Sometimes you meet people in life who deserve a cap doffing, admiration or make you think ‘fuck yeah’. This is 71-year-old Martin Bracey who’s been racing bikes for over 50 years. I bumped into Martin and his intriguing homebrew – a Yamaha TZR125 sprint bike – at our local bike shop.
“I’ve raced in all sorts of disciplines from road racing, motocross, trials and a lot of playing sidecar passenger. In one year, with a lad I used to passenger for, we won Le Touquet, Weston and the Isle of Man beach races, which were the big three back then.
“There’s a saying that ‘when you’re fucked and can’t do anything else, you can always go sprinting,’ which is why I started! Physically, it doesn’t take anything from you and sometimes you spend as much time chatting to people as you do riding. In sprinting, I’ve found something to finish my days off, if you know what I mean.
“I found the basic rolling chassis and spent the winter building it with bits I had in my workshop. It’s a TZR125 engine with a mild tune and an unsilenced exhaust, so it’s pretty antisocial. I reckon it cost me a lot more in time than money to build, but probably spent about £1000 on it.
“For my sins, I’m a benevolent officer for the ACU, which is a very useful thing in as much as injured riders, sometimes with no income rely on us. I’ve also spent the past 31 marshalling at the Isle of Man TT at Greeba Castle. I’ve had a lifetime’s enjoyment riding, so that’s why I enjoy putting something back in.
“Without bikes, I’d just shrivel up and die because they keep me going. It’s a sad thing to say but if you took motorbike away from my life, there wouldn’t be anything. We’re all injected with the same needle.”
I just hope that I live to reach 70, let alone racing motorbikes at Martin’s age. Fuck yeah.