ZBE: a new initialism I’ve just invented. It stands for Zoom Background Embarrassment. It’s not that John McGuinness has just spotted my first edition of The Joy of Sex. No, it’s worse than that. He’s seen my paltry collection of trophies on top of the bookcase. With 23 Isle of Man TT wins and three decades of racing and winning around the world, McGuinness has amassed more silverware in a week than I have over a lifetime. Fortunately, he is not in his trophy room.
“For car racing, are they?” enquires McGuinness. “Some,” I reply. “But most are for bike racing.” That changes everything; immediately my credibility has gone up a few levels, even though my successes are very modest. “Doesn’t matter,” he says. “There’s them that sit in the pub talking about it and there’s them that actually go out and do it.”
We weren’t meant to be on Zoom; we should have been face to face at Lydden Hill circuit in Kent, where McGuinness was due to test a rallycross supercar in preparation for a race this month. He’s already competed in rallycross at Lydden in an RX150, a buggy-like machine powered by a Honda Fireblade engine. More of that event later, but suffice to say that McGuinness finished second overall.
Bikers who have a crack at racing cars is one of my favourite subjects, and it’s a theme I’ve never tired of investigating, reading and writing about. From following Valentino Rossi driving a Ford Focus WRC at Rally GB to pitching myself against a professional car racer and a bike racer to see if it’s harder to get close to a four-wheel-man’s time or a bike racer’s. You might remember that one – it was in the mag 10 or so years ago.
Another feature for this magazine, and the one that was the most revealing of all, was a road trip to the Isle of Man and then Northern Ireland in an Aston Martin Vantage Prodrive Edition, first to passenger TT winner Milky Quayle for a lap of the TT course and then for the same with the late Robert Dunlop around the Ulster Grand Prix course at Dundrod.