best British

For many of us, the Tourist Trophy is the “queen” event of the motorcycling world. The TT is synonymous with courage, speed and madness. Sometimes we tend to think that these drivers don't know fear, unlike the men in the Grands Prix. Who has never heard the saying “yes, but Rossi never did the TT like Agostini or Hailwood”? You probably have to weigh your words, especially since strong riders at the TT and on the track at world level are rare. Well, rare is vast, given that there is only one. His name: Carl Fogarty, one of the best Britons in history.

The Tourist Trophy, since it is no longer on the Grand Prix calendar, highlights specialists. Often, they come from the British Isles and have been trained since childhood on road circuits. It's the complete opposite of GP drivers, who only know karting circuits and other gravel traps..

Carl Fogarty is the enigma, the missing link. Born in Blackburn in 1965, he quickly moved towards a career as a motorcycle rider.. His father George was a respectable runner in the 1970s, and it was only natural that the passion was passed on.

Young Carl cut his teeth in the British championship in the early 1980s, where he offered an atypical, aggressive driving style that took him to the top. He was quickly spotted and entered as a wild card in the 250 1986cc British Grand Prix, which he finished 11th..

 

best British

Here at TT 1992, at Creg Ny Baa. Photo: GFDL

 

At the same time, the dangerousness of the TT attracts him. A Manx Grand Prix victory later – the antechamber of the Tourist Trophy, he enters with the firm intention of winning. This was done in 1989 during the 750 production event. 1990 is the perfect example of the versatility of the English champion. In the same year, he won the Formula 1 and Senior races (the most prestigious categories), while replacing Pierfrancesco Chili in 500cc four times, even finishing 6th in Sweden behind the Lawson, Rainey and other Doohan.

Still at the same time, he scored some good results in the Superbike world championship, as a wild card. Simply phenomenal! This monstrous season earned him a ride in FSBK with Honda UK.

Over the years, he made numerous appearances. In 1992, he allowed himself to beat the TT lap record – after a daunting battle with Steve Hislop, to win his first Superbike race, the Macau Grand Prix, to make a replacement in 500cc on a Yamaha that he discovered, to win the Bol d'Or, the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle and the World Endurance Championship. This could well be the greatest motorcycle performance in history.

Faced with so much talent, factories cannot remain indifferent. Ducati offers him an official WSBK handlebar, the kind of offer you can't refuse. Despite 11 victories, Scott Russell steals the world title for nothing. This year he also achieved his best result in a Grand Prix, with a 4th place on home soil, riding the uncompromising Cagiva (plus the North West 200 as a bonus).

From 1994 to 2000, “Foggy” was almost untouchable. Four world titles in WSBK, 59 victories (absolute record until John Rea came to put things in order) and 21 poles. A stratospheric track record which could have grown a little more, if not for a nasty injury.

During the Australian round in 2000, Fogarty collided with Robert Ulm at high speed. A spectacular accident which forced the Briton to suddenly end his career. At this point, he was extremely popular and regularly made acidic outings in the press. His comments, always spicy, never lack humor.

 

best British

The Loctite Yamaha team, with Fogarty, Brian Reid and Mark Farmer.

 

Following this crash, Fogarty decided to devote himself to his own team, in close connection with Petronas. The adventure turns sour and pushes him out of the circuits. Since then, he has been present on television in all kinds of programs, even those with a survival theme! Stopping at nothing, he goes so far as to eat a camel penis, cockroaches and grilled tarantulas to win one of these hit shows.

You either love it or you hate it, there's no in between. His immense talent is matched only by the size of his trophy room, which lists cups from different disciplines gleaned from all over the world. Legend in TT and Superbike, he will forever remain in history for his outspokenness and his astonishing speed on the track.

What memories do you have of him? Tell me in the comments!

Cover photo: Stu Newby