BACK TO THE ISLAND: BOOTHY’S TT RETURN
Boothy tells us, in his own words, about what’s happened over the last year following his crash at the 2022 TT Races and what it was like to return to the Island.
After jumping off my Supersport bike on the last night of qualifying at TT 2022, the last twelve-and-a-bit-months have been pretty eventful. Suffice to say it was an unplanned dismount and during the consequent hospital stay I was treated for a pair of broken legs, amongst other cuts and bruises. That treatment involved ten or so trips to theatre, one of which was to saw the bottom of my right leg off – they did ask my permission before they got the Black and Decker out!
Thankfully, they managed to fix both smashed femurs, and sort out the snapped tib and fib on the left-hand-side, so about eight weeks after I was flown to hospital, they let me go home with my new prosthetic leg. Since then, I’ve been through quite a few different prosthetics, testing them out to find one that works best for me, and I’ve ended up with quite a trick one; carbon fibre… titanium… you can even adjust the damping settings.
As you can imagine, I needed quite a bit of physio to get back on my feet and to get used to walking with the new leg, which started almost immediately after I left hospital. In my 20-odd years racing motorcycles, I’ve had my fair share of injuries and I’ve learnt first-hand that as soon as you let physiotherapy take a back seat, you stop recovering, so I wanted to give it everything I’ve got. I wanted to get better. Don’t get me wrong, I knew my leg wasn’t going to grow back, but I also knew that I wasn’t ever going to be able to use my leg – or lack thereof – as an excuse. Everyone knows what’s possible when you’re running a prosthetic leg, just look at the Paralympic Games.
Boothy met the man who treated him at the scene of his crash when he returned to the Island for TT 2023
Since the crash, my goal was always to get my life back on track, metaphorically as well as literally. I knew I’d be able to get myself fit enough to get back on a bike, and hoped I’d be able to get myself fit enough to race a bike. It wasn’t long after I started walking unaided that I had a go at riding a bike for the first time. The first bike I rode was a Triumph, which I actually rode to the TT Launch in April. A lot of people asked about what it was like being back on the Isle of Man after such a traumatic accident, and to be honest, it was completely fine. I think that’s partly because I’ve got no memory of the crash, so there’s no lasting trauma as far as that’s concerned. But I also didn’t – and still don’t – hold any kind of grudge towards the Island, or the TT Races. It wasn’t the TT’s fault that I crashed, nor was it the Island’s.
Anyway, as much as I enjoyed riding to the Isle of Man and spinning a few very steady laps, I really did fancy going racing. Before I’d even made it home from that trip, I’d convinced myself I’d be able to.
So, fast-forward a couple of months to July, and I’m sat on the grid at Snetterton on a BMW F 900 R with 39 others round me. After faffing around with different methods of trying to keep my plastic foot in place all weekend, and learning to ride around the issue of only having one leg, I’d qualified 32nd. My aim that weekend was just to qualify, and I did, so anything else that weekend was a bonus; needless to say, when I finished the race in 25th place, I had a big smile on my face.
A few months after that, I took another step forward and finished the BMW F 900 Cup race at Thruxton in 16th.
Naturally, people are keen to know whether or not a return to racing at the TT is on my bucket list, but realistically, it’s not. Racing at the TT was one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege to do, but I feel like I’ve done it now, and there are other things in my life that I’m ready to do now. To be competitive at the TT or any high-level sport for that matter, you’ve got to put your heart and soul into it, and you’ve got to think about it every minute of every day.
Boothy proved very popular behind the mic at TT 2023, both on the radio and co-presenting the Daily Round Up series
As it happens, I enjoyed my return to the TT in 2023 almost as much as I enjoyed racing there. Chatting about bikes with the Manx Radio team, and with Chris Pritchard for the ‘Daily Round Up’ videos might have been a tiny bit stressful at times, but on the whole was a lot easier than racing round the TT Course for six laps at a time! So, if the powers that be invite me back, you’ll definitely see me on the Isle of Man for the TT Races, but it’ll probably be with a microphone in my hand and not on a race bike!
Mike sat down with Chris Pritchard and Steve Plater to talk about his racing, his accident, his recovery, and life in general on The TT Podcast – available on YouTube and your device via every podcast app, or get early access and watch for free on TT+.