I celebrated my win last year by stuffing the wife’s belly full of arms and legs
My daughter is a month old but it hasn’t changed how I view my racing. A week after my son was born he was at the race of the year with me and the wife at Mallory Park and he did the whole of the world championship series with me in 2002. We haven’t let our lives revolve around bringing the kids up in one place. You bring your kids up the way you want, and whether it’s right or wrong that’s how we’ve decided to bring ours up. He’s not into bikes, he likes history and weird stuff. It’s different, in a nice way.
I hope to stop racing the TT sooner rather than later
I’m waiting to hear that demon in my head saying, “Right John, that’s it, pack it in now.” ’Cos it’ll get you, eventually. It has to, it’s got other people and eventually it’ll get me. But I’m still sharp, I look at Steve Plater at 42 and think for fucksake. He’s riding better than he ever has and right now at 38 I’m as up for it as I’ve ever been.
I have issues with my neighbour, she’s a pain in the arse
She’s a fifty-odd-year-old, cocooned in a six-bedroom house and she just collects shit and moans about everything. I think she just needs a good shag, off a bloke or a woman. She moaned when I put a fence up, I didn’t have planning permission but I do have the freedom of the town, so I bunged it up anyway. I had to swear my allegiance to Morecambe and Lancaster, swear I wouldn’t deface it.
I’m making no changes to last year’s bike for this year
I know what the TT’s like, we could get there and there’ll be rain for three days. That’s when teams start flapping and making silly changes. The package we had last year is perfect, all I’ll do is clean the flies off the bike, put some fresh fuel in it and pump the tyres up. There’s no better a set-up to start this year with than the one we had on the bike at the end of last year.
When I was 13 I used to sneak onto the ferry on my own
Just to go and pull wheelies on the prom on my BMX. I first came to the island in ’82 when I was ten, to watch my Dad racing at Jurby. I remember crying on the boat on the way home because I didn’t want to leave. The old ferry was a side loader and I used to hide behind cars that were paying to board and ride on beside the cars as they pulled away. My mum and dad knew I’d come home as I had nowhere to sleep. When I was 16 I’d swapped the BMX for a racer and bought a tent so I could stay over.
I wouldn’t trade my TTs for more short circuit wins
People seem to have really short memories, I was British 250 champion in ’99, did WSS in ’02, I’ve won at Daytona, Macau and finished third in Superstocks last year. I guess the TT just overshadows everything but people always think I’m no good at short stuff. The gap between Superstock and Superbikes at the TT is amazing now. You can go in a shop, buy a nine grand bike, put a shock kit and an exhaust on and run with £180k Superbikes. It’s madness and all the better for that. It’s also become trendy to do, which I find hilarious.
“I’m not doing that, fuck the TT,” was DJ’s response
When we first started talking about coming to the Island. That was when we were both doing Superteens back in ’91. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I started racing here and we both started the same year. First time out I got a 15th and won best newcomer. Nobody gave him the credit he deserved, that boy was fantastic on a bike, even on the short circuits. He was a big lad (Dave Jefferies) but he was brilliant.
The appeal of the island has never changed for me
I still love the whole build up, I enjoy making sure I’m surrounded by the right people with the right bike and set-up. But, the biggest thrill is still winning. To do six laps on a 210bhp superbike, with pit stops, to link every corner and make the most of every single section is amazing, but to do that faster than anyone else in the world and win is such a hard feeling to explain, but that’s what keeps me coming back.
Valentino Rossi presented me with my trophy last year
It was great. He was being pulled from pillar to post so we didn’t get much of a chance to chat, so he invited me to his garage at the British GP. I didn’t want him to turn out to be a knob, you know what they say about never meeting your heroes. He was bouncing about when we saw him, looked genuinely pleased that I’d shown up and took me and the family into his garage for half an hour. It was brilliant. Without a doubt he could win at the TT.
I have got absolutely no interests in my life
Apart from motorbikes and my family, which is really sad isn’t it? I like speedway. I’m a diehard Belle Vue supporter, they stuffed it to Eastbourne a few nights back and it made my week. I’ve got the best job in the world. A lot of my mates are tradesman, out of the house before breakfast, back after teatime and they never get to see their kids. I get to go racing and do the school run.
I always knew I was going to end up racing here
While everyone else was studying pi squared or whatever, I was over here studying this place. I missed my chemistry and English exams because I wanted to go and watch the 600TT, they tried to charge me £15 for missing them. I’ve got no qualifications at all. DJ didn’t either but I had so much respect for him, for the numbers he could get here.
I’d like to stay around bikes when I pack the racing in
I suppose I’ll be a bit like Victor Meldrew, knocking around kicking bits and pieces. A lot of the guys I know that have retired say they can’t watch racing, but I love watching racing. I can think of no better way to take it in if I’m not riding than to be sat with a few Stellas and the radio on, talking shit with everyone else. All I can say to the fans that come over for the TT and want to ride laps is be careful. If you get drawn into a lap, no matter how good you are, you’ll come unstuck. Then, your world will change.