For more than a century the Isle of Man TT scoreboard has witnessed some of the most thrilling moments on two wheels including, in recent years, John McGuinness’ 130mph lap speed record in the Centenary TT (2007) and Peter Hickman’s 2018 Senior TT victory with the first 135mph lap.
But it’s not just its age that makes the scoreboard remarkable - it’s the fact that, despite living in a digital era, the scoreboard is still operated by hand. On race days it is operated by 70 Isle of Man Scouts, making it the oldest manually operated scoreboard of its kind in the world.
Each rider has a column dedicated to them with their number on. There is a paper tear off to indicate which lap the rider is on (with ‘R’ for retired). Above this is a clock face with four letters that correspond to the section of the course that the rider is on at that moment: Grandstand, Glen Helen, Ramsey Hairpin and Bungalow. Above that is a light which comes on when a rider passes Cronk ny Mona, indicating that they are due in within a minute.
The most idiosyncratic feature aspect is the slates on which lap times are written. This involves a team of decorators sat along a huge table painting the lap times onto the slates and handing them to the scouts for display on the scoreboard.
This year the scoreboard will be 109 years old, however, it could soon be replaced with modern technology. As significant works need to be done to preserve the old scoreboard, the Manx government has run a public consultation outlining possible options including mobile digital screens. The consultation finished at end the end of January 2020, so results are expected soon.
Although up-to-the-second race information is available on radio and online, I think it would be a shame to lose such an historic and charming way of communicating information about the TT Races.