Steve Col­ley


In the mod­ern-day world of sports that are dom­i­nated by money it’s quite rare to see one in­di­vid­ual com­mit him­self to a brand for over twenty years. In 1994 the Gas Gas tri­als name was start­ing to grow at a rapid pace. The UK im­porter John Shirt Snr and his son John wanted a rider with a high pro­file to be part of the brand’s grow­ing suc­cess. Steve Col­ley had risen through the ranks on a Fan­tic be­fore mov­ing to Beta in 1991. Af­ter much suc­cess on the Beta he was look­ing for a new chal­lenge and had no hes­i­ta­tion when the Shirts and the Span­ish fac­tory of­fered him the chance to join Gas Gas for an as­sault on the 1995 tri­als sea­son.


JNR: When I signed to ride for Gas Gas in late 1994 I needed a new chal­lenge at that point in my ca­reer. I spoke with the com­pe­ti­tion manager Andreu Co­d­ina in Spain, and the Shirt fam­ily, and then tested the ma­chine in the Isle of Man – and it was bril­liant.

I based my­self in my motorhome in Bux­ton at the Gas Gas UK head­quar­ters and tested like never be­fore, with ‘Shirty’ Jnr as my min­der and me­chanic. At the last round of the 1995 BTC it was all be­tween my­self and Dougie Lamp­kin, and at the first sec­tion of the day the fan broke and the en­gine boiled, but ‘Jnr’ fixed the ma­chine and we won! Both the Shirts and Gas Gas in Spain treated me as fam­ily, which con­tin­ues to the present day; some­thing I am eternally grate­ful for.

The next few years re­main etched in my mem­ory as some of the best years of my life do­ing the World rounds with the likes of Steve ‘Woody’ Hole and Paul Gam­ble, who both al­ways gave me 100%.

In 2000 I won the WTC rounds in the USA and the ‘Scot­tish’ and I was rid­ing at my best. I al­ways en­joyed the In­door sea­son and in France picked up the nick­name ‘Show­man’; the pay was pretty good also! Now, all th­ese years on, I still love do­ing the shows and I am now mar­ried to my wife Liz, who sup­ports me all the way.

I still base my­self in Bux­ton when I am in the UK and have formed friend­ships with the staff at Gas Gas UK, in par­tic­u­lar with the manager Jude and ‘Fac­tory ‘Kev’ who keeps the ma­chines in top con­di­tion, for which I am very ap­pre­cia­tive as noth­ing is ever too much trou­ble for them.

As for John Shirt Snr, you will not find a more down to earth man; very hon­est and straight to the point. I have been on Gas Gas for the last twenty years for one rea­son only: I never wanted to change as both Shirty ‘Snr’ and ‘Jnr’ are such good peo­ple, the last twenty years have been a plea­sure work­ing with them – here’s to the next twenty years!

JOHN SHIRT SNR ON STEVE COL­LEY: “Work­ing with some­one like Steve has been a plea­sure and he has been a valu­able as­set to the com­pany over the last twenty years. His whole pre­sen­ta­tion and at­ti­tude to­wards the sport of mo­tor­cy­cle tri­als is a bench­mark for the younger gen­er­a­tion to fol­low.

From a com­pany point of view he has helped to make the brand Gas Gas what it is and we could not have had any­one bet­ter to rep­re­sent us. From a rider’s point of view, his work ethic has been sec­ond to none and some of the mod­ern gen­er­a­tion of rid­ers could learn so much from him. As he was from the Isle of Man in the early part of his ca­reer ev­ery event would in­clude a long ferry trip to the UK main­land and then a mo­tor­way drive of many hours. One word al­ways springs to mind with Steve – Com­mit­ment.

JOHN SHIRT JNR ON STEVE COL­LEY: I could write a book about Steve Col­ley and his years on Gas Gas so when I was asked to do this it wasn’t easy to put the ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’ with Steve into so few words: Leg­end yes! Su­per­star of Tri­als yes! Pain in the ass also yes!

We have helped Steve now for twenty years, with NO re­grets at all. He is first and fore­most my friend; se­condly an amaz­ing rider and lastly the per­fect role model for any young rider. As Louis Walsh would say… he’s got ev­ery­thing: he can sing, he can dance, he looks good ha­haha… he re­ally has got the X Fac­tor.

I have way too many sto­ries about Steve, but for me there are three rid­ers that ALL the younger rid­ers should aspire to: they are Dougie Lamp­kin, Steve and Gra­ham Jarvis. Yes also ‘Saun­ders’ – but he was the Past Mas­ter that th­ese three prob­a­bly looked up to too.

Other rid­ers ‘back in the day’ – me in­cluded – were not in the same league for their 100% will to win. I can freely ad­mit this now I am older and, hope­fully, wiser. I have been sec­ond to Steve more times than I care to men­tion, and it hurts – the 1992 SSDT still does – and es­pe­cially when my dad made the cor­rect de­ci­sion to sign him up back in 1995 to win the BTC and SSDT etc for Gas Gas, be­cause Wayne Bray­brook and I couldn’t! Dad had signed Saun­ders in 1993 mainly for his ex­pe­ri­ence and to help with the devel­op­ment on the ma­chine.

Saun­ders was maybe past his very best but could still pres­sure young ‘pup’ Col­ley, who had a lot of re­spect for his older team-mate/ri­val, and it all ‘worked’.

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