Each summer, the tranquil island in the Irish Sea becomes the home of one of the most exciting road races in the world, as Richard Holt reports.

The Isle of Man is a self-governed tax haven sitting midway between Belfast and Blackpool. For most of the year, it is a sleepy, picturesque island where children are entertained by tales of Celtic folklore. But for two weeks at the end of May and the beginning of June, motorcycle mayhem is unleashed. The Isle of Man is a self-governed tax haven sitting midway between Belfast and Blackpool.

For most of the year, it is a sleepy, picturesque island where children are entertained by tales of Celtic folklore. But for two weeks at the end of May and the beginning of June, motorcycle mayhem is unleashed. The first Tourist Trophy race took place in 1907 around a 15-mile course on the island's public roads.

In 1911, it was expanded to the Snaefell Mountain Course, which is just under 38 miles long. The first long-course race was won at an average speed of just under 48mph. The current lap record is held by TT legend John McGuinness, travelling at an average of 132.7mph. McGuinness is the unmistakable star of the TT, who, as well as holding that lap record, has 23 wins to his credit, fast closing in on the late Joey Dunlop, who won 26.