Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Tomorrow I hit the road, heading south to Phillip Island for the 28th annual Island Classic. As usual I’ll be doing my MotoPod duties, seeking out important and interesting people and interviewing them for broadcast later on the interweb. I’ll also be acting as the team dogsbody for my good mates in Team USA and experiencing the divided loyalties that the IC always brings with it.
This will be my 8th IC meeting and the story of how I got to be involved at all is a fascinating one and one which I am not sure I have told before. My first IC was in 2013 and it only came about because I wanted to meet my internet friend, California’s Ed Haazer who had been enormously helpful in supplying some very valuable and exotic parts for the Shadowfax restoration. Being a dedicated Kawasaki man, Ed was intrigued with the project and absolutely refused my offer of paying for the parts AND paid the postage himself to boot.
Ed came out to race at the event as a guest of Sunset Racing in Melbourne and that’s how I got to know the gang; team boss, Roger Gunn and Mick Rees (the Cap’n) and the rest of his crazy crew. In fact I shared digs with them the first year and what a hoot it was.
I picked Ed up from the airport and took him to the workshop and, while we travelled I gave him a potted Australian History lesson. I was very soon to realise where this was going to end up. Once at the track the next day, Ed busied himself with the multitude of preparations that need to be done and I was able to help with pointing him in the right direction a number of times. While we were having a cuppa he reached into his pocket and produced a small silver device. I asked him what it was and he told me it was a voice recorder that belonged to a friend of his back home. He went on to tell me about MotoPod and Jim Race who had lent him the recorder and asked him to try and grab some interviews for the programme while he was “down under”. I’d never heard of such a thing but it sounded interesting.
Late on Friday, Ed came back to me and said, “You know what, I’m never going to have time to do this MotoPod thing and I don’t really know what to ask anyway. You seem to have the gift of the gab, how would YOU feel about doing it instead of me?” I was a bit taken aback and started making noises about not knowing what to do either, not being sure if his boss would appreciate it if he sub-contracted the job out to me, etc, etc, etc..
Bottom line? I took the voice recorder, did about 16 interviews and handed the device back to Ed at the end of the weekend and promptly forgot about the whole tings. Until a few days later when I go a phone call from him. “Phil,” he said, “I listened to some of those interviews on the plane on the ay home, Jim is going to LOVE them.” And, it turned out he did because I’ve had the gig ever since and the listeners keep contacting MotoPod and telling them how much they enjoy my work. Ah, the price of fame.
So, as I said,this year will be my 8th visit to the Island Classic and it was looking unlikely up until a couple of days ago. Anybody who’s done the meeting will know that the Island is a long way from everywhere, accommodation costs are prohibitive and the additional expenses mean that you have to dig deep to do the show. And I’m on a pension that doesn’t leave me any “wiggle room” for big expenses like this. Much as I was looking forward to going I wasn’t going to ask anyone to help me financially (it was offered) as I am only too aware of how much it is costing everyone else.
However, I will be going, somehow we always manage to do the things we really want to do, don’t we? It is likely that, for some of my American buddies, this will be their last visit for the classic (now you want to talk about COSTS, these guys’ costs are horrendous) and I really can’t pass up the opportunity to see them one more time. The reason I will be going is that a couple of very good friends have figured out a way of making the trip more affordable and to them I am very grateful. I won’t name them but they read this blog and they will know that I am thanking them wholeheartedly.
Do you reckon that I enjoy the Classic? Heck, yes, I do.