||Last Updated: Oct 14th, 2015 - 09:27:55
With the 2015 DON Smallgoods Australian FIM Speedway Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium just around the corner, we meet some of this year's riders taking to the track. Issued by Motorcycling Australia.
Where did you grow up in Australia?
“I grew up in Appin, south-west of Sydney.”
How did you get into the sport of Speedway?
“I got into it through family really. My Dad used to race a bit of Flat Track and did some speedway.”
Was the sport prominent in your town?
“They do have a track in Appin actually. I think they’re trying to get it going again. I believe I rode the first ever 500cc bike around there and it wasn’t pretty! It’s just a small, tiny little track – maybe 220 metres.
“It has been gone for years, but they’re trying to get it going again and hopefully they do. Then I’ll have a track 2km from my house!”
What other sports did you play growing up?
“I played soccer from three years old. I played soccer in the winter and baseball in the summer.”
Which sports and teams did you follow as you were growing up?
“I followed the Newcastle Knights rugby league team when I was back at home, but I don’t get to see as much of it now.”
If you weren’t a professional Speedway rider, what would you be doing?
“I was halfway through an apprenticeship as a motorbike mechanic when I moved to Europe. I’d possibly be at a bike shop doing that.
“My Dad works on a building site, so if I got sick of the bikes, I’d possibly be doing that somewhere.”
How has the sport changed since you debuted?
“There have been a lot of changes with machinery and stuff like that. It’s so hard to get something that’s good everywhere. Before you could have three engines and they’d all be fine. Now we need six or seven to stay on top.
“There’s that and the expense of the sport is going up and up every year. They’ve changed silencers and stuff like that, but I’ve always ridden with the engine lying down, so I haven’t come through that much of a change. It’s just little things.”
What is your favourite Grand Prix?
“I’ve got to say Cardiff at the moment. I’ve had my best results there. I hope Melbourne can take over that mantle.”
Which rider did you look up to as you were coming up through the sport?
“There are a few. Craig Boyce was a close family friend, so I have to say him in the beginning.
“When I came to Britain through Mick Poole, Jason Crump helped me out a lot in the beginning. I respect him, Leigh Adams, Ryan Sullivan, Todd Wiltshire and Boycie and all the Aussie guys who were at the top when I was a kid. They did really well.”
What music gets you fired up before big races?
“When I was younger, rock and roll – I was into some pretty heavy rock music. Now I’d say any songs that mean something to me. A lot of Eminem’s songs seem to tick in my head.”
Describe some key things that are vital to your race preparation?
“Good sleep and a happy family! I just like to be in a happy mood when I turn up. That’s probably the biggest thing. Everybody can normally tell that if I’m struggling, it’s more than just the speedway side of things.”
What are you expecting from the Australian Grand Prix?
“I’d like to see a really big crowd there, given that we haven’t had an Aussie GP since 2002. We get a lot more exposure in Australia now with all the racing in Europe on TV. I hope we get lots of noise for the Aussie guys and a good result.”
For International and interstate Speedway fans that haven’t visited to Australia or especially Melbourne prior to October’s big event, what would you recommend they do during their stay?
“I know it’s a pretty big sporting city with the F1, AFL, cricket, V8 supercars and all that stuff.
“So I’d tell people to start off in Melbourne and follow the east coast as far as you can handle driving!”
Tickets are still available for the South Hemisphere’s biggest indoor motorsport event. Visit: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/Australian-FIM-Speedway-Grand-Prix-tickets/artist/2045685.
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