Bikes, Billown and Beards

Posted: June 4, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Tomorrow gives us the fifth running of the TT for electric bikes, now the TT Zero but originally the TTX, won by Rob Barber for Team Agni, using Cedric Lynch’s innovative engineering, in 2009. The electric machines are developing well in quality if not in quantity. The American Motoczysz team has taken over from Agni as leaders of the pack but they will have their work cut out tomorrow with the Japanese Mugen Shinden team in top form with John McGuinness likely to hit the 110mph mark.

One innovation which did not stand the test of time was the Billown TT. It was five years ago that the southern course played host to TT racing as the organisers tried to come up with a format that retained two-stroke racing under the TT imprint.  The races for 250 and 125 bikes were staged the day after the Senior and I remember they produced some brilliant racing. There was an added sense of occasion, something different from the usual post-TT day at Billown. Appropriately, the first 125 TT at Billown was won by the last winner of a 125 TT on the Mountain Course, Chris Palmer. Ian Lougher won the Lightweight, his eighth TT win. There was plenty of debate about how valid it was to give these races full TT status, but then, plenty of TT races have been held on courses other than the Mountain Course. And to put the debate into another context, how many TTs were Chris and Ian denied by the abolition of two-stroke racing around the mountain? The Billown TT only lasted two years but the Southern 100 Club certainly rose to the occasion and gave us an indelible contribution to TT history.

Coming back up to date, Cameron Donald’s beard is attracting as much comment as his riding  – each is as spectacular as the other. Cam is on his way to taking over from former sidecar racer,  Irishman Pete Farrelly, as the owner of the best beard in my time at the TT. Pete cultivated a near waist-length creature which looked like it needed feeding at least twice a day. I asked him once how he coped with all that under his helmet? “I plait it and throw it over my shoulder,” he said with a beam.

I remember also asking Pete the reason for the name of his team, Reptile Racing? “I’m a tiler.”

Can’t argue with his logic.


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