Whatever happened to TT hero Jim Moodie?

Published: 26 April 2016

Teak-hard racer turned big-bucks motorhome dealer to the stars

im Moodie was one of the last of the breed of racers who could emerge victorious from the very different demands of the TT and short circuits. He won three British championships and eight TTs between 1993 and 2002.

A tough, wiry Scot, Moodie was caught up in the accident that killed TT legend David Jefferies during practice for the 2003 event and was lucky to escape the smash with his own life.

He suffered badly in another crash a few months later and drifted into retirement. Moodie is now quite a businessman, with a motorhome dealership in Tampa, Florida. He splits his time between Scotland and the US.

Fact file

Born Dumfries, February 15, 1963
Career highlight Winning the British Supersport title in 2000
Number of TT wins Eight
Retired “I never officially retired!”

Moodie could hack it on short circuits and the roads, so which gave him the biggest buzz?

You’d probably expect him to say the TT: rocketing between walls and hedges at 180mph is surely going to get your heart hammering more than whizzing around Donington? But you’d be wrong. Short circuits were his biggest thing. “I was successful at the TT and I got paid quite a lot, so that kept me going back, but my main thing was always the short circuits; that’s where I got most satisfaction.” 

What kind of bikes did he ride?

Moodie won the 1993 British Supersport title on a CBR600, the 1998 proddie title on a GSX-R750 and the 2000 Supersport crown on a CBR600 and an R6. During his career he experienced the fastest-ever progress in sportsbike design. “Every year saw  a new model: five more horsepower, lighter, better. When I first started Supersport bikes they were like flexi road bikes, by the time I stopped they were proper little racing bikes.”

Hang on, you say he took the 2000 title on a CBR and an R6?

Moodie was contracted to Honda UK for 2000, riding a CBR600 in Supersport and a Fireblade in BSB. “Honda wanted me to ride the Fireblade, but I didn’t want to because it wasn’t competitive, so I had to leave. I’d been a professional rider since 1993 and I was earning good money, so I went from that to racing for free, riding an R6 for Jack Valentine. I led most of the Brands World Supersport race on Jack’s bike, which was brilliant because it reminded me why I went racing: I was doing it for no money, but just for my own passion. At the end of the year I won the 600 title and that was the biggest satisfaction I ever had.”

Eight TTs! This is legend territory. How come he isn’t more famous?

They were mainly in the less glamorous classes – his first win came in 1993 in a spectacular 400 Supersport and 600 Supersport double. And he was the first rider ever to lap at over 120mph on a proddie bike.

How was Moodie was caught upin DJ’s TT accident?

Jefferies died when he crashed on oil as he rode through Crosby village at around 170mph. Another bike had blown its engine but no oil flags were shown. Moodie ploughed into the cables of a telegraph pole felled by DJ’s bike. “The accident came very close to getting me. The only thing that gave me an inkling something wasn’t right was a spectator jumping off a wall and trying to get his red jacket off. I thought what the hell’s happening here? I was easing off, then I went round the corner and I was trying to avoid the wreckage. I saw this cable at the last second. It snapped but not before it had opened up my neck up. I was probably doing around 120mph. That accident should never have happened. I took some shit for some things I said about the TT but at least they started getting things done.”

It surely can’t be true that he decided to buy a helicopter while high on morphine?

On yes it is. Moodie crashed at Creg-ny-Baa in 1989 and was airlifted to Nobles hospital. “They helicoptered me to hospital and I thought ‘this is pretty cool’. I missed most of the 2001 season so, to keep me occupied, I went and bought a helicopter and learned to fly. I still go to the TT most years. I fly into Kirkmichael, then fly back home.”

How did Moodie become a motorhome king?

“I went over to the States to buy a new ‘bus’ and ended up buying five: one for me, one for McGuinness, one for the Haslams, one for Brian Morrison and another. It all grew from that.”

What else does he do?

He trains racers. “I just give riders an idea of how it should be done – an idea of how committed you have to be. I’ve got an MX track, quads and all that up in Scotland. McGuinness spent a whole winter with me, Ian Hutchinson has spent a lot of time up there, plus Glen Richards, Stuart Easton and Alex Lowes.”

Words: Dan Aspel Photos: Bauer Archive