After three long years, an unmistakable roar once again echoes over Bray Hill in Douglas before echoing through the picturesque towns, villages and valleys of the spectacular Isle of Man countryside.
It’s a noise that intensifies as the crowds on the side of the hedgerows crane their necks for a better view and fix their eyes on the road. And then, in a barely believable split second and a booming VRROOOMM, another bike was gone.
What Murray Walker called ‘the greatest motorsport event in the world’ – the Isle of Man TT – is back and a community of enthusiasts, some of whom have been making the pilgrimage for longer than the 70-year reign of the Queen, is immersed in their two favorite weeks of the year.
From the lonely old man leaving the ferry on a mobility scooter with a suitcase in the basket, to bachelor and bachelorette parties also gearing up for parties like Jessie J, Primal Scream, Madness and Sister Bliss, every segment of the company is represented.
But there can be no doubt about the stars.
Practice began last Sunday ahead of the start of the race this weekend when a group of the world’s bravest – some would say the boldest – athletes will hit speeds of over 200mph over 37.73 miles and 264 corners of open roads.
Tragedy struck again on Wednesday when 29-year-old Welshman Mark Purslow was killed in qualifying but, as always, the show will go on.
“Mark grew up around running and was inspired by his father’s love for the sport,” a statement from organizers said. “He embodied the spirit of the TT privateer. Becoming a TT racer was a lifelong ambition. TT racing will continue – but always with Mark in mind.
Descriptions vary, but most agree that TT could never happen anywhere but this self-governing island nation of 85,000 people:
“You drive around thinking, ‘We should be in jail’.” – John McGuinness.
“You can’t take drugs in the world that give you that.” – Gary Johnson.
“It’s like sitting on an exocet missile.” – Milky dock.
“An expression of humanity.” – Dr. Gareth Davies.
“A suicide mission. -Barry Sheene.
From the start of racing in 1907 until Purslow’s death this week, the circuit claimed the lives of 261 people. It also spawned a thousand legends, and after two canceled years, many modern-day big names are once again competing.
There’s McGuinness, a 50-year-old winner of 23 TTs, who has raced long enough to share a podium with his iconic hero – record-breaking 26-time winner Joey Dunlop.