ISLE OF MAN TT COURSE
Something rather special and single-minded is needed for roads as intimidating as these
AS YOU REACH FOR THE SWITCH AT THE side of the bed and with a ‘click’ plunge your immediate world into darkness, so the scenes start to flicker in your mind. And as your head sinks into the pillow, taking the strain from your neck and relaxing your shoulders, so the sounds begin to play in your ears. There are nearly always two identical cars because, hey, you’re dreaming and somehow it’s cooler with a pair. And the road is always closed. No traffic. No limits.
Initially you see the two shapes, almost perfect wedges in this instance, as if from a helicopter. Already in full flight they are tearing across a bleak looking landscape. Heathery mountain moorland is spread out around. In the distance there is the sea, but although the sun is out the water has a steely blue hue rather than the turquoise of somewhere tropical.
The cars brake, there’s more dive than you had expected to see, the surprisingly lengthy travel and tall sidewalls compressing as the drivers hit their respective middle pedals moments apart but perhaps leaving a little more leeway than expected suggesting unassisted anchors. Then they jink through a sort of chicane made of incongruous low, white walls. As you zoom in for a closer look you see the roll transform into squat as a flare of revs sees both cars slide slightly on the exit, struggling to contain a combined 1200bhp with no help from any electronics.
Now you’re in the driver’s seat of the first car and you begin to understand why your subconscious has chosen this car for this place. Something responsive with a neck-jolting power-to-weight ratio was required, but equally it’s no good running out of puff at 240kmph up here, so you want something capable of big numbers too. With the four point harness clamping your shoulders and waist to the thin seat you feel a part of the car particularly when you go for another gear, your right hand guiding the smooth stubby leaver around a little gate that feels no bigger than a matchbox. This is proper analogue driving and you’re at the centre of the action just like on a bike.
Which is appropriate, because this is Snaefell Mountain, the end of the famous, infamous, Isle of Man TT course. Onto the mountain mile and the white paint on the road is blurring into one continuous stripe like the guiding line in a computer
game. With nothing coming the other way you can commit to each of the three apices of the Veranda, trying to maintain a constant lock with the steering that has become much lighter with speed. This place demands that you feel intimidated and the car is certainly intimidating.
Approaching the wide, cambered Windy corner you suddenly find yourself in the car behind, the shriek of the exhausts in front, mingling with the induction noise of your own cockpit so that the V12’s full repertoire consumes you. Past Kate’s Cottage and then feed in the McLaren F1’s floor-hinged throttle, nose rising as you accelerate downhill towards the Creg. Revs flare momentarily as the road falls away and as you land so you twitch in your sleep and the image fades. Just a dream. ⌧
THIS IS PROPER ANALOGUE DRIVING AND YOU’RE AT THE CENTRE OF THE ACTION, JUST LIKE ON A BIKE