Passions are running ever higher on the island as news of changes to the TT continues to be released. There is universal condemnation of the news that the radio coverage; by the so-called Radio TT will be based solely at the Grandstand; with the Glen Helen and Ramsey Hairpin commentary points consigned to history. The coverage will be anchored by Chris Day aided by analyst Chris Boyde. I am very much afraid that commentary based upon what is being viewed on a computer screen; rather than being viewed on the track outside of the commentary box; will have all of the atmosphere of the surface of the moon. It is almost inevitable that the commentary will be focused solely on the podium contenders to the detriment of the other riders; without whom the event would not survive. This commentary will, I believe; like the “live streaming” be 20s delayed; not live as claimed in the glowing publicity release.
It seems rather contradictory that the excellent Chris Kinley and Beth Espey of Manx Radio will provide coverage from pit lane. A pit lane redesigned to have less capacity due to Health and Safety concerns (how did the world survive before H&S came to save it?). We are now down to 60 bikes maximum and tight limits on the number of pit crew; yet can have two commentators walking about amongst them.
The radio coverage provided by commentators steeped in the history of the event and enthusiasts for it; was one of the features that made the TT unique; sadly, that appears to be gone for ever. These commentators could fill periods of delay completely unscripted due to their encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of the event. In future, such delays will probably be filled with music complete with mind numbing computerised drumbeat. The teams used the comprehensive live commentary as a primary source of information; now they will have to use hermetically sealed smart phones to access the data streaming. Reading a smart device tends to take your mind of what you are supposed to be doing. Also gone is the historic scoreboard; just another item that helped to make the TT unique; now we shall have the same garish electronic boards as every other circuit.
Live streaming is the new “little black number” that will improve life for everyone. £14.99 to have unlimited access to the almost live coverage and access to playing the coverage as often as you want after the event. This was tried at the NW200 and surprise, surprise, it reduced the number of people attending the event. The island’s information technology infrastructure; far from being world class as claimed; will probably not be able to cope with the TT traffic; based upon what happens now to local users.
Many past riders; sponsors; mechanics etc are dismayed at what has happened in recent years; there is a gnawing away at the event and seemingly a desire to turn it from a unique event into just a money-making show at which corporate sponsors can allow their “VIP” guests to become inebriated in the hostility tents that now plague the event to the detriment of real fans. Many have expressed their feelings on social media; these are the people that the organizers should be talking to; not a bunch of corporate suits only concerned with return on capital.
There is a very real danger that many marshals will no longer bother to sign-on for the TT or the revamped (and abridged) Manx Grand Prix. Their opinions seem to have been routinely ignored, whilst the powers that be followed their own agenda. I have spoken to many marshals and have never known such disquiet; even outright hostility; towards the organizers; and (rightly or wrongly) one of them in particular. The latest little bombshell heading their way is that every point will be required to have a designated fire marshal; in full fireproof suit. That will be nice for 8+ hours on a hot sunny day. The event cannot run without the marshals; at present they feel that they are being treated with contempt by the residents of the ivory tower; this sense of injustice must be reversed and quickly. If it is not; I am afraid that love for the event is not going to prevent many, very experienced, marshals from taking the opportunity to walk away now.
The new minister and the political member with responsibility for motorsport need to take note of what is going on and encourage all stake holders to find a long-term solution acceptable to all; otherwise, our events will have a very short shelf life.