The Professionals - Bradley Smith

Like a racing version of Mick Hucknall, 17 year-old Bradley Smith talks about learning to drive and meeting girls...

How much pressure is there on you to win this year, especially after your practice results?

Pressure from the team, nothing. Pressure from the fans, nothing. But pressure from myself, huge. I want to win races, that’s my whole desire. I don’t want to just be a runner, I want to be there for a meaning and that meaning is race or go home. I think the possibility to win races is high because of the level of the team and the bike I’ve been given to ride. But we will just have to wait and see.

Aren’t you still a growing lad – Isn’t there a danger you’re getting a bit tall for a 125?

I’m 17 now so I’m still growing a little bit, but if I go onto bigger bikes that shouldn’t be a problem, it will be more in my favour. I’m growing upwards more than outwards, so I’m not too heavy and can still get away riding a 125. As long as I fit I’ll ride that bike, but I think I have one, maybe two seasons left before I move up to a 250. But it is a result-based move.

How do you find time to balance the whole school/international GP racer thing?

Well I’ve stopped school completely, racing is now my sole focus. I don’t have to worry about school anymore. This is my job in hand and my opportunity to make a future is in racing. I’ve talked it through with my parents and that’s what I’ve decided. I’ve done my GCSEs and come away with not bad results, but it’s better for me to now concentrate on the racing results. This is the big thing in my life right now.

What reaction did you get when you turned up at school with a trophy under your arm having been on TV all weekend?

The thing is they didn’t really realise, I didn’t talk about my racing that much. It was when the press wanted to come into school to take pictures that the other kids noticed. I was a bit reluctant on that because I just wanted to be known as a normal person, which I was at school. But once I started to get on the TV it was a bit different.

You got a podium in your first years’ racing in 2007. Are you going to win a race in 2008?

I’m sure going to try.  I hope I can win some races and get some more podiums because it was a great feeling at Le Mans last year and I want that feeling back.

You’re getting paid a bit better than most lads your age. What are you spending it on, or does your dad make you save it like a sensible person?

I’m a tight git so I don’t spend money on anything. If I can get other people to pay for something I will. I don’t really look into the financial side of things, I let my dad sort that out. But the most extravagant thing I have bought recently was a heart-rate monitor. It was top of the range and was over £250. If I’m buying something it’s not clothes, it’s training gear to make myself better.

You’re finally old enough to drive now, so what will you first car be? A porsche?

I did a couple of tests recently but failed so it’s probably better for me to stay on the bike than be driving any car, but I’m going to try again in a couple of weeks. I’m lucky enough to be sponsored by Mitsubishi so I’ve got an L200 pick-up at the moment, but I have to be chauffeured around. I can drive it with an adult next to me, but it’s a bit of a monster!

Why is it that Britain has to wait 20 years for the next potential GP Champion, while the rest of the world churns them out every 24 months?

I think it’s because motorcycle racing isn’t a highly enough promoted sport. People just don’t have the interest like they do in Spain and Italy. Over there you can expect 200,000 people to come through the gates at the weekend, in the UK you struggle to get 50,000. There is a lack of interest in English sport, but the guys who do come to watch are fantastic.

Do you need a certain image in front of the TV cameras so you don’t get labelled boring?

Well it depends. You can be fun and bubbly if you are fast, both of those things go in your favour. But if it’s not your style then surely just being fast is good enough. I could certainly never pretend to be someone that I’m not for the sake of it.

Racing a 125 is intense with lots of elbow bashing. Is it physical with the other riders?

The thing with 125s is that there is a lot of young riders out there, there’s a lot of excitement and craziness from riders. We are young at the end of the day, when people start getting past 25 they have more responsibility, but we just go out there and give it 100% all the time. There is a bit of bumping and barging but it’s not dirty at all, it’s kind of acceptable, it happens.

Who travels to the rounds with you, Is it important to have family around for support?

My family try to get to the races but I usually travel alone, especially to the long fly-aways. It doesn’t faze me, I just get on with it. My team is like my second family. Some riders rely on friend/family, but I’m quite easy going, I can amuse myself.

Now then, Are you currently with a girl or is there room for prospective ladies to apply?

No. It is honestly too busy and I haven’t got a girlfriend at the moment. The thing is you could say I’m…well, not selfish, but racing is my priority at the moment. It’s the one thing I want to do more than anything else, and a girlfriend would always come in second place. Some girls don’t like to hear that. “Do you love me or your bike?” I love my bike much more, double than them, so there is no point. At the moment!