The People

Isle of Man TT – The Photographic History
Bill Snelling and Michael Scott

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This handsome hardback aims to captures the spirit, excitement and danger of the world’s most famous motorcycle road race series. We asked Bill Nelson to read it and he went quite quiet (for a while)…

Let’s start at the beginning, with the foreword by John McGuinness, capturing what the TT means for him. ‘You have to be professional, committed and dedicated otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do it. You will never succeed if you don’t approach it that way.’

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Those words equally describe the immensely successful and dedicated efforts of Bill Snelling and Michael Scott in producing this book. Michael Scott’s name is the one you will recognise, if you’ve been reading probably the best-informed reports on motorcycle GP races over the last 30 years; he knows his stuff. Bill Snelling is also assuredly known to you, even if you don’t immediately recognise his name. It is 100% certain that you, like me, have seen, studied, delighted in photographs from his vast historical archive of photographs from the TT and the Manx GP. This book is his latest collection of photographs on the Isle of Man theme.

It is my unswerving opinion that this collaboration has produced Bill’s best book to date.

The Book

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This is a large format book, 11” x 9½”, or some metric equivalent, but it most definitely is not an idle coffee table decoration. It is a beautifully bound hardback with an exquisite dust cover, leading to almost 180 pages of high quality paper. The bar is set very high before we even begin. I’ve already mentioned the foreword by John McGuinness. Read that then you will be drawn into the introduction by Bill Snelling, laying out his credentials. Turn the page and Michael Scott’s skill as a wordsmith builds the excitement. Already your eyes have been captivated by five outstandingly reproduced photographs. Be warned, there are about 150 more, with elegantly crafted explanatory texts. This is a proper bike book!

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TT Specials on Now…

The Contents

As befits an historical reference of this quality, the contents are arranged in approximately chronological order, conveniently grouped primarily in decades from the 1960s onwards. ‘Before the Wars’ and ‘Post War and the 1950s’, each have their own dedicated section. At the back of the book is a clear and simple record of TT results through the ages.

Open this book at any page and you’ll not be disappointed. I guarantee you will linger awhile over the words that set the context and explain the stunning pictures before your eyes. A masterful selection of colour and monochrome photographs of very high quality take you back to the days of dirt roads and through to today’s ultra-fast racing through villages and over The Mountain.

Consistently throughout this book the underlying theme is the people; the islanders who generously host the races, the spectators, the teams, most especially the riders. The spirit of those riders and their harmony with their bikes is so successfully shared through the pages that it is difficult to put down this gem, until another hour has slipped away. It really is that good. My copy has not yet reached my bookshelf, nor does it look like it will, at any time in the near future.

A friend made the mistake of trying to look at this book with me. It would be easier to snatch a bone from a rabid Rottweiler. He then asked if I had a favourite photograph. Without hesitation, I turned to page 89 and the Sports Motorcycles Ducati team, just before the 1978 Formula One TT.

Whatever your interest in motorcycles you really must treat yourself to the tsunami of wonder, delight, pleasure that will stir your soul, from the day you get your hands on your own copy.

Do it now, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

RC reviewer: Bill Nelson


Isle of Man TT, The Photographic History by Bill Snelling and Michael Scott is published by Carlton Books, ISBN 978-1-78097-634-1. RRP £20;

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