You may be wondering, what exactly is the Southern 100? How does it work and what does the event involve? Don’t fear, we got together with Southern 100 expert Chris Palmer to talk all things mass-start road race and answer your FAQs.

Southern 100 Racing

What can somebody expect to experience when attending the Southern 100?

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 is one of the most exciting and fast mass-start road races on the planet! You have full access to the paddock, with no charge, where you can see and talk to all the riders. There are numerous vantage points around the course, offering spectators a perfect place to perch to watch the action and excitement unfold. There’s also lots of grandstand seating options.

How long has the Southern 100 been going for and are there any major differences in what the event is like today vs historically?

The event started in 1955, so will be celebrating 70 years in 2025. On top of the obvious changes to the machinery, there have been a number of other changes to the format of the Southern 100 Road Races. In 1955 there was just three races, this year we have 14 scheduled races! Since the first race on Thursday 14th July 1955, the 350cc won by Derek Ennett, a total of 604 races have taken place at the Billown Course, including 145 Sidecar races, with 108,749 racing laps completed, a racing distance of 461,911.520 miles at the end of the 2022 meeting.

What involvement do you have in the Southern 100?

I am rider liaison officer and course inspection officer. I look after all the solo newcomers, giving them a guided lap and catching up with them all after practice. I’ll even take them to do more laps if necessary! If a rider has any problems or issues, I will try my best to resolve it for them or guide them to the correct person. For my Course Inspection Officer role, I inspect the course on behalf of the race organisers, ACUE, and organise any tarmacking repairs with the Department of Infrastructure.

Southern 100 Racing
What, in your opinion, is special about the Southern 100?

The Southern 100 is called the Friendly Races for a reason! In my opinion it is one of the best race meetings in the world, attracting top riders and thousands of fans to the Island! From its inception, the Southern 100 has provided the keenest competition amongst some of the best-known names in British racing, including multi world champions Phil Read, Brian Reid and Joey Dunlop, as well as Sidecar champions Charlie Freeman, Steve Webster, Klaus Klaffenbock, Tim Reeves and the Birchall brothers. It continues to attract all of the 'star' riders with Michael Dunlop, Davey Todd, Dean Harrison, Nathan Harrison, Ben Birchall, and Tim Reeves to name a few all set to race this year.

With free access to the paddock and the relaxed atmosphere of the Southern 100, it is one of the best opportunities to catch up with your favourite rider! The four action packed days on the Colas Billown Circuit is followed by the ‘unique' Open Air Prize Presentation in Castletown Square which adds a special finish to the meeting.

Why do you think TT enthusiasts should visit the Isle of Man for the Southern 100?

To witness the mass-start racing, nothing beats flag to flag racing! Whether you choose to watch the bikes fly past from the Nicholson Grandstand at the end of the Castletown Bypass (start/finish line) or sit on the Just Pizza & Pasta Grandstand at Castletown Corner, the last corner on the circuit, the last place to gain a position before the finish. No matter where you situate yourself around the 4.25 mile Colas Billown Circuit, prepare yourself to be blown away when the first race gets underway on Tuesday evening after qualifying on Monday.

Finish your time at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 Road Races at the open-air presentation on the Thursday in Castletown Square, where you can mingle with the stars. A truly unique experience.

Southern 100 Racing
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?

All of it, it is awesome – Simply the best meeting you can attend!

What would you say is the best thing to do on the Island during Southern 100?

First of all, enjoy the races and atmosphere around the Colas Billown Circuit. The schedule of the Southern 100 (Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday evening and all day Thursday) allows you to explore our beautiful Island during the day before heading to your vantage point in the evening. This is perfect for new visitors to the Island to get a real sense and feel of Island life, or if you are a regular visitor then to head back to your favourite attractions. In the south of the Island (where the racing is held) we are lucky to have a number of Manx National Heritage sites that I would recommend, such as the beautiful Castle Rushen!

For ideas on how to spend your time on the Isle of Man, check out our 4 Day Southern 100 Itinerary here.