| TT Website Interviews -
At TT Website we are trying to bring you an insight in
to all the different aspects that make up the TT experience. As well as the
riders, we are trying to bring you interviews with the other people who make
the TT what it is from marshals to organisers to fans.
||Ian Huntly is THE TT fan, and has been coming to the event
continuously since 1947. Over that time he has got to know many people, helped
many riders financially and amassed a huge array of memorabilia.
His views on the TT are
well respected, and we caught up with him recently for a quick chat.
Ian; you have been coming to the
TT since 1947 consecutively. What is it that attracts you to the races each
After all these years it has become an annual routine in
which I have become deeply involved.
There is a great family feeling,
with a world-wide circle of good friends and there is no age barrier. It is, to
me, a totally different world where I can forget the normal daily drudgery, and
lose myself in a sport which has no comparison.
Over the years you must have seen many changes to the TT. Tell
me what the biggest differences are now compared with 1947?
Well firstly, it has to be the course itself. When I see my
early photographs taken at The Creg, or in Ramsey and compare them with those
ones taken over the years, I see so many changes, some good some less good, but
all made to make the races safer and faster.
The other major difference
is the demise of the "real manufacturer involvement". I realise the costs
involved but the TT used to be the test track for the machines we buy today.
Nowadays the promotional messages are put over on T.V. at short track
racing. The TT was a Grand Prix in the dim and distant past and those days saw
the TT at its highest peak.
Do you think it has
changed for the better or for worse?
Certainly the course has improved in surface but many bends
which had real character are now somewhat bland. The lap speeds apparently go
up, but sometimes I have wondered whether this is due to machine development or
The TT has become one great party with the racing only
a part of the whole, whereas in my early days the TT was the main part of the
programme. It is difficult to get round everything these days and one has to
chose carefully what one does each day.
I feel it is now time to
rethink the TT Festival Programme and specialise a little.
You must have seen many incredible riders at the TT. Which
rider in particular was is the best TT rider ever, in your opinion?
Joey, of course. Nobody will be another Joey. However, Mike
Hailwood was the all rounder and while winning less TTs than Joey, could win on
any course. To be controversial, I have to mention John Surtees who came, saw
and conquered the TT and won the Motorcycle Championship then went to cars and
won that World Championship as well.
I think Ago was a good rider but
his machines were miles an hour faster than those of his rivals. However,
anybody who races in the TT is "incredible" in my book.
And which race stands out in your memory and why?
In 1959, Honda arrived at the TT with a set of 125cc bikes at
which most people sniggered and thought that they were one-year-wonders. They
raced carefully on the old short Clypse course but took home the Manufacturers
In 1960 they returned with a team of new 4-cylinder 250cc
machines and some new 125ccs. Suzuki appeared for the first time.
Hondas were beaten only by the MV Agustas over the Mountain Course. And so it
came to pass in 1961 that revamped 250cc machines with unbelievable exhaust
notes, led by Mike Hailwood, whopped everyone else!
I saw the bikes
that set Honda on the road to world-wide domination and the concept of 4-pots
across the frame is the concept used by the bikes of all major capacities
today. Yamaha also joined in the fray that year. That was the most significant
race and stands in my memory.
I'm sure you know
the Island very well by now, and in particular the circuit itself. Where are
your favourite places to go and spectate?
I always promote Clarks Corner, just before Keppel Gate, as
my favourite vantage spot. So much to see and a long length of course to walk.
I like Cronk-y-Voddee, standing just opposite the house I want to buy
one day, opposite the "Institute". The whole of Ramsey has so many vantage
points from Schoolhouse right up to the Hairpin which can be walked.
Finally, you have to see one race at least from the Grandstand at which
point you can learn so much about how a race is run, how it developes and how
it finishes. It is easier to understand a race while sitting in a field
watching bikes scream past after you have sat in a grandstand with scoreboards
and pits action, giving you all the information.
You are known as the TT Fan, but
have you ever attended the Manx Grand Prix, and if so, what did you make of
Oh yes I have been involved with the Manx. I was part of the
"Let Liz Skinner Ride" group and I was pleased when our efforts allowed her to
race in the previously male-dominated race.
The Manx is OK but after
being involved with the TT for so long, I found the Manx to be tamer than the
TT. No way will I detract from the Manx because it was, for some, the first
jumping off race before trying the TT. I have entered a few riders in the Manx
but have not got so involved as I am in the TT.
You have become famous for your
knowledge of the TT races and also your vast collection of TT souvenirs. Tell
me about the collection?
My collection is a loft full of items which probably mean
more to me than to anyone else. I hoard everything from the boat ticket to all
the reports after the racing. Press releases, programmes, giveaways, books,
beer mats, pencils, in fact anything relevant to a particular year.
collection is bagged carefully by year, and this makes it easy for me to
retrieve information if someone wants it. It is a very personal collection and
I considered putting some of it on the market a while back. However I found it
too precious and spend lots of time going through it all.
It has been
useful in the preparation of articles for magazines for instance. Some of the
early giveaways are of particular interest.
final few questions. How long do you think the TT will go on for?
Each year when my visa card statements crash onto the carpet
I say "That's it. It's cost too much!" and concentrate on the family holiday in
September. By December I am planning my next TT visit. I believe that everybody
is like me. The attraction is such that as long as there is the Isle of Man
people will visit even if the TT stops.
People like me will visit to
see where it all happened.
If you could change
one part of the TT what would it be?
I think the whole period of the TT could stand reappraisal
and a revamp. It is "untidy" as it is.
if the TT goes on forever, when will you stop coming over!!!
I hope that my final visit will be as a vase of ashes to be
scattered in one of three places. Round about Guthries Memorial, so I can "see"
the bikes coming up out of Ramsey, the Point of Ayre and across to the coast of
Cumberland, or at Clarks Corner, or at Brandywell the highest point on the TT
course. What a wonderful "Resting Place"
has been wonderful to talk to you.
Thank you very much. No problem any time.