Surviving "Mad Sunday," and the deadliest race in the world
A group of six or seven bikers fly past my British racing green TVR. A 5.0-liter V-8 lies beneath the fiberglass hood. A TVR Griffith weighs just 2,300 lbs., but its handling characteristics scare me more than a quiet dinner for two with Mr. Lecter. “Oh Clarice,” I imagine. Nope. Not nearly as terrifying as carving an off-camber curve around Keppel Gate, with mobs of suicidal bikers tucked into my exhaust smoke.
“Mad Sunday” isn’t exactly safe, or regulated, and it definitely is not sensible. But it’s one of the main reasons 30,000 people from around the globe visit a tiny piece of rock measuring just 33 by 13.5 miles, situated within the Irish Sea. It occurs during the two weeks of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy motorbike races. With week one devoted to practice, “Mad Sunday” sets the stage for week two’s competition. Of course the “racers” are all professional riders, with professional teams and sponsors. “Mad Sunday” is for the general, beer guzzling public. The racetrack is open, and once out of town and into the grueling mountain section, there are no speed limits. The traffic is directed one-way, and bikes, cars, trucks — any form of wheeled transportation — is permitted. Naturally the roads are littered with motorbikes, with those in cars becoming paralyzed by the madness surrounding them.
“Nein Sir, I vas not,” he replied.