Thursday, June 4, 2009

doohan, brian, barry and yours truly

This really happened…
by Pierre Martins

No Really, it did happen.

My late friend Barry was arguably one of the top race bike tuners in South Africa. He had a wealth of experience and toured with the Suzuki 500 GP team in the days of Schwantz, Mamola, Spencer, Lawson, Rainy, them boys…

Brian was quite the opposite, an eccentric but likeable character who actually lived on an Indian reservation in the States for a while, I shit you not. Weird looking fellah, long hair with beads and dream-catchers and stuff, smoked a peace pipe, the whole shootin’ match. We called him “Hya-Waffle”. Once on a biking weekend in the Lowfeld we were in Pilgrims Rest and the German tourists actually took photos of him thinking he was one of the gold rush props. He-he-he…

Anyway, I was delighted when Barry phoned me one day to tell me Mick Doohan was coming to SA on a ‘low profile’ visit and we were gonna chaperone him around. Turned out he was looking for one of his old bikes that he raced way back in the early days of his career. Somehow the bike landed up in South Africa, Barry found out where it was and we were gonna pick Mick up from the airport and reunite him with the bike.

And so it happened that one summer Saturday evening I picked Barry and Hya-Waffle up from Barry’s shop in Edenvale and we set off to the airport to welcome the multiple world champion. Doohan was just what I expected. Small in stature, but an all-business-no-BS man with the presence of a celebrity. I had to smile at the apprehensive look on his face when he first saw Hya-Waffle.

Be that as it may, the two of them clicked instantaneously and were chatting away like old buddies before we even got into the car.

img0590vk6 But Doohan was anxious to see his old bike, so we headed for the Westrand where the current owner lived. That was quite a drive and we had a good time chatting with him along the way. I deliberately drove as slow as I could, but the drive was over in no time. We pulled into the driveway of this dude’s house on Main Reef Road and there was the bike – a HONDA RVF750 similar to the one Doohan and Gardner won the Suzuka 8-hours on! Man, what a sight!

Not the actual bike, but one that Doohan actually raced. He walked around the bike about ten times, sat on it and with a huge grin asked the dude “How much, mate?” in a typical Ozzy accent and with that he, Barry and the dude who owned the bike went inside to do the deal whilst Hya-Waffle and I ooh-ed and aah-ed around the RVF.

With the deal done and back in the car the question was – What now? How do you entertain a multiple world champ who doesn’t really wanna be ‘seen’ in public?

Now here comes the surprise – Doohan said he wanted to celebrate and get shitfaced the South African way. I couldn’t believe it! Never figured him for a boozer, but I guess most celebs have skeletons in the closet.

We decided to go to Barry’s house and slap a BBQ together. The four of us got shitfaced proper and the world champ told racing stories. What a night! At one point Doohan pulled up his trouser leg to show us his fucked-up leg and I quipped “Geesh man, you could have built a good prostitute with all the flesh they cut out of your leg!” and we all packed up laughing…

And at that very moment I woke up in bed laughing and my wife wanted to know what the hell was so funny.

Told ya, it really happened.


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