After most practice sessions were cancelled last week because of the poor weather or low hanging mist across the island, the frustration and waiting for this year’s TT festival to spark into life continued into the second week.
Unfortunately, racing conditions around the course were almost impossible and getting through the race schedule, along with any outstanding practice sessions, gave the Clerk of the Course, Gary Thompson MBE and his team a continuing headache this year.
The first scheduled race was transferred from Saturday to Sunday, but even that was cancelled and transferred to Monday due to the weather or because of a lack of track time for the riders.
We finally got a window of opportunity on Monday, and just after 9am I headed up to the Grandstand for what looked set to be a full schedule of racing or practising.
At 10am once the roads were closed, I headed onto the start line to meet His Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor Sir Richard Gozney and Lady Gozney before speaking to the Cubs, Scouts and their Leaders and then standing for the British and Manx National Anthems.
A quick cup of tea in the Hailwood Centre before making our way onto the start line for the first race of this year’s TT festival, which was the RST Superbike race.
The original race schedule was for six laps but this reduced to four laps because of the difficulties surrounding this year’s festival.
Unfortunately, the race was red flagged on the third lap due to an incident at Snugborough. The Clerk of the Course, Gary Thompson declared the race after two / three laps, which meant that the Superbike Race was won by Peter Hickman, with Dean Harrison second and Conor Cummins third.
After lunch Ben and Tom Birchall secured their ninth TT win in the Locate.im Sidecar Race 1, with John Holden and Lee Cain second; Alan Founds and Jake Lowther finishing third.
Once the formal duties were finished I headed home to get changed out of my suit before heading back the Grandstand to watch the start of the Support Race, sponsored by Monster Energy.
Once again the race was declared after two laps due to deteriorating weather around the Course, and it was Lee Johnston that secured the victory around the TT course ahead of James Hillier and Peter Hickman.
I finally got home for around 19.30.
Sadly, it had been confirmed later that day that seeded rider Daley Mathison, a 27 year old from Stockton-on-Tees had died in the accident at Snugborough in the morning.
Daley’s wife, Natalie Johnson-Mathison posted a couple of heartfelt personal messages on Facebook this week, which certainly brings home the sacrifices that many road-racing families have to make, in order to support someone truly following their dreams….
Road racing is a small family, a small community but also a very supportive family during these very difficult circumstances.
My thoughts and prayers are with Natalie and little Daisy for the future.
With no racing or practice on Tuesday, I was up early catching up with a few things before my brother Peter and I headed west, which had beautiful sunshine and clear skies, unlike the rest of the Isle of Man.
After breakfast in Michael Street we took the opportunity to walk around Peel and to climb up to the top of the hill that overlooks the sunset city.
From there we headed south to the Murray’s Motorcycle Museum, which was absolutely packed full of visitors.
It also gave me an opportunity to speak to a number of visitors on their experience of the TT and the Isle of Man generally.
Back home for a couple of hours in order to catch up with any emails and to enable Peter to pack his case before taking him to the airport. Unfortunately his flight was delayed.
This meant I had to miss a couple of engagements, which was fine because I had had far too much sun on Tuesday.
It has also been a very difficult year for visitors, as I know many of them have left the island this year without seeing any racing or practising, which is very disappointing.
On Wednesday I headed into the office for an hour or so before arriving at the Grandstand for around 9.30am for what was set to be an excellent day of racing. The weather forecast was for improving weather throughout the day.
Unfortunately, the roads across the island were very wet from overnight rain and this meant that there was a two hour delay in the racing programme, which meant a lot of hanging around and drinking tea.
At 12 noon I once again headed onto the start-line to meet His Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor and Lady Gozney, before speaking to the Cubs, Scouts and their Leader, along with standing for the British and Manx National Anthems.
Several more race delays made by the Clerk of the Course and just when we thought we would see some racing, the west and the north of the island were hit by heavy rain, which meant that all racing scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled.
A very difficult day for everyone involved, especially for the TT Marshals, St John Ambulance, Scouts and Cubs, Clerk of the Course and Media, along with many other volunteers and personnel who continue to show a level of commitment which is unmatched in many other sporting events.
At 6.26am on Thursday morning seventy five years ago, the first British troops landed on Normandy’s beaches, despite challenging weather conditions and fierce German defences.
By the end of D-Day on 6th June 1944 around 156,000 allied troops had landed on the beaches, established a foothold in France and within 11 months Nazi Germany was defeated and the war was over.
We should never forget their sacrifice……
As for my own activities on Thursday, I headed into the office for 8am in order to get on with a few things, draft a couple of letters and to give me a head start for next week.
I left the office just after 10.45am to head home before the roads closed.
At 12 noon I drove up to the Grandstand to watch the first three of the five races scheduled to take place on Thursday.
With no formal duties I was able to dress down and it also gave me an opportunity to speak to visitors and locals, in order to gain a greater insight into their TT experiences.
A fantastic day of racing and the first time the Isle of Man has ever staged five races in a single day….
I was up early and in the office briefly before 8am on bank holiday Friday before heading up to the Grandstand for 9am.
Security in and around the VIP tent was a little tighter on Friday as the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle hosted the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP who is the current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
The Secretary of State arrived on Thursday evening and stayed at Government House before being one of the formal guests for Senior Race Day, which is considered the Blue Ribbon event of the TT festival.
The original plan was to greet the Secretary of State on the start line, along with the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Richard Gozney and Lady Gozney as normal, but those plans changed slightly when the Chief Minister and Secretary of State arrived at the VIP tent for 9.15am.
20 minutes later we were on the start line to welcome His Excellency and Lady Gozney, which gave the Secretary of State, the Governor and the Chief Minister an opportunity to speak to the Scouts and Cubs who work on the scoreboard during race week.
After the National Anthems the Secretary of State presented the annual award for the best Scout / Cub group for the TT festival, which went to the Douglas 2nd Scouts group.
From there the party headed into the Paddock and then onto the start line to enjoy the start of the 2019 Dunlop Senior TT, which was won by Dean Harrison with Peter Hickman second and Conor Cummins finished third.
The second sidecar race that was originally scheduled to take place on Friday had been transferred to Thursday because of the heavy rain expected to hit the Isle of Man in the afternoon and evening.
This year’s Spirit of the TT Award was given to the Isle of Man Marshals Association, which was a fitting tribute for the recognition of their achievement and commitment throughout this year’s TT festival.
It certainly was a difficult TT festival but once again the Clerk of the Course, Gary Thompson MBE did a sterling job, not forgetting the army of volunteers that make the event happen.
A special thank you also to the DfE Motorsport team who work tirelessly throughout the year to make the event possible.
Nothing planned for the weekend, but I might try and prepare for next week, which should be a busy one.