ROAD: when death is just a split second far away

Sport is like a book of short stories. Some are stories that make us laugh, cry, pray and dream. Fairy tales that leave us with a happy ending, as it is doing in these very last days the story of Michael Schumacher, or the victory against cancer of  champions such as the Spanish national goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Others, unfortunately, are tragedies with an unexpected tragic ending like that of Marco Pantani or the loss of big football teams as the great Manchester United and the terrific Torino F.C. What unites all these stories, however, is their ability to make their protagonists immortal.

The story that we’re going to tell you today, however, is a story that is consumed almost in another dimension; but that has nothing to envy to those we have described previously.

Away from the media, from piles of money, from international newspapers and television there is a sport that has remained in its primitive stage and that is consumed on the streets of Ireland.

This exciting as terribly dangerous sport is the Motorcycle Road Races.

The TT Trophy, consumed on the streets of the Isle of Man is the most magic and dangerous one and also this year, as almost every year, it made 4 victims in just one week.

A sport where as the Dunlop brothers say “death is just a split second far away” … some, in country as Italy where this sport was cancelled in the 70′ call them crazy, everyone here call them heroes .

And the fear? “It disappears when you get on the bike and you’re focused on the present, you know that the future does not exist … how can you be afraid of something that does not exist?”  

This told me Michael Dunlop, the new TT Champion 2014 at the Empire in Leicester Square where I had the honor to interview not only Michael, but also his brother William Dunlop and another great racer as John McGuinness.

The occasion? The Gala Screening of Road: a heartbreaking documentary about the Dunlop family directed and produced by Mike Hewitt and Dermot Lavery and narrated by the great actor Liam Neeson.

A deeply moving story about  two generations of brothers from one family united by success and by loss.

The loss of a brother, an uncle, a father … maybe until a few days ago, I would have called them crazy too; but listen to them talk, watch them try to convey a passion so deep that it can not be conveyed by words gave me a new point of view that just by watching the races on television I could never find.

On an Italian blog has been established a strong discussion on this dilemma: heroes or fools? I found it the same evening that strongly moved by the heartbreaking beauty of Road I left the cinema and I felt the need to know everything that was possible about this sport. And one quote really made me think: why we call heroes boys who, without obligation, going to be killed in a war that is not their own but crazy guys who die in a motorcycle racing?

I believe people (fan or ignorant in the field of road races) can find the answer to every why in Road and in Michael‘s words.

Michael,25, is the youngest of the Dunlop brothers. He won the last TT with terror that his brother William, victim of an accident during the race itself, was dead. He is the more talkative of the two and, in his words, it’s like he already know how he’ll be gone one day; sooner or later we all die, it is better to go in an adrenaline instant than after months in bed devoured by cancer.

William, his brother, is 29 years old. He arrives at the premiere limping because of the accident but already knows that in a few weeks he will be ready to race again.

For the Dunlop brothers  racing is like a drug. So, as it had been for their father Robert and their uncle Joey.

A dangerous drug that has taken away before Joey in a rainy day, against a tree, in a far country for a trivial and simple human error. And which in May 2008 took away their father in the trials of the same race that, despite the ban on race by the courts, saw Michael on the highest place of the podium (William had been blocked by a problem with the bike).

“That day on the bike with Michael, there were thousands of people – tells John McGuinness, who had the good fortune to race alongside both Dunlop’s generations – Sure, I would have liked to win, but I’m sure that deep in the heart, that day, all were cheering for Michael”.

This is the magic of the sport, this and much more is Road (here the trailer)

“This is the story of two generations of one family, united by success, united by loss, united by the road itself”.










One thought on “ROAD: when death is just a split second far away

  1. Pingback: International premiere of Steve McQueen’s Widows to open the 62nd BFI London Film Festival | Drive In Magazine

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