Archive for September, 2010

One of the most encouraging stories from this year’s Manx Grand Prix was that Graham Bean was able to get over to the island and enjoy facilities appropriate for his circumstances. Graham is the press officer and magazine editor of the TT Supporters Club. He couldn’t get to the TT because, wheelchair-bound, there was nowhere suitable for him to stay. At the MGP however he was able to stay at the new Joey Dunlop Lodge – and he gives it rave reviews.

This is part of a detailed report Graham sent me:

I, along with a friend  / carer, Tony Phillips and his fourteen year old son, Robert stayed at the Lodge for a week during the Manx Grand Prix.  I want to compliment and thank the Trustees of the Joey Dunlop Foundation for their hard work and commitment over a considerable period of time in providing such a wonderful facility for those with mobility problems. The three bedroom apartment in which we stayed is equipped with electric beds which can be raised to aid transfer, as well as having the facility to put the occupant into the upward reclining position. Wardrobe rails, drawers, light switches [including touch sensitive bedside lights] are fully accessible to those in wheelchairs. Two bath / wet rooms are equipped with a substantial number of grab rails, fixed and drop-down, alongside the toilets and showers; there is also an Aquatec chair with commode.
A Moveman SKG lift with automatic door and an outside phone line in case of emergency gives access to this, the upstairs apartment [the other two, a two and one bedroom apartment are on the ground floor]; an external stairway also provides access to upper floor. Fire doors throughout the apartment automatically close when an alarm is raised. A mobile Oxford Presence Hoist is also available to assist transfer.
In the lounge / kitchen area there is a sofa, electric reclining chair, dining table / chairs, coffee table, flat screen wall-mounted TV, radio, wi-fi internet connection, accessible cupboards, low-level hob / oven, microwave, etc – the sink even has an electric connection allowing it to be raised so that the wheelchair bound person can put their legs underneath in order to do the washing-up…oh, joy!
Towels, duvet / bed linen, basic kitchen consumables – tea, coffee, milk, etc – were provided.
All guests have access to the balcony, from which we got an excellent view of a practice session – during our stay a group of local children with disabilities were invited to watch the racing from here.

Thanks to Graham for such a detailed account. The trustees now need to get people in. It might be straightforward for the race periods but they need to get the lodge occupied for the rest of the year. So please can readers of this blog help by spreading the word that the island now has a facility for people with disabilities that it can be proud of. Enquiries and bookings can be made through  the Chairman of the Joey Dunlop Foundation, Kevin Quirk – or visit


A grand finale

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

You really never can tell with road racing. I was convinced that this year’s Manx Grand Prix would produce unusually close racing but it produced the reverse! Even today, right at the end, the result of all three races was sorted long before the end, always provided the riders kept their machines pointing in the right direction.

All three results were heart-warming, which is also unusual. It was wonderful for Neil Kent to win the Lightweight after previously finishing in almost every position other than first. A notable victory for Yamaha too. Then the Ultra Lightweight gave Phil McGurk his first MGP win, two years after a bad crash cost him a podium – the throttle stuck open. He’s done very well to regain his racing head, never mind his physical fitness. Simon Fulton has also fought back from serious injury -the Southern 100 in 2006 – and he rode a skilful, disciplined race to clinch the Senior and end all doubts about his fitness to join the Tommy Club with a 120mph lap on the first circuit.

It was a day of history. The first win by a 650cc machine win in the Ultra Lightweight – this will surely encourage even more riders to enter a super-twin next year. And a 600cc bike beating the 750s in the Senior. I imagine that will provoke discussion by the MMCC committee over the coming months, because there is little point in the Senior becoming a carbon copy of the Junior….but will they really want to sanction 1000cc bikes at the Manx?

This year’s MGP produced a number of hard-luck stories: Alan Oversby in the Senior Classic, Tom Jackson in the Lightweight Classic, Dan Sayle in the Lightweight and David Lumsden in both the Junior and the Senior.

The most positive memories for me will be an outstanding crop of newcomers, the humility of Ian Hutchinson after completing his lap of honour, and the fabulous weather.

anyone know who this is?

Not really a classic

Posted: September 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

I don’t think today’s commentary was the most riveting of all time. The Senior Classic at the Manx Grand Prix was too stretched-out to make for compelling listening with intervals of over a minute between several riders. Pit stops injected a certain amount of drama but the only real moment of excitement came when the unfortunate Alan Oversby retired the MV at Guthrie’s when well ahead on the last lap. That opened the way for Roy Richardson to take his second win of the week, and another success for the Dick Linton/Martin Bullock combo. The 501-750cc class only attracted six entries and only half of them were running at the end which was somewhat farcical. Hopefully, now that the class has received its baptism, there will be more takers next year.

It’s ironic that just as a number of people decided that the weather at the MGP was just too dodgy to be tolerated any more we have a fortnight of very good weather. Today has been the latest in a string of gorgeous days and I did much of my prep for tomorrow sitting in the sun overlooking Port Erin beach. Idyllic.

I heard John McGuinness was on the island today but didn’t get to see him. Yesterday Ian Hutchinson and Stuart Easton, the BSB star, came into the commentary box. I was able to interview both of them in depth and it seemed clear that Hutchy wants to stay with Clive Padgett’s team next season and is hoping that Clive will come up with a good offer financially, and Stuart is keen to have a crack at the TT. Developments on both fronts will be interesting.

Port Erin today

Port Erin sunset

A dark day

Posted: September 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Junior Manx Grand Prix started on time in excellent conditions today but pretty soon things began to go wrong. We heard that Tim Venables was off at Greeba and later that he is in a critical condition in Nobles Hospital. Dan Sayle was leading the race near the end of lap one but disappeared from our computer screens just before he was due to complete the lap. After a long pause we were told that he had come off at Signpost corner and taken to hospital by ambulance. Later the news was good – ok, and discharged. By now the race had been red-flagged. Chris Kinley was on air describing the pit stops at the end of lap two when Roy Moore shouted down the line that a red flag was being shown at Ramsey. A serious incident had taken place at Alpine on the far side of the island. The vibes were not encouraging and in due course it was announced that two riders had lost their lives, Jamie Adam and Chris Bradshaw. It really has been a terrible day, and it got even worse when I heard that Northern Ireland rider Andy Brady had been informed, after the premature end of racing, that his father had died suddenly. Andy has flown home.

My condolences go to the families and friends of Jamie and Chris, and also to Andy and his family.

The decision to declare the race a result at the end of lap one is one which may be debated but in the context of the other events of this sunny but dark day it doesn’t seem too prominent. The decision to give a time penalty against Simon Fulton for riding through yellow flags at Signpost is, on the face of it, tough on Simon who was originally named the winner, but I know from conversations with marshals that there has been a lot of concern about riders ignoring yellow flags and if this rams the message home, so be it. So long as the same rules apply to the top TT riders.

After we came off air Dorothy and I decided to visit Paul Dobbs’s grave. Dobsy is buried at Lonan Church (the current parish church, not the isolated Lonan Old Church). I have to say I was shocked at how unkempt Dobsy’s grave is after such a short period of time. There doesn’t seem to have been much attempt to look after it and the only markers were an attractive small glass plaque left by a friend called Leigh, a Snetterton cap, and a withered flower in a plastic bottle. I know Dobsy wasn’t keen on flowers but we thought the grave needed something to brighten it up. We wandered up to Laxey Glen and when we explained where we had just been to the lady who runs the Pavillion cafe there, she immediately told us to collect some flowers from the grounds and gave us a small jar and a ribbon to hold them. We did this and left our little offering on the grave.

Dobsy's grave

Lonan Church

Straight down the middle

Posted: September 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

Today has been a rare phenomenon at the Manx Grand Prix in recent years – a rest day which actually turned out to be a rest day and not a day of rearranged racing.

I  played in a golf tournament organised by Roy Richardson to raise money for various motorsport charities on the island. My team of Tim Glover, Chris Kinley and Nick Jefferies gave a decent account of ourselves but didn’t do well enough to win. That honour went to a team from G4S, who look after security and crowd control at the Grandstand as well as caring for the trophies, so at least they can be trusted to look after the golfing silverware. Chris Kinley won the prize for the longest drive of the day.

This evening Dorothy and myself were invited to the Governor’s residence for an MGP reception where we mingled with the good and the great and enjoyed the Guv’s booze and nibbles, although it was getting damn cold on the  diplomatic lawn by the time we were ushed towards the exits.

In between I’ve been preparing for tomorrow’s commentaries. I’m expecting a close race in the Junior with Michael Sweeney, Simon Fulton, Wayne Kirwan and David Lumsden the men to watch. Jonny Heginbotham, winner of the Newcomers race, has been moved up the order from 74 to 40. The Senior Classic is wide open with the withdrawal of Ryan Farquhar and the serious injuries to Olie Linsdell ruling out two leading contenders. They also mean we will only have one Paton in the field, that 0f Mick Moreton. The new Formula 501-750 class has only attracted seven entries so I hope there are enough machines running at the end to fill all three podium places.

Ian Hutchinson is due on the island tomorrow, seven years after winning the MGP Newcomers and 10 weeks after winning five TTs in a week. I hear he is going to do some marshalling during the Junior and I am hoping to grab a word with him on air at around 1245pm.