Sitting on the leather sofa across the room from us is Valentino Rossi and Bradley Smith. Alongside them in his chair is Wayne Rainey, with his scrapbooks on his knee, flicking through the pages of his racing life. Rossi is animated, as only an Italian can be, and young Bradley, at that point in his career a young Yamaha hope for the future is silent, with his eyes full of admiration. We, Mrs W and I, walk past two of Wayne’s World Championship winning Yamaha’s and a Jorge Lorenzo title-winning M1yamaha which grace his trophy-laden man cave, and through the kitchen heading for the late afternoon Californian sunshine. This is Wayne and Shae Rainey’s beautiful home high in the hills above the Laguna Seca race track. The kitchen is buzzing with laughter as Colin Edwards shares one of his expletiveladen jokes with a mixture of other racing legends and Grand Prix mechanics. A wounded Cal Crutchlow, with both his hands wrapped in bandages from yet another huge crash, is clearly enjoying something to take his mind off the pain he is going to suffer in 30 laps of the tough Laguna Seca track during Sunday’s race. Standing near the beautiful swimming pool we talk about dogs to Sandy Rainey, Wayne’s now sadly deceased father. We are comparing notes about the age-old dog chases squirrel situation, when a guy around my age wanders over, and with a friendly grin introduces himself. “Hi, I’m Kenny Roberts, where are you guys from?” We explain how we know Shae and Wayne and how we came to get an invite to their annual pre-motogp party. Once he registers our English accents he is instantly sharing memories of his favourite races in the UK and how good all his UK team mechanics were. Name dropping? Not at all! During my long life around motorcycle racing, and latterly as the former editor of Classic Racer and the man responsible for sourcing the guests of honour for the Stafford shows, I have met some genuine legends. Lunch with Eddie Lawson, who couldn’t believe people still remembered ‘this old fart’; dinner with John Surtees, eloquent and humble; a few beers with Croz, full of hilarious one-liners; more dog stories with Kevin Schwantz, or just listening, in silence, to the smallest detail that Freddie Spencer could remember about bike set up 30 years previously. And you know the one thing all these people really have in common? They are just ordinary human beings, just like you and I, which is what makes our sport so very special.