It’s the world’s most celebrated road race and something of a mecca for motorcycle enthusiasts. It’s the Isle of Man TT Race, and if you ever have the time and money to make the trip, it’s an experience of a lifetime. This year, the festival of speed runs from the Saturday, May 26th through Friday, June 8th.
Sponsored by some huge brands, such as Honda Motor Company and Dunlop Motorcycle Tires as well as the locally based PokerStars, the TT festival is a massive event drawing in crowds of over 45,000 across the races. Now 45,000 might not sound like a lot, but when you consider that the Isle of Man has a population of only 83,000, you can understand how impressive those figures are and how packed the place must be during the two weeks of races.
Of course, this is a festival steeped in history, with main sponsor Honda having an understandably close relationship with the TT races. In fact, back in 1959, Soichiro Honda (the brand’s founder) said: “I will put my entire heart and soul, and turn my creativity and skills to the task of entering the TT races and winning them.” And win them he did many times over. These days, the brand sponsors the marshals and the official course car as well as having both Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston racing for team Honda.
Another major sponsor, Dunlop, has an even prouder history, having competed at every event held on the isle since the first race back in 1907. But even better than that, Dunlop’s tires have been on the bikes of 16 of the 18 current single rider lap record holders. Quite impressive stuff if you ask us. But even that pales in comparison to their overall success. Last year alone, they were on the podium an incredible 12 times.
In recent years, the TT Races have brought on more sponsors from outside the world of racing with locally based and global online poker leader PokerStars chief among the non-motorcycle-related sponsors. They’re a massive partner in the races, sponsoring the Senior TT, which looks set to see Michael Dunlop (the nephew of racing legend Joey Dunlop) and Ian Hutchinson face off against each other once again. Last year’s Senior TT, as you may recall, was red flagged after Hutchinson had a scare during the course.
Dunlop has 15 TT wins under his belt while Hutchinson is one ahead at 16. And while Dunlop still has some way to go to reach his uncle’s record of 26 wins, veteran rider John McGuinness is only three short with 23. However, it looks unlikely that McGuinness will break the record this year.
This year’s festival looks to be one of the best yet with the two new stands in Noble’s Park back once again. Racegoers looking for a taste of speed and thrills can head to the main grandstand, which overlooks a 140-mph corner. Yes, that’s right a 140-mph corner through a sleepy village on a sparsely populated island. It may sound like madness to some, but to anyone who rides motorcycles, the Isle of Man TT Races are nothing short of legendary. We just wish they were live on TV here in the U.S., so we didn’t have to watch old reruns of races on the internet.