CAPTURING the spirit and essence of the Manx Grand Prix was the aim of the new film about the event, and it really does come pretty close.
Filmed by island company Greenlight, between the downpours that punctuated the 2012 event, Grand Prix Racer has the behind-the-scenes story of the newcomers preparing for their big day and interviews with the riders themselves as they prepare to fulfil a lifetime ambition.
The film’s director Rob Hurdman, who has a wide experience in filming motorsport events of all types, said he was particularly aiming to convey the story of the event and the people as it unfolded during the final two weeks of August.
An opening sequence in which various riders explain the draw of the Mountain Course for them, against rolling images of the racing, paddock activity and even some sunny aerial shots of the island’s coastal scenery set the tone for the film.
We get to see the parts the average spectator usually doesn’t – the Saturday morning pre-practice signing-on, the riders’ briefings and the routine checking of boots, gloves, helmets and leathers for every rider before they are allowed out on the course.
We also accompany the race bikes, riders and mechanics through the pre-practice scrutineering, as each machine is rigorously safety checked before being allowed out, and we even get a run on the newcomers’ lap of the course under the expert guidance of experienced competitors Chris Palmer and Mark Castle.
That the event has appeal without boundaries comes across loud and clear with riders referring to the event as a ‘personal Everest’.
The point is sharply demonstrated by the enormous spectrum of riders – all of them clearly overwhelmed by emotion having made it to base camp.
Not ‘a lot of old men messing around on motorbikes’ – as a rather rude and ill-informed newspaper correspondent once referred to the event – but a band of dedicated enthusiasts from bankers to bin men.
Last year’s event saw 55 newcomers sign up - all with a story to tell about their fortnight. For brothers Jamie and Rob Hodson, both from Wigan, it was a family affair: their father Jim races in the TT. Neither minded being beaten, but not by his sibling! Theatre technician 51-year-old newcomer Adam Nix comes close to stealing the show, but ultimately the laurels went to 33-year-old Kamil Holan who came from Prague to take the Newcomer’s title.
ITV4 8pm, Tuesday, February 5