel a little hopeful that racers are allowed to choose to participate in such an event. Like, the nanny state hasn’t intervened to shut it down or even make it less dangerous. That’s a good thing in my book.

  2. Joel says:

    Incredible video! The HD Theatre channel has also covered the races a couple of times. Similarly amazing footage. The races cover a two-week period and include various displacement motorcycles, electric bikes, and sidecar bikes. Arguably the best MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi has said he’ll pass on this race, preferring the confines of the air fences on the international circuit. Can’t blame him.

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