That Near-Death Thing, by Rick Broadbent


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The Independent Culture

Critics of the Isle of Man TT races might argue this book should be entitled That Actual-Death Thing. Since the first fatality in 1911, more than 230 riders have been killed in racing or practice, and thousands have suffered serious injury.

Rick Broadbent tries to answer the question "Why do they do it?" by looking through the eyes of four competititors: John McGuinness, a 40-year-old from Fleetwood who lies second only to legendary Northern Irishman Joey Dunlop with 19 wins; Joey's nephew Michael, 24, with a kamikaze style and a contempt for the media circus; Conor Cummins, a young local who broke his back in five places, an arm in four, plus fracturing his pelvis and much more besides in a crash; and Guy Martin, a truck mechanic, TV personality and hero of the crowds but without a TT win to back up the hype.

Broadbent skilfully weaves in the history of TT racing as this quartet of riders lap the 37.75-mile course with its 264 corners at scarcely believable speeds; McGuinness holds the lap record at 131.578mph.

For all but a select few TT riders, there is only a fraction of the money and glamour on offer in MotoGP or Superbikes, but for many the challenge seems addictive. As is this book; by the end you might not share these men's passion, but you begin to understand, even admire it.

Published in hardback by Orion, £16.99