For the past three years, fellow CCC member Grant Hailey has been waking up at 5:30am on many a Saturday and Sunday to ride his race-prepared 1199r Ducati Panigale on track with the CCC moto team. He has logged thousands of laps during track days on circuits up and down the East Coast.
Track days are all well and good, but this summer, Grant transcended riding on track to racing on track. With competition license in hand, Grant has raced in both North Carolina and West Virginia with team CCC in the Challenge Cup Series. We caught up with Grant to collect his thoughts on the matter.
When I was sixteen……. I learnt to ride a motorcycle in Upbrook Mews, London on my mate’s 50cc Gilera…which was a bit of an exotic back then. Most of my friends were running DT50s or TS50s. I was hooked. It seemed like a natural progression from having to skateboard or cycle everywhere.
The thing that people who don’t ride motorcycles fail to understand is…… The freedom. For me it’s always been about being able to get somewhere fast and keep moving forward.
The first time I road on a racetrack……….. Was at New York Safety Track with CCC…WTF. Pitch up with my bike on the back of my Landy thinking ahh few club members out with their road bikes. NO this shit is real, these guys are serious about racing. I’ve been trying to catch Mike and Phelim ever since!
I didn’t think racing a motorcycle would……. Be this fucking scary! Race start into turn 1 with 20-30 odd other bikes buzzing around you like hornets, all racing to get to the same apex.
After my first official race weekend, I decided to do it again because….. Now I’m really hooked and want to spend every living moment racing my bike.
The motorcycle racers I’ve met this season have……… Been varied. There’s the young bloods, who want to take home as much silverware as possible, are highly competitive, want to reach MotoAmerica and beyond if they can. But there’s also this bunch older/mature racers that are there for the pure love of racing and motorcycles, have been doing this year after year, don’t need to get to MotoAmerica but want to improve their riding/race skills to shave of those few seconds to catch the guys in front. They have also been some of the most encouraging of this rookie to push on when he gets despondent about his lack of pace. “Small steps”, as Marcus says.
Next year, my goal is to……… Run Pirelli SC0’s! Run a wet race, obviously get faster and improve my riding skills, which is going to mean a few more race classes for me.
Classic Car Club is mega impressed with Grant’s efforts and achievements. If you’re a member and want to race a motorcycle or car with us, just let us know.