The dust has now settled on this year’s Classic TT. For those unfamiliar with the event, the Classic TT was born from the ashes of the old Manx Grand Prix. Run on the same Mountain Course as the TT, the Manx as it was affectionately known, featured racing on modern and classic machinery.

Originally created as the amateur rider’s TT,  TT legends such as Steve Hislop and Philip McCallen first cut their teeth at the Manx before moving on to the TT. Multiple World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty won at “The Manx” in the 1985.

As media interest in the old Manx Grand Prix format dwindled, the Manx government started looking at ways to improve its marketing appeal and increase visitor numbers.  Early proposals to cut the amount of modern classes were met with protests by some local fans, but a new format was eventually agreed and the Festival of Motorcycling was born.

The Festival of Motorcycling comprises of the Classic TT, for, well classic bikes, the Manx National 2 day trial, the Manx Classic 2 day trial and the hugely popular Vintage Motorcycle Club Festival of Jurby. The Festival has also retained the modern classes  which are still run under the Manx Grand Prix name.

The Classic TT, being the focal point of the event, draws in most of the top TT stars to ride; including 21 times TT winner John McGuinness and 12 times winner Michael Dunlop.

As in its previous guise, the festival is spread over two weeks.  Practice takes place over the first week with the modern and classic machines sharing the track.

Although, when it comes to the racing, the Classic TT takes centre stage with the races being held on the middle Saturday and the following Monday with the Manx Grand Prix races on the Wednesday and Friday.



Having missed the 2013 event, I was looking forward to comparing the new format with the old and I have to say I am a fan – particularly of the Classic TT Formula 1 race.

Being a 4- something, the machines raced in the Formula 1 race are the ones I can remember as a teenager.  Honda RC30’s, Yamaha OWO1’s, Kawasaki ZXR750’s with the highlight being Bruce Anstey’s YZR500 Yamaha which he rode to victory in this year’s race. For those a little older than me there are 500cc Paton’s, MV Agusta’s, Manx Norton’s, BSA Goldstars and the list goes on.

Arguably the highlight of the festival was the collection of ex-Joey Dunlop racing machines on display in the paddock. Some of them left as they were when Joey last raced them, dead flies and all.

A fitting tribute was paid to Joey with “The Rivals” parade lap featuring some of his greatest rivals. Legendary names from the past such as Graeme Crosby, Mick Grant, Tony Rutter and Brian Reid.  Michael Dunlop represented his father Robert (Joey’s brother) on the JPS Norton which much have been an emotional moment for him.

One part of the event I did not like was the 80’s themed fancy dress event run at the paddock on the Friday before the first race. I really don’t see what the organisers have to gain from having John McGuinness dressed as Pamela Anderson bouncing down pit lane on a space hopper. As funny as it may sound, it’s tacky and not in keeping with the rest of the event.

Apart from this one slight negative, the event is clearly moving in the right direction which was evident with the significantly increased media presence and visitor numbers in comparison with previous years.

If you like your motorcycle racing with a touch of nostalgia then the Classic TT and Festival of Motorcycling could well be for you.





Tony Goldsmith is an Isle of Man based freelance motorcycle racing photographer specializing in the Isle of Man TT races. He has also covered selected rounds of the British Superbike Championship and MotoGP. His online archive is available at and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

  • KSW

    Nice Job Tony! I’ll be seeing at next year’s classic.

    What I think this event brings is truly the history or motorcycling. There are more vintage bikes, running and being enjoyed at this event then is possible anywhere. This is a less crowded event and more fun for that reason however the double prices for hotel rooms as small and vintage as the bikes is the same as the TT run in May/June. The rooms on the isle are the one down side to being there.

    As well as the bikes and events on the Isle for the “Classic TT” are some of the rarest cars you’ll ever see as well. Yep, cars. While you may think of the Isle of Man as being only about motorcycles you’d be missing the home to some founders of The Vintage Racing League. You’ll see some amazing four wheel parked at the Douglas Prom or other towns on the Isle and personally I find it just as pleasurable seeing a rare car rolling by me as a vintage motorcycle.

  • Lee

    I had two friends race the Manx TT this year. Jon Munns from Portland, OR and Bill Blythe from CT. Both finished and did well. Huge props to both !

  • Dafydd Owen

    Totally incorrect with regards to the event arising from the ashes of the Manx Grand Prix, the Manx Grand Prix continues as an event in its own right run by the Manx Motorcycle Club as always, while the Classic TT is run by the DED/ACU, and the other events are run by their respective clubs, all under the umbrella of a 2 week festival of motorcycling.

  • n/a

    Did you get any pictures of John Mcguinness’ Vimto Honda/TSR 250?

  • Ned Bowers

    This is rubbish! The Manx Grand Prix ran from Saturday 16th August to Friday 29th August, organised as usual by the Manx Motor Cycle Club, ….. and incorporated the TT Classic.

    Racing for the Manx Grand Prix, with classes for modern machinery, was scheduled for the Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the second week. Whilst the Newcomers Race attracted a record entry, all other classes were oversubscribed. In contrast to the Classic TT, all Manx Grand Prix races were thrilling and very close.

    Far from “the ashes of the old Manx Grand Prix”, this event is very much alive! Perhaps the writer should have stayed in the island for the rest of the second week.

  • KSW

    Ned Bowers, Marshal? I thought you would have been nicer? I never met a grumpy TT Marshal.