Behind The Visor

An interview with Guy Mckenzie

168 hours in a week, 58 or more of them working, 14 of them training, 49 asleep.

Two jobs.

A rich mans game.

It’s not often you hear of a 21 year old working two jobs to fund a hobby, costing up at least £700 a time.

But Guy Mckenzie is different.

He is attempting to become one of the best within his class of motorcycle racing.

Like his inspirations Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa  of MotoGP fame he is willing to do anything to fund his hobby, hopeful of a successful future.

“Racing is life, anything before or after is just waiting,” said Guy.

It is Pedrosa’s willingness to try that fuels his admiration for the Spaniard.

“He seems to get podium after podium but he’s not yet won a championship even after years of pushing.”

Passion is a word widely associated within motorcycle racing; without passion you are unlikely to find yourself within the dog eat dog sport for longer than five minutes.

For Guy this passion began at the mere age of nine but was not truly realised until he turned 14.

“When you’re young you know the people for it but I don’t think it crosses your mind that it’s possible to do it yourself,” he said.

A passion so expensive that it seems almost inaccessible to younger generations it’s always about the time old cliché ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’.

Often the obsession with racing comes from an influential family member whether it is watching the sport or participating inside it, with Guy this is no different.

“Well as far as actually competing goes my uncle got me into bikes and track days, he always had bikes and kinda pushed me into getting a pretty much road legal race bike as soon as I could,” Guy said.

Influenced from a young age racing has always been part of their relationship whether it is attending race meets together, or getting to know race circuits across the country even before he had the chance to test a bike out.

“I went to a few BSB rounds and decided I wanted to give it a go, never really thought that riding a fast bike round in circles could be so much fun.”

It is no big secret that it is commonly thought amongst non race fans that motorsport is merely going round and round in circles with minimal exertion.

But Guy proves that there is both skill and thrill involved in something that seems at first from the eyes of armchair pundits, very simple.

Athletes of any kind spend hours each day getting their body to the ultimate fitness of their sport, building up muscles some people may have never heard of.

For followers of the sport it will come as no surprise that Guy’s training regime includes a bicycle- favoured by many of the sports top athletes:

“Basically I cycle, prefer cycling to running although I’m probably better at running or jogging. And then lots of core stuff as you tend to use that mostly on the motorcycle,” he said.

Fitness is a huge part of any sport and motorsport, especially motorcycle racing, is no different.

To be in good shape means to be quick, to aid endurance and the way in which the rider’s weight moves the bike.

Bikes are notorious for wanting to stand upright of their own accord.

A rider is purely an interference.

You could almost say they resemble bull riding.

It is this which can often lead to riders having a high rate of injury, Guy’s idol Dani Pedrosa is often referred to as a bionic man due to the amount of metal work his body has endured for the purpose of racing.

Guy however has been one of the few lucky ones, so far.

 “I’ve never actually had a major crash, only ever had low sides or lost the front which don’t really damage a lot, as far as bones go I’ve only done fingers,” said Guy.

‘Low side’ crashes tend to be slower paced and with the bike falling away from the rider pose less of a threat of injury and also a greater likelihood of immediately putting the bike back on track.

This is opposed to a ‘high side’ which will most likely flick the rider away from the bike at high speed usually resulting in a breakage and higher financial consequences for the team.

Typically sport in general is focused around the idea that winning is the be all and end all.

But for Guy his best race of the season provided entertainment rather than a trophy.

“My best race was at Donington on 2/3rd June, it was pissing it down all weekend but I had my first proper wet race there and absolutely loved it! I went through 10 pairs of socks mind. Didn’t finish on the podium but still had mega fun,” he said.

Motorsport is an intense sport, one that most champions start from an early age but a key personality trait in most riders seems to be their sense of enjoyment.

Only this season it became clear what riders do when they stop enjoying themselves- they quit.

The season is now over for Guy but this does not mean the hard work stops.

He continues to spend most hours of the week raising money to fund not only his hobby but a potential future career.

“I work so hard because I have a dream and I wanna work as far towards it as I can, plus racing really does take over your life… you eat well, you train and you just look forward to getting back out on the bike. It’s an amazing feeling,” said Guy.

But racing always has the ability to remind its supporters and competitors that it can be a nasty and sometimes unrewarding experience.

Whilst Guy enjoys Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire it is the circuit where his friend Ben Gautrey lost his life:

“Cadwell because it’s only got a max of 20ft width or something daft makes for mega overtakes and it’s where Ben last was.”

As a whole the bike racing community felt the death of the young rider, from those who knew him to those who watched his style from the sidelines.

Racing can be draining and hard.

But for now Guy Mckenzie is looking forward to the 2013 season and of course what the future will bring.

“A career I hope, failing that a commercial pilot, for now it’s a hobby I guess,” he said.

Admiration never lost for Simoncelli’s fans

A sea of white.

HE wasn’t there to see his fans adorned in the white he made famous. He didn’t get to see them greet his fiancée with such warmth that it was mirrored in her eyes.

Although he wasn’t present one thing was certain - Marco Simoncelli knew he was loved.

Marco was every bit the crowd pleaser and entertainer. It is why his fan base grew during his life and why their adoration continues to shine bright after his death.

As a person Marco was and always will be the ultimate enigma, a complex character.

“His tall lanky style, hair blowing all over the place.”

 Resembling Sideshow Bob it was hard not to smile at the appearance of the over six foot tall Italian.

As a racer the criticism grew every race but there was always an air of hilarity to Marco’s demeanour making him a pantomime villain.

 It was characteristics such as these that left the 24 year old Italian with the perfect legacy.

Marco’s commitment to fans was typified by his devotion to social networking. As his fiancée Kate Fretti often remarked he would spend hours reading his fan’s feedback.

You would never see Simoncelli’s presence online but his fans made up for this by describing his antics on track.

Facebook group Friends and Fans of SuperSic 58 (FFSS58) is one example of this. Creator Chris Morrison describes Marco Simoncelli as ‘inspirational.’

The group began when Morrison started a campaign to leave pole position at the last race of the season, Valencia, empty out of respect for Marco.Despite the 15,000 supporters the circuit chose to honour Marco by making noise continuously for a minute, as requested by his family.

Marco never appeared to be a quiet person, he was happy to greet fans, be interviewed and most of all laugh loudly at himself and those around him.

Whilst the campaign did not work the group of people behind it have never been stronger, each and every one of them has bonded over the pain and grief they felt when Marco died.

“The group quickly evolved and became a support network for everyone who was in shock and suffering the immense sadness of the loss of someone although we did not know him on a personal level he captured everyone’s hearts,” said Chris.

 

Morrison alongside other members of the group visited Marco’s hometown of Coriano, Italy in September; with them they took some very important baggage, a £2000 cheque.

 

Chris did not expect to meet the man behind the Simoncelli Foundation, Marco’s father Paolo, which made the trip even more special.

 

“Getting a hug from Paolo was quite a shock but very emotional” He said.

 

Throughout the period since Marco died Paolo has been the pillar of strength behind the family and Marco’s friends.

 

The Simoncelli’s are a family that exude inspiration as a collective.

 

Day by day Paolo and Kate are working tirelessly at the foundation to keep the memory of their son and fiancée alive.

 

Marco’s legacy was visible at the Silverstone grand prix in June 2012.

 

“It was obvious withhis bravery on the race circuit.. Marco was very quickly becoming the people’s champion.”

 

In 2011 the sea was a different colour, this time it was yellow.

Marco’s compatriot Valentino Rossi was and has been the people’s champion since he entered the world of motorcycle racing at the young age of eleven.

Rossi exuded talent and charisma drawing fans in their hundreds to circuits across the globe, this fate was to be left to Marco when in 2011 Rossi began to do the unthinkable, he slowed down.

There was no doubt in fans minds that Rossi’s prodigy Marco would follow suit although this was to be quicker than most would have anticipated.

In front of the fans eyes Marco was beginning to convert Rossi’s fans from a sea of yellow to a sea of white, yet it was not to become truly noticeable until 2012.

 

Due to release his merchandise at the last race of the 2011 season Marco was unable to make this gesture to his fans with the responsibility falling on the shoulders of Rossi and fiancée Kate.

 

Rossi debuted the clothing at the tribute race in Valencia.

 

“Marco’s spirit impacted us all; he was on our level and made us feel like we were important to him.”

Despite not going to Coriano FFSS58 member Christy Goodman had the opportunity of meeting the Italian in 2011.

Marco was known for having a kind heart and touched people in a way that gained him copious amounts of fans every time he spoke.

He did not have to say anything of great value but it was his nature that made him a lovable rogue.

Marco’s personality, realness, and contact with the public, the way he smiled all the time has led fans to keep his spirit alive by raising money to help fund buildings for the disadvantaged.

Christy is one of Chris Morrison’s 1000 members.

Marco dedicated hours of his time to his fans, Paolo is known for saying that they often had their meals interrupted so a fan could spend just a couple of minutes with the kind soul.

These minutes were about to become invaluable to those who met him at the end of 2011.

Marco never stopped striving to make the lives of others that bit happier whether it was visiting disabled children or even spending a few minutes engaging with fans.

The foundation’s first project was ‘Casa Marco Simoncelli, Haiti’ -a hospital- based in Santo Domingo just off the border of earthquake stricken Haiti.

With the support of many riders and fans they are seeking to construct a day care centre from an abandoned hotel in the centre of Coriano.

In 2011 Marco Simoncelli lost his life in a tragic motorcycle racing incident.

He will never see the love that spans worldwide for him.

BUT- The name Simoncelli now stands as a legacy for a 24 year old that blew world championships apart whilst making his fans grin from ear to ear in the process.

Gone but not forgotten: one year on

“You look at Moto3, is very exciting, Moto2 is fantastic like this then they arrive at MotoGP and is very difficult to stay awake.” Valentino Rossi.

One year today MotoGP lost a future champion, a rider with not only vast talent but also personality and wild looks. Marco Simoncelli had the power to liven up the already ‘boring’ GP series whether it was getting into humorous debates with world champion Jorge Lorenzo or just running round the paddock with his trademark hair.

I doubt Simoncelli would have ever considered the extent to which he was loved by fans and members of the paddock or even that his name would go on to become a legacy at 24 with the foundation being started. At Silverstone GP his fiancée Kate Fretti was greeted by a sea of white and a lot of happy Super Sic fans wanting to help them go that little bit further in their charitable plans each fan received a stunned smile in return.

Amongst all of this I’m glad to have found the Friends and Fans of Super Sic fan page, everyday there are new stories, pictures and crazy hair brained scheme to aid the foundation. In the year Sic has been gone a day hasn’t passed when someone on twitter hasn’t spoken about the loss, laughed at his moves or even just simply shared an old picture.

Missing the rider and the personality, it seems more adequate to celebrate the man that was, a crazy side show bob looking, and fan loving, caring person that was incredible on a motorcycle despite being about 6 foot to tall.

Forza Marco

You’re missed by many.

Respect: it should be given

As usual before a huge race weekend the respect of fans for drivers and riders has been called into question, and rightly so.

This weekend sees MotoGP, F1 and BSB. Three massive events in one day for Motorsport.

Yet this evening I learnt so called Hamilton ‘fans’ had started plotting a way to target Maldonado such a booing from the grandstands. It may not be a massive deal but I’m sure Hamilton would be embarrassed to hear his fans displaying such a show of sheer disrespect. I am no fan of the man but when I can drive an F1 car only then will I have a right to comment in such a manner.

Not only this but I have been told by observant fans that others on Twitter had wished for Casey Stoner to crash at Valencia 2011… The circuit staging the tribute for Marco Simoncelli. Do not wish harm on riders or drivers if the past year has proven, these sports are dangerous, some people shouldn’t need a daily reminder.

I’ve come to describe the ‘personality’ fans see on tv as a ‘persona’ we don’t know these sports stars personally and thus if they need to be harsh, blunt, outspoken or even quiet then that’s the way they’ll be. Just because you may not like their persona does not mean they should be treated badly. Only last year Casey Stoner was effectively chased off stage at the Silverstone Day of Champions, as someone present there this year I can honestly say I missed the opportunity and it was disappointing.

Please remember that these people, although they love it, are risking their lives and deserve respect.

Don’t boo them pantomime or not you’ll be the only ones looking stupid.

Who is FASTEST now?

“Valentino Rossi WINS”- Catalunya 2009. This iconic moment features a mere minute in.

When it comes to being a motorsport fan, and a relatively new one at that, the best way of learning the history of racing is to watch DVDs (or of course read). In the past year I’ve seen TT3D: Closer to the Edge, The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky Kid and the MotoGP 2011 race review. Spread over different eras and types of the sport the most recent to my collection is Fastest.

If you’re a bike fan, or even if you want to influence someone who is not, then Fastest is for you. It shows the battles between teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, the upcoming mentality of Marco Simoncelli, the story of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa losing his championship battle due to injury.

Whilst the film is all about the speed masters of MotoGP it is unfortunate that 2010 carried many big injuries for riders, most notably that of Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa who has broken almost every bone in his body lost out on his championship run with a break to his collarbone, a bone he will later break in 2011. With Rossi it left him breaking his run of race starts with a severely broken leg, a terrible loss to the sport for those few races but when he returned, he returned in style.

Overall the message is clear, motoracing is brutal, careers are ended by injuries but also if you want to see man and machine, even man becoming machine in a sense then this film is fantastic. Although I have to admit if you are not a fan of Valentino Rossi you may struggle as a lot of it is his explanation of events. If however you are a fan, you’ll find it a highly amusing watch.

And of course if you want to see Marco Simoncelli in a seemingly casual atmosphere its worth buying purely on that premise. 

You will never know the feeling of a driver when winning a race. The helmet hides feelings that cannot be understood.
Ayrton Senna

To celebrate an occasion, to mark a sign of support, to say goodbye to a friend or to show off personality the helmet of a rider or driver is one of their only opportunities to do so.

They might not be the most interesting item of the kit to the most ‘diehard’ of fans who are only there for the racing but to someone like me I adore studying the detail, seeing whether certain riders carry certain images and whether ultimately the sponsors have got their markings all over.

For F1 fans they witness a constant, or what feels like constant, changing of Sebastian Vettel’s helmet designs. Whilst some elements stay the same for the man sponsored by Red Bull he has admitted after winning the inaugural Indian GP “I need a new one urgently because I don’t wear them again after a win.” I for one cannot wait for him to win another race just purely on the fact I’m not keen on his current helmet, one of his best this year has been the above Monaco version. This helmet goes some way to show the detail with competition winner Lucy Bloor managing to guess somewhere around the 1,577 sequins stuck to Vettel’s head.

The Monaco F1 is a great event for special helmets, the Iceman Kimi Raikkonen had a tribute to British hero James Hunt and another shiny special was from none other the championship leader Fernando Alonso. Alonso chose to have the helmet covered in emblems that were relevant to him and his career, around the circuit the gold looked truly beautiful and expressed the extravagance of the principality.

Of course if you’re a motorbike fan you will be familiar with Valentino Rossi’s penchant for telling a story via his ‘lid’. Whether it’s the Donkey from Shrek to illustrate a stupid move, his eyeball to say he’s watching his rivals or a merger to say goodbye to a dear friend Rossi’s career story can no doubt be told through his helmets.

However, the colour, the sponsors and the story are not favoured by everyone. Two riders stick in mind for me when I think of ‘white’ and that is 2011 125 rider Harry Stafford and current Moto3 rider and winner Romano Fenati. When Fenati was on stage at Silverstone he was asked why he wore a white helmet, his reply was simple: “I don’t know, but it’s beautiful no?” In a business so dominated by sponsors it is refreshing to see something clean rattling round the circuit. It may change but he seems to have no intention of bowing to the sponsors… just yet.

As mentioned the detail is incredible and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t give my favourite helmet painter a shout out, I truly admire his work and when I learn to ride I hope to own one of his creations, @richartconcepts.

Of course the helmet is not just for show and the likes of AGV, Arai, Shark, Shoei and so on have been credited with saving the brains of even us ‘ordinary’ people. Taking bumps and scratches over a race weekend it’s a great chance for the general public to see how their very own helmets are put to the test.

The MotoGP paddock always seems like a little family, or if you’re within it, a game of Sims. Strolling up and down the paddock was a member of Ducati holding the fairing of Nicky Hayden, I’m told he was giving it a wash… it looked like he was taking it for a walk. If you like me were in the paddock on the morning of the Day of Champions it is unlikely you will have seen many MotoGP riders as they were all hiding in their motor homes, although if you were very lucky you would’ve seen the legend that is Loris Capirossi.

The Moto2 and Moto3 guys however, seemed to be everywhere especially Arthur Sissis who appeared to spend more time around the circuit on his pit bike than in the paddock. It was a great opportunity to be able to walk around both the pitlane and paddock and see new boy Gino Rea getting absolutely swamped for autographs by fans. The hospitality units and motor homes tower over people and it is that, that creates the Sims like feeling. When walking into both places you know you’re somewhere special.

For a small amount of money this chance is readily available to the public each year, I am told that more of the MotoGP guys were out in the afternoon if they are the riders you would rather meet, although I have to say you’re more likely to get a chat out of the younger ones.

Thanks to an excellent Twitter follower I was given the opportunity to have this ticket, yet it was not this part of the pass that caused the furore on my twitter page over Thursday and Friday. It was in fact my presence on the Riders for Health stage. Knowing I had a VIP pass I thought that sitting in the photographer’s part of the stage and going behind stage were the end of the perks, or rather the beginning as it meant better pictures! I did not at any point realise that I was allowed on stage.

First and foremost I am a fan of the sport, I have only been a follower of it for around four years and it is only in the past three that I have realised it could be a viable career path for me. As I was told over the weekend, if you’re not given experiences to learn from how are you meant to improve? This piece of advice was greatly appreciated as well as the opportunity, I urge people to say yes to anything that can give them once in a lifetime experiences.

I was lucky enough to share the stage with Marc Marquez a potential GP champion of the future, meet the current Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl who has an incredible sense of humour and nearly trample on the leader of the World Championship Jorge Lorenzo. Also an amusing sight was Dani Pedrosa in his little bobble hat, he looked frozen. Amongst these I also got to speak to the lovely Sarah Ellison and Lauren Vickers, I had seen an example of not knowing the partners of the riders during the week and how it may lose you a chance of some key knowledge/business. I can honestly say it pays off to be up to date with who is who. You never know when an introduction can be absolutely essential.

I was told many times before I got to Silverstone that people would be jealous if I met Valentino Rossi a point I laughed off. Meeting Valentino Rossi is probably as easy as finding a needle in a haystack… unless you have a magic pass. It was nice to see that he is as charismatic as he comes across and that when you mention the late Marco Simoncelli he smiles.

Rossi, the man that got me into MotoGP (via my dad pointing him out) was a major part of my weekend having later found out that I was photographed sat next to a flag of him in my Sic Supporter t-shirt in the photographers area, a picture Rossi later tweeted. Rossi may have got me into the MotoGP but it is the sport, the fans and the debates that will keep me there.

I encountered a few ‘fans’ this weekend that clearly had very little idea who or what they were watching. I have already said that it pays to know who is who in this sport and nothing is truer than seeing Marco Simoncelli’s fiancée Kate in the foundation tent. Many didn’t have any idea who she was and some believed her to be his sister, for the fans that did know it was a privilege to meet such a strong woman. I can only imagine, and saw the look on her face at all the Sic merchandise, it must be really quite stunning to observe.

I couldn’t have had this weekend without so many people on Twitter but of course that pass was invaluable. The only small disappointed is that Casey Stoner was effectively chased off of stage last year and did not return, disappointing as on Saturday him and Pedrosa were like a comedy double act. It seems the fans have grown up this year as Stoner was cheered round the circuit, but of course the standing ovation was left for none other than Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow who only Thursday was saying his only aim was to start the race; well done Cal you did the Brits and all your fans proud!

A HUGE thanks to Jared because none of this would’ve happened without your trust! What a weekend.

Fans or ‘Fans’

Sport fans often come under fire for their actions, especially those within football who are frequently dubbed hooligans spoiling it for the majority who just want to watch peacefully. Motorsport fans tend to be or at least appear bias- well that’s how they appear on tv anyway. In Spain fans have previously been seen as racist towards Lewis Hamilton, British fans have booed the likes of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner and overall a narrow minded nature gets in the way of general talent. Supporting one person doesn’t mean you need to wish ill on their competitors. You only have to look at the respective circuits to see who is the crowds favourite. Chances are if you’re not Valentino Rossi the nationality will shine through as the flags flow. Patriotism is a huge part of motorsport and many times I have heard ‘you just support the Brits’ myself. I’m not sure I buy into the ‘rule’ as such, personally I am drawn into big personas, if someone is presented as mechanical it is unlikely I will be a supporter. However I am not saying I do not admire and respect everyone that takes part! Admiration is something all fans should have at the forefront of their minds. It is common now to see people becoming obsessed over certain people. Whilst they do an incredible job I can only imagine the difficulty of being interrupted during day to day goings on. In recent months I have become more aware of a certain band of fan who cannot see in front of their own fandom, unfortunately many of them are Rossi fans. Of course I am not saying every fan is guilty of this but it’s more apparent, similar can be said for Michael Schumacher’s die hard fans. Die hard and severely bias fans are likely to tar the sport in a bad light. It is entirely possible that Facebook and Twitter magnify the issue but when someones top concern is the fact their rider/driver has a new girlfriend the interest for the sport is ultimately seen to be over. I’ve left many F1 groups due to bias driver hatred so I can honestly say I do not have the highest of opinions of such a thing. However I have two groups I’d consider crucial, the MotoGPJunkies and Friends and Fans of Super Sic 58 FFSS58. Both maintain great banter. Whilst I’ve never been on the BSB forum it comes up as a topic on twitter a lot- I assume it is hard not to look even of you know the result won’t be pretty. Twitter holds some of the most diehard, I’m going to be stereotypical here, Fangirls. Yet if you look carefully you’ll find some amazing insights into an unknown land. Ultimately personality will win people over but only true fans will remain when their respective person leaves.

It may not be the clearest picture in the world but since November last year this has been the image i’ve seen in the morning when i wake up and the thing i fall asleep looking at.. my motorsport collection.
Whilst it’s not all of it, it is certainly one of my favourite pieces. Collected from Motorcycle Live, @MotoRaceFeed, Autosport International and a few varied donations i love it.
I am putting this up as i have entered a competition run by Silverstone to attempt to win some tickets to a bike event, this all depends on me staying in the top 5 though for the next 10 days.

So please if you have facebook and around 20 seconds please please vote….
http://bit.ly/KPStJ7

Thank you!!

It may not be the clearest picture in the world but since November last year this has been the image i’ve seen in the morning when i wake up and the thing i fall asleep looking at.. my motorsport collection.

Whilst it’s not all of it, it is certainly one of my favourite pieces. Collected from Motorcycle Live, @MotoRaceFeed, Autosport International and a few varied donations i love it.

I am putting this up as i have entered a competition run by Silverstone to attempt to win some tickets to a bike event, this all depends on me staying in the top 5 though for the next 10 days.

So please if you have facebook and around 20 seconds please please vote….

http://bit.ly/KPStJ7

Thank you!!