Photos & Musings: Grands Prix

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Giving everything you have

This 1990 photo is of myself and Australian 500GP racer Robert Scott*. I don't recall which race it was taken at but I certainly remember the circumstances.

We had both just finished the second 45 minute moto in burning heat. We'd both had a shit day, with bad starts, and we'd both bust our butts to finish just outside the points.

When you get a good start and get away at the front of the field the race becomes easy. You get dragged along with the leaders and everything seems less crowded and less intense at the sharp end. You also hopefully get a good result to make it all worthwhile.

However, get a bad start and you're buried in the pack. It's like war back there. You get roosted, stuffed, blocked, and can never seem to make up any ground. You feel that you're riding over your head and not getting anywhere. You finish battered and bruised, and with nothing to show for it.

We'd both just had one of those races and I was just so totally, absolutely exhausted that I just lay on the ground, hurting all over. Robert came in to the awning from next door and just did the same. We didn't speak, other than to say 'How'd you do?'. 'Shit'. 'Me too'.

We both lay there, in pain, and unable to move for half an hour.

Unfit? No, not at all. We were just spent.

It was one of these moments that started me wondering how long I could do this for. It's a tough life being a professional racer. I know that onlookers see the glamorous side, but believe me, it's a hard way to make a living.

*I first met Rob Scott while practising in Belgium. He just came up and started chatting. He was, and remains a really nice guy.

He, and his girlfriend Tracy had moved to Europe just to follow his dream of racing the 500 world championship. They had arrived with two suitcases, and that was it. They had to buy a truck, convert it, beg for sponsorship for bikes and try and amass all the things you need to go racing. The sacrifice that the likes of Robert, and his Kiwi and South African compatriots made to chase their dream was immense.

Robert and Tracy were befriended by a Belgian family of racing fans who let the Aussies park their van outside their house, use their shower and laundry etc. Their truck was their base for 3 years or so. Imagine living in your van for 3 years...

Robert now lives back in Sydney and is a very successful property developer. I still meet up with Rob whenever I'm in Sydney and last saw him a few months ago.

Aussie Rob Scott, sharing my pain Enlarge image