Book review: 'Isle of Man TT: A Photographic History'

Author: Ian Kerr MBE Posted: 16 Mar 2015

Front cover shows McGuinness tipping into Creg-ny-Baa

Isle of Man TT: A Photographic History

The Isle of Man TT is totally unique, it is an event that polarises opinions and is always in the headlines, sometimes for the wrong reasons. It is as a result the most talked about motorcycle road race in the world and arguably the most talked about motorcycle event ever thanks to the challenges it presents to man and machine!

Ever since 1907 when the first riders were flagged away in the inaugural event, it has been in the headlines, especially since the 37.75 mile mountain circuit came into being in 1911. It has become a feature on every motorcyclist’s ‘bucket list’ as an event to visit and watch riders hurtle around the Snaefell Mountain Course, displaying amazing levels of skill as they negotiate over 200 bends and corners at speeds that would have a police radar gun go into meltdown.

Then having watched the professionals the opportunity to ride the same course is just too much a draw to ignore for the tens of thousands of fans who regularly attend the annual festival.

It is an event that gets into your blood and never leaves and has made some riders household names as a result of achieving success at the Isle of Man TT races.

The names of the great TT champions such as Joey Dunlop, Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini and now John McGuiness are part of everyday language as are some of the bikes they rode like the Honda 6, the Italian MV’s and Guzzi’s to mention just a few iconic machines.

With over 100 years of racing to be covered, books on the subject sometimes struggle to even scratch the surface as there are so many great races and characters, not to mention bikes that make up the history. However, working on the premise that “every picture tells a story” comes an exceptional new book from Carlton Books.

Over 100 images from FoTTofinder and Bikesport Photo ArchiveWhat makes it stand out is the quality of over 100 amazing images that come from the FoTTofinder Bikesport Photo Archives based on the Isle of Man itself. Over 175 pages, the images tell the story with the aid of specially extended captions written by Bill Snelling who runs the archive.

Veteran racing journalist Michael Scott lays out the highlights each of the seven chapters covering various periods and the book ends with a results and records section. The forward is written by none other than John McGuiness who in recent years has made the event his own, becoming a TT legend with his tally of wins and many records.

Thanks to the carefully chosen images, many not seen before, the book will be of interest to those with just a casual interest in motorcycling as well as hardened fans. It is a superb ‘coffee’ table book as well as being an historical work.

Guy Martin on the Tyco SuzukiBill Snelling is an acknowledged ‘walking encyclopedia’ on the subject and this comes across in this well produced collaboration which brilliantly captures the spirit, excitement and danger of one of the oldest and most revered events in world motorsport.

Even if your bookshelf is bowing under the weight of other TT books this is a must to join thanks to unique images and insightful text. Despite the high quality of this hardback, it has a cover price of just £20.00 and is worth every penny and will be available in all good bookshops from the beginning of April or direct from Carlton Books ( 

ISBN: 9781780976341