Mick Doohan - Champion turned Businessman

Mick Doohan was the most dominant force in Grand Prix racing. His legendary intolerance of fools made him as feared off the track as he was on it. Today, Doohan applies the lessons he learned on the track to his business interests

You know, before I came to Goodwood I hadn’t ridden a motorcycle since Phillip Island last October. It’s just not something I do much these days. I’ve tried to organise it a couple of times, to have a laugh riding bikes at a trackday would be cool, but something always gets in the way. Bikes were such a huge part of my life that of course I still enjoy them, I’ll watch the MotoGP when I can, but equally I don’t really miss them for the same reasons.

I raced bikes with such intensity for so long and that really takes something out of you. I’d never want to do that again. It’s all about quality home time for me these days. After years of being on the road it’s great to be able to be based in Australia again. My office is just 200 yards from the house, so I’m there pretty much the whole time and that is the best thing! But pulling out a set of black leathers and going for a gentle ride-around? That could be fun. It’s just finding the time…

Seeing how the crowd here reacted to Lewis Hamilton brought back a lot of memories. It’s tough, dealing with that kind of pressure. You just have to deal with it as best you can at the time, but it can be quite overwhelming. I tried to be as accommodating as I could when all of that was happening to me, but after a few years it becomes harder and harder to dedicate that amount of time to people.

I guess I could be a little intimidating for journalists at times, but everything just kept snowballing, the demands on your private time increase, and in the end the pressure of trying to give everyone what they wants gets just too much. And although you don’t mean it, you end up ignoring or bypassing some people you should spend more time with. The truth is that the longer you do it the harder it is to be polite to everyone!

But now there’s no pressure. Well, not from racing anyway. It’s a whole new chapter for me since I stopped working for Honda in 2005. It’s the same for any sportsman, once you’ve quit competing and you’re not the man of the moment anymore, not in the papers every day, then the crowds drift away and you get your normal lifestyle back. That’s a huge thing, when you get back to normality.

Capital investment is what keeps me busy these days, leasing corporate jets and trading in helicopters is all part of the job, but it’s important to be diverse in today’s world and I’ve been involved in property since the early 1990s. People say how the property market is a tough place to be at the moment, but I’m not here today and gone tomorrow. We’ve gone through one down-turn already and now we’re at another, but it’s the same for business right across the board at the moment so I’m in no better or worse shape than anyone else. It’s a bit like racing, to be honest.

You take a risk at every race, you can never be sure of the outcome, but get it right and you come out on top. I’ve always needed to stay busy, always needed to have something going on otherwise I think I’d have gone quietly mad by now. And I still love flying helicopters, both personally and for the business. I’ve got a Eurocopter and an Agusta at the moment which I fly. I have to go to so many council meetings and committees that getting around in the helicopter, especially in Australia, really saves me heaps of time.

Life is as it is. I’m not planning on going anywhere, but you never know. I want to be around for another 40 years but who knows what’s around the corner? But I know that you cannot sit back and wait for things to come to you, for things to change. You have to make things happen. I really enjoy the challenge of business, taking the lows as well as the highs.

I’ve never been scared of pressure and I enjoyed that part of my life when I was racing, I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s a different time and a different me these days and I’m loving my life right now. I don’t think like a motorcycle racer any more, but I’m very happy I did it and racing gave me the means to develop this part of my life. Racing bikes was never easy, it was hard bloody work but the rewards were worth it. And that’s the same now, I enjoy what I do but it’s not easy. Good things never are. It’s all about working hard - you have to take risks. Otherwise what’s the point?