This is a message to all those lucky people on the long flight to Sepang for the first MotoGP test of the 2018 season. Back in the day long before official test sessions for all the teams had been dreamed of we were sent to Daytona for the 200 miler event, which many of the top grand prix riders used as a pre-season test.
What a nightmare assignment it was as I’m am sure you can imagine. Two long weeks in the Florida sunshine at the end of February having to watch 750cc missiles race round the most famous piece of banked tarmac in the world. To make matters even worse you had to watch and yes even report on Supercross and short track racing, while witnessing more Harley Davidsons than you’d ever seen in your life parade up and down the Daytona strip every warm evening before enjoying more than one cool beer. Would you believe on a couple of occasions they even had the audacity to organise the college girls spring break at the same time of the races, now just how inconsiderate was that.
One year I even had to share a room with a colleague. The fact that it was enormous and overlooked the massive long beach with the sound of the Atlantic Ocean luring you to sleep each night, or in most cases early morning, was irrelevant. After so much hard work some nights it was difficult to take an early night because the band and particularly the girl lead singer who both looked and sounded like Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac for you youngsters) were too loud. They played in the bar of the hotel five nights a week, not that we went to the bar on that many occasions in those 14 tough days. On another occasion our sleep was interrupted when they launched a moon rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral, just another thing to moan about to my editor on return to a cold wet England in early March.
At the circuit some days you often had to keep out of the sun while watching a young Freddie Spencer in action for the first time on the four-stroke Honda taking on the likes of Kenny Roberts and Graeme Crosby on those frightenly quick 750cc Yamahas that would twitch and wriggle at over 150 mph on the banking.
It was a nightmare and you people on that long flight to Sepang just don’t know how lucky you are!