Having covered both car and motorcycle racing, I’ve found that motorcycle racers generally tend to have a bit more character and personality. One of the biggest characters is Guy Martin, who’s tackled everything from competing in the Isle of Man TT to running a pub. Both endeavors are bold and exciting in their own ways, but being responsible riders, let’s ride before we drink.
Right off the bat, Martin and his 600cc Honda are up to top gear doing more than 140 mph. “She’s not hanging about,” says Martin in a bit of an understatement. A few corners later he’s onto a long straightaway. “Head down, ass up, as they say.” I’ve never heard a full tuck described better.
Martin describes “a bit of a moment” he had in practice on a newly paved section. A great deal of road camber caused the front wheel to slip. Instinctively Martin put his foot down to try to catch himself. This is never a good idea at any kind of speed, particularly the speeds TT racers travel at. Martin held the turn, but he “ran over my own foot, and that didn’t fill me with confidence.” He is truly the master of understatement.
It’s not all witty comments, either. Martin talks us through the strategy he used to pass another rider at one point. Slowing down a little extra before the turn allowed him to get back on the throttle sooner, which gave Martin the boost he needed to get the jump on him and pass him with a little bit of drafting assistance.
I have a ton of respect for everyone who races the TT. These racers seem crazy to be riding so fast and taking such big chances, but the truth is that they all have a great deal of knowledge and skill at doing what they do.