Isle of Man TT races could become part of world series
- 29 March 2011
- From the section Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin
There is nothing on Earth quite like the Isle of Man TT Races - now the event could be going global with plans for a world series.
The 100-year-old event could be expanded into a six round championship featuring the world's top road racers.
The series could open in the United States, with races in the Far East, Asia and Scandinavia before the series finale at the 2014 Isle of Man TT.
Colin Kniveton, chief executive of the Department of Economic Development, said: "It is the most recognised event that the Isle of Man has and we want to take that brand on to the world stage."
It marks a huge turnaround in the fortunes of the races which lost World Championship status in the 1970s.
'Lived my dream'
The TT started in 1907 when the Mountain Circuit was little more than a cart and horse track. It was the duty of the first rider round in the morning to open all the gates along the way with the last rider responsible for shutting them.
Today the event has been transformed into a multi-million pound business and is arguably the most prestigious motorcycling road race in the world.
Former TT winner Richard "Milky" Quayle says the island should sell the TT brand everywhere.
"Any motorbike racer loves the freedom of going fast. For me I felt like I was the only man alive and the whole world was mine. Challenging myself to go as fast as I can and to my best ability.
"I lived my dream. That's all as a boy I wanted to do. To be able to fulfil your dreams is amazing. I'm such a lucky man for that to have happened to me," he said.
And it is that reputation the government wants to cash in on.
'Would be brilliant'
The plans could see a world series with around 20 core professional riders supplemented with local competitors.
The government is looking for potential partners to invest in the plans and build the TT brand abroad through sponsorship, television, licensing and hospitality.
A new generation of riders, like 23-year-old Manx man Dan Kneen, are backing the idea, recognising the opportunities it could bring them.
"It would be good to have a TT championship all year round instead of just one a year" he said.
"Being a young rider and having a chance to compete in something like that would be a brilliant. It would help to build up my profile."
When asked whether a TT away from the island could live up to the original, Mr Kniveton admitted it would be difficult.
"Because of the unique nature of the mountain circuit, taking it to a new venue may not adequately recreate the atmosphere and could even de-value the brand.
"What we are keen to do is look at potential venues that have some of the characteristics of the Isle of Man course.
"We do accept that there are going to be limitations but once fans have been to a TT abroad they'll want to visit the original in the island."
King of the mountain
But the future of the TT and plans for its expansion, are always in doubt because of fears over the event's safety - riders hurtle through sleepy villages and winding country roads at speeds approaching 200 miles an hour.
More than 200 riders have died trying to become king of the mountain since the event began.
Quayle survived a high speed crash in 2003 that forced him into retirement but says the danger is all part of the thrill.
"The TT course is a dangerous circuit but we all know the risks. It's not tiddly winks. We all understand the risks and know it's a very very dangerous thing to do and I think that's what makes it.
"The TT is motorsport in it's purest forms. It's biggest thing in motorcycle racing."
The event already brings in £20m to the Manx economy and taking it onto the world stage could be a lucrative move.