Memorials from the Isle of Man TT Races

Ray Moore, Claire Corkill, 2012

Data copyright © Dr Ray Moore, Claire Corkill unless otherwise stated

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Dr Ray Moore
Archaeology Data Service
University of York
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Ray Moore, Claire Corkill (2012) Memorials from the Isle of Man TT Races [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1016122

Introduction

Guy Martin at Signpost, Onchan. ©Fran Caley

Guy Martin at Signpost, Onchan. ©Fran Caley.

Raced over a 60.7km (37¾m) circuit of public roads where speeds can reach in excess of 320kmh (200mph) and where participants pass within centimetres of houses, stone walls and lamp posts, the Isle of Man TT (or Tourist Trophy) Races remain the oldest and most prestigious event in the motorcycle road racing calendar. Once an important event in the fledgling Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship (1949-1976) and part of TT Formula 1 Championship (1977-1990) it is has attracted the world's best racers :- Hailwood, Duke, Read, Agostini, Dunlop, Hislop and McGuiness. Throughout its 105 year history (1907-2012) commercial pressure, technological developments and course improvements have been associated with a rise in speed, and the current the lap record stands at 17m 12.3s with an average speed of 132mph/212kph. These rising speeds have been associated with a rise in accidents and consequently fatalities, with the number of riders killed standing at 136 men and women; with a total of 239 killed on the 'Mountain Circuit', if those at the TT's sister event, the Manx Grand Prix (MGP), are included. This 'darker side' of the event has attracted repeated calls from the media for the event to be banned, with as many column inches devoted to reporting death as any other aspect of the racing or its results. It's most vociferous critic, the British rider Barry Sheene, even claimed that "[t]his is not racing; this is a suicide mission" (Anon 2003). Yet, while death and danger are a pervasive reality at the TT Races; fans, locals and competitors vehemently defend the event as one of the last bastions of personal freedom. Guy Martin, TV presenter and racing participant, has recently defended the event: "The TT is dangerous, of course it is, but that's the reason I do it". (Martin after Rostance 2012).

Following fatality the family, friends and fans of those who are killed are often moved to raise commemorative monuments to the deceased at the place of death. Some of these memorials are transiant lasting a matter of weeks, but some become more perminent monuments and the focus for successive visits. As this archive shows the form and nature of commemoration is variable from simple plaques and benches, to more extensive statues, memorial gardens and marshal's shelters.



References

Anon. 2003. 'Obituaries: Barry Sheene'. The Telegraph, 11 March 2003: 25.

Rostance, T. 2012. 'Isle of Man TT: Guy Martin on danger, death and Everest'. BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/motorsport/17192387 (accessed 06 June 2012).