The Isle of Man is home to what, arguably, is the most insane motorcycle race in the world. Each year, riders from around the globe converge on the tiny island, located directly between England and Ireland, to contest for top honors in the Isle of Man TT. Unlike motorcycle races in the rest of the world, the Isle of Man TT is held on closed village roads, with little thought to safety other than the occasional hay bales. Crash hard, and there’s a good chance of serious injury or death, as the island has see 231 rider fatalities since 1907.
Despite the risk, there’s no shortage of riders willing to give it a go, and the current motorcycle lap record stands at 17 minutes and 23 seconds to cover the 37.8 mile course. That’s an average speed of 131 miles per hour, a feat no four-wheeled conveyance has ever come close to matching. For over 20 years, the automobile lap record, set in 1990 by a Rover 827 Vitesse, stood at 21 minutes, at an average of 100 miles per hour. Subaru has just reset the benchmark, but most impressive of all is that they did so in a nearly-stock WRX STI.
For safety, the car received a roll cage, a six point harness and an onboard fire suppression system. The exhaust was swapped out for what Subaru bills as a “high- decibel exhaust” to “forewarn spectators of the oncoming car.” Doppler effect and the laws of physics aside, Subaru also adjusted the springs and dampers for the record attempt. From a flying start, the STI lapped the 37.8 mile course in 19 minutes and 56.7 seconds, at an average speed of 113 miles per hour. Top speed during the record run was an impressive 162 miles per hour.
Driver (and former British Rally Champion) Mark Higgins called the run, “the most exhilarating and the most frightening thing I have ever done,” and that speaks volumes about how puckering the record attempt really was. When a former rally champion tells you he’s about to lose bladder control, you know things are serious.