Streeterville ScramblersThat Chicagoland Motorcycle Club

The Lady in White

December 8, 2015
The TT at the Isle of Man is considered the most amazing road race in the world.  In 1999, for a brief moment, I became an integral part of the TT racing community.
The Ballaugh Bridge is the site of a hump-backed bridge where TT racers can't help but launch their bikes in the air when they ride over it.  I thought this would be a great vantage point to watch the Junior TT race.  Unfortunately, there were so many people there, it would be impossible see anything.
Arial View

Arial View near Gwen's house

So I figured I could sneak between a couple of houses down the road a little way and get a better vantage point.  By the time I was able to reach the road, I was 1/4 mile down the course, and you couldn't see the bridge.  I admitted defeat, but realized they would be screaming by at full speed.  There was no one there except an old guy and two old women, so seeing the action from here would not present a problem.
That's when the adventure began.  I started talking to the old man, and found out that he was part of the pit crew for the Jim Moodie Castrol Honda race team.  He asked me if I would help him, and I said that I'd be happy to.
We had to listen to the radio and as they announced the position and times of the racers, we would need to listen for Moodie’s info and put that on the pit board so Jim could see it as he screamed by. My new friend said we'd only have about 10 seconds from the time we heard the announcement on the radio, till he rode by.  He wasn't kidding, no sooner did we get the numbers on the board and put it out, he was THERE.
Pit Board
On the first lap, we had to put this on the board:
#5
3
1
Which meant: Jim Moodie #5, leading by 3 seconds, in 1st Place!
Jim would go on to win his seventh TT despite losing his clutch at the end of the first lap, and getting petrol in his face at the refueling stop.  This caused him to blink out one of his contact lenses at the beginning of the third lap, yet despite these handicaps, he still won the 4 lap race!
And so the race ends with Jim Moodie winning the Junior TT.  You may think this is the end of my story. But this is where it really gets interesting.
The two ladies that were there with the two of us were TT marshals.  They, like hundreds of other volunteers watch a section of the race track and have radios and flags in case of an accident.
One of these marshals was Gwen Crellin MBE.  After the race, she asked if the two of us manning the pit board would like to go over to her cottage (called Coan Buigh) across the street for some "tea and crumpets".  We accepted her gracious invitation.  And then, that's when I found out who Gwen was.
For 46 years Gwen has marshaled for the TT and MGP. She is as much a TT landmark as Ballaugh Bridge or Creg-Ny-Baa.  All riders know and wave to Gwen as they motor by.
Gwen Crellin

Gwen Crellin MBE “The Lady in White”

When we enter her "Den", everywhere you look there are racing photos, newspaper cuttings, and all forms of TT memorabilia.  We talked as she served us tea & crumpets. You are instantly aware that Gwen knows every rider who ever rode the TT; from Ago to McGuiness.
Gwen's name is known throughout the TT racing fraternity, by both old and new, and she is deeply respected and always will be for her magnificent contributions.
Meeting Gwen was a once in a lifetime experience.  Unfortunately she passed on in late 2006.
I got to meet "The Lady in White", a bubbly and caring personality, all because I wanted to get a better vantage point of Ballaugh Bridge.
This is one reason the Isle of Man is dear to my heart and such a magical place for me.
David J Young

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