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TT Website Interviews - Ian Simpson

   

All pictures kindly supplied by Bill Snelling of FoTTofinders


Ian Simpson has been there and done it all, in the world of Motor Cycle Racing. Three TT wins, two Ulster Grand Prix wins, five North West 200 wins plus numerous British Championship success’s are just some of the impressive statistics Ian has on his CV.
But now at the age of 31, due to a serious accident at the start of this season, the likeable Scot has had to hang up his leathers for good.

We spoke to him from his home in Dalbeattie and asked him to reflect over his career and asked him about that awful accident that brought an untimely end to his career.


Ian, thank you for taking the time to speak with us first of all.
No problem.

So that’s it, you have finished racing for good?
Aye, I’m finished really because of my right leg. It’s twisted and it needs another operation to straighten it up and it’s about an inch and a half shorter than my left leg as well. It would be too hard to get the strength back into it, I mean I would still love to race, but I always said that if I wasn’t going to be quick enough, I’d give up.

Tell us about the accident. Can you recall any details of what happened?
Aye, I can remember all right. We had a few silly problems with the bike and I’d only qualified in eleventh and I was so mad with myself for being that far down. I started getting through them, but I could see Jim Moodie and Kirk McArthy pulling away and I was getting really frustrated getting held up by a couple of guys in front of me and down I went.

If you hadn’t have crashed do you think you would have been in with a shout for the Championship?
Definitely, I would say so. I always have been before.

And what about your injuries, how serious were they?
Well I broke the bottom of both legs and the top of my right leg. I broke my legs in 92, 95 and 99 so it’s the fourth time it’s happened.

Has the rehabilitation been difficult for you?
Yeah, my right leg will never be right again now because like I said before it’s nearly two inches shorter than the left one and it’s rotated 45 degrees as well. They did a brilliant job of putting it back together at all, because they were going to amputate it at one stage. I don’t really like talking about my injuries too much…

Of course

All right, you’ve had a wonderful career albeit shorter than expected. I would like to ask you more about the old days if I may? When did you start racing?
I started when I was sixteen in 86 and I went British Championship racing in 88.

Obviously with your father, Bill, being a successful rider before you, it must have been hard to resist the temptation of starting racing yourself?
Yeah I always wanted to race.

Who were your Motor Cycling Heroes when you were younger?
Joey was probably my biggest hero. He was the boy. But people like Rob Mcelnae and in the later years people like Niall Mackenzie.

Your Isle of Man TT and North West 200 victories must have been some of the highlights of your career, but which race in particular is your most memorable?
Err, there are races people probably wouldn’t remember except myself but I can remember a British Championship 600 Race at Oulton Park in 91. That was the hardest I’ve probably ever rode a bike I think.

Who were you racing against that day?
I won it, second was a dice between Carl Fogarty, Jim Moodie, Phil Boorley and Mark Farmer. It was a good race because I ended up winning it by about 6-8 seconds and broke the lap record, which was 1:40.4 at the time, wasn’t beat for a good few years. I mean if you look at 600’s going round Oulton now, there’s people on much better bikes with 25 Horse Power more on better tyres still not doing 1:40.

I can remember that day losing the front and then the back on just about every single corner.


On the subject of the TT, the future of the event is looking under serious threat at the moment. What are your views on the situation?
I would say definitely because, I mean I would never slate the TT. I’ve had the most enjoyable times riding bikes at the TT. It’s an incredible buzz and incredibly good fun, but it’s so dangerous and I’ve lost friends, very very good friends who lost their lives there and I’ll never forget that.

As far as the date clash goes, I think it’s absolutely scandalous that the clash has occurred with the British Championship. Whether you’re a TT fan or not, and I obviously am, I think it’s down to pure greed. It’s the only explanation. The TT only takes up two weekends, so I’m sure they could organise it so there was no clash.

And it’s not just a problem for the riders; there are the spectators, marshals a hell of a lot of mechanics from the short circuits that help out lads at the TT. Then there’s the teams like V&M and Honda Britain and Vimto that do both plus Michelin, Pirelli, Dunlop, Regina Chains and Padgett’s, just about everyone does both.

Whoever makes these decisions obviously doesn’t know the first thing about bike racing. If you don’t know any better, you may think short circuit racing is one thing and road racing is another, but it’s not like that. It’s all the same people really.

It baffles me. How can they even contemplate clashing the dates like that?

Can I ask you about Joey Dunlop? You raced against him many times during your career and I’m sure you respected him an awful lot. What sort of impact do you think his passing had on the sport and what were your views personally?
Well the TT isn’t going to be the same again. When the news got through I was really really sad. I think it’s all been said before. Motorbikes can be a hell of a cruel thing and I think that’s what makes them….

I’m honoured to say that Joey was my friend. We had some good laughs together and that.

Other than Joey, which rider that you have ridden against do you respect the most?
Well I’ve had a million dices with Jim Moodie over the years. Every time you get your head down and ride as hard as you can for about ten laps and then you look over your shoulder and that bloody purple helmet would still be right up your arse.

You must be quite close with Jim. Do you know if he’ll be at the TT next year?
I don’t know. His contract will be for the British Championship so that will come first and the TT second. But like I’ve said there’s no need for that to happen.

So changing the subject slightly, tell us what you are up to now. I believe you’ve opened a shop?
Aye, I’ve got a wee shop. It sells stuff like Quicksilver and Oxbow sports gear. It’s called Sport 22 and it’s in Michael Street in Dumfries.

And what about the Rallying?
I’ve had rally cars for about five years now. I just do a few rallies in the winter for a laugh. I’ve got a mark 2 Escort with a 16 Valve Vauxhall Engine in it.

John Crawford is into it as well. He’s got a Sunbeam with the same engine as me in it. It’s really good fun with no pressure.

And what does the future hold for you Ian?. Are you going to continue to be involved with Motor Cycle Racing?
A couple of teams have spoke to us about running a Supersport team. I can’t really talk too much about sponsors etc but I think my dad and me will be back involved with the sport next year.

Excellent. Well thanks for speaking to us; it’s been a great interview….
No problem I love talking about Road Racing. I’m like you, I love it and it’s great to watch and people who slag it, and have never seen it, well, I don’t think they realise what they’re missing. The Atmosphere at Road Races is second to none.

Yeah, I’m born and bread Manx but I love Ireland myself for the racing. It’s so accessible over there.
Yeah Irelands the best place I’ve ever raced. The atmosphere and the people, the Irish are so knowledgeable about the sport.

They certainly are. Anyway, like I said it’s been wonderful talking to you…

My pleasure anytime…

And I hope we’ll see you at Skerries sat on the hedge next year….
(Laughs) Maybe, Maybe


Interview by Paul Phillips. Special thanks to Kev and Col from Moose Racing.


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