CRUISING WITH TOM
Jenny Tinmouth is a pioneer for women in Motorsport, and has serious history with the Isle of Man TT Races. From record-breaking speeds at the TT, to being chased by Tom Cruise in the Atlas Mountains, she has had an incredible career in motorsport. We catch up with Jenny to learn how it all came to be...
I join Jenny Tinmouth at a rather soggy but picturesque mountain bike centre on the edge of Wales. Accompanied by her dog, aptly named Sprocket, she often trains on her bike, never straying far from two wheels. Rather naively, I decide to join her for a loop of the muddy tracks and forest ascents, a decision I almost immediately regret. Tinmouth is incredibly fit, casually chatting to me as we wind our way up the welsh hillside.
Part of her regular routine, Tinmouth tries to get out on her mountain bike or even trials bike most weeks. ‘Downhill sections are good for concentration, it gets your cardiovascular and legs going’ she tells me, explaining why getting out on her bike is so important. ‘You’re on two wheels and you’ve got to concentrate on the lines so it’s good for everything. And it’s fun! That’s a very important part.’
Jenny rarely strays far from acitivities on two wheels
Tinmouth has been a part of the TT’s media team since 2022, providing insight from her own experiences and technical knowledge of competing there. It was a role she relished and easily stepped up to. ‘I’ve always loved the TT, I’ve been back there every year’ she says smiling. ‘I’ve always wanted a role [there], I would have happily done any job.’
Tinmouth last raced at the TT in 2010 and though she loves to come back as a spectator she’s never felt that itch to comeback and compete. ‘I was so pleased that I was able to go and race [at the TT]. I was like – right I’ve ticked that box’ she says beaming. However, she admits it was a hard task to fit in between her career in British Superbikes, at the time, as well as co-running a motorcycle workshop. ‘When I went in 2009 it nearly folded the business, we basically had a month off’ she admits. ‘It was hard, to do a big international road race and try and do superbikes’.
Although Tinmouth only competed in 2009 and 2010, it was all the time she needed to prove herself in the world of road racing. In her debut year she broke the record for the fastest average lap speed set by a woman at 116.835 mph, whilst riding in the Senior TT. The following year she pushed past that record by an extra 3 mph, with 119.945 mph, again in the Senior TT, a record that is still stands to this day, 13 years later. She came, she saw, she smashed it.
With these record-breaking stats fresh in my mind, I ask her how it feels to be a role model, particularly for women and young girls in motorsport. Tinmouth was also the first woman to race in British Superbikes. ‘It wasn’t on my mind at all, I just wanted to race’, she says openly. ‘It was a by-product; I didn’t aim for that in any way, shape or form’.
I get the feeling that all the glory and status of being an ambassador for women in racing is simply an added extra. As lovely as it is to be, and I’m sure she’d cringe at the description, a trailblazer for women in motorsport, she simply wanted to race. ‘I do think it’s cool. I think it’s important for girls to see a girl doing well because then they go “if she can do it then I can do it” but I never aimed for it, I never wanted to put that label on myself. I just really wanted to race’.
Tinmouth is possibly one of nicest and most chilled personalities from the world of racing that I have ever had the pleasure of chatting to. She is clearly a very determined character, that shows throughout her career but normally, I find that riders either talk with a no-nonsense, pragmatic attitude, which is fine if a little intimidating at times. Tinmouth never exudes any sense of ego, throughout the interview we regularly veer off subject. Sometimes, I forget what she’s achieved, it’s like casually bumping into a mate down the pub. Perhaps that’s why she’s so perfect for commentating at the TT.
In recent years Tinmouth has added stunt riding to her CV, working alongside Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Tom Cruise in the blockbuster Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. One scene in particular sees her doubling as a fleeing character, onboard a BMW S1000RR, weaving her way round twisting roads in North Africa, being chased by none other than Tom Cruise. Which sounds like the dream job but how on earth did she come by it?
‘Through the Isle of Man TT really, because of the style of riding that they needed for the film’, she says matter of factly. ‘It was in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco so it was a very similar mountain road. It was great fun, but a little bit sketchy. It was dusty and sandy, so it was slippery, and there were steep drops. If you were off – you were off!’
And how was it, riding with Tom Cruise, himself a well-known biker and petrol head? ‘He’s a proper adrenaline junkie isn’t he!? He loves bikes which is great’, exclaims Tinmouth. ‘We did some training together here in the UK, just to rehearse. Tom very much likes the stunts to be authentic and not CGI, so everything you see is a proper stunt, which I think is better’.
Halfway through our ride I stop to take some photos of Tinmouth, and give myself a much-needed chance to recover. There’s a downhill drop off, over some slippery looking rocks that lead into the woods and she offers to jump over it for a good action shot. I happily agree to it and Tinmouth launches down the trail at full tilt, flying over the rocks with ease. She does this another half dozen times, hitting her mark for my camera every time; I quickly see why she makes such a good stunt rider.
It's easy to see why Jenny has been successful in the world of stunt riding.
It’s rather fascinating asking riders where they watch the TT, they see it from a totally different perspective to the average spectator. ‘It sounds like a cliché saying Bray Hill but it’s outstanding’, she says after a moments thought. ‘Especially at the start of the race because you can hear them set, you can hear the build-up on the radio and then finally you hear the bikes screaming before they get to you. The anticipation of that and the speed they go to at the bottom of Bray Hill is just-’ for a moment, Tinmouth struggles to find the words, caught up in the memory of it. ‘The belly pans scrape because you get that compression at the bottom of Bray Hill, you hear that noise and you’re like- (she takes a deep breath to emphasise its wow factor). It is scarier watching than it is riding, I reckon. You appreciate how fast it is when you’re stationary!’
Post ride, we roll back to a nearby café for a much-needed bite to eat and a chance for my leg muscles to regain some feeling. I take this opportunity to ask Tinmouth what appeals to her so much about the TT? “I just love it. I like everyone that works at the TT because they’re all passionate about the sport, like Milky Quayle, for example. To be involved is great” she beams. She played an invaluable role again this year on Radio TT and the TT Team look forward to seeing her back in the paddock at TT 2024.
We caught up with Jenny more recently on The TT Podcast. Get to know more about her and what she's done recently over on TT+.