Today's road courses bear little resemblance to the historical circuits the pioneers of motorsport ran on. Even most of the "street circuits" that are still run have been massaged and made safer over the years. But there are a few circuits that still offer the difficulty and danger those original racers faced. One of them is the Isle of Man TT circuit.
Ringing the isle, the 37.8-mile course consists entirely of public roads, many of which have little or no shoulder, and which often pass very close by stone walls, buildings, and houses.
Typically used as a superbike race venue, the TT circuit does occasionally see four-wheeled competition--outside of the no-speed-limit daily traffic--and so we come to the new record set by Subaru and driver Mark Higgins. As a former British Rally Champion, Higgins is familiar with dicing down narrow lanes and facing unfamiliar corners at speed.
So just how fast was the stock Subaru WRX STI around the TT? At an average speed of 113 mph and a peak of 162 mph, the lap took jut 19 minutes, 56.7 seconds. That's over two minutes faster than the previous road-car lap record, set by Tony Pond in June 1990. It's also only a bit over 2.5 minutes slower than the all-time lap record of the circuit, set by John McGuinness in 2009 on a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade race bike.