What a great fortnight of weather we enjoyed for TT 2023!

An ambitious 10-race programme with two highlight weekends certainly needed it.

After the races midweek I joined others who were getting in supplies and many, like me, were showing the effects of extended periods of fresh-air fun.

It was also, if I’m allowed to be a little controversial, obvious that many were not regular shoppers other than perhaps the liquid refreshment aisle.

Characters were wandering around a little aimlessly throwing the odd bag of crisps or pie into half-full baskets without a shopping list to hand.

The total overall attendance numbers won’t be known for some time, in particular those who travelled by air.

The camping options range these days from a one-person mini tent to rows of bell tents in regimental order and across all parts of the island.

Luxury glamping pods are available and all these options make up in part for a reduction in traditional bed spaces.

A number of recent investments in a range of hospitality and leisure ventures are very welcome and I really hope their confidence is rewarded over time.

The camping offering has become very important over the last few years and funds raised by sports clubs or other organisations are very important for many reasons.

After the dust is settled it will be time to make plans for next year for what remains the largest sporting event of its type, unique in a world of sometimes predictable sameness.

Sadly it was inevitable that there were some examples of short-term greed but overall a warm, hospitable welcome was clear when, for two weeks, the annual pilgrimage takes place and most island residents join in with the fun!


TT 2000 was special.

Joey Dunlop was on 23 victories on the Mountain Course.

I invited Kate Hoey MP, the UK sports minister, to join us.

Her family comes from near the Ulster Grand Prix circuit.

Very few, if any, predicted that Joey would win not only the ultra lightweight and lightweight 250cc events but that he would take the spoils in the big bike Formula One race once more.

Kate got to garland Joey, which was obviously a great thrill for her.

After the races were over as Minister for Sport (Fun) on the island I was invited to a civic reception in Ballymoney to celebrate his success at 48 years old.

Little were we to imagine what happened a few short weeks later when, once again, I was invited to read a lesson at his funeral. The country roads were lined by over 50,000 people.

His record of 26 victories has stood for 20 years.

I was touched last week when on Facebook one of Joey’s sons, Gary, posted the image of two hands and a baton being passed on from one to the other.

Michael Dunlop has been incredible during TT.

He came to the event looking ultra fit and he has rode so smoothly in his victories.

No one more deserves this success more than him and for the post to be from Gary made it even more poignant for me.

Now aged 34 Michael was only 11 when Joey claimed his final victories over the course with which he had become synonymous.

Now the baton passes on but remains with the famous family.


I always welcome feedback from my weekly jottings and particularly those who have stories to share.

David Corrin told me he remembers being at Braddan Bridge at the 1958 TT when Bob McIntyre (whose daughter visited the island for TT this year) was back on a Norton after his 100mph lap on a Gilera in 1957.

He retired on the second lap at Union Mills.

Half an hour or so afterwards, the capacity crowd at Braddan Bridge noticed a figure approaching on the opposite side of the road.

McIntyre had split the MVs of Surtees and Hartle on the first lap.

Soon the crowd realised who it was walking back to the pits.

The whole crowd got to their feet and didn’t stop clapping until he walked out of view round the corner in the direction of the Quarterbridge pub with Bob waving to the fans all the time.


Who is your favourite TT commentator over the years?

There have been so many including Peter Kneale, Geoff Cannell, Ken Leece, Tommy Robb, Maurice Mawdsley, Roy Moore, Dave Moore, Steve Plater, Ian Cannell, Cameron Donald, Steve Day, Steve Parish, Jamie Whitman, Tim Glover, Mark Miller, George McCann, Charles Lambert, Jack Cretney, Mavis Brown for the French commentary, Heike Perry (German commentary), Rob Pritchard, Andy McGladdery, Dave Christian, Peter Vordermann for German listeners… there must be more. Please remind me.

This year Chris Boyde has been exceptional. Chris Kinley, with his knowledge gained over years, and Beth Espey, who has just the right touch to ascertain whether it’s timely to talk

Who remembers the passion of Geoff Cannell in the pits or at Ballaugh Bridge? For me ‘The Voice of the TT will always be Peter Kneale with his ‘sun glinting on the fairings’.

Let me know by text to 333974 or email [email protected] who your favourite is and any I’ve forgotten!


After my piece about Jackie Wood recently I had one story which I wanted to share but space ran out.

It was from Roy Hanks, whose family have long been associated with the TT. Indeed his wife Rose was the first female on the rostrum in second place as passenger to Norman Hanks in the 1968 Sidecar event.

The family have long associations through the TT Supporters’ Club, ACU Benevolent Fund, TT Special and much more.

I spoke to Roy on the phone and he recalled the 1996 Sidecar race B where, due to mechanical issues on the mountain, on the last lap they had to refit the chain.

Jack was Clerk of the Course and was holding the next race back until all who could finish would do so and it was Roy and Phillip Briggs who completed the course in 47th (last) position.

Roy said Jack told him: ‘I couldn’t flag you off or I would be mentioned in the TT Special.’

Who remembers queuing up to get the TT Special on the evening of the actual race? A bit like the Green Final!

Roy also recalled playing golf with Jack together with other TT competitors at Pulrose.

Roy could hit the ball hard enough but it usually flew in the wrong direction!

He remembered many meetings at the ACU Headquarters in Rugby and alleges that Jack taught him how to drink whisky!

In 2016 Roy celebrated competing at the TT for 50 years and had received 47 replicas.

His finishes include 13 between 20th and 10th, eight between 10th and fifth, in fifth position eight times, fourth position 11 times, third on four occasions, second eight times and was winner in Sidecar Race A in 1997.

Finally, on the subject of Jackie Wood, a sincere thanks to Sophie from the motorsports team for arranging passes so that he could attend the grandstand and renew many acquaintances last week.

These included TT riders and also officials including travelling marshal Jim Hunter who Jack appointed back in the day.