The man who's been doing the TT forever

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But he still wants a 200mph lap…

f you’ve read a TT programme in the last 30 years you can’t fail to have clocked the name Dave Madsen-Mygdal. He’s been racing on the Island since 1979, and at the TT since 1985. Tall, slim and utterly at ease in the TT paddock, the Douglas-based racer and engine builder has a big team of well-wishers and helpers, perhaps the most notable being wife Jill, friend Simon Conie and son Mark, who is also a racer.
We find Dave reclining in a camping chair after the Senior, in a post-TT bubble of relief and satisfaction, his arm still covered in black, red and blue strappings from three separate physio sessions. The team are wearing special ‘100 races’ T-shirts, but they’re already out of date. After the Senior, it’s 101.
Dave, congratulations.
“It’s the first time in years I’ve actually been nervous at the start. Usually I’m just so late I have to get an extension to scrutineering!”
 In front of him is a slice of ‘101 Finishes’ chocolate cake. In his hand is a freshly lit cigarette. On his face is a irrepressible smile.
“My son Mark had these shirts done last night. I said to him, ‘Bugger, if we don’t do it we’ll have to put them on eBay’. But it worked out well. If I’d have just got the 120mph lap in this afternoon – I missed it by a smidgin!”
What’s your best ever time?
“119.98. I’ve always said to the missus I’ll pack up when I’ve done 120.”
Jill, climbing out of the motorhome, spreads her arms to indicate the length of a moderately-sized trout. “It’s about that much,” she says.
“It was couple of years ago,” chips in Simon. “He was right on it and then there were yellow flags coming off the Mountain.”
In fact, today’s best time was virtually as quick.
“Yeah, how hard is it just to go a bit quicker, eh? It’s less than a second. But that’s without trying, without scaring myself. I did the six laps today and I wasn’t sweating when I got off. I was just riding against myself, enjoying it. It’s funny because the lad on the Norton said afterwards, ‘Dave, you’ve got some lovely lines’. I didn’t want to do 120 and try for it. It’s only a standard Fireblade, nothing fancy on it at all.”
So what’s the spec of the bike? It must be pretty good to do 120.
“It’s got a pipe, Power Commander, Maxton rear, K-Tech front, GPR steering damper. That’s it. It stands me eleven grand I suppose, when a good Superstocker is 17 grand or something like that.”
Dave bought the Honda in haste a year ago after his R1 became ineligible for the TT because it was an 07/08 model. “I came back from the North West on the Monday, bought the Blade on the Thursday and started prepping it to get it ready for Wednesday’s practice. At first it was absolutely atrocious – it was shaking its head, trying to kill you.” Much testing and suspension fettling followed, with gradually decreasing lap times until, by the Senior, the Blade was, “absolutely perfect”.
So Dave, what’s so great about the TT?
“For me, it’s setting a goal and getting it. For example, in the Lightweight this year I wanted to do a 110mph lap on the 650. I accomplished that – had a good race as well, with Mark Parrett. We were neck and neck, it was great. And I managed to get a Bronze, which is the cream on the cake. And Martin, the sponsor, is happy. Then today we got the 101 finishes, so that was OK. It was nice to get the electric bike finish for their team, ’cos they were students. But I’ve still got a personal goal of a 120mph lap. Even if I had John McGuinness’ bike I’m never gonna win, ’cos I’m too old. But I’d set my sights a bit higher. So to put the R6 round at 116 like we did here – it’s what you can afford to do. I might be better off spending all my money on one bike. But I find once you’ve had one race you want another one. I’d rather be busy. I just love it.”
Dave was originally from Oxford, but has lived in Douglas for 30 years now. “I met my wife through doing the Manx GP in 1980. We got rained out of a tent and ended up wringing wet so we managed to get a guest house. Jill came to the door in a towel, and I said to myself, ‘I’ll have some of that.’ We lived in Oxford for a year and a half but couldn’t get on ’cos her mum and dad were over here. So we moved over here and we’ve been here ever since. So it’s all down to bikes!”
What would you like to do now?
“I’d like to do a lot more classic racing. I’ve got a Triumph Triple, a P&M Kawasaki I rode in the 1984 Manx, and a semi-factory RG500 MK8/9 which originally belonged to Anton Mang. I’ve only got it because when I tried to get rid of it to buy an RC30 nobody wanted an RG. I’ve got two RC30s too, and I rode them well past their sell-by date. You couldn’t give them away when I’d finished with them.”
You probably could now.
“You could get a fortune for them!”
Needless to say, Dave’s career has had plenty of ‘if only’ moments. The 2000 400 Production TT, for instance.
“I was on a Honda NC30. I got to the last lap, and we were supposed to put oil in it at the pit stop and didn’t. I had a six-second lead into Sulby. Then, up through Ginger Hall, it scavenged itself and spun a big end shell. The bike that beat me turned out to be a 600 anyway. I helped him put the engine in!”
Dave’s best Senior result was 11th in 1990. Is he as good as he ever was?
“Yeah. I’m not getting any slower.”

Words Rupert Paul  Photos Pacemaker

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