Directed by David Wood
(1983) 50 minutes
by Kevin Kocur
Let’s face it: most of us dread winter. I try to ride as much as possible, but sometimes the weather is so crappy that you just need to resort to a video or DVD from the vault. Occasionally, I’ll stumble across something that I’d forgotten I still had. Such is the case for this month’s review. Upon popping the videotape of “V Four Victory” into my trusty VHS player, I forgot about the howling winds and single-digit temps outside, and was immediately whisked around the 37.7-mile course that makes up the Isle Of Man Tourist Trophy.
The year is 1983. An Irish rider by the name of Joey Dunlop is riding for Team Honda. The film opens with Dunlop on the podium after winning the Isle of Man TT. Dunlop earned five consecutive Formula One titles and 26 career TT wins. We then cut to Joey being interviewed (in his almost incomprehensible Irish accent) with the HRC race bikes in the background.
Sporting his trademark yellow helmet, Joey hops aboard an RS-500 two stroke for a practice lap. Joey and Honda teammate, Roger Marshall, are running the 500s in addition to their Formula One bikes. Listening to the crackling exhaust and seeing the blue 2-stoke exhaust plumes, I can almost smell the castor oil.
One memorable scene takes place in the village of Kirk Michael. A boy sits on a simple wooden chair, his father standing behind him, as bikes blast past only a couple of feet away at over 100 miles per hour. Outstanding. The gas stops are also great fun to watch. The professional crews make them look effortless.
Joey talks about the V4’s debut at the Ulster GP. The practice laps go well, but before the big race a huge rainstorm hits. The camera focuses in on Joey’s number 3 Honda; only the front wheel is missing and has been replaced by a pair of rain galoshes, and an umbrella has sprung up above the windscreen. The narrator gleefully exclaims, “Using Japanese technology and Irish resources, the crew has prepared Dunlop’s Honda for the rain.”
After the race finally begins, Joey finishes the first lap 11 seconds ahead of the second-place bike. It’s no surprise that he wins Ulster. He celebrates by firing up a heater and taking a healthy swig out of a bottle. Ah, sweet victory.
The best part of the film comes at the end. Joey is asked what it’s like to race on the Isle of Man. What comes next is nothing short of awesome. A 16mm film camera is mounted on top of the fuel tank (lens looking through the windscreen) and as Dunlop laps the mountain course, we are treated to white-knuckle curves, 180 mph straight-aways, and the bellowing V-4 overture playing in the background. The whole experience is voiced over by Joey as he explains different parts of the course. If you’re like me, you’ll rewind this part and play it over and over.