Catching up with Mick Doohan, the legendary Aussie who dominated MotoGP racing for years
Automobilist had the opportunity to speak with 5 times consecutive 500cc World Champion Mick Doohan at the 2019 Czech motorcycle Grand Prix. Watch, listen, or read along on the link as Doohan discusses his passion for racing, favourite memories, his son Jack and what it takes to win.
Automobilist: Given all of your victories, what is it like knowing that you'll forever be a part of something that brings joy to so many people?
Mick Doohan: Winning as much as I did, winning as many titles as I had, was all just really the end result of a lot of hard work, and a lot of desire to want to race, and to want to win. So for me, you know, it was a delight. And if other people can actually enjoy what I did, then thank you for that. But for me it was a lot of fun, and the passion that I had to go motorcycle racing
Automobilist: What have you been up to these last few years, what are your hobbies, are you still riding?
Doohan: Eh, I still ride occasionally, not very often. You know mainly a scooter around town, and I have a Honda 1000 as well, which I occasionally ride. A naked bike. But yeah, as you say I can't slow down anyway. I still travel probably as much if not more than I had been when I was competing.
You know Aviation is probably the most visible area that I am involved with these days. And investment is another area - but it is more on a passive side. But to sit around and twiddle my thumbs for too long, I just can't do it. So I enjoy keeping active and I'd imagine I'll do that for quite some years to come
Automobilist: You've raced here at the Czech GP 8 times, including 6 podiums and 2 wins. Tell us what you remember about the Brno circuit, and what's it like to be back here?
Doohan: You know being in Czech, Czechoslovakia the first time I came here, it was Czechoslovakia, now it's Czech - it was always a challenging circuit especially for the Hondas. So, to have won here twice over the number of years that I competed here, had a couple of issues a few times: a small little crash, a couple of other minor issues. But I actually won my first World Title here in Czech in 1994. So I actually have some great memories, and some great times both on the track and off the track. And have some great Czech friends. So I enjoy coming here whenever I can and I look forward to coming back in the near future.
Automobilist: What was more memorable for you: your first World Championship title, or your fifth?
Doohan: Look, winning the World Championship isn't an easy task. You know, I had so many, sort of close attempts at winning the Championship prior to winning in 94, that it was a relief to win it. To be honest, the first year, it was a dream come true, but it was also a relief, because I had been so close a few times. And then whether or not I had been robbed, or it was an accident, or whatever, but I mean I just felt that winning in 94 - it was a relief. And winning here in Czech, you know I remember, just crossing the line and just the emotions were just, it was almost like a weight lifted off my back.
Winning the second championship was to prove to myself that the first one wasn't a fluke, and I actually was able to be consistent enough to win back to back. Beyond that it was all about winning races, and if I won enough races the Championships would take care of itself. So to win 5 was more than I ever thought I would ever actually achieve. So winning one was the main goal, and then winning two as I said, so to win five, you know I am blessed. And to have a career like I had, considering it was all about just riding a dirtbike when I was just a kid and having fun - to end up where I've ended, you know, as I say I'm blessed.
Automobilist: Your son is currently on the Red Bull Junior Racing Team. What has it been like watching your son rise through the ranks of racing?
Doohan: You know my son Jack, as you say, he is currently with the Red Bull Junior Team. And supporting him in his racing, and I think supporting any kid in any sport, I think keeps them focused and sets goals throughout their life. Which they can take on in future life regardless whether they become a champion or not. For me being involved, and he's involved in motorsport, the emotions of sport there are only ever high highs and low lows, there is really nothing in the middle.
So as a father, or I'm sure of any parent of any kid competing, you feel those emotions when your kids are competing. But as they get older, you gotta start to move away. But enjoying the ride so far with young Jack throughout his career and watching him and hopefully watching his success has been a delight and something that I enjoy to do. So whilst he enjoys to compete and puts the pressure on himself to want to be out there and to want to win, then I'll support him.
Automobilist: A lot of aspiring riders and racers look up to you. What advice would you give them?
Doohan: You know I think any young rider, or any young competitor, just needs to have the passion to want to compete. And then you got to be committed, and the commitment stays all the way through. Like somebody like Marquez, Rossi. You know you can never rest on your last result, it's your next result that you need to keep working for.
So you know, the work never stops, but that winning, the delight and the feelings you receive when you win a race is what keeps pushing you to want to win. Finishing second, like I always said it was the first loser. They give you a trophy for it but you've lost. So putting that little bit of extra effort in to win is worth the success that you get on the other side. Really, that's all I'd say, is just to keep pushing and never stop. If you want it you've got to keep working for it, but the fruits at the other end are certainly worthwhile.
Automobilist: What would you like to say to anyone who has purchased one of your Helmet posters?
Doohan: I'd like to say thank you. I would like to say thank you for purchasing one of the Automobilist posters. It's the first one in the MotoGP line, and along with some legendary Formula 1 drivers. So it's an honor for me to be chosen to have that first in foremost. But I guess my helmet also over the years has become quite famous as the Aussie helmet, or the Mick Doohan helmet and they're still producing them today. So to put it in print, and to hopefully have 'em circulated, I just say thank you to anybody who purchases it, and thank you to Automobilist.
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