Attend a typical motorcycle race, and you will buy a costly ticket, take a seat and watch the racing from a grandstand, often hundreds (thousands?) of feet from the action. Not so at the Isle of Man TT. It may not be cheap or easy to get here, but the racing cost’s zilch, and the vantage point is unlike any other motorsports event on earth.
Across 37.7 miles of public roads, the TT Mountain Course provides scores of locations for viewing the racing. In the week or so my friend John Santapietro and I have been here so far, we have ridden our Triumph Tiger 800s around the island and viewed the races sitting or standing on hedges, stone walls, fields full of sheep, delightful pubs, people’s front yards and picnic tables.
Seasoned TT visitors know the more remote locations that allow for seeing, and feeling, the bikes blow by at up to 190 mph only inches away. And aside from seats in the Grandstand at the start/ finish line and pit row, a VIP tent, and a handful of smaller installations around the island, attending and viewing the TT is absolutely free.
It’s also pretty easy to get up close with the racers. Around the Grandstand, Parc Ferme and the paddock, you’ll come across these brave souls, their teams and crew, and even run into them having an Okell’s Bitter in the beer tent after a race.
With two weeks of practice, qualifying and racing, it is possible to watch from myriad locations around the island. Forbidden and restricted zones are clearly marked, and the 520 TT Marshals stationed around the course within eyesight of each other are diligent in preventing fans from being somewhere they shouldn’t be. Of course, volunteering to be a TT Marshal, which I will cover in a subsequent column, is the absolute best way to get up close and get involved in the TT (go to www.iomttma.com for info on marshaling).
While the TT coverage on Velocity and the internet are outstanding, I’ve compiled a few snippets of iPhone video from some of the places we’ve viewed from this week, including The Ginger Hall Hotel, The Raven Pub, The Bungalow, Sulby Straight, and the balcony of the Creg-ny-Baa (OK, we paid for that spot) to get a sense of the intimate nature of attending and watching the TT, live. I’ve sat on thorns, a nail, and stepped in an unidentified, pungent substance while traversing a field, but I wouldn’t trade any of our spots at the TT for the best seat at Circuit of The Americas.