Race Features

Lone Wolf and the Scottish TT



Lone Wolf and the Scottish TT


By Lone Wolf

SCOTLAND THE BRAVE

A new road racing season is upon us and excitement mounts as, in the second round of World Superbikes at Imola this weekend, the young Britpack challenge the establishment (namely Messrs Biaggi and Checa); Tommy Hill defends his British Superbike title at Brands Hatch the weekend after; and at the same time the world hopes that Valentino Rossi will not be humiliated by Casey Stoner as MotoGP gets under way.

But, on the midst of all this build-up and hype, the one story that created more reaction among Bikesportnews.com readers was the possibility that at some time in the future there might be a Scottish TT.

The response was remarkable. Why so? Perhaps it is indicative of the resurgence of the Isle of Man TT; or that people are crying out for something different to purpose-built short circuits; or that there is a natural rebellion against the aversion to any sort of risk which seems to permeate any sort of activity.

It is a wonderful dream. But can it be anything more than that? It has to be remembered that road racing in Ireland is under serious threat because of the risk to riders and, perhaps more seriously, to spectators. This is not to be taken lightly and would, no doubt, be used by people opposing the idea of having motorbikes roaring past their front garden. It has to be remembered that the TT does not enjoy universal popularity among Manx residents.

But the more immediate difficulty which reared its head when the late Robert Fearnall explored this idea with Niall Mackenzie a couple of years ago was the restriction posed by the Road Traffic Act. This effectively bans racing on public roads and, as Scotland is still part of the UK, covers the highways north of the border. It would take primary legislation in what is basically an English parliament to amend the Act. This would be difficult and expensive.

But don't give up yet. Scotland might yet achieve independence or, more likely, given many more powers to control it's own destiny while still remaining part of the United Kingdom. So everything is possible. Where there is a will there is a way.

ANOTHER ISLAND

What the Scottish TT proposal did throw up was another ingenious idea - what about the Isle of Wight? This is not new but it is not completely dotty. It is accessible; it hosts music festivals which attract tens of thousands (Jimi Hendrix was at his most memorable); and it needs all the tourists it can get.

And there is another island to which it bears a striking resemblance - Phillip Island, host of World Superbikes and MotoGP. The Aussie holiday resort, about the same distance from Melbourne as the IoW is from London, is roughly the same size, 18 x 6 miles, and a similar population of 8,000.

Both have small towns called Cowes and Ventnor, and an Isle of Wight hotel was built on Phillip Island in 1870. The Aussie island does have a bridge, there are 14,000 breeding pairs of the famous miniature penguins and 25,000 seals. So there are some differences. And the circuit is purpose built, first in 1952 and then reconstructed by Len Lukey to stage the first world 500cc Grand Prix in 1989.

But an Isle of Wight Grand Prix is a fascinating possibility. We hear of a new circuit being planned for somewhere in the middle of Wales - surely we have enough circuits on the mainland and they already have one of the best circuits in the country on Anglesey - and we know how difficult it is making money from a new circuit, witness Portugal's Portimao, now being sued by it's creditors including the redoubtable Bernie Ecclestone.

A Scottish TT - an Isle of Wight Grand Prix? And we still have the greatest brand in motor cycle racing, the Isle of Man TT.

LET IT RAIN

Talking of Bernie Ecclestone - well he did run a secondhand motorbike shop in Sidcup! - brings me back to the importance of racing being entertaining. The diminutive F1 supremo recently suggested that to make his branch of the sport less dull they should produce artificial rain at some point in each race.

He was, of course, immediately ridiculed as an octogenarian going ga-ga and he was probably joking (or was he?) but on the evidence of the two F1 races seen so far it seems an extremely good idea!

The views of Lone Wolf are not those necessarily of this website or its editor