It all came together fairly quickly with the help of my agent and, to be honest, it was a little unexpected. We were discussing the Macau GP event and how there was a long waiting list to even get invited to the event. Basically, you need road course experience to even be eligible for Macau these days. That got us talking about the IOM TT, which then had us talking about the Northwest 200. One thing led to another and before I knew it, my agent had Rico Penzhofer convinced that I was the man for the job.
Before I could even really get my head around what was happening, they had already scheduled a test for me at Magny-Cours over Easter weekend in April. I will be testing with the Penz13.com World Endurance team, so I better be on top of my game!
The most unbelievable thing is the TT this year is also heavily over-subscribed, and they had to turn away heaps of riders that have raced the TT previously. It's currently front page news at www.iomtt.com! They basically took 66 entries that all have averaged over 120mph laps, and then some big name riders, and then some international newcomers.. ME! (FYI, I would have never gotten in without the backing of www.penz13.com behind me.)
My teammate Simon Andrews is a popular racer when it comes to road courses and endurance events. He was part of the Honda TT Legends last year alongside John McGuinness and Cam McDonald. He had a couple of very serious accidents in a row and will come back strong in 2014, and there are a lot of people waiting to see how he does. I am lucky to have him around as he brings a lot of experience to the team. Believe me, I need all the advice I can get.
The initial press release announcing my participation went live and, within 12 hours, I had emails from all over the world coming in from friends with comments and also various journalists around the world who wanted to talk to me. Here is a small selection of the over 75 friends that emailed me… (Future blog coming about the POWER OF MARKETING)
“I think any road race you really have to commit and be mentally prepared to not fear death.”
- El Sammo - Professional Stunt Rider based in Australia
"I want to show you my respect as a great friend for racing in the Island of Man... You'll show everybody who you are! All my best!"
- Ruben Xaus-Former WorldSBK & MotoGP Rider.
“UNBELIEVABLE!!! (Curse words removed) Talk about media coverage, frickin awesome. Just one thing that you must promise me... don't die, ok? Is that clear? I'm with you every minute of the way on this. Can't wait for Suzuka 8 Hour as well, what's the date? You are a busy boy but you've made it happen. Cheers bro.”
- Jimbo Dawson – Former racer/Stunt rider from the UK based in China
“Are you out of your f…ing mind? Yes you probably are. What an outrageous race, totally mind blowing, I watched most of the videos on Youtube... To say to you be careful, would be ridiculous in the extreme, if you were being careful you wouldn't be in the race... So my younger old friend, I say to you... god speed you round that island and drink in the rush with every fibre of your being. Ride the devil's wind pipe and rip it from his throat, but come back to us who wait behind and worry, you have a responsibility to those that love you and would morn your loss most dearly.”
- Fraser Clark – Lifelong friend and professional photographer
This last one is from a friend of mine based in Hong Kong. He is a commercial pilot and avid motorcycle enthusiast/racer. I was telling him that I had no idea how big the TT was and all the media attention it had created and this was part of his email back to me…
“Is it big? It's the biggest motorcycling event ON THE PLANET! And you're on the cover of the official website!! I've met people there who've travelled from Australia, New Zealand, everywhere. People who've saved their money for 10 years to be able to be at the Mecca of motorcycling just once in their lifetime. Almost everyone I know that hasn't been has it on their bucket list and that is just to watch it let alone race in it... It's enormous dude. One of the great things for the fans is that the paddock is open and it's easy to meet the riders (I've met McGuiness, Rutter, Dunlop) so you'd better do some wrist exercises; you'll have a heap of autographs to sign!”
- Karl Walker – UK bike racer based in Hong Kong
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. If anything, all the feedback I have received has made me nervous more than anything. I typically don’t get to worked up about racing or big events in my life. The people around me both physically and virtually are making me get worked up. I am looking forward to the experience and, if nothing else, I will buy a souvenir t-shirt while I am over there!
(feel free to leave your own comments for Dan below)