Having been a TT fan since first stepping on the TT scoreboard as a Scout in 1972, I have seen many changes taking place in the TT since then.
The present-day 2023 TT has had a lot of changes.
Some I could say good, but the majority not so. And I mourn the slow erosion of many TT traditions over the years to the place we found our ourselves at in 2023.
Firstly, the positives, which I struggle to find.
Certainly, television coverage of the event is superb and I am sure has brought in many fans to the island to witness the unique atmosphere of the TT.
The level of communication now available to race fans is good.
The TT app allows information about riders’ times and particular position on the circuit in real time, during the races, which is great for the teams and families following their riders.
The weather was very kind to the riders, race fans and organisers in 2023.
This is just as well as he over-ambitious 10-race programme could only run to plan with the weather as we had this year.
Normal TT week weather could, and will in the future, lead to impractical race days with potentially riders racing every day and races being cut in length to fit in. Nobody, riders or fans, want two-lap races.
This year the programme seemed to spread out so long and waiting for races to begin meant fans sitting around for very long periods of time.
The number of race starters being reduced has led to big gaps in viewing the race action.
Yes, I know bikes are a lot faster and they lap the circuit more quickly.
Maybe the reasoning is with more riders on the TT course the faster men would catch the slower or, should I say correctly, later-starting riders sooner in a six-lap event.
This year the fast men, even with a smaller number of starters, were catching later riders on the final lap.
This led to an ill-informed radio commentator to say that Dean Harrison was being ‘held up’ by slower riders on his run to the finish and surely ‘they’ (presumably the race organisers) should do something about this!
Dean Harrison, as a superb road racer and well-used to the way the TT works, said correctly it was no trouble in passing three riders who were all entitled to be there and riding their own race.
What would the aforementioned commentator like ‘them’ (the race organisers) to do?
The sidecar TT 2023 saw a very low number of entries and indeed starters.
Many factors could have led to this situation, including the ever-increasing cost of running a sidecar outfit.
I personally do not think the TT organisers want to encourage the sidecar class. In fact, I would go so far as to say they actually do not want the sidecar class in future TTs.
As for the centenary lap for sidecars, three outfits went around.
Was there any thought given to funding this celebration lap, which was well publicised?
Ten-times sidecar TT winner Rob Fisher might have been invited but he had to pay his own way to get here.
Remember TT organisers in the past have paid out large sums of money to get past TT stars here to have parade laps.
The centenary lap has been done and now, with a number of top sidecars drivers announcing their retirement, I think the organisers will simply pull the plug on the sidecar class.
Many people will look on the TT in its present form and say, as I could, the best tie was when we had early-morning practices, the TT scoreboard, the commentary points around he circuit, many continental riders from the world championships competing.
They were the best times.
Conversely, there would be someone in 1972 saying ‘oh, no, the best days were in the 1950s, just as somebody in the 1950s would tell you the golden age was when Harold Daniell and Freddie Faith rode.
Now many young fans will say the TTs now are the best.
Change is inevitable, some change for the better and some not so.
Many TT traditions have gone. Have the present-day organisers got it right?
The TT race week turning into a two-weekend, fit-for-TV kind of British Superbike event.
King Edward Road
This letter was first published in the Manx Independent of June 15.
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