Blazing along at 150 mph on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R motorcycle is no joke. And it’s especially no laughing matter if you’re on a 38-mile course through a town with narrow, twisting roads lined with telephone poles and stone walls. But to Dwight David Mitchell, it’s a thrill. Mitchell is one of a handful of American motorcyclists brave enough to take on the Irish Sea’s Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT), one of the world’s most challenging road-racing courses. He is only the second African-American to take the challenge since 1907. Last June, he finished 60th out of 138 riders, and he plans to hit the road again later this month, preparing to ride in the 1999 TT.
"To get accepted to participate, qualify and complete the TT is an accomplishment," says Mitchell, 37, of Piscataway, N.J. "I felt a sense of pride." He also felt butterflies. "One mistake on this course and you could end up kissing a wall." Mitchell, who has been racing for three years, won the American Motorcycle Association championship in 1997 and has participated in the Race of Champions in Daytona, Fla. As a child, he tried to ride his bikes and mopeds like stunt rider Evel Knievel, earning the nickname Awful Knawful from his father. He’s been a daredevil ever since.
Fans can follow Mitchell’s course on the Internet as he competes in several races, including July’s Suzuka eight-hour endurance race in Japan.
"Every year, I try something new and different," says Mitchell, who has visited more than 60 countries, is certified in scuba and sky diving, and holds a New Jersey state title in fencing. "I want to experience everything that is going on."