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A motorsports haven and heaven
Isle of Man
Member Name: BizzyB
Isle of Man
Date: 23/07/00, updated on 23/07/00 (245 review reads)
Advantages: Close to home, unique motorsports events, beautiful scenery
Disadvantages: Parts of Douglas looking run down, can get very busy at popular events like the TT
The Isle of Man is famed as a motor sports haven most notably for the TT bike races held each year. However the TT is just on of many motor sports events the isle holds, there are many more car and bike races based here including national bike races, the national and international car rallies, and karting events. I'm basing much of this opinion on my last visit to the Manx International Rally though the majority of points can be applied to attending any of the other events.
My first piece of advice would be to visit the following websites: www.gov.im the official Isle of Man government site, and www.iomtt.com the TT Races website. The government site is well laid out and easy to navigate and contains every piece of information you'd require. Of particular use to the visitor is their accommodation search which allows you to enter preferences including price, grading, special requirements and time of year. They have a comprehensive links section for travelling to the Isle and full events calendar of motor races and other festivals. There are useful background pages including the history of the Isle and popular tourist attractions. The TT pages whilst specifically aimed at TT competitors and spectators are useful for all visitors to the IOM, having links to travel services and accommodation; of particular use is their bulletin board where people regularly list accommodation available or wanted, a very handy place to ask for hints and tips from regular visitors. The TT site has a full list of previous winners, competitor contact details and future event listings. Armed with these two sites it's hard to imagine there's much left to say but here's a few hints and tips I've picked up along the way.
Travel - to get to the Isle of Man you have the choice of going by air or sea. By air, there are many flights from UK regional airports, though if travelling to an event it may be wise to make sure you book in advance as the
se can get busy and if you intend to hire a vehicle at the other end you want to have this sorted in advance too. The majority of visitors go by sea so they can take their own vehicles, I wouldn't considering visiting without the use of your own transport whether your own car or hired. By sea there are two main choices - the Sea Cat or Ferry. The Sea Cat is by far the quicker of the two but is more likely to be delayed if the weather is rough. Once again, best to book in advance and get to the port in good time as these will be busy if travelling to an event. However, if travel to an event you'll find lots of other like minded people on board to get you in the spirit!
Accommodation - the IOM has accommodation for all budgets and needs from camping to five-star hotels. Many people choose to be based in Douglas or Peel, these are good choices if you're travelling with a family with members who don't want to watch the racing everyday, if based in either of these towns they'll find plenty to keep them occupied as you must remember the racing takes place on closed public roads so it can be difficult to get about the Isle. Last time I visited I hadn't been for many years and must admit when I first stepped off the ferry I was somewhat disheartened. In the past Douglas had been a thriving town and the promenade was a stretch of cared for hotels and guest houses. Now many of the guest houses and hotels are closed down at the extremities of the promenade. I got the feeling that the IOM has maybe lost much of its tourist appeal since I was a child as package and foreign holidays have become more popular and I felt that the motor racing events are somewhat of a lifeline. Despite the disruption events cause I found the locals I met in favour of them and, very friendly and helpful to spectators. It is a shame people don't visit the Isle more, especially with children as it is a magical place close to home. The Isle is small and e
asy to navigate so is ideal to travel around with children, there's the fairy bridge, a giant lives under Peel castle and the cats have no tails - the sort of thing children's' imagination thrive on!
Attending events - my number one tip is buy an Ordinance Survey map of the island, especially if attending the rally. Next buy the programme - these can be ordered in advance which is a great idea as you can plan your routes ahead of time. Watching the rally you can easily think you're taking part as the best way is to mark all the stages from the programme onto your map. This will then show you which roads will be closed to form stages and at what times. You can drive up on adjacent roads, park up and watch the stage - the closed roads are well marked off by marshals - at first it can be quite daunting as you think you may have wandered onto a stage by mistake! Take care to note if you will be able to leave the stage before all the racers have gone through - for example, you are allowed to drive and park in a stage before it's closed off and the racing begins, notably those on the hilltops, but you'll have to wait till every competitors gone through to get access out. With planning, I found I could set up a route that meant I saw four or five stages a day, enjoy a bar meal, a service stop (watching the cars being worked on between stages) and have a look at the islands attractions each day! I didn't have to pay to watch any of the stages so the only daily expense was petrol (used v.little) and food. Because the island is so small all the stages are close together. For a rally fan this is quite unique as we are usually used to getting to one stage, two if we trek and long distances in between. For the International Rally we found little traffic though for events like the TT expect it to be much busier.
The Isle is well prepared and organised for motorsports events and which are fun to attend as a family, with frien
ds or even on your own. If you don't like motorsports and want to visit the IOM it's best to check if there are any events on the dates you want to visit before booking. I met some people going out on the ferry who had traveled to the isle for a general holiday and were somewhat worried when they heard there's be a rally on, however I met them on the way back too, they'd had a wonderful time, found the locals very helpful when organising how to by-pass the rally and its route, actually watched a stage in the end and enjoyed it very much!
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