Final shoulder tap for Paul: TT start line official bows out after nearly 70 years of involvement with the Isle of Man road racing scene

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An Isle of Man TT start line official responsible for giving riders the tap on the shoulder to set off has retired after 68 years of involvement with the races.

Paul Kermode, 79, from Douglas on the Isle of Man, first volunteered with the TT in 1954 as a Scout working on the scoreboard. Kermode bowed out after the first Superbike race of the fortnight, which also happened to be 23-time winner John McGuinness’ hundredth start.

“When he came down to the line to start, he shook my hand and said: ‘happy retirement,’” Kermode told MCN. “I think it’s been great to be able to do it.”

Dean Harrison at the TT start line with Paul Kermode

Kermode has been giving the famous shoulder tap for the past 15 years, doing every TT race and Manx Grand Prix start in that time. Although not keeping count, he estimates he’s seen thousands of riders accelerate away on two and three wheels.

“It was great,” he continued. “It had to come to an end at some time and that was the perfect way to do it, with John’s hundredth.

“I marshalled the early morning practices from 16. I couldn’t do race week, because I worked for the newspapers and we printed a TT special and no staff were allowed off,” he remembered.

“I might get out on the course somewhere now and watch them,” he said. “In this day and age there’s not many people that will do something for nothing, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it over time. The early morning practices were something else.”

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Acting News Editor, sportsbike nut, and racing fan.