Thursday, April 14, 2011

'03 World Superbike Champ Neil Hodgson Catches Up With

Neil Hodgson tips the #100 Ducati Austin/Parts Unlimited/Arlen Ness/MotionPro-sponsored Ducati 999R into turn 10 for the run up under the pedestrian bridge during race one of the AMA Superbike Championship round at the Honda Super Cycle Weekend Presented by Dunlop Tire at Mid Ohio in July of 2005.  Just a little over six weeks earlier the '03 WSBK Champion had won his one and only AMA Superbike Championship event at Road America in a race that will go down in history as being one of the wettest events ever at the four mile Wisconsin facility.  Hodgson was loosely quoted by Cycle News after that win as being a 'passenger on a guided missile' in one of the funniest lines used by any rider to describe a race win. 
The personable Brit spent two years with the Ducati Austin team in the U.S. before riding for American Honda and the Corona Honda team before heading back across the pond to ride Yamahas in the British Superbike Championship in 2010.  He suffered another serious blow to his already-injured shoulder early in the season and was forced to retire due to those injuries in April 2010.

If someone were to take the time to sit me down and ask me 'who are some of the riders that you have truly enjoyed watching race and of those, who would you say you miss seeing on the track the most?' my answers to both lists would be pretty long.  Having all but grown up being around high-speed motorcycle racing, I have had the pleasure of watching quite a few professional road racers and flat trackers on the track, as well as having had the chance to be able to speak and casually meet many of those along the way as well.  Showing up at a race and heading to the paddock area or pits of my long list of favorites with photos in hand needing autographed went hand-in-hand with hanging on the fence and taking all of those shots over the decades.  And after several years of doing it, some of the riders even started to recognize me as I returned again with more of those shots I was so eager to get personally signed.

And like everyone that follows any-and-all types of sports, I've definitely had my favorites.  Those that had a certain style or finesse in the seat, let alone those that had that 'special' or even 'fanatical' personality all qualified, and even after all these years my list of 'non-favorites' would be EXTREMELY short.  I always thought EVERYONE on the track is a star and deserving of some sort of recognition, risking it all to entertain the fans and/or their own individual adrenaline buzz.

But one rider I could add towards the top of the road racers list would be 2003 World Superbike Champion and 2000 British Superbike Champion, Neil Hodgson.  Hodgson always seemed to have that outgoing personality and leisurely attitude about him, from the time I started watching him on TV to the time he hit American Shores in 2005.  And finally getting the chance to talk with him after his first (and eventually only) AMA Superbike win several weeks later cemented in me even more what a great guy he truly was (and IS!)

Just an all around laid-back type of Bloke so-to-speak was the way he talked to me, and genuinely interested in the shots I was shoving in his face and enjoying seeing something different and another well-informed fan.  So naturally after this brief meeting with him, I was even more of a life-long fan of #100.
Unfortunately, due to injuries and the way the DMG takeover at first affected the AMA Superbike Championship, Hodgson was left without a ride here in the States, and his injuries forced him to retire WAY prematurely last year early in the season upon his return to the British Superbike Championship Series.

Losing a rider of Hodgson's capability, let alone great attitude, was a big blow to road racing around the world.  Road racing maybe hadn't lost the great ambassador or safety advocate of the sport, but it had lost one of it's great spokespersons, and great on-track pilots and champions.  And they also lost one of the best rain racers to ever guide a missile!

Dean Adams is one of the long-time journalists among the road race-reporting set, and his has been and still is one of the best avenues to get the real news on the net about high-speed motorcycle racing since the mid-to-late '90s.  Dean caught up with Neil recently to hear what the former champ has been doing for the last year, and what he has planned down the road.  Check out the links below to see what he had to say, and thanks to Dean as always for this great stuff!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------'s one and only Dean Adams caught up with Neil recently and put the pen to this news about what Neil is up to these days since officially hanging up his leathers last year:

Dean Adams also has this article about Neil's retirement announcement from just over a year ago on his site:

And here is another article from Deano about Neil, with some links to previous interviews with the Man from The Isle of Man:

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