Steve Parrish competed at the highest level in motorcycle racing, becoming British Champion in 1976 and fifth in the 1977 500cc World Championship, as team mate to that year’s champion Barry Sheene.
Clearly his was a dangerous sport, but strangely enough, that wasn’t how he saw it at the time, says Steve, who will talk about his life and career at Horsham’s Capitol on Friday, October 2.
“You just don’t see it that way. You always think it is going to happen to someone else, and it did happen to a lot of my friends. But in a way, the more dangerous, the more exciting and the bigger the adrenaline kick.
“Now I look back and I think ‘What on earth was I doing?’ You stand back and you look back on it all from a different perspective when you are older. And that’s why you stop. You start thinking about the dangers, and you get slower. At the time all you see is the road and the competitors, and then when you start to see the walls, the houses, the barriers, that’s what slows you down and that’s what ruins your career.
“People say ‘You must have been fearless’, but you are never fearless when you are doing it. It is what you do. I have always been allergic to pain like all people, and unfortunately I ended up in A&E quite regularly with broken bits and pieces, but the other side was that if I wasn’t doing that, I would have had to get a proper job, and if that’s the way you are, it’s a fairly easy way to earn a living.”
But when you’ve no longer got that fire in your belly, as Steve says, you know it’s time to step back – which Steve did at the age of 32: “I realised I was only going to get slower. It was not an easy decision to make, but once you realise you are not going to get any faster, you start to weigh up the different options, and I was very lucky in the options that I had. It made it easier that I was able to stay very much in the sport. But obviously I found it hugely frustrating at first when I was watching other people and thinking that should be me out there!”
Steve will be recalling it all in Horsham – a life full of scrapes, near misses and funnies, including riding Barry Sheene’s bike to qualifying for the world champion, filling rooms of sports personalities with live frogs and jumping hire cars from second-floor car parks in Daytona onto the beach.
Call 01403 750220.
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