Aussie Attitudes to the TT

Well, where shall I start.....Of course a lot of people here in Australia thinks that the Isle of Man is a bloody dangerous place to race at all the press seem to cover here seem to be the fatalities. The Australian public on the whole seem to have the view that anyone who wants to race at the TT is a dangerous eccentric who should not be encouraged. Apart from that almost no-one seems to know very much about the Isle of Man, or the TT in general. It is not as popular as it was back in the 1950s when many of Australia's best riders went to "tip their Hat", at the Mountain course after they had won everything that it was possible to win here in Australian domestic racing.

Even up to the early 1970's it was still considered the"Everest" of motorcycle racing endevour for Aussie racers. All of this changed when in the early 70s Australia lost one of it's brightest motorcycle racing stars in the shape of Kenny (The Snake) Blake due to a racing accident at the Isle of Man TT. Kenny had an absolutely huge following here, and after his death the Aussie racing public wondered, "was racing at the TT worth it".

Since then only a few intrepid souls have ventured over to the Isle of Man on a entirely privateer basis. Racing on street circuits is totally alien to the current crop of Australian road racers, who have been brought up on a diet of safe, if boring tracks with heaps of run off. There is only one "Open Road" racing circuit which has been used here within the last few years or so and that is Bathurst, which is situated in country New South Wales, about 4 hours drive from Sydney.

There have been various attempts at getting "Around the Houses Racing" off of the ground here, but to date the motorcycle spectating public have become accustomed to processional motorcycle racing at sanitised "Safe" circuits such as Eastern Creek and Phillip island. Even Bathurst with it's huge popular appeal has been cancelled for next year, a victim of big money promoters who want to turn a big profit at the expense of spectators and the motorcycle racers themselves.

So on the whole, Australians don't think much of racing on the Isle of man at all, especially not when they have that Gold Coast domiciled Cockney Barry Sheene telling all and sundry on national television, that "the place, (The IOM) is too bloody dangerous to race at, and only idiots who have a death wish race there". Not good publicity for the IOM or the TT as you can imagine.

However, there are still some of us who see the TT as something to aim for, and I will tell you in my next article about my idea to promote exchanges of racers between Australia and Europe.

John Swensen

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