The Isle of Man TT is an annual motorcycle race event run on the Isle of Man around the middle of the year since 1907, with few exceptions. It is one of the most highly criticised motorsport events, being referred to countless times as ‘one of the most dangerous racing events in the world’. Considering the danger drivers and spectators alike put themselves at, should the event be allowed to run?
The time trial event is beneficial to the summertime Manx economy, bringing in thousands of spectators who must pay for accommodation, travel, supplies etc. As well as this, millions watch the racing live online or on television, and the race organisers gain a significant amount of income from the race by race entries. The racers, too, make their own decision to partake in the race; they are rarely under pressure from a team or similar bodies to participate and therefore they only do it for their own benefit, be it the sheer thrill of the death defying racing itself or the considerable cash prize that comes with a winning result. Lastly, there are many marshals who are ready to spring into action should any issue occur, making the race as safe as it can be considering the lack of runoff areas and proper crash protection.
However, the race is far from safe. Considering motorcycle racing on FIA regulated tracks purposed for events such as Formula 1 and Le Mans, with large, swathing runoff areas and gravel traps can be deemed too unsafe for the easily upset racing bikes, the narrow, poorly protected Isle of Man roads – which, after all, are only public roads – are far from fit. It is highly likely to witness a death occur within the race weekend, in fact there has been at least one death every year since 2001 and around half of the years have more than 1 death per event. Drivers and spectators both put themselves at massive risk, and as a result the death toll is unjustifiably high.
So, what can be done? I personally believe that it is unfair to ban the race from occurring. People make the choice to watch and partake in it, aware of the risks. However, there is no need for such obscenely powerful vehicles to be involved – over 190 horsepower is enough to power a sports car, let alone a 160 kilogram carbon fibre 2 wheeled racing bike. A power reduction could occur – even 15 horsepower back in 1907 produced some of the most exciting races ever seen, and – despite still not being fully safe – it would lead to much better fatality statistics and potentially even more exciting action.