Stanley Woods, top racer and master storyteller.
One of the greatest joys of racing isn’t the racing itself: it’s the absolute characters who ride bikes, jump in cars, and generally fill out the paddock any given race weekend. Hearing racing stories told by a man who lived them is one thing, but when he’s a charming master storyteller, it is such a special treat.
Folks, long before either Joey or Michael Dunlop, before John McGuinness or Dave Molyneux, Ian Hutchinson, Bruce Anstey, or even Mike Hailwood, there was the very first IOMTT racer to rack up an incredible 10 wins next to his name. Stanley Woods was a seemingly unstoppable force in the 1920s and ‘30s, and this documentary offers the absolute joy of getting to hear the man himself tell you what happened.
Born in Dublin in 1903, Woods contested his first-ever IOMTT after convincing manufacturer Cotton to lend him a bike. Woods tells the story of how he talked them into it in this documentary, and it’s the most charming bit of truth-stretching you’re likely to hear today, so you should definitely watch it.
Above all, what this documentary cements about Woods is that he had an absolutely silver tongue, and was the most excellent and intuitive of communicators. As he says later in the film, he wasn’t a particular math or mechanical genius, but he could always get across to his teams what he needed changed about his bikes. Isn’t that at least half the battle right there, if you’re going to be a successful racer?
Although Woods is most remembered for his indomitable road racing prowess, including 10 wins at the IOMTT and multiple European TT wins at the likes of the Ulster, Dutch, Swiss, and other events, he was uncommon in yet another way as well.
While most racers today find a niche and mostly stick to it, it turned out Woods was good at nearly every type of racing he attempted. From trials to ice racing to sand racing, Woods was an incredibly talented competitor who could do it all, and there’s a walk through his trophy room at the beginning of this doc to demonstrate. Take 50 minutes to appreciate Woods, as well as the wonderful person who dug up their old videotapes from early 1990s, digitized them, and threw this absolute gem of a doc up on YouTube.