Yesterday began as one of those weird Manx days. Wake up to bright sunshine and next thing you know the mist has rolled in off the sea and you can’t see across the road – literally.
The forecast though said it would be a bright sunny evening by the time practice was due to kick off and sure enough it was baking hot up in the paddock.
The Island is quite busy now. I’m not sure it’s the heaving sell-out one taxi drive was trying to have me believe. Another told me it was a dismal disaster with hotel vacancies along the front so I’m guessing it’s somewhere between the two – but there’s definitely a lot of bikes about on the streets now.
But it’s certainly not like it was when I first came here back in the early Eighties when virtually every parking space was filled with rows of bikes – a mix back then of classic British and early Japanese bikes. But we were only just coming out of an era when everything was black and white and maybe I’ve been wearing the rose tinted specs too long. Now it’s a rarity to see a Brit bike among the hordes of technicolour sportsbikes.
But there’s plenty of interesting stuff to enjoy (see the Bostom rep pic and that cool old Guzzi all the way from Germany!) and, at least I had a day full of classics at Billown last Saturday……
Wandering around the paddock before practice got underway, it was mildly amusing to watch Cameron Donald being asked to play a movie star role. There’s a film crew over here making a 3D movie about the TT races – called TT3D - and they were doing a shoot of Cam, coming out of the Relentless awning, on his way to the paddock. I lost count of the number of takes – “we’ll just try it one more time,” but it was ‘interesting’ earwigging the conversation. It went something like: “If we can do another take, but this time with your shades on so you can look really cool.”
Doh! Cam’s one of the most naturally laid-back, coolest guys in the TT paddock and they’re asking him to be more…..Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt? The funniest thing was that for this, what two to three second clip, they had set up a railway track to run the huge 3D cameras along and Cam was being asked to try and look ‘really cool’ while trying not to trip over the ‘sleepers’ every couple of feet apart that hold the rails in place! Then he had to pause, take off the shades and pop them in his helmet and then saunter off camera. Double doh!
It must be so hard to try and make a movie like this and get the racers looking as natural as possible. But I stood watching this unfold wondering if it’s all another distraction they can do without. Still, presumably Cam’s being paid a huge fee for his part in the blockbuster…….
The film crew is huge – well by TV standards that we’re used to – and so is their kit and they’ve spent the week so far, clogging the always-busy paddock up. Guy Martin’s been the centre of most of their attentions and I’m sure it’s going to be an awesome movie. I know the authorities are hoping that it’s going to be a box-office success that really takes the TT to a new audience. Here’s hoping it works (read the full story in MCN next Wednesday).
Still on the Relentless by TAS Suzuki front, I got talking to team owner Hector Neill about the team’s exquisite carpeting in their temporary pit awning in the pit area: a really spangly black carpet with lovely glittering metal flake! I know that sounds cheesy but it looks the business and it has to really with Suzuki top brass coming to the races to celebrate the company’s 50th Anniversary at the event. There’s no other team with a pit area looking as swanky as theirs.
Going back to the filming. The crew have been trying to get some on bike 3D footage, which requires a huge camera fitted to the top of the gas tank on a Guy Martin Honda. But as he’s been too busy worrying about getting his Wilson Craig Hondas sorted, TT vet John Barton took the bike out for a lap.