No rest for the wicked

Motorcycle racing paddocks are exciting, tense and sometimes dangerous places to be, especially when you’re busily rushing around with ten things on your mind at once. But don’t be fooled into thinking the works stops during the week!

Greg Haines writes from Barcelona

It was about time I wrote another blog because it’s been way too long. Sorry! I hope I’m excused. I’m enjoying the ups and downs of the 2019 season both in the World and British Superbike Championship paddocks, but to say it hasn’t been exhausting at times would be a lie. This season I’m working on no fewer than 24 weekends, which is a privilege but at the same time draining when you strive on maintaining a certain level in your work. I hope that doesn’t come across as arrogant, but I find I can only do my job properly when I have prepared to the extent I’m used to. Some would think it’s too much, but I definitely enjoy the events more knowing I’m really ready. So I thought I’d write a post on just what a race weekend involves.

Ahead of a World Superbike weekend, I’ll spend a good two or three days fully preparing on the run-up to the events. I have these ‘Super Folders’ (Super Folders for Superbikes, get it?) which my colleagues often laugh at but, believe me, they’re worth their weight in gold when you’re commenting. I also have them for the classes I cover at BSB which require a similar level of preparation, although the WorldSBK ones take longer as the races are of a greater duration and we have more airtime to fill over a weekend (not least those practice sessions on Fridays).

At the moment I’m writing to you from home on the approach to 4am on Wednesday 7th August. That probably sounds outrageous, although I’ve got stuff on my mind and sometimes find it easier to do an all-nighter, get it done and then relax. As much as I would have liked to go to bed earlier, sometimes I find it’s easier to get everything out of the way…especially as I live in Spain and at the moment we’re in the middle of a hot and humid summer when, quite honestly, it’s hard to concentrate during the day. Today I’ve watched highlights of the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix and I’m about to watch highlights of the Czech MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 races. It’s important to keep up-to-date with everything going on in the racing world, especially from the MotoGP paddock which has a fair amount of overlap with the Superbike world.

Since our Eurosport show went off-air at Thruxton on Sunday evening, it’s been more or less non-stop. First I sat down at the track with 6-time BSB Champion Shakey Byrne to record our latest Shakey Show podcast. Then I headed back to the press room to join MCN colleague Al Fagan to compile our copy, although I finished mine back at my hotel in Andover as I was switching hotel and couldn’t check-in any later than 10:30pm. After consuming a Domino’s pizza (healthy, I know) I got my work finished after midnight. On Monday morning came an hour’s drive back to Heathrow airport where I thankfully missed out on the strike that had threatened to cancel my flight, then it was back to Barcelona by Monday evening. Having decided to stay up tonight, I’ll spend Wednesday doing a variety of things: interviewing BSB’s new winner Andrew Irwin on the phone for next week’s Full Throttle podcast, writing a Cadwell Park BSB preview for MCN and transcribing an interview with four-time World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea for a future MCN edition, having conversed with Jonathan from his home in Northern Ireland earlier on.

Hopefully I’ll get everything sorted by the end of Wednesday, which will also feature emptying the dishwasher, putting my washed clothes back in the wardrobe, sending an invoice, sorting more flights and cleaning around at home. At some point I need to wash my car and collect a new mirror from the shops, as I recently moved house! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! But it just goes to show that there’s more to working in a racing paddock than meets the eye. It’s not as simple as turning up, commentating on a few races and then going home. There’s no rest for the wicked but it’s all part of the fun!

Image: A typical sight for me during the season…living out of a suitcase!