Well, it’s a lot to pack into a couple of discs, isn’t it? Which is why these two run over four hours, with the lion’s share of that packed onto Disc 1 and divided into eight chapters, from “The Pioneers, 1907-1914,” to “The 120-mph Years, 1990-2006.” Cameras were there from the start, and if you like old black-and-white footage and photos, you’ll love the early years. Back in 1920, after a few years off for WWI, film equipment had gotten much better, and it’s a seriously happy bunch of survivors at The Island. Modern helmets have done a lot for safety, but they don’t do anything for conveying facial expressions and personalities as the racers grab a smoke and mug the camera after pulling in from a lap in an era when racing was more fun than business.
Stanley Woods, who died in 1993, has the most dialogue in the first parts of the video: “I decided I would write to all the manufacturers and ask them for a machine…. Cotton fell for it.” And it’s interesting to chart the changes as Woods emigrates over the years to Norton, Husqvarna, Moto Guzzi, then Velocette.
In 1939, there are three German factory teams—NSU, DKW and BMW—and then it’s another prolonged timeout for WWII, then back to the ’50s and the rise of Geoff Duke, MV Agusta, Gilera and Norton again. Now, we have a lot more color footage. Bob McIntyre turns the first 100-mph lap in ’57. Two years later, Honda makes its first appearance, and shortly thereafter, Mike Hailwood enters the picture and begins battling Gary Hocking, Giacomo Agostini and then Phil Read as Yamaha chimes in with its two-strokes. Everybody’s heard of Hailwood’s great ’78 comeback win on a Ducati; here it is on film. Yes, there’s plenty of Joey Dunlop. Also a young Carl Fogarty, Steve Hislop—basically everybody who ever was somebody at The Island.
How many old bikes can you watch go ’round Governor’s Bridge? Quite a few, as it turns out; it really does give a sense of history as the road and rock walls stay the same while the trees and crowds grow bigger and greener, and the racers go past faster and faster.
Disc 2 is a throwaway highlight reel covering 2007-2010 that Duke must’ve put together just because it could, but it does include John McGuinness’ 130-mph lap. Disc 1 is a serious keeper, though.
In the words of Ago regarding the mountain course, “It’s not so good for life, but it is the most pleasure you can have with a motorbike.”
P.O. Box 46
Douglas, Isle of Man IM99 1DD
• A lot of video for the money
• Bonus soundtracks!
• Gain awesome historical perspective
• Disc 2 seems a bit thrown together
• You’ll need a lot of popcorn…
• …which you’ll be tempted to cook up in Castrol R