“No one has ever done 100mph on the wall of death, so we are going to give it a go”

Published: 24 December 2014

As if 2014 wasn’t crazy enough, Guy Martin will kick off the New Year with another mad record attempt, live on TV, in his back garden…

“It’s good to be back under a truck again”
“To be fair every year is a busy year, but I look back at my 2014 diary and it has been mental. World Cup mountain bike race, Pikes Peak, flying in a Spitfire, the whole Speed series which we didn’t even start filming until March, TT, North West, Southern 100, it has been crazy. We were still filming the gravity racer episode of Speed when the first episode was on TV!”

“I told the TV company I needed 2015 off.”
“After we did Speed the TV company came up with a load of new ideas but I said ‘I love the work, but I need a year off.’ My boss Mick has been brilliant, but the truck fixing work was starting to suffer. Speed took 45 days to complete, you get 7 minutes of film a day if you are lucky, Pikes Peak was two weeks, the Spitfire a day or two a month, then all the bike racing.

“I told the TV company I needed a year off which would either make or break the job – I’d either realise I don’t miss the filming and never go back or want to return to TV again. I love fixing trucks, but if that’s all I did six days a week, 52 weeks a year, I might end up hating it, which is why racing is so important to me. Whatever happens the truck fixing will always come in front of everything, but the racing might be the thing I drop for TV. But then they came up with some ideas that were so daft I couldn’t turn them down…”

“We want to get the land speed record on the wall of death…”
“No one has ever done 100mph on the wall of death, so we are going to give it a go, how could I turn that down? We are going to build a wall of death at my house in January and Channel 4 will be showing it live. I’ve not done a normal wall of death yet, but how hard can it be? I’m building a bike for it now, a 1972 Rob North T160 Trident triple in a similar style to a US flat tracker.

“The problem with doing 100mph on a traditional wall of death is that you will be pulling huge g-force, which would kill you. We are building a larger diameter wall, which means a longer lap and pulling only around 5 g, which is still pretty high and will need a bit of special kit. Anyway, the deal I struck with the TV company was to do some filming in India, the wall of death thing, and then possibly a few one-off Speed episodes. There is one record in Europe I’d love to break, but I can’t say which one…”

“It’s my version of Judith Chalmers touring India.”
“We did it proper, but I can’t say too much about it as it goes out at the end of January. I did a bit of bike riding with a bunch of loonies on a Royal Enfield and it was a right adventure. I wore the horn out on my Enfield – they are all mad out there! I visited the biggest truck yard in Asia and stayed the night in the biggest slum in Asia. It was actually a highlight, I’m quite used to not washing… It was so hot out there I was self-cleaning with all the sweat!”

“I’ve genuinely not seen a single one of my TV shows.”
“Actually, that’s not true. I was at my mate’s house and nothing I do impresses him. Well, aside from the time I got a free pair of Vans trainers. I was getting my hair cut by his missus and he said ‘you have to watch that Pikes Peak episode, it’s mega.’ I thought if he’s impressed I’d better watch it. I don’t actually have a TV myself, I haven’t had one for four or five years…”

“The shows aren’t scripted”
“I’ve been filming with the same set of lads for the past four years and I trust them. They could edit it in any way they wanted but I know they won’t mess around. We work well together as they know how to get the best from me. I’m not a TV presenter, and I’m not an actor by a long shot, so there is none of that ‘can you say it this way?’ I can’t talk to a camera, which is why I’m never looking down the lens, and so they always stick someone next to the camera who asks me questions. It’s 100% off the top of my head, but the lads know the right questions to ask me to get me to the point. Often it can be to shut up and stop rattling on… I feel sorry for them, from the latest trip to India they have 75 hours of footage to compact into two hour-long programs.”

“I’m not keen on doing Speed 3”
“I want to quit while we are ahead, move on while we are ahead. I don’t want people to see Speed 3 and say ‘it’s not as good as the one before’. The plan is to do a few one offs, come up with a mad idea and film it.”

“This year I had my greatest motorcycle moment”
“The greatest thing I have ever done in motorcycling was Pikes Peak because it brought home why I love bikes – it was all about the build rather than the riding. It was a fucking nightmare from start to finish, but the challenge was what made it so special. However, my greatest motorcycle moment came during the final of the inappropriate road bike class in Dirt Quake. I was on a Sportster 883 I borrowed from Crazy Horse, tassels and all, which I rode on a dirt oval.

“That was when my greatest motorcycling moment happened. I was sat there on the line in the final and I was worrying about not wearing my back protector or chest protector and I looked at the chap next to me on some road bike with gardening trainers, jeans, a checked shirt with his sleeves rolled up and an open face lid! I just thought ‘Guy Martin, get a grip!’ He didn’t give a fuck and that’s what riding a bike is all about. It’s not about looking at times or shaving a tenth here and there, it’s about enjoyment. And that’s why I’ve entered the Superprestigio.”

“I’m in the same class as the world’s best flat track riders”
“I’ve been riding flat track for years and I’m building a mini Peoria TT course at my house, which is a famous US dirt track course with right handers and a jump. I’m getting right into flat track and I’m taking the Superprestigio seriously, I’ve bought a brand new CRF450 so I ain’t playing around. But I know I’m up against it!

“Because I won Dirt Quake I’m in the Superprestigio Open class alongside the pro riders. If I was in the Superprestigio class I’d be up against the road racers such as Marquez, but instead I’m in with the best flat trackers from America, Italy, UK and Spain. I’m not kidding myself, I’m ok but I ain’t that good so I won’t be lining up against Marquez in the final…”

“If I wasn’t in New Zealand I’d be under a truck on Christmas day”
“I’m doing the Cemetery Races in New Zealand on Boxing Day and I can’t wait. I’m going out with dad as I haven’t seen much of him lately and as I have no ties over Christmas keeping me in the UK, aside from the dog, it’s a good thing to do. I’ve done it twice before and I’ve met some right interesting people over there. The track isn’t brilliant, but the whole event has a lovely feel and it’s a great atmosphere. Honestly, if I wasn’t there I’d be at work on Christmas day…”

“It’s great to open the door and see Nigel’s happy face.”
“I got Nigel a few months ago and it’s brilliant to come home and see him. I'm named Guy after Guy Gibson, who was CO of the 617 Dambuster’s squadron, and Nigel is named in reference to his famous dog, although obviously I couldn’t call him what Gibson called his dog. I’ve not had anyone to come home to for a while and it’s great to open the door and see Nigel’s happy face. I can be two hours late from work and he’s still pleased to see me. Sometimes you just need to get your head clear and walking the dog is a great way to do this, although he isn’t too keen to get up at 5am with me.”

“I’ve got a girlfriend but I’ve only seen her a couple of times.”
“I met a couple of nice girls while filming speed. I caught up with that American lass in Pikes Peak for a pint but it didn’t go any further, and the French downhill luge ex-world champion, Helene Schmit, was crackers and a lovely lass but not for me. I’ve got a girlfriend at the moment, but she lives in Ireland and I only see her every couple of months as I’m so busy so I’m not sure if you can really call her a girlfriend. She’s sound, a great lass and into George Orwell like me, but I’ve only seen her a handful of times.”

“I gave the Merlin engine a bit too many revs and it took off, destroying a set of stairs.”
“My Merlin engine is out of a 1942 Lancaster bomber and is fully running, as we found out. I fired it up in the truck yard garage and gave it a bit too many revs, which ended up in it taking off, trailer and all, and destroying a set of stairs. The boss wasn’t too happy.

“I’m going to get a fuel and oil tank built into the wall of my house so I can run it in the front room, although I’ll bolt it securely to the floor! I’m on the look out for a Daimler 600 engine from a Messerschmitt to go with it, but they are really hard to locate as they were shit! I’ve also got a Scania 144 530 motor to go in there, I swapped it for putting a sticker logo on my helmet…”

“If TAS are staying with Suzuki I’m retiring from racing, but if it’s BMW I’ll give it another year.”
“I’ve told Philip Neill if I’m going to race in 2015 it will be with him, he runs a brilliant team and I love riding for them. As I know it, he has two deals in front of him, one from BMW, one from Suzuki. I said ‘if you are saying Suzuki I’m retiring from racing, but if it’s BMW I’ll give it another year.’ I’m not saying anything bad about Suzuki, I’m not slagging them off at all as the GSX-R1000 is brilliant, but I feel we have run that bike as fast and hard as it can go at the TT. You could put Michael Dunlop on a farm gate and he could win a TT, but if we are on a BMW it is a new challenge and I still want to win a TT.

“Honestly, I could walk away from racing tomorrow and it wouldn’t bother me at all, but I have decided if Philip goes Suzuki I will retire from the TT. I’ll still ride bikes and do oddball stuff, I’d even like to try the Paris Dakar Rally, but not the TT. While mountain bike racing doesn’t give me the same buzz as riding the TT it challenges me mentally and I like that. I love building bikes, but there is more to life than racing motorcycles.”