Niall Mackenzie Column - Sep 09

Niall realises that he’s been favouring the wrong hand all of his life and that drinking Vodka Red Bull is vital to the success of future racing generations

Posted: 27 September 2009
by Niall Mackenzie

You would have thought over the course of my racing career that I might have learned a thing or two from my many illustrious team mates. In the first four years of 500 GPs I rode in the same factory teams as World Champions Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner and Kevin Schwantz.

Then in my Superbike years there were two more Champions of the World in my awning and on the same bikes, this time in the shape of Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson.  But it wasn’t until I stopped racing, it dawned on me that all five had another thing in common; they were left-handed. And it doesn’t end there. Five times 500cc World Champion Mick Doohan, Triple, 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey, triple World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss and none other than the phenomenon that is VR, also do most things with their left hand. 

On top of that, I found out recently that medical studies in the U.S. proved that left-handed adolescent males have much higher levels of testosterone than their right-handed counterparts.

This results in them being significantly more competitive throughout their life. If only I had known this at the beginning of my career I might have given up there and then and not deluded myself into thinking one day I could be a world champion.  In my case Homer was probably right when he said: “don’t bother trying as it’s the first step towards failure”.  On second thoughts maybe I wouldn’t, it was still way better than a real job. 

In my house at the moment live two young (right-handed) would be bike racers. They tell me they’re dedicated but I keep telling them until they get their right arm strapped behind their bike for eight hours a day they have no chance!

One of these hopefuls is sixteen-year-old Taylor Mackenzie who is currently living the dream that is the MotoGP Red Bull Rookie Championship. It took him two years but he rode his heart out on six selection events at racetracks around Europe to become one of two lucky Brits signed up for this year’s eight race series. 

Due to cutbacks in 2009, the Dads now have to lend a hand when it comes to fettling the little 125cc KTM GP machines; a scary prospect when the last race bike I prepped was a ratty  350LC Yamaha back in 1981. Anyhow, as I was standing in the queue for race fuel during the Assen round I began to appreciate just how much Red Bull have invested in young racing talent around the world.

I started with a quick calculation on the fuel over one race weekend which give or take a few Euros comes out at around £3200. Then there are the Dunlop tyres for 27 bikes that tallies up to £9500. I don’t have enough room to list everything but I can tell you the whole job adds up to around 150,000 per rider or 4.5 million Euros for the season.  It is the X factor system for future GP racers and it is working.  Five ex Rookies started the season in 125GPs and there are many more on the grid from the Red Bull Moto GP Academy (Danny Webb and Scott Redding  are just two).

If you haven’t yet tried Vodka Red Bull why not give it a go. It makes you feel good and you’ll stay awake all night dancing but most importantly you’ll be helping the next generation of young Brits to bring home GP glory. 

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