Two-year-old Thomas Radcliffe is getting frustrated. He can’t climb over the garden wall. Tom is pint-sized – maybe 2.5ft tall and a few inches longer when he stretches up his arms to reach with the tips of his fingers to the top of the wall, in a furious, though fruitless attempt to haul himself up. He’s annoyed because big sister, Lizzie, four, also dressed in an ‘Isle of Man TT’ T-shirt is big enough to see over the wall, even sit on it if she wants to.
The same goes for Benjamin Willis, three-and-a half, a fact which only adds to young Tom’s agitation. He’s not alone, however. Holly Willis, just 15 months, also found the wall too tough an obstacle and is now sleeping off her earlier exertions in a MacLaren baby buggy, infant-oblivious to any disturbance.
The reason Thomas is getting fractious is that he knows something exciting is happening on the other side of the wall, something his mum, Kellie, and her friend Pam (mum to Benjamin and Holly) can see in plain view. He knows he’s missing out. He can hear the sound and the fury howling down the road from miles away.
Their garden nudges up against Quarry Bends, one of the fastest and most thrilling stretches of this fabled road racing course.
His mum bundles him up, and there, wailing from soprano to baritone as it slashes by in a retina-scorching orange blur, is a TT sidecar, separated from them by no more than six feet, its slick-tired left wheel skimming the pavement edge. It is travelling at 170mph. One-hundred-and-seventy-miles-per-hour.
Viewed from one corner of the garden, this is a peaceful scene of rural domestic content: kids chasing and tumbling on the grass; garden chairs; two breathless mums trying to keep their offspring in check; kiddie snacks on the table. But shift your gaze and question your eyes. Are the young ’uns really hanging over the modest brick wall close enough, almost, to touch the 1,000cc Honda Fireblade of eventual Senior TT winner John McGuinness that’s flashing by on the A3, the Ballaugh to Sulby road on their doorstep?
Yes they are. Their garden nudges up against Quarry Bends, one of the fastest and most thrilling stretches of this fabled road racing course. The fans love it here, watching, rapt, like meerkats. Competitors adore it even more, low-flying missiles sweeping through, throttles wide, wide open all the way from Ballaugh Bridge, a mile or so back down the road.
Check out the August issue of Red Bulletin magazine for more of the article. To see it all, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.