Gary Pinchin talks the TT
Blog: TT resurgence
06 February 2007 09:41
After recent MCN’s laden with ‘Rutter back the TT’, the ‘MV return to TT with Finnegan’ and ‘McGuinness sticks with Honda for TT,’ stories I was asked how come the TT has been getting so much space in the paper in recent weeks compared to BSB?
Simple answer: There’s a big buzz about the TT right now.
That’s not saying news is that thin on the ground with BSB but TT news is really rocking, what with last Friday’s TT launch and Steve Plater signing with AIM Yamaha and committing to a TT debut as well as BSB.
You might say the TT should be in the news because it’s the Centenary this year and I’d agree to a point, but I think it goes much deeper than that. You only have to look at the amount of newcomers willing to have a crack at the roads these days to realise that there’s a big resurgence of interest in the discipline.
A lot of this is down to the hard work done by Paul Phillips and Richard ‘Milky’ Quayle who were taken on by the Isle of Man government for 2005 as voluntary consultants to help with the promotion of the TT and rider recruitment.
I remember meeting them at a BSB round in 2005 and hearing of their ambitious plans to regenerate the TT. It all sounded impressive but kind of pie-in-the-sky, because, even though they were incredibly enthusiastic, history suggested they would face real resistance from the traditionalist stuck-in-their-ways officials.
At that time the TT was on its knees – or in Paul’s straight talking terms, ‘the arse had fallen out of it.’ The manufacturers, especially Honda, were losing interest. The TT had too many classes. Slow ‘holiday’ racers made it dangerous - the closing speeds between the fast guys and them was horrific. There were big questions about the lack of marshal training. Nothing was being done about trackside safety. The paddock was a disgrace. I could go on. The dinosaur was dying and it seemed like everyone was willing to let it become extinct.
Thankfully Paul and Milky stuck to their guns, ignored some of the petty back-biting they encountered, and got the ear of the government to bring about massive changes most of us, including some of the motorcycle racing big-wigs on the mainland, could have only dreamed possible.
The radical changes have given the TT – and road racing in general – an almost unheard of feel-good factor. Solo categories were slashed to just superbike, superstock, supersport - classes with direct relevance to what was going on everywhere else in the world. That meant more practice per bike. Restrictions were placed on entries to eradicate the holiday racers. Marshall training was increased.
Trackside safety was improved. The paddock was tidied up. The organisation suddenly started realising they had a brand to sell.
It sounds straightforward stuff but it was all achieved largely thanks to Paul and Milky’s enthusiasm and drive.