The Reality of racing – Josh Wainwright

17 year-old Josh Wainwright is racing the hard way. sometimes you have to sacrifice everything in life for the chance of going all the way...

I used to race against Bradley Smith in 2004, battle with him all the time in the RS125 Championship. Sometimes I would beat him, sometimes he would beat me. In the end he had the backing and the money to take him beyond the British scene. That’s why I’m still where I am now and he is racing 125GP. The first race of that season it was either me, Bradley Smith, Danny Webb or Kev Coughlan who would win the Championship. We were always the top four. But that was the year I kept crashing, I was pushing hard because my bike was so slow. At the end of the season I found my bike’s power-valve was stuck shut. It’s hard seeing those guys on TV, finding out they get paid to attend events like the NEC show, knowing it could have been me.

It’s just my dad really who funds our racing, and my uncle helps me out. They both used to race at a national level but it was my uncle who first got me into road racing. He bought me the 125 and supported me that first year. He used to do all our transporting in a big Winnebago, but he sold it this year to buy me an R6. He doesn’t really get anything out of supporting me, he’s just enthusiastic about me racing. Both him and my dad love it. All year they just work, work, work to fund our racing. Then after racing stops they just work and save ready for the next season. For me it will cost about £12,000 to race, that’s everything paid for. But it will cost about £15-20,000 for my brother to do British superstock next year and my little brother is starting racing 125s next year, and that’s another £5-6,000. I reckon next year our racing will cost the family about £30,000.

The family hasn’t had a holiday for five or six years now and I think my mum and dad are starting to suffer for it. I don’t think mum wants us to do it anymore. My dad does, but mum really doesn’t. All we do is put money into the racing, we don’t put it into a new car, the house, anything. It’s hard, but if we lost the racing there wouldn’t be anything for us to do, we would just sit around the house all day. It’s our hobby, our life. The only reason I come to work is to pay for the racing, and all my wages go back to my dad towards racing. A set of tyres costs £260, and I use two sets a weekend. An average weekend racing costs close to £1,000, and that’s without crashing. And there is no prize fund. Two years ago a win was £300, but as soon as I started doing well there wasn’t a prize fund anymore! I won the 400 Championship and everyone said there was going to be a cheque for £2,000, but when I got there I got a trophy and nothing else. Luckily enough I’m too young to go out drinking or spending money that way, but since I’ve been doing well I don’t see the point in going out all weekend.

I don’t really have an aim, but I do want to race for a job. I don’t want be out in the rain fixing bikes in puddles. That’s the target. I am heading the right way, everyone recognises me in the paddock for my riding, but that isn’t enough. It’s who you know. If a team approaches you they don’t say “I want you to ride for me,” they say “I want you to ride for me, it will cost you £25,000.” You have to buy a seat and we can’t afford it. If you have the cash you can get a ride. I got Best Young Rider of the Year at MRO and Bemsee, Cal Crutchlow’s name is on that trophy. But I haven’t got any offers for a ride.

My big chance would have been the R6 Cup, I would have gone all-out to win that, to get that ride on a supersport team, that was the only way possible for me to break through. It would have been £25,000, but it was in instalments and we would have found a way. The R6 Cup was the only way to get anywhere, but it isn’t running anymore, so that chance has gone.

I will never get tired of riding bikes, even when I have a bad weekend I still love it. I crashed at Cadwell, broke my ankle, but still went out and raced. I got 13th from 32nd on the grid, first time out on the bike. Dad had to put me on the bike the next day because I couldn’t even walk. You know, if a team manager came up and said to me “I want you to ride my bike next year, and no fee,” I’d just break down in tears. It’s all that I want to do. I just need that person to give me that bike.