Irish Road Racing The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races, known by fans as simply “TT,” is widely lauded as the oldest and most dangerous race in all of motorcycling, and is without a doubt one of the most epic spectacles in the world of motorsports. But while the legendary TT steals the show every year for two weeks in May as a spectacle of speed, bravery, and danger, there’s another much less well known race series that takes place right across the Irish sea that takes the death-defying Isle of Man-style racing and makes it even more dangerous – Irish road racing!
While the Isle of Man TT is over a century old, many people in the U.S. and other parts of the world have only recently learned about the famous race thanks to large growth in international broadcasting driven by its popularity on social media. To modern race fans, especially here in the U.S. where safety is a primary concern, Isle of Man racing is bizarrely fascinating – riders regularly reach high triple-digit speeds along narrow roads hundreds of years old, passing hedges, lamp posts, and rock walls within inches (frequently even brushing up against them!) Crashes happen often, and they are violent, and frequently lethal. On average, over 2 riders die every year on the race course during TT.
Isle of Man is spectacular and terrifying, but as it is a time trial format, with riders leaving the start line every ten seconds, the main challenge riders have to contend with there is the course itself. In Irish road racing, the “tracks” where races are held (public country roads simply shut down for individual races) have similar landcapes and present the same threats, but with one more element added in to make the races even more challenging – each other! In Irish road racing, races forego the staggered starts of Isle of Man for mass starts instead, with every rider leaving the start line at the same time and battling for position the entire way. As if it weren’t hard enough to avoid getting tangled in barbed wire or smacking a rock wall at 160mph, in Irish road racing, riders have to do that while also not colliding into each other.
In addition, while the Isle of Man on a long, famous race track, the 37-mile Snaefell Mountain Course with a staggering 264 turns, it is still a single-venue race, and pro riders have raced it hundreds of times, thus memorizing the course completely. In Irish road racing, venues are much more varied, and take place across a variety of landscapes – track ranging from Kells, a small 2.2 mile course in Cossakiel known for jumps that send bikes soaring at 160mph and over 30 yards of tarmac, to Ulster, called the world’s fastest racetrack, where one rider hit a top speed of 208mph in 2012! Other tracks in the series, bearing characteristically Irish names like Tandragee, Skerries, Faugheen, Armoy, and Killalane have similarly varied terrain and scenery that makes every venue unique and exciting. Click Here…