Our most beloved sovereignty in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is of course most well known for the race that bears its name, the Isle of Man TT. Traditionally taking place in the first weeks of June, the road race attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the small island, for a fortnight of racing on closed public roads. Words don’t do the Isle of Man TT justice, so honestly you are just better off booking the trip and experiencing this two-wheeled bucket-list carnival first-hand for yourself.
Not as well known as the TT, the Isle of Man plays host to a second road race on the famous Mountain Course, the Manx Grand Prix. Traditionally held in late-August or early-September, the Manx, as it is known, uses the same course as the TT, but only features non-professional racers in its classes (except for the classic class). Changing the Manx’s format to better promote and differentiate it from the more popular TT, the Isle of Man has decided to do away with modern machinery all together in the festival, and the Manx Grand Prix is to become a “Classic TT” according to its organizers, as was the rumor during the 2012 Isle of Man TT.
The problem for the Isle of Man is fairly simple, as the Island nation’s tourism industry centers around a solitary event. Traditionally not a huge crowd-drawing race (and dare we say an event of questionable profitability), the Manx hope to elevate the status of the Manx Grand Prix to a higher status beyond being just an amateurs’ TT. The solution for the MMMC and Isle of Man government has been to make the race entries classic bikes only, which serves a second purpose of slowing the novice road racers down to safer speeds.
An unwelcomed change to many old-school TT and MGP fans, from what we could gather while on the Isle of Man earlier this year, the changes are ones of necessity, as the other option was to discontinue the historic race. Apparently it is a lot of work to shutdown the roads of an entire nation. A joint press release form the Manx Motor Cycle Club and the Isle of Man TT Department of Economic Development follows below:
Press Release from the Manx Motor Cycle Club and the Isle of Man TT Department of Economic Development:
Following discussions between the Manx Motor Cycle Club and the Department of Economic Development regarding the future direction of the MGP Festival, a provisional proposal and schedule has been agreed for 2013.
The newly developed Festival will retain elements of the existing Manx Grand Prix Races, while also leveraging the TT brand in a new ‘Classic TT’, which will form part of a three-day classic meeting.
The Festival will consist of the ‘Classic TT Races’, ‘The Manx Grand Prix Races’, the ‘Manx Classic’ and ‘Manx Two Day’ Trials and the ‘VMCC Manx Rally’, which will include the Festival of Jurby. The festival will remain as a two-week event including a week of practice and qualifying. A title for the Festival will be confirmed shortly.
Four Classic TT Races will now take over the traditional middle weekend of racing and August Bank Holiday Monday, which will also feature the VMCC’s popular Festival of Jurby meeting on the Sunday, with Manx Grand Prix races scheduled to run on the following Wednesday and Friday.
The Department of Economic Development will promote the Classic TT and will contract the Manx Motor Cycle Club to deliver the races. Regulations for these races will be confirmed shortly. The Manx Motor Cycle Club will assume responsibility for the role of promoter and organiser of the Manx Grand Prix races, with financial assistance being provided by the Department.
Hon John Shimmin, MHK, Minister, Department of Economic Development commented:
‘We are very pleased to announce progress with our ongoing discussions with the Manx Motor Cycle Club on the future direction of the event. We are confident that we have a clearly segmented and focused festival that can generate additional visitors to the Island and the team will look to further develop the Classic TT and Festival.’
Harvey Garton, Chairman, Manx Motor Cycle Club commented:
‘We have a clear way forward for the Manx Grand Prix Races as part of the Festival and will be working closely with the Department of Economic Development to build and grow the event. We are now focusing all of our efforts on delivering a successful 2012 event.’
Source: Manx Motor Cycle Club