For motorcycle road racing enthusiasts, the Isle of Man TT is perhaps the biggest spectacle our sport has to offer. In my opinion, it’s an even bigger spectacle than attending a MotoGP race. The action, drama, speed and aura of the Mountain course is what excites me about the race. And it’s the increased level of danger a natural road course entails that makes it an event I have no interest in participating in. It’s by that same token that I rate the athletes who do tackle the TT as heroes.

In 2014, attendance at the TT was reported at more than 43,000 people. That’s nearly 39% better than 2011 and equates to over $37 million annually for the local economy and $3 million in gross commercial revenue, according to an Isle of Man TT press release. And this doesn’t factor the millions who watched from home throughout the world. Take into account that promotion and organization of the TT has been undertaken exclusively by the Isle of Man government, and it’s a rather impressive feat. No doubt, the TT is riding a wave of popularity, one that would have been unheard of after the race was taken off the Grand Prix championship calendar after the 1976 season due to the rising death rate. The race was so unpopular amongst racers even the great Giacomo Agostini, 10-time TT winner, boycotted the event after 1972.

There’s no race quite like the Isle of Man TT. But local officials think they can replicate its current success elsewhere.

There’s no race quite like the Isle of Man TT. But local officials think they can replicate its current success elsewhere.

With the TT’s recent success, in 2011 the Isle of Man Government Department of Economic Development announced plans it was developing a TT Races World Series. Events would be run in the Southern Hemisphere in order to take advantage of the warm weather. Today, in fact, the IOM Today reported an update to the proposal.

The island spent over $300,000 simply researching the feasibility of such an endeavor, and meanwhile the government is accepting offers from experienced promoters interested in taking over promotion and management duties from the local government by 2017, at which point the TT series would also be launched. According to the IOM Today, expansion into other countries would present commercial growth opportunities, as the Isle of Man would receive a cut of the franchise fee the host country pays.

So, if one TT race is good, then six races, which is the proposed number of events, would be even better, right?

The spectator experience at the TT is unique in the realm of motorcycle road racing. In fact, the Isle of Man depends on tourism money to help it stay afloat. Introducing other events around the world would harm its future tourism revenue.

The spectator experience at the TT is unique in the realm of motorcycle road racing. In fact, the Isle of Man depends on tourism money to help it stay afloat. Introducing other events around the world would harm its future tourism revenue.

Not if you ask me. Though I’ve never been to the Isle during TT week, part of what makes the Isle of Man TT special is the exclusivity of the event. In talking to people who have gone – both riders and spectators alike – it’s a two-week long party that happens once a year, an event people save up for and mark off on their calendars. Spectators blow their vacation days, and their paychecks, to come to the TT. If there are six other road course races, fans may only have enough cash to afford one, potentially hurting attendance – and the local economy – at future TT races.

From a rider’s perspective, the TT has achieved the success it has in recent years because not only are top level riders participating, but there’s also a strong support system for new riders tackling the race for the first time. New riders get extensive training from knowledgeable experts, some former race winners, on the do’s and don’ts of the Mountain Course. This will be almost impossible to provide at other venues, since the venue will be entirely new to everyone. Not to mention, after the day’s events are over at the TT, experts and noobs alike are treated like rockstars when they venture out into the local pubs. Needless to say, there’s incentive for both groups to come back year after year.

After each day’s events, you can usually find a big name rider or two at the pub. Odds are they aren’t drinking Monster Energy drinks, either.

After each day’s events, you can usually find a big name rider or two at the pub. Odds are they aren’t drinking Monster Energy drinks, either.

If a TT series were to launch, how many teams and/or riders would be able to afford to participate? (Hint: not many.) Further, the more events you have, especially on a road course circuit, the greater risk there is of a competitor crashing and/or losing their life. Let’s face it, the big name stars of the TT are huge attractions for the fans. Their absence would obviously be devastating, but having lost them at an event leading to the TT would question the value of said event to both the fans and the local governments alike.

Basically, making a TT series would dilute the brand, not strengthen it. By now, the course itself has become just as famous – if not more so – than the racers who choose to tackle it, and building a random street course through another city wouldn’t have the same appeal. TT officials are letting the success of their event get to their heads, and instead of strengthening their core product, are on the verge of jumping the shark.

Some might say racing electric bikes around the Isle of Man is a sign of the shark being jumped, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Some might say racing electric bikes around the Isle of Man is a sign of the shark being jumped, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Would you like to see an Isle of Man TT series at other locations in the world? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

  • fastfreddie

    Not sure if it dilutes the brand-as if it is such a thing I wonder.But don’t think it will have the same effect at other venues,if it will be allowed in the first place.

    As for mr. Siahaan,get your a** to IoM…get your a** to IoM…get your a** to IoM.;)

    • TroySiahaan

      Agreed. There’s only one IoM.

      And I’ve been to the Isle, actually. Just not during the TT. It’s an eerily quiet and sleepy place the rest of the year.

      • fastfreddie

        You don’t have to wander far from the circuit for it to still be a quiet island even during the TT.Wonderful place.

  • Andrew Capone

    I can provide some perspective on this particular topic. The issue is the TT brand, which the IOM government owns. In speaking to some of the principles, they feel that the time is now to leverage the TT worldwide. If they can find a promoter to shoulder the cost/risk and deliver licensing revenue, it may be worth a shot, The main limiting factor for the TT is that the IOM cannot handle many more visitors for the fortnight. An island of 80,000 people, with very little hospitality infrastructure and transport, it is close to maxed out. And other than the TT and Manx Grand Prix/ Classic TT, the place is basically tumbleweeds, so there is little incentive to invest in the kind of facilities needed.

    Whether it’s a viable race series or not, who knows. And I agree with your assessment of the downsides and dilution of the TT ….there will be nothing remotely like the Mountain Course, and a two week festival on a beautiful island with tens of thousands of motorbike enthusiasts. But, as a source of revenue, and with the right curation, it may work.

    By the way, nudge- nudge, I have one more hotel room and rental motorcycle left for my 2015 TT trip…it’s a life changer.

    • TroySiahaan

      What I want to know is what other country, or countries, are willing to take the liability risk of a dangerous event like the TT? Macau? Anyone else?

      That all being said, I absolutely love the IOM TT. And I’d love to take you up on that offer. Just gotta convince the boss man to let me work remotely. Really remotely…

      • Andrew Capone

        The Macau GP is an obvious one to fold in, and Bathurst in Australia has public road components. Thailand, where a huge motorcycle industry has sprouted,with Government support, is a natural (and a place where six people regularly ride madly on one 125cc bike probably wouldn’t sweat the dangers of a race). The Irish road races could be incorporated, but those are all scheduled around the TT, rather than the sunnier climes/ seasons of the southern hemisphere. None of the proposed facilities would be pure road race courses, all incorporating circuits, which would be nominally safer than the stone walls of the Mountain Course.

        The proposal is to make this a bid situation, like the Olympics or World Cup, With overtones of the Tour deFrance. The emerging countries, where regulations are less onerous, might trip over themselves to do it. And unlike the US, (ex- NASCAR) people actually show up in droves for motor sport.

        I’m not in disagreement with the original point…the TT is unique, and can never be replicated. None of these events would match up. There may be dilution. But would I be enthused by motorcycle road racing spreading around the world. And I don’t begrudge the IOM from seeing if there are people out there willing to put their money behind something like this, and utilize the value of the TT brand.

        And it’s real easy to work from the TT, Troy! Full press office, good telecom, unrivaled access to racers, and plenty of subjects to write about…I did five articles from there last year! ( some of those photos look familiar!) Tick, tick, tick….

        • TroySiahaan

          Good insight, Andrew. And yes, I sure hope you recognize those photos! I read each of your stories! How can I possibly compete next year? 😉

          Many good points you make, but the whole idea of a TT series goes back to the last few sentences of my piece: Is the TT jumping the shark?

          I suppose the real question is, can I charge the company for a flight over there?

          • Andrew Capone

            Is the TT jumping the shark? No. The TT proper is bigger and better than ever, unimpeachable as the greatest road race on earth. But it is always on the chopping block due to economics and political meddling. If the economics for the IOM Govt, work and the risk is shared by promoters, TV networks, sponsors, governments, circuits, and investors, there is no business reason to not let it happen. The Super Bowl shows that there can be one, final big game after a season of many, and on a much smaller scale, it is not inconceivable that the TT could regain it’s place as the real World Championship of Road Racing. As for rider danger, i think the racers would laugh at that, as there is no course that would be more dangerous than the Mountain Course, and these guys live to race. And they do it for a pittance (cheap promotion of my article on that subject) : http://www.motorcycle.com/events/isle-man-tt-hard-way

            So, while I absolutely see and respect your points, and, quite frankly, I personally would prefer the TT to be a solitary event, I still don’t see a great danger in the IOM looking at ways to enable it to survive and prosper by global expansion.

            Troy, The flight would be a legitimate business expense, per my interpretation of IRS regulations!

          • TroySiahaan

            Spot on, Andrew. The Super Bowl reference is a great one.

            But another question I pose in my piece: how many teams/privateers could afford to do the entire season? Most, if not all, the pro teams focus mainly on BSB or other circuit championships, with maybe a budget to run select Irish road races and IOM TT. Privateers blow their savings for the chance to race the TT once(!) Would the local governments, or the TT itself, help subsidize the costs for anyone trying to do the whole series? Nobody really wants to see a race with a grid of five people, if that.

          • Andrew Capone

            My understanding is that one of the requirements in the RFP is for the series to underwrite 20 or so riders to compete in all events, no doubt the top guys/ teams. So, there is hope. Macau already covers the bike and rider transport and a small stipend for the GP, even for invited privateers, so there is some precedent. But your point is well taken. Without a full field, this won’t happen. And, in that most of the road racers are regular blokes, with full time jobs, even the top ones, it would be untenable without them getting paid well. We have until 2017 or ’18 to find out!

  • ‘Mike Smith

    I disagreed with the author when I read the headline. After reading the article, he changed my mind. He makes a great argument for keeping things as is. The race is already dangerous enough, having more races on unfamiliar roads would invite death like F1 in the 60’s.

    • TroySiahaan

      Thanks for reading, Mike. There are countless other reasons why this is a bad idea, but I hope I’ve made my point.

  • JWaller

    I agree. More races of this sort means more opportunity for death of the racers, which is never a good thing. There’s already the Macau Grand Prix and even the Pike’s Peak hill climb which are street races. I’m sure there’s more, in Ireland, right? The Ulster Grand Prix and the North West 200? Couldn’t they all be pulled under the same banner and called a series? Probably much better than starting new races from scratch. The guys racing the IOM TT already know some of the other mentioned races because they are already racing there. Seeing the riders die would be depressing and would probably turn fans off in the long run. It’s bad enough that it happens occasionally on race tracks (I hated seeing Tomizawa, Simoncelli, and Craig Jones get killed racing). But that’s a rare occurrence. There’s multiple deaths every year at the TT. Multiply that by a few times a year. Too depressing to think about.

  • http://travellingwrite.ca/ Graham Collins

    I’d like to see an open road race on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. If they could find a way through the Insurance problems.

  • JMDonald

    Spot on analysis. I agree whole heartedly.

  • Backroad Bob

    Well reviewed, especially as an outsider. I agree. The TT is the greatest gathering of the bravest club racers in the world. There are more countries represented among the riders than the spectators. It’s a mecca for every club racer that wants to say he’s run the fastest, most dangerous course in the world. It’s something they have to prove to themselves. Riders and spectators come to the TT. It doesn’t need to go to them. In the past ten years, several promoters have tried to duplicate the TT, the most recent example being the Newfoundland race, but all have failed. In this day and age it’s politics that could be the TT’s demise. When banking and insurance have more influence than tourism, it may die. I was there in 1997 when there was talk of just that. Kudos to the government organizers who revived the TT when the ACU decided to give it up. They’ve done a great job.