Mackenzie's Final Race

Niall Mackenzie reminisces about the final race of his 20-year career


Mac still thrashing Ducatis

It was great rounding off a 20-year career at Knockhill - where it all started. But now I can say that I've made the right decision and that my racing career is no more. I'll still ride bikes for TWO, though!

The phrase 'What am I doing here?' ran through my head a couple of times as I scared myself silly at Knockhill.
I wanted to really give it my all, and to do that I made a pact with myself to try and scare myself daft at least once every session, to prove to myself that I was really trying.

But come race day I still didn't know what to expect, as I'd not raced for about ten months so while there was no real pressure on me to perform, I wanted to really enjoy myself all the same.

Any of you who watched race one could see that there was never any team orders between me and John Crawford. I want to give John his due, because if he would have even thought that there was an issue with team orders he wouldn't have turned up, we've got that sort of relationship, based more on friendship and respect than anything else.

And anyway, it's not really Clarion Suzuki's or Paul Denning's style to do the team orders thing, that's why we spent that first race beating each other up a bit.

Still, John did have a bit of a bad Knockhill, with qualifying on the third row, battling with me in race one and then tangling with James Haydon at Macintyre's in race two. He's not had much in the way of luck at his home track for a few years, has John, even in his double Supersport 600 championship winning years, but he'll come fighting back.

The bike itself though was great to ride, I can see why Chris Walker really enjoyed racing it last year. You always feel as though you can ride it right to the edge of the performance envelope, get the thing sideways and know it's going to come back in line. In comparison, the Ducati I rode last year didn't feel so user-friendly.

I guess it's down to the fact that at the end of the day I'm just feel more at home on a four-cylinder bike. In comparison, the GSX-R was so much more sorted than the developing R7 I rode for Virgin Yamaha in 1999, and turned quicker than the YZF I won the title on three times - that bike always felt a bit lardy to muscle around.

Look at how the bikes and lap times have moved on, the boys these days are running at around a half a second of a lap quicker than my days on the Cadbury's Boost YZF750, so it was nice to still be competitive.

I guess I made the comeback because I really felt like I wanted to finish my career properly. When I went to Knockhill last season, I had every intention to go back and race this year, but then by the end of the season, I'd made my decision to quit.

But I always felt like I wanted to go back and say a farewell to the fans up there, as I felt it would be good to round off a career that started at Knockhill 20 years before. And yes, being a Scotsman I made sure I was paid to do it, but honestly, that wasn't the prime motivator!
The major thing is that I've always had a good relationship with the people who run Knockhill. They've been good to me in the past, allowed me to test there and so on, so it's good to say farewell to them all as well as the fans.

All the support was simply mega, they had a record turnout, which although I'm sure wasn't there just for me, were a brilliant crowd all the same. I'm not an emotional person, but I was just chuffed to bits to be there in front of them all and finish my career there.

Still, It all must have gone to my head, as despite hating throwing things away, (I've got all of my race leathers from my career), I completely lost the plot and ended up throwing three helmets into the crowd over the course of the weekend! The first one was after I'd done a couple of demo laps on my old LC race bike. It was one of my original AGV helmets from my first racing years. It was followed after the Superbike races by two brand-new ones! All I can say is that I hope whoever caught them looks after them!

People were amazed that I got into those original leathers, but the secret was that I just borrowed some leather lard from Rob McElnea. He uses it when he wants to get into his old leathers, apparently... It felt a bit bizarre riding around them, no real protection and no knee-sliders.

Another blast from the past came for my wife Jan. She'd never really expected me to retire at the end of last year and has been saying over the last few months that she'd been getting quite used to having me around the house. But before Knockhill it all goes pear shaped for her, as I was suddenly back to being a grumpy old pre-race git I always was...I think she was also a bit more nervous about me going racing than she'd ever been before. She was also a bit sceptical about me making a comeback after 20 good, safe years of racing. She didn't mind me doing it, though, but told me to return to 'Planet Normal' as soon as the race was over.

All the good stuff came back to me about why I raced in the first place, without the pressure of getting the bike to work better during each session. All told I now know I've made the right decision to retire. I'll test bikes for race teams and TWO, but my racing career is no more. After all, I have just turned 40.

At my birthday party a couple of weeks before the race, I'd been bought one of those posing pouch things. This one was in the shape of an Elephant's face. So, you know where the trunk is? That's where you drop your old wee fella in. Despite mine not being grey with age, I'd had a few drinks and decided I had to display my new gift. Thanks to a bit of Dutch courage, I got my KTM Duke out of the garage and went for a spin around the garden, standing up on the seat so everyone could have a look at my pouch.

What followed next can only be described as 'poor throttle control' as I end up on the grass, on my arse, with my legs in the air and a sad, looking grey-haired elephant staring out at my party guests.

Considering that poor performance, perhaps I've retired just in time...

This feature was first published in the October 2001 issue of TWO

It was great rounding off a 20-year career at Knockhill - where it all started. But now I can say that I made the right decision and to end my racing career them. Plus, I still get to ride bikes for Visordown!

The phrase 'What am I doing here?' ran through my head a couple of times as I scared myself silly at Knockhill.

I wanted to really give it my all, and to do that I made a pact with myself to try and scare myself daft at least once   every session, to prove to myself that I was really trying.

 But come race day I still didn't know what to expect, as I'd not raced for about ten months so while there was no real pressure on me to perform, I wanted to really enjoy myself all the same.

Any of you who watched race one could see that there was never any team orders between me and John Crawford. I want to give John his due, because if he would have even thought that there was an issue with team orders he wouldn't have turned up, we've got that sort of relationship, based more on friendship and respect than anything else.

And anyway, it's not really Clarion Suzuki's or Paul Denning's style to do the team orders thing, that's why we spent that first race beating each other up a bit.

Still, John did have a bit of a bad Knockhill, with qualifying on the third row, battling with me in race one and then tangling with James Haydon at Macintyre's in race two. He's not had much in the way of luck at his home track for a few years, has John, even in his double Supersport 600 championship winning years, but he'll come fighting back.

The bike itself though was great to ride, I can see why Chris Walker really enjoyed racing it last year. You always feel as though you can ride it right to the edge of the performance envelope, get the thing sideways and know it's going to come back in line. In comparison, the Ducati I rode in my final season didn't feel so user-friendly.

Niall Mackenzie retires

I guess it's down to the fact that at the end of the day I'm just feel more at home on a four-cylinder bike. In comparison, the GSX-R was so much more sorted than the developing R7 I rode for Virgin Yamaha in 1999, and turned quicker than the YZF I won the title on three times - that bike always felt a bit lardy to muscle around.

Look at how the bikes and lap times have moved on, the boys these days are running at around a half a second of a lap quicker than my days on the Cadbury's Boost YZF750, so it was nice to still be competitive.

I guess I made the comeback because I really felt like I wanted to finish my career properly. When I went to Knockhill last season, I had every intention to go back and race this year, but then by the end of the season, I'd made my decision to quit.

But I always felt like I wanted to go back and say a farewell to the fans up there, as I felt it would be good to round off a career that started at Knockhill 20 years before.  And yes, being a Scotsman I made sure I was paid to do it, but honestly, that wasn't the prime motivator!

The major thing is that I've always had a good relationship with the people who run Knockhill. They've been good to me in the past, allowed me to test there and so on, so it's good to say farewell to them all as well as the fans.

All the support was simply mega, they had a record turnout, which although I'm sure wasn't there  just for me, were a brilliant crowd all the same. I'm not an emotional person, but I was just chuffed to bits to be there in front of them all and finish my career there.

Still, It all must have gone to my head, as despite hating throwing things away, (I've got all of my race leathers from my career), I completely lost the plot and ended up throwing three helmets into the crowd over the course of the weekend! The first one was after I'd done a couple of demo laps on my old LC race bike. It was one of my original AGV helmets from my first racing years. It was followed after the Superbike races by two brand-new ones! All I can say is that I hope whoever caught them looks after them!

People were amazed that I got into those original leathers, but the secret was that I just borrowed some leather lard from Rob McElnea. He uses it when he wants to get into his old leathers, apparently... It felt a bit bizarre riding around them, no real protection and no knee-sliders.

Another blast from the past came for my wife Jan. She'd never really expected me to retire at the end of last year and has been saying over the last few months that she'd been getting quite used to having me around the house. But before Knockhill it all goes pear shaped for her, as I was suddenly back to being a grumpy old pre-race git I always was...I think she was also a bit more nervous about me going racing than she'd ever been before. She was also a bit sceptical about me making a comeback after 20 good, safe years of racing. She didn't mind me doing it, though, but told me to return to 'Planet Normal' as soon as the race was over.

All the good stuff came back to me about why I raced in the first place, without the pressure of getting the bike to work better during each session. All told I now know I've made the right decision to retire. I'll test bikes for race teams and Visordown, but my racing career is no more.

At my birthday party a couple of weeks before the race, I'd been bought one of those posing pouch things. This one was in the shape of an Elephant's face. So, you know where the trunk is? That's where you drop your old wee fella in. Despite mine not being grey with age, I'd had a few drinks and decided I had to display my new gift. Thanks to a bit of Dutch courage, I got my KTM Duke out of the garage and went for a spin around the garden, standing up on the seat so everyone could have a look at my pouch.

What followed next can only be described as 'poor throttle control' as I end up on the grass, on my arse, with my legs in the air and a sad, looking grey-haired elephant staring out at my party guests.

Considering that poor performance, perhaps I'd retired just in time...

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