Flat White

This is freedom: Isle of Man Tourist Trophy

29 May 2022

8:00 AM

29 May 2022

8:00 AM

On the last Saturday in May, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy begins. It is the most important thing in the world. Spectator Australia readers will ask, why? What about Ukraine? The Liberal rout? What about so many other events when we have never even heard of this Isle of Man thing? I will explain my reasoning.

The Tourist Trophy, or TT, is an annual motorcycle event founded in 1907 and is a special gem that has ignored time.

Motor racing in general has pushed the barriers back and made the sand traps bigger and bigger, ultimately removing both them and the grass so that the area outside the track is frequently used to gain advantage. No one dies anymore. Death and ugliness have been regulated out of the sport, yet the TT is different, still racing largely with amateurs doing it for fun. They don’t even have a track!

There are very few of the great tracks left. Silverstone is a shadow of itself, chicaned to death with crowds pushed back so far they need binoculars to see the track. Spa has survived, although the Eau Rouge Raidillon complex might have been neutered in recent times. Bathurst is a road that turned into a race track and is typical of the great circuits of the world.

Why does it matter when circuits can be engineered and built to the latest and finest standards that ensure complete safety for all those at the track? Does it matter that these old tracks, adored by foolish romantics, have been closed or upgraded to mimic the computer-designed frolics where there are no consequences for actions? Do consequences matter? Don’t we want regulators to keep people safe?

Back around the Irish Sea, they race bikes at 300km/h on a road through towns with buildings inches away from racers. Blink and you are dead. It is typical for two riders to die each year at the event and spectators about the same (although some count spectator deaths as only being one per year). That is the risk of sitting on a roadside with racers charging by at high speed, and the Isle of Man is a high-speed race with a large part of it done at wide open throttle.

How are idiots dying on a roadside classified as the most important thing in the world? It’s the most important thing because those idiots chose to be there of their own free will and the powers that be decided they are free to do it if they want to. The race waves two fingers at the Nanny State, which has taken over the rest of the world. I really want to scream at the pious establishment in Canberra, ‘Stop keeping me safe! I’ve had a gutful of your rubbish!’

Contrast this to the cloying idiots of the bureaucracy, who have nothing useful to contribute to the world. They reach out constantly to interfere with people that want to live, work, play, be exhilarated, and succeed and fail. These are the ones that generate all the wealth that supports the mendicant public service. Meanwhile, the public service tirelessly harasses them and does all it can to convince the achievers of the nation that they are actually helpless victims who need to be looked after.

Stop keeping me safe. I can do it better myself without the bureaucracy getting involved.

I’m a Fitter and Turner. I’ve spent a large slice of my life working as a Toolmaker and I am pushed around by safety rules every day. Rules about high visibility clothing, about safety glasses, and about hearing protection. I’ve endured too many Material Data Safety Sheets that are unreadable not to mention cumbersome breathing equipment and masks.

I have seen the public service stage a clever takeover by demanding that companies employ safety officers to basically do the public service job. Effectively, it is the public service getting a permanent sycophant in companies to do the bidding of the bureaucracy on the dime of the company. It is a major harm to productivity and, what’s worse, safety goes downhill too. This is because safety is all about the individual and the actions they take in their work and has nothing to do with the mountain of paper that bureaucracy produces.

By operating computer-controlled machine tools, businesses have a great advantage in being fully covered. For example, you have to shut the door and a sensor tells the controller that the door is shut. Only then is the controller able to begin the machining cycle. This is really good. Swarf that flies off and makes a noise like popcorn when it strikes the covers is kept away from the operator. Coolant, likewise, is not soaking the operator. Manual machines are horrible things by comparison. I avoid them if I can.

Someone had the wonderful idea to keep me safe by putting a lockout on the door. It is impossible to do anything unless the door is shut. This is where it gets difficult. Material of all different sizes is put in. The machine must be told where it is by using a handwheel to move the tool until it touches a feeler gauge on the material and then the tool can be moved to a known position. Except the door is shut. You can’t move the tool with the door open and how do you hold a feeler gauge on the work face with the door shut? Siemens decided to put a button on the controller so if you held the button down you could move the tool with the door open. They also positioned the button so far apart you needed a full octave reach to brush the edge of the handwheel by the tiniest breath.

So machinists, while not being the greatest geniuses, are forthright people and just unbolt the sensor tag from the door and then leave the door open with the tag in the switch turning everything. This is a common practice I have seen over more than 40 years doing this. Yep, safety. I’ve seen safety doors on large machines unbolted and sent off to the scrapper. Does anyone in bureaucracy understand this?

I suppose what they understand is power. It isn’t really about safety for them, it is more about power and controlling anyone that they can. See why I scream, ‘stop keeping me safe’? The safety they imposed did nothing to aid me and a lot to harm me.

Back at the Isle of Man, they set off down Bray Hill. It is lined with stone walls either side and the crazy charge down the drop on cold tyres that have limited grip. If they hit a bump before the dip at the bottom and a kink going up to the right, they’ll have almost none of it under proper control. People do this by choice. We should celebrate that.

The crazy, unsighted charge into Ballagarey, where they lift before the turn then are back on it through the turn on a two-lane road with a stone wall on top of the gutter on the outside of the turn. We should celebrate that.

The riders call it Balla Scarey, but go in as close as they can to maximum speed because that corner is vital to their lap time. The pub at Creg Ny Baa faces up a straight, perched on top of the mountain. Bikes charge towards it at more than 300km/h and any slip means they will go straight through the lot, including the crowd on the front porch drinking their beers and watching the racing. We should celebrate that.

It is a last taste of freedom without the suffocating grasp of those that dread life and are fearful that we might live it. That is the difference between people, some are afraid of dying and a few brave remaining souls are afraid of not living it.

The Isle of Man is for those that wish to live and are prepared to die doing it. It is the most important thing in the world because it gives people the right to make that choice. Make any choice you like, but allow everyone else to make their own choice too.

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