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  TT Website Interviews - Ian Huntly

At TT Website we are trying to bring you an insight in to all the different aspects that make up the TT experience. As well as the riders, we are trying to bring you interviews with the other people who make the TT what it is from marshals to organisers to fans.

Ian Huntley Ian Huntly is THE TT fan, and has been coming to the event continuously since 1947. Over that time he has got to know many people, helped many riders financially and amassed a huge array of memorabilia.

His views on the TT are well respected, and we caught up with him recently for a quick chat.

Ian; you have been coming to the TT since 1947 consecutively. What is it that attracts you to the races each year?
After all these years it has become an annual routine in which I have become deeply involved.

There is a great family feeling, with a world-wide circle of good friends and there is no age barrier. It is, to me, a totally different world where I can forget the normal daily drudgery, and lose myself in a sport which has no comparison.

Over the years you must have seen many changes to the TT. Tell me what the biggest differences are now compared with 1947?
Well firstly, it has to be the course itself. When I see my early photographs taken at The Creg, or in Ramsey and compare them with those ones taken over the years, I see so many changes, some good some less good, but all made to make the races safer and faster.

The other major difference is the demise of the "real manufacturer involvement". I realise the costs involved but the TT used to be the test track for the machines we buy today.

Nowadays the promotional messages are put over on T.V. at short track racing. The TT was a Grand Prix in the dim and distant past and those days saw the TT at its highest peak.

Do you think it has changed for the better or for worse?
Certainly the course has improved in surface but many bends which had real character are now somewhat bland. The lap speeds apparently go up, but sometimes I have wondered whether this is due to machine development or course changes.

The TT has become one great party with the racing only a part of the whole, whereas in my early days the TT was the main part of the programme. It is difficult to get round everything these days and one has to chose carefully what one does each day.

I feel it is now time to rethink the TT Festival Programme and specialise a little.

You must have seen many incredible riders at the TT. Which rider in particular was is the best TT rider ever, in your opinion?
Joey, of course. Nobody will be another Joey. However, Mike Hailwood was the all rounder and while winning less TTs than Joey, could win on any course. To be controversial, I have to mention John Surtees who came, saw and conquered the TT and won the Motorcycle Championship then went to cars and won that World Championship as well.

I think Ago was a good rider but his machines were miles an hour faster than those of his rivals. However, anybody who races in the TT is "incredible" in my book.

And which race stands out in your memory and why?
In 1959, Honda arrived at the TT with a set of 125cc bikes at which most people sniggered and thought that they were one-year-wonders. They raced carefully on the old short Clypse course but took home the Manufacturers Award.

In 1960 they returned with a team of new 4-cylinder 250cc machines and some new 125ccs. Suzuki appeared for the first time.
The Hondas were beaten only by the MV Agustas over the Mountain Course. And so it came to pass in 1961 that revamped 250cc machines with unbelievable exhaust notes, led by Mike Hailwood, whopped everyone else!

I saw the bikes that set Honda on the road to world-wide domination and the concept of 4-pots across the frame is the concept used by the bikes of all major capacities today. Yamaha also joined in the fray that year. That was the most significant race and stands in my memory.

I'm sure you know the Island very well by now, and in particular the circuit itself. Where are your favourite places to go and spectate?
I always promote Clarks Corner, just before Keppel Gate, as my favourite vantage spot. So much to see and a long length of course to walk.

I like Cronk-y-Voddee, standing just opposite the house I want to buy one day, opposite the "Institute". The whole of Ramsey has so many vantage points from Schoolhouse right up to the Hairpin which can be walked.

Finally, you have to see one race at least from the Grandstand at which point you can learn so much about how a race is run, how it developes and how it finishes. It is easier to understand a race while sitting in a field watching bikes scream past after you have sat in a grandstand with scoreboards and pits action, giving you all the information.

Clarks Corner
Clarks Corner

You are known as the TT Fan, but have you ever attended the Manx Grand Prix, and if so, what did you make of that?
Oh yes I have been involved with the Manx. I was part of the "Let Liz Skinner Ride" group and I was pleased when our efforts allowed her to race in the previously male-dominated race.

The Manx is OK but after being involved with the TT for so long, I found the Manx to be tamer than the TT. No way will I detract from the Manx because it was, for some, the first jumping off race before trying the TT. I have entered a few riders in the Manx but have not got so involved as I am in the TT.

Liz Skinner
Liz Skinner

You have become famous for your knowledge of the TT races and also your vast collection of TT souvenirs. Tell me about the collection?
My collection is a loft full of items which probably mean more to me than to anyone else. I hoard everything from the boat ticket to all the reports after the racing. Press releases, programmes, giveaways, books, beer mats, pencils, in fact anything relevant to a particular year.

The collection is bagged carefully by year, and this makes it easy for me to retrieve information if someone wants it. It is a very personal collection and I considered putting some of it on the market a while back. However I found it too precious and spend lots of time going through it all.

It has been useful in the preparation of articles for magazines for instance. Some of the early giveaways are of particular interest.

A final few questions. How long do you think the TT will go on for?
Each year when my visa card statements crash onto the carpet I say "That's it. It's cost too much!" and concentrate on the family holiday in September. By December I am planning my next TT visit. I believe that everybody is like me. The attraction is such that as long as there is the Isle of Man people will visit even if the TT stops.

People like me will visit to see where it all happened.

If you could change one part of the TT what would it be?
I think the whole period of the TT could stand reappraisal and a revamp. It is "untidy" as it is.

Finally, if the TT goes on forever, when will you stop coming over!!!
I hope that my final visit will be as a vase of ashes to be scattered in one of three places. Round about Guthries Memorial, so I can "see" the bikes coming up out of Ramsey, the Point of Ayre and across to the coast of Cumberland, or at Clarks Corner, or at Brandywell the highest point on the TT course. What a wonderful "Resting Place"

It has been wonderful to talk to you.

Thank you very much. No problem any time.


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