Classic Racer - - PADDOCK GOSSIP -

I re­ally en­joy writ­ing, quite bizarre con­sid­er­ing my English teacher at school sug­gested it was a waste of time me go­ing back for the sixth year. Even then my only in­ter­est was mo­tor­cy­cles, much as it still is now to be hon­est. I didn’t go back and he sug­gested I would never ‘make a liv­ing mess­ing about with mo­tor­cy­cles’. (He ac­tu­ally said mo­tor­bikes, but even now I can’t bring my­self to write it.) Re­cently I have been work­ing on Is­land Racer, our an­nual bookazine for the Isle of Man TT. De­spite ‘re­tir­ing’ I’ve re­tained the role of pub­lisher of IR, work­ing with Classic Racer edi­tor Tony as the edi­tor. I love my time on IR; as some of you will re­mem­ber my burn­ing pas­sion has al­ways been the Isle of Man and the TT in par­tic­u­lar. Tony, be­ing the gen­tle­man he is, al­ways asks me to do an ar­chive-based fea­ture in Is­land Racer, some­thing I al­ways, ob­vi­ously, en­joy. This time he caught me on the back foot and went off at a bit of a tan­gent. Over a pub lunch (how else would you plan a mag­a­zine) I let slip that this year would be our (yes I’ve dragged Mrs W to ev­ery one) 50th TT on the bounce. Be­fore she kicks off she was only 16 when we took a day trip to the 1967 Se­nior. As the con­ver­sa­tion pro­gressed, Tony asked about mytt ‘that got away’. He must have heard the story many times be­fore; most peo­ple have, but what I hadn’t re­alised was he was putting 50 years and miss­ing a TT win by one sec­ond to­gether and com­ing up with a fea­ture idea! Care­less words... Be­fore I could ask ‘is it your round or mine?’ he had planned for me to write a fea­ture around both tales and a ti­tle for it too. Fifty years and one bloody sec­ond it was then. As I said, I love writ­ing, but this was one of the hard­est things I’ve had to write. For most of us, writ­ing about your­self is one of the tough­est things to do. But af­ter a few hours star­ing at a blank screen it hap­pened – and what a lib­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence it proved to be. Like most race ca­reers, mine had some highs, and some very low, lows. All those dark days are the first things that come to the sur­face when you prod the old mem­ory. But I’m grate­ful to Tony (don’t tell him I said so, I don’t want him to think I’ve gone soft) and thanks to that Is­land Racer fea­ture my much talked about au­to­bi­og­ra­phy just might hap­pen!

Malc Wheeler

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