Tai Woffinden: Chasing the Dirt
Zoning in on his second World Title, three times British Champion Tai Woffinden on speedway and the here and now
I got into speedway when I was really young. The thing I enjoy most about the sport is the Adrenaline.
I’m riding a 500 cc bike with no brakes and I’m trying to ride the bike as fast as I can. That’s what keeps me going. It might look simple but in fact speedway is one of the most complex motor sports because you’re trying to deal with the wheel spinning. In every other motor sport you’re trying to get the power down to the ground. We don’t have any traction control on these bikes. We don’t have any technology to help us. It’s just about you and your sensitivity and your skill. That’s what I love so much about speedway.
Because of this, the sport doesn’t compare to anything. I’ve had mates who are high level superbike riders and motocross riders who, after a few laps of the speedway track, can’t stress enough how awkward, uncomfortable speedway is. I think I put my success in this difficult sport to simple hard work. When we first came back to England to live when I was in my teens, we had nothing. We lived in a caravan, trying to race anywhere and everywhere we could. Now I’ve got two houses and nice cars and things have changed for us. I’ve achieved these things because of all the hard work I’ve had to put in. It makes you appreciate everything that much more when you start like this. Now I can have most things that I want and it feels that much sweeter.
That is why winning is important for me. If you’re not winning, then times are tough. When everything is working then everything seems so easy. When it’s not, it’s so hard. There doesn’t seem to be any in-between. Whether it’s mechanical problems or problems with your bike or you’re not focussed enough, you’re not eating properly, you’re not training enough, everything seems out of shape. There are so many different aspects of things that can go right, and an equal number of things that can go wrong. It’s a thousand piece puzzle. If you want to be the best you’ve got to have every single piece in place.
Being British champion three years in a row is awesome. Winning the hat-trick at Wolverhampton in June was another step towards becoming better, improving myself. I planned to take that on to the British GP at the Millennium Stadium on July 4, but unfortunately though and I really enjoyed the weekend, it didn’t go right for me on the night. That race meeting was the biggest by far on the event calendar. It’s an amazing atmosphere; it’s a whole different level to any other event I’ve been to. Seeing the amazing crowds in Cardiff, both on the street and in the stadium, tells me that it’s possible for Speedway to get back to being as popular as it was in the 1970s & 1980s.
I’m pretty chilled out before a race. Having my fiancée Faye around is brilliant. Because of her personality she calms me down, though I’m pretty chilled out generally. If I am in a bad mood she’ll get me out of it. I’m not sure if that’s because of my upbringing in Western Australia, but we used to go surfing all the time. Then I’d race, and then I’d watch the clock to see when it was time to go surfing again. When you drop into the wave and you’re sitting in the barrel and you’re carving up and down in there it’s so smooth and you haven’t got to think about anything, it’s just happening there, right in the here and now, that’s where I’m at now on the track.
I’m not thinking about anything else but riding to the best of my ability.
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