Tough love

Classic Racer - - PADDOCK GOSSIP -

I guess like me you have watched the tragic events of the last few weeks un­fold in real road rac­ing, in thett, on Ire­land’s nar­row lanes and at the South­ern 100. One tragic loss of young man at the top of his game after an­other caused me to think long and hard about my pas­sion for pure road rac­ing. Again, I guess like so many more of you, I ques­tioned the moral­ity of rac­ing be­tween the walls and if the ul­ti­mate price is worth the thrill, but once again I have come to the same con­clu­sion. Our sport must, and will, go on! No one made any of us face the great­est chal­lenge in sport, and although we ig­nored it, we all knew the ul­ti­mate price. As Dan Kneen’s fa­ther Richard said after his trag­ictt crash, “You couldn’t have stopped Dan rac­ing.” In fact no one could have stopped those young men from start­ing any given race.they ded­i­cated their lives to some­thing they were very good at and which gave them the thrill and recognition they sought. Per­son­ally, the more peo­ple pointed out the dan­gers in­volved the more I en­joyed the buzz. I was do­ing some­thing that not ev­ery­one got the chance to do, and en­joy­ing ev­ery minute. I am not be­ing in any way flip­pant or un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the pain the fam­i­lies are suf­fer­ing. I have lost some spe­cial friends to our sport. And I sur­vived by sheer luck. One de­bate that has grabbed many an imag­i­na­tion is the speed of to­day’s bikes – are they too fast for the cir­cuits now? In­ter­est­ingly, and purely by chance, I was work­ing in the ar­chive re­cently and came across a head­line in a 1926 copy ofthe Mo­tor­cy­cle which screamed: “Ma­chines too fast for the course?” It was talk­ing about thett. In one ter­ri­ble year at the TT in the 1970s, when no one ques­tioned the speed of the bikes, six rid­ers lost their lives, when only one ma­chine, Gi­a­como Agostini’s MV, made more than 60bhp. I send my per­sonal and heart­felt con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies and friends of those that we have lost and thank them for the plea­sure they have given me and the thou­sands more watch­ing them in ac­tion. And I hope for a speedy and full re­cov­ery to all those who are in­jured. Malc Wheeler

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