Robin Miller |
TT and Roads
Image: Impact Images
An ongoing dispute in the Isle of Man following news of changes affecting the Manx GP, the now defunct Classic TT and more recently the TT Marshals Association has exposed the absolute need to do things differently in order to meet a world that is almost the opposite of the 50s and 60s.
The announcement that the 2022 TT will be covered live has surely convinced social media Doubting Thomases that this year’s event is not under threat. Indeed it is the beginning of a revolution by the boss Paul Phillips and his team.
And changes to the TTMA, some of which have not been welcomed by everyone, especially since the sacking of a senior marshal who criticized the speed of change, have also revealed the size and importance of a voluntary organization that is largely unknown.
They are certainly a larger group, and in some ways more important, than the runners themselves. Because without both the TT would not take place.
Each race day, the 37 and three-quarter mile circuit requires something in the region of 600 marshals or more. And the fortnight of the TT will require a total number of something like 1500, all volunteers.
The challenge from 2022 is the even greater focus on rider safety which requires more intensive training, clothing that reflects the seriousness of the role, including better protection, and volunteer time spent on cost. total, supported by the IOM government but distributed by ACU Events, will be somewhere in the region of £200,000, which includes training days on the continent.
So, encouraged by ACU Events and Race Director Gary Thompson, the TTMA is transitioning from a club to a business – not-for-profit but nonetheless a business with revised bylaws, i.e. rules under which it can operate. And anyone who has had to interpret such documents will not be surprised to learn that last week’s general meeting of the TTMA had to be adjourned to allow members to absorb what some of the new rules really meant.
Further talks this week will lead to a second general meeting of the board when chairman David Dentith and his colleagues expect to get a deal and move on. Progress has been made more difficult by a deluge of comments, some helpful, some justifiable, some in the “we’re all doomed” category, via social media over the proposed changes, particularly for the beloved Manx.
It’s no surprise that Dentith, a Manx businessman, farmer and still bearing wounds from a past life in motocross, isn’t a fan of social media and keyboard warriors who seems to have the ability to unleash a fight in a phone booth.
He told bikesportnews: “Instead of sitting at home and criticizing why they’re not doing anything to help. We have worked very hard to make the necessary changes and the government has listened. The responsibility of the marshals, in particular those in charge of the sectors, is enormous. They are there to make racing on the TT course safer. And we must not forget that they are volunteers.
“Adequate training both on the island and on the mainland is expensive, as are necessary upgrades to a communications system that overcomes the handicaps of the island’s geography. Many are only able to do two or three days – some only one – but more than ever they have to be able to.
“And we must not forget that somewhere like 60% come from off the island where accommodation, on TT weekdays, is not cheap although most are good value for money , such as Peter Duke’s TT Village, homestay programs or guest houses.
“Between now and training against the TT, we have a lot to do and we have to keep going.”