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Whatever happened to MX hero Rob Herring?

Published: 02 April 2016

He was the golden boy of British motocross, then he vanished. Or did he?

 Rob Herring

- 11 times British MX champion
- 1994 Motocross Des Nations winner
- Now does film work with credits including Skyfall, Spectre, Harry Potter and Mission Impossible

‘Rob Herring? Wasn’t he “The nearly man of British motocross”?’

That’s a little harsh. Rob was arguably the brightest star of a 90s generation of home riders, winning 11 British championships and one of the heroes of the British team that won the Motocross Des Nations in 1994 for the first time in 27 years. Despite numerous GP wins, however, he never claimed a world title.

What brought it all to an end?

A broken wrist in 2000, following two previous breakages. “I ended up with two broken wrists within 12 months,” Rob told MCN. “I wasn’t mentally ready to retire, but physically I had to.”

What happened next?

“I hadn’t really planned anything,’ Rob continues. ‘So I did what most of the guys do: a bit of coaching.” Later, after being forced to close his motocross track, he drifted into building work.

And that’s the end of the story?

Not quite. An old friend, Lee Morrison, who’d started doing stunt work in the US, introduced Rob to top stunt coordinator Gary Powell. “He was into motocross, knew me from my British championship days and said ‘How do you fancy a bit of film work?’ Two weeks later he rang up and said: ‘Right, we’re filming Casino Royale, come down and we’ll see how you get on.’ That was the start. I’ve worked with the two a lot over the years since then.”

Doing what exactly?

“I’m not a stunt man. I specialise in precision driving and riding. I’m the one riding or driving behind with all the cameras on. That said, I have sometimes been on film. In the last Bond, Spectre, I was one of the drivers in the car chase in the snow. Mostly, though, I source bikes, adapt them to hold the cameras and ride them. I’ve about 16 vehicles all told. I enjoy being behind the camera. I’d rather do that than be in front. That’s my niche.’

Apart from Spectre what other films have you been in?

‘I’ve done the last four Bonds. In Skyfall I did all the bike rooftop stuff. In Quantum of Solace I jumped a bike with cameras on into a boat. Lee was the stunt rider doubling as Bond and I chased him. I’ve done Harry Potter, the Bourne Ultimatum, I’ve just done the new Bourne with Matt Damon (due to be released late 2016 – Ed), the latest Mission Impossible... I’ve done so much in the last couple of years.”

So how would you describe your skillset?

“I’m very precise, very smooth and extremely calm. Nothing flusters me. A lot of the stunt boys saw me jump a bike on to the boat and said ‘How the hell can you be so calm?’ But for me, when you’ve done supercross or GPs, jumping onto a boat isn’t much of an issue. Plus I’m quite big and strong so can handle a bike with a camera – and sometimes I’ve 100 kilos on board. Smaller guys might be OK riding but come to the end, try to turn round and fall off. With a million pounds worth of cameras you can’t afford to do that.”

It sounds very glamorous…

‘We go to some nice places but we go to some horrible places as well. Everyone thinks ‘Film industry – glamour!’ It is if you’re the main actor but if you’re crew there’s a lot of waiting around. So no, it’s not glamorous but I enjoy it.”

But it must feel good to see yourself in those movies?

“Oh yes, it does, but in another way it spoils watching films because you know how they’ve done things, the tricks they’ve used and so on.”

If you had your time over would you change anything?

“If I’d been aware I was going to retire when I did I would have prepared myself a bit better, maybe gone to college. But I’m happy with the way things have gone. I don’t aspire to be a millionaire. As long as we can get by I’m happy.”

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