Jamie Whitham Column - Sep 2006

Cross-dressing, young men in Lycra and geezas with porn star 'taches - yep, just a typical month in the life of TWO test rider and racing legend James Whitham

Submitted by James Whitham on Fri, 01/09/2006 - 12:42

WELL, IT'S BEEN another mental month. I have, though, found time to get out on my trials bike. A load of the BSB lads have got 'em now, and so a bunch of up-and-coming road race talent descended on my gaff armed to the teeth with new trials equipment and Lycra.

Craig Jones, Cal Crutchlow, Billy McConnell, Rob Mac and myself headed out into some local woods for a bit of practice. One thing became immediately apparent: only me and Rob were the least bit interested in laying out sections. The young guns just wanted to do wheelies, stoppies, race each other and generally mess about. I got sucked in and found myself dicking about like a good 'un. Rob Mac despaired of us, he loves trials he does. Fortunately we broke most of the bikes before we could do ourselves any permanent damage.

Rocky night out

WE HAD ANOTHER big night with the Fogartys. It's like being a boxer, you've only got so many in you. Anyway, this time it was a version of the Rocky Horror Show in Manchester. I remember going 20 years ago and it was mint, loads of shouting, loads of throwing stuff. Not now, it's all health and safety and political correctness. It was shit, we only stood it till half time, then we bailed and went out for a drink in town. It was always gonna be dodgy dressed the way we were, basques, suspenders, the lot. I reckon we'd got a kicking if Foggy wasn't so well-known.

Air time

I'VE HAD A private pilot's licence for a few years now (it's true, clear the skies!) and I like to do as much flying as I can. So when I get the chance to combine work with a bit of flying I'm happy. I had to go to the Snetterton BSB to do the commentary and although I couldn't get permission to land on the track (I know, I was being a bit optimistic... ),

I found a little airstrip about eight miles away.

The racing was some of the most incident-strewn I've ever seen. They were going down like Jenna Jameson. And because Snett is quick most of the crashes were spectacular. Hope everyone is okay - sometimes I don't miss racing.

The crowd was huge and getting back to the airstrip in a car after the racing had finished was always gonna be a problem, so trying to be smart I'd arranged for a mechanic to run me back on a paddock scooter. It became clear as soon as we got out of the circuit we had borrowed the most unroadworthy bike in the world. It shook, it decked out, and once we got it up to 35mph it entered a death-weave. I was relieved to get back to the airstrip in one piece. I still don't know if the mechanic made it back to Snett alive.

Classic action

I ALSO GOT a chance to ride the 1975 Kawasaki 500cc triple that Mick Grant won an IOM TT on, the last year that it was a round of the world championship. And I have to say the riders then, all of 'em, were brave men. It went reasonably fast, it's got about 80bhp and weighs next to nowt. It doesn't steer so good, it doesn't stop at all, it's only slightly more stable than the scooter we rode out of Snett, and blokes wrestled 'em round tracks with less run-off than is deemed safe on housing estates these days. I know the riders in the 70s didn't know any better, and I know Walker, Toseland, Harris and the rest are double hard bastards.

But I can't help thinking if ya put 'em all in a UFC cage, the 70s dudes with their porn star 'tashes would be the ones walking out.

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