Freddie Spencer, the Grand Prix legend, met our readers at the InMoto-Motosprint stand at Motodays in Rome. A long conversation, in the course of which he talked about himself, about his relationship with the bike and with fans, mentioning also a recently published book and a new one he is working on. The portrait of a champion as much philosopher as modest; that feels like a normal man
“I have never wondered if I am a myth or not, and why. I am not interested. However, if you ask me why people remember me, I like to think that it is because of the approach I have always had to the motorcycle world. When I was racing I put the whole of myself in the races, I did it with passion, transparently. I believe that being true to one’s own way of being when things are done is an added value that can be noticed “.
It’s a mature and philosophical Freddie Spencer the one we had the honour of hosting today in Motodays, at the InMoto-Motosprint stand, where NetBikers is hosted. A sympathetic and helpful Champion, smiling and open to conversation. So much so as to amaze the numerous visitors who have gathered around our stand.
We had planned this meeting for some time, with In Moto’s friends. Federico Porrozzi and I met to lead the conversation; with the assistance of Giangi, who, thanks to his knowledge of the English language (he lives in the United Kingdom), was of fundamental importance in translating the nuances of Fast Freddie’s speech.
So, a philosophical Spencer today, who we asked to talk to us about his book, Feel (unsurprisingly a title that refers to emotions), that will be followed by a second one soon.
“A lot of people have always asked me to tell me about my experience in the Grand Prix. And perhaps I too felt the need to summarise what I have done so far. Because what we are is the result of what we have experienced; positive as well as negative moments. Moreover, it is the latter that are the ones in which we grow most. Because it is in the negative moments that we improve. And it is important to have an open mind to keep learning. I am not just talking about driving technique. Each person has something to teach. Being here at this moment, for example, means a lot to me – and I mean it – because it allows me to share with you, and at the same time you share with me, and this is improving my experience”.
Freddie, do you still have a competitive mentality? We followed you last year at Glemseck in the acceleration race, where there was also Kevin Schwantz. You’ve been one of the fastest.
“The fact is that I have a lot of fun in everything I do. Even in this case, more than a competition, it was having fun, having an experience, and living in the moment “.
Let’s go back to 1985, the year of your historic double championship. Two world titles and 14 grand prizes won. From a psychological point of view, but also because of the fact you had to drive two totally different bikes, what were the difficulties that you had to face?
“The biggest problem was the lack of time to fine-tune both bikes. We hadn’t thought about the fact that we could not work in the usual way and on schedule. Because in practice I came down from one bike and had to climb on top of the other. And they were profoundly different bikes. The 250, required a more aggressive and clean driving, you had to try never to lose speed because otherwise, it was difficult to recover. Compared to the 500 it wanted different trajectories, different references for braking and accelerating. The 500 had more torque and required softer driving. I had to change mentality every time I alternated between one and the other. This obviously created difficulties for me.
Then, as I said, there was no time. And I had to do the two test back to back, keeping in mind the information to be transferred to the technicians. In the end, we did a unique, very long debriefing, in which we analyzed both bikes. It was a very difficult thing for them too; but I worked with very great professionals: Erv Kanemoto, Jeremy Burgess…”.
Can you summarize the differences between Grand Prix of your time and those of today?
“The job of being a pilot is roughly the same. I started with the dirt track and I can see that today’s riders are still training with that type of bike. What has changed are bikes. To begin with, there are now data acquisition systems, which allow the team to study in much more depth the parameters of operation of the vehicle on the track. Back in the days we pilots were the telemetry, and if we didn’t know how to transfer our sensations accurately to the engineers, we risked not being able to find the right set-up for the bike. So there were longer debriefs, we had more to talk about.
Then there were no electronics, and control of the vehicle was difficult and tiring. The bike and rider now form a package that allows a more relaxed ride. The result is a more consistent and longer lasting performance “.
Freddie – asks Mastic – when we met on the track years ago you taught me the importance of creating a routine approach to the bike before going on track. And to clean up your mind before driving. Because it is necessary to be clear of thoughts. What can you recommend to motorcyclists who take their bike on the road every day?
“The motorbike approach routine is very important. It helps you create consistency in your driving conditions. It puts you in the best position to make the most of it. For example, I always go up from the left-hand side, I always take the left knob first. And I recommend a light touch of the grips, your sight must point far away, never in front of the wheel. Creating a routine especially helps the most emotional pilots to relax, facilitates a correct breathing. When I am driving on the open road, however, I’m very careful, and I concentrate on being aware of what happens around me. I’m always afraid that someone doesn’t see me, and I try to keep the unexpected under control”.
Well, Freddie Spencer is all here. In these words, so simple and yet so beautiful. The audience clap their hands, while we were signalling to the champion that – unsurprisingly – we had to close the meeting. He had another commitment that he called him, but he was still smiling in dialogue with fans. Some autographs, a few photos with the warm audience of Motodays, and then he went to the Honda to start up the RC213 road. Hello, champion!
P. S. It was up to me to go and meet Freddie Spencer in the press room to accompany him to our stand. While en route he told me that he would like a cappuccino. So we stopped at the bar. Taking a coffee with a slightly special “friend” was the extra bonus of the day!
Here the full video of our meeting (English subtitles coming soon)