Morecambe Missile loves going back to his roots
The Morecambe Missile, as TT legend John McGuinness has come to be known, is proud of his roots.
Global travel is now part of his job as a professional motorcycle racer but the road back always leads to the seaside town where John was born on April 16 1972.
The father-of-two, who married his childhood sweetheart Becky in April 2012, said: “It was a good place to grow up in and now it’s a good place for me to raise my kids.”
It was in a Morecambe back street near the house in Granville Road where he was born that the man who would become one of the world’s greatest road racers got his initial taste of the sport.
In the new and updated ‘John McGuinness: TT Legend’, John remembers how, aged only three, he first threw his leg over a splendid little Italjet.
“I had stabilisers on the sides and my dad showed me how the throttle worked – back to go, forward to stop,” he said.
“And he told me about the brakes. But I just wanted to get going and I set off with the throttle wound open.
“Dad was running after me screaming and shouting at me to pull the brake, to stop – he thought I was going to go straight into the wall at the back of our house. But I just got the bike stopped in time!”
For John, racing motorbikes was in his blood from the very beginning.
His dad, John Senior, raced motocross, grasstrack and short circuits as well as running his own motorcycle sales and repairs business.
Come weekends, John was always at the races with his father and some of their trips were to the Isle of Man.
John said: “My dad did Jurby road races on the island in the early 80s and I would go with him and watch. We would take in some of the TT practice and when I had to go back to school, I would be kicking and screaming on the ferry because I didn’t want to go home.”
John’s desire to soak up the TT atmosphere eventually led to him stowing away on the ferry from Heysham on his BMX bike.
When John finished school, he started to serve his time as an apprentice bricklayer but aged 17, he turned his hand to one of the town’s traditional occupations to raise cash to buy his first race bike.
Becky’s father gathered cockles and mussels on Morecambe Bay sands and John joined him.
“I bought my first proper race bike, a 1992 TZ250 Yamaha, from the money I made out of collecting mussels,” said John. The rest, as they say, is history.
The town that John loves so much has also taken the legendary TT rider to its heart. In 2007, he was granted the Freedom of the City of Lancaster by the city council marking him as the first sportsman ever to be made an Honorary Freeman of the borough. John also received The Visitor’s Sunshine Sport Award in 2012.
Suffice to say Morecambe is as much in John’s blood as racing.
*‘John McGuinness: TT Legend New and Updated Edition’ tells John’s story in his own words up to and including the 2014 season, and features plenty of fresh material. It includes a new introduction by Stephen Davison and two extra chapters on the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Published on Friday November 14 by Blackstaff Press, hardback priced £18.99.