DOUGLAS, ISLE OF MAN
Davey Lambert, a 48-year-old man from Gateshead, England, died this week after crashing at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, an annual motorcycle event here that claimed two more lives on Wednesday. Four competitors died in the races last year, and another was killed the year before that. Those fatalities brought the death toll at the event, known as the TT, to 146 since it was first run in 1907. If one includes fatal accidents occurring during the Manx Grand Prix, the amateur races held later in the summer on the same Snaefell Mountain Course, the figure rises above 250.
For this reason, and others, the TT has few parallels within global sports. The concept of mortality underpins everything here. It gives the race its prestige, opens it to criticism, makes it exhilarating, makes it terrifying. It puts the island on the map.
It is also why, for two weeks each year, this sleepy rock in the middle of the Irish Sea (population 88,000) becomes something like a rollicking festival ground. Organizers convert 37.73 miles of undulating public roads into an enormous, claw-shaped racetrack, and roughly 40,000 visitors, many of them bringing their own motorcycles, join local fans for a week of practices and a week of competition. It all culminates with the Senior TT, which takes place this Friday, a public holiday on the Isle of Man. (Schools are closed for the entire race week.)
Speeds over the four race days routinely exceed 200 miles per hour. Every year, there are crashes. Almost every year, there are deaths.