The TT Isle of Man motorcycle race is now a “A THING.” It’s interesting to consider how a thing becomes “A THING.” The Kentucky Derby was once a horse race. Now it’s an event that transcends the reason it exists. The Super Bowl is only vaguely about football. Then again, the NFL doesn’t have much to do with football the rest of the season, either.
So it’s 1968, and a bunch of guys dressed like Emma Peel push their bikes across the starting line and go bombing around the Isle of Man. It looks like a blast. There’s not a lot of separation between the riders and the crews and the onlookers. It’s a picnic with race in the middle of it. Now it’s an international happening. How’d that happen?
General Eisenhower won World War II, if any one person did. He had a policy. All proposals that hit his desk had to fit on a single foolscap page. His detractors said it was because he was dumb. Yes, a man that can overawe, or at least handle, Charles DeGaulle, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin is a lightweight. The true reason for this policy is understood by any chief executive worth the title. Anything that won’t fit on one page is full of embellishment, and embellishment is an attempt to distract the reader from the central idea, which should be able to stand on its own. Someone has to write down, “I think we should attempt an amphibious landing on the French coastline from ports in Great Britain.” The idea has to stand on its own. The reader, who is in authority, has to decide whether to tell the writer he’s daft, or return it with the word, “How?” on the front.
Someone had to say, “We should race motorcycles through the streets of the Isle of Man.” They also suggested that we mispronounce Yamaha, and listen to vibraphone music while we do it.