Many people will tell you how sick it is, what we are doing here, how dangerous, and how can we so careless about our lives. Ben: Behind me is the start and finishing straight and the pit lane of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. It is a motorcycle race on the Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish Sea and is considered the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world. Why? Well, take a look at these images. *Music* As you can see, the race takes place on public roads. And that means average speeds of 200km/h through narrow country lanes and small villages. Anyone who has ever seen videos of it will wonder: Why are these riders doing this? Every year riders die here.
Last year there were four. Despite this risk, Julian Trummer, 28, from Austria, will be participating. We are following him during his race week. *Music* This is the paddock. This is where all the teams assemble and we are now trying to find Julian’s team. Julian is doing a meet and greet.
We’ll take over here right away! J: Hey there! B: You are driving here. Are they both your bikes? J: Exactly, those two blue ones. B: Are you the only rider on the team? J: Well, actually, I do have a teammate, but he had a severe accident during one of the first practice rounds. He’s okay. Only some broken vertebrae. B: Only some broken vertebrae… J: The bike was completely burnt up and that looked intense. That was not pretty to look at. B: Okay, we’ve gotten off to a heavy start here. J: Yes… B: What is the goal for this week? J: Hm… to not die. No. Hard to say. A lot could happen, because we’ve had so few training sessions. You can’t experiment, you shouldn’t try to force anything. I’ll be going at a speed much faster than 200km/h –and we are going past the walls of buildings. There is zero tolerance for any kind of playing around. Race Control: Attention, paddock. Attention, paddock. I’ve decided to call this afternoon off. The roads all around the course are very wet, with standing water in most places. Thank you. Control out. B: This announcement has been the case for most of the week. So far, most practice sessions have been cancelled, just because the weather is so bad. This is especially problematic for Julian, because this year, for the first time, he is riding one of the largest machines, and does not yet have much experience with the race course. It is pretty unfortunate that he won’t be able to gain all the experience he needs to participate in the race. Radio: The coast and Douglas disappeared again into the mist, from my vantage point here up… J: This is my dad. My mom. My mom’s partner, a bit of a patchwork family. B: And you are the best friend. It’s your first time? Friend: Right! J: You have to get their reactions. B: Let’s see if we can catch that! Well, as you can see, the weather is amazing, and indeed, it looks like there are practice sessions happening. Julian is taking the chance to walk to the race course once more with his family and take a closer look. We will stay with his family when he goes back to his training. J: Best get up there. I’ve seen this before. B: Man, that is so insanely fast. What is going through your head, before all this? Mother: Hopefully everything will go well. B: That’s the biggest worry, right? But this isn’t the first time you’ve seen this. Do you ever get used to it? Mother: No… Father: The most extreme worries we had in the beginning are fading. But once you are witnessing it live, it all comes back. Yes, pretty intense. But he’ll make it. Ben: It is the first racing day. The weather is great, as you can see. Julian will be in the race today. The question is how he will do, because his opportunities to prepare were not that great.
He was not happy about it. We will see. J: Ah fuck. B: Are you usually the last one down here? J: Yes. I hate it up there. A lot going on there already. The lining up is bad enough. So much noise from the engines warming up, helicopters. It’ll drive you mad. For me, I’ll put on my helmet about 10 or 15 minutes before and the world becomes small. Like, you tell yourself: No more family, no more friends, no more job, no more day to day things. You are focussed on nothing but the bike. And eventually I realize: I’m ready. B: Julian is now changing into his outfit. It is about 20 minutes until the race, and we’re giving him some space. *Music* One minute startline… B: We are now standing at the starting line. From here on we are not allowed to film any more, due to licencing. But Julian will be pulling up to the start and head into the race any minute now. Julian is up next.
Here he goes! *Music* If I am hearing this correctly, they are just announcing on the radio that there is a red flag situation. That would mean the termination of the race. And there are indeed bikers dismounting here in the pit lane. It seems as if something is wrong on the race course, or someone had an accident. Currently there is a lot of uncertainty, because nobody knows what happened, who fell. I’ll head back to the parc fermé, in front of the pit lane. Father: There is always this uncertainty – what happened? To who? Maybe it is just something small. It only takes a dog walking onto the road that they can’t get off again. Something like that. Doesn’t have to be something bad. B: We just heard, the team manager told us that he is assuming there was a major crash. We do know that Julian is fine because he has a phone number with him on his bike to call as soon as there is a red flag and he stops, so that his team knows that he is okay. It has now been confirmed that a rider died in the crash that lead to the race being terminated this morning. A 27-year-old with a wife and a small child.
This is pretty intense. And at the same time racing operations continue as if nothing has happened. Because this is a part of what is normal here.
Pretty hard to grasp, somehow. *Music* B: You did know him? J: Remotely, yes B: Does that change how you feel, knowing how… J: As unfortunate as it is, it doesn’t change anything. Well, it’s not like we… Shocking, yes. But… B: It’s not a surprise.
I was thinking to myself, as we were walking along here: If you are new to all of this, it is pretty shocking news. But here, this is part of it all. We all did, me as well, as we were planning this story– I was aware that this might happen, that this was likely to happen, because it happens every year. This is quite… J: Yes, tragic. But you can see how we… it goes on like normal. It is what it is. You can’t change it. B: You might have guessed it: the weather is too poor for racing today. A good opportunity for us to take a moment and talk a little more in depth with Julian. B: What is it about the TT that fascinates you so much that you are dedicating your life to it, at least currently? J: Many people will tell you how sick it is, what we are doing here, how dangerous, and how can we so careless about our lives. I see things differently. I always say: How many people are there on this planet who have a passion for which they are willing to risk everything? To put their own life on the line? B: And you think it is exactly this risk that makes it worthwhile? J: To me, it really is just the perfection of racing. Absolute perfection. Just, like, you know, just before the start, everything has to be perfect. There is no margin of error. This is very true here.
I’ve had my moments. Missing the racing line by a few centimetres can mean the end. This is what draws me here–to be able able to deliver, to function, to be in control. And all that plus a really good race, where you push yourself, where you feel fast, where you hit your limit, and maybe even take home a good result. The feeling is priceless. As stupid as it sounds, you feel, as they say, invincible. in truth it is probably like a drug. Nothing else. Nothing bad can happen to you… Nothing bad can happen to you… You can get addicted to that, for sure. B: This Friday will be the Senior TT, the highlight of the week, the most important race. What does that mean to you? J: The Senior TT is the biggest race of the week, the last race of the week, the race that everybody will remember. For me, this is a childhood dream come true. That I’ve made it this far. B: After the weather has made racing impossible for several days, today we finally have good conditions and it is racing day. It looks very much like we will start today. Julian is doing a practice round on the big bike–which is pretty important. First, because he has another race today with the big bike. But especially because tomorrow he is in the Senior TT, the most important race of the week. Lucky charm? J: No, dog tag with my blood type, in case I have an accident. B: Really? Does everybody have one? J: Yes, that is the rule. Name and blood type. *Music* B: It is truly absolutely insane how fast they are. *Music* What I find pretty cool is that Julian’s team does not put any pressure on him. Even when he is dissatisfied, they always tell him: “Hey, it’s fine.” They always say that the most important thing is that he returns safely. Julian’s dad definitely seems to be happy with his lap time and speed. I think this was a pretty good round and some good preparation for the Senior TT tomorrow. While Julian is probably going to be relaxing for a bit before the big race tomorrow, the guys here are taking the bike apart, changing the oil. They basically give it a complete overhaul, so that it is back in perfect condition for tomorrow. You’d be dead wrong to think that on the evening before the big race Julian would go home and eat some muesli. It is Guinnes o’clock. B: Here we go! Six laps, two hours of full throttle. The distance they are covering here is completely absurd, if you think about it. 360 kilometers … full throttle … how far is that? From Cologne almost to Stuttgart, is how far you could get. But on country roads, for two hours. Julian is currently in position 23 of 70.
That is pretty decent. Now, after Julian has completed five laps and is racing through his final lap… My feelings are changing from being somewhat worried, is he going to make it? To: hopefully, he will place well. Father: What a great job! Crazy! Awesome! Awesome! Congratulations! Well done! You did well, you did really well! Are you happy? B: I can tell that the race has taken its toll on you. How do you feel, having placed 21st in the Senior TT? J: So good. What with the past two weeks, how little practice we got and the weather conditions. . . The main thing was that it was fun today. Luckily, six laps of racing everybody stayed in their seats, there were no incidents. Lap time was really good. This was a year for learning and next year we will be back and we’ll keep working on making our lap times even faster. B: Julian, thank you for letting us join you. J: Thank you! B: After one week here at the TT, I think I can say that I do understand a bit of what draws people to this event. For the fans, it is motorsport up close. Where else can you get so close to the race track, and just talk to the riders. And for the riders, , it is motorsport in its purest form, a form that basically no longer exists anywhere else. Here they ride close to the limit of what is possible, and sometimes, unfortunately, beyond it. I would not have the guts to do this. But I think this race can teach us that you sometimes have to take risks to achieve your dreams. If you have questions for Julian, take a look in the info box. This is where you’ll find our WhatsApp service, where you can ask your questions, and where we will answer. See you next time!