Carl Fogarty Interview
People use the word legend a bit too lightly for our liking these days, but we’re happy to use it in the case of a true sporting hero who clocked up 5 world superbike championships, Isle of Man TT Victories and a world-wide army of followers.
Ladies & Gentlemen we give you the one and only Carl Fogarty...
Interviewed by Karen Coupe
We were always impressed that after your success you stayed in Lancashire, when others for more fashionable places. What made you stay here when the world was your oyster?
It's my home, that's why. It's where I'm from I guess. Yeah, I guess when I was racing, obviously the sort of money I was earning I looked at other options like a lot of sports men do - either Monaco or the Isle of Man or something like that but at that stage I already had kids anyway and I didn't really want them to grow up in what I'd call those kind of false surroundings to be upped and moved away at some point later. Who I was and what I was doing didn't justify moving away from where I wanted to be, which is here at home in Blackburn.
Where abouts did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up pretty much in Feniscowles on Livsey Branch Road. That would have been from about two years old to about 12. I went to Fensicowles school. Before that, my first home, I don't remember it, but I'd lived in Mill Hill since I was a baby to about two years old. It was alright. I enjoyed things up to going to secondary school but then I didn't kinda enjoy things much after that to be honest. I went to Darwen Vale and I just went through the motions really. I didn't understand school if I was honest and I just wanted to get home and ride my bike around the fields. I knew what I was going to be doing anyway. Go and work for my dad and then go professional motorcycle racing, which is what happened.
How old were you when you first sat on a bike?
I got a Honda monkey bike for my birthday when I was about 9 or 10 when I lived on Livsey Branch Road. My dad got me a monkey bike from someone he knew, Ken Martins.
When you take your bike out, what's your favourite Lancashire ride?
You know what, I've never really rode bikes on the road much. When I was racing, I never went out on the road - I'm not a road rider - I just wanted to race and you can't race when you're out on the road. You find most people who race don't ride on the road. Having said that, funny enough, these last few years I have been on the road and I really like the Ribble Valley, Trough of Bowland and Kirby Lonsdale. A really nice run on a nice clear day is the long way round to Lytham. I can't remember the names of all the villages though but they are nice.
Do you go to the Devil’s Bridge where all the bikers seem to go?
Yeah - probably not there - I'd get hassled to death.
We ask all our interviewees for random recommendations, so can you give us your:
- Favourite place for a curry: Yeah, I can see it now through my window, it's the Shajan Indian Restaurant, Clayton-le-dale.
- Place for a pint: I don't really go out so I don't have a local as such, but I guess the Millstone at Mellor if you could call it that. I go maybe once a week for a drink.
- Favourite view: Where I am now. Home. But, another place where I've started walking with my wife and dog is the top of Mellor Moor - Some people in Mellor don't even know it’s there - it's a fantastic view. I think I can even see Snowdonia. There's some sort of observation bunker thing or Nuclear Fall-out shelter thing or something there. I don't know what it is but in 2000 they put some Millenium structure up and it's the highest point in Mellor - there's sign posts that points to places saying like how many miles to London and Scotland from that point. Really nice spot.
Can you tell us how you started off racing bikes locally?
Obviously, my father raced, so I was brought up with it and it's all I ever wanted to do as a kid.
I started a bit late. For 2 years, I did 14/15 school-boy Motocross and I went to Rossendale Motor-
Cross Club. It was called Vale or Rossendale Motor Cross Club. I raced in Rossendale and Burnley and it seemed back then that farms just had race tracks on them. But now people complain about ‘em with the noise from the race tracks so I think most have disappeared now.
What was the first race you had where you thought, "I'm a bit special... I could do this for a living?"
(Laughing) When I think back, I was just that confident at 12 - 13. I was just so cocky and big headed - I knew I was adamant that I wanted to be World Champion. I don't know where it came from to be honest. I knew I hated losing even when I played football. I couldn’t stand losing. But in football, you can blame the other ten players, but on a bike - it's just you. It's weird looking back now but I just believed in racing bikes and I just wanted to become the fastest man around.
So who's fault is it when you lose?
(Laughing) I just say there must be something wrong with the tyre or something. Yeah, it's the bikes fault if lose but it's down to me if I win.
Like many people from the North West, you're a TT fan. Do you still get over there for the races?
I do actually - I always wanted to win the TT more than anything else. It was the 100 years anniversary for the Isle of Man TT stars of past and present in 2007 and they invited me back. I loved being back there, I just thought, “I miss this so much.” I really miss those years. It brought back so many memories. I'll get back out there again this year. I usually go for the last race on the Friday.
Is it true you've got your own little motor cross circuit at your house?
Yes - I'm looking at it now. A little motor cross track - it's a bit small, I probably went on it twice last year. I'll probably get back quite soon to doing a bit more off the road racing. I come off all the time - well not all the time - but yeah I come off. You just get back up. All motor-cross tracks - you come off all the time. Falling over in mud - it's not a big deal.
When you're watching riders now do you wish you could get back on and compete or are you glad the threat of broken bones and expectation is behind you?
I used to pine over it and for a long time. I really missed it - I didn't want to watch it but, I've got over that now. I'd love to do it again but I don't miss sleep at night or anything like that. I smashed my shoulder in Australia in 2000 and I'll never be right again in fact that's why I had to retire. I'll sit and watch and it doesn't bother me anymore. I don't pine for it.
Have you been surprised at how strong your following has been since you retired?
Yeah, I guess I can't really understand that. I've always found it's really nice that a lad from Lancashire has a following around the world - a shy local lad from Lancashire. It's nice that people still appreciate what you did and remember you and know who you are. I was in Manchester yesterday and people recognised me.
You do have a face that most people just seem to recognise.
(Laughing) Yeah, It's my chiselled rugged good looks that stand out a mile that people just can't forget me. (laughs again) Unmistakable.
What bikes do you have at the moment?
I have an off the road Yamaha YZ 250 S, a Honda CR250 1989 which I hope to do a bit of classic racing on if I get the chance to race this year - A Honda CRX 450 for endurance stuff.
We read an interview with you that said you were winding down for a couple of years and then you're back doing stuff. Are you one of those people who gets bored if they're not doing something?
Yeah I guess. I've been asked to do TV stuff - studio guests, asked to do laps and stuff. I pick and choose what I want to do.
What does it mean to you to be a Lancashire lad?
It's just where I'm from - I'm proud of it. Wherever I raced I always carried the Lancashire rose on to front of my helmet... it was always there. You should always be proud of where you come from and I'm
proud to be from Lancashire.