Lap with a legend Scott Bishop | Back End
ADB puts Scott Bishop in the witness box.
When did you first start on bikes?
In 1978, I was six going on seven when I was given a Kawasaki KV75. It was the model with the fold-down handlebar and little doughnut tyres and I would ride around the yard. When we moved to a bigger place on the Gold Coast, the real estate agent told me about a club I should join and things went on from there.
What was your first bike to ride in competition then?
I started with an RM50, then moved on to a YZ50 and it’s been all Yamahas ever since.
You’re still associated with Yamaha today aren’t you?
That’s right, I run the Yamaha Junior Development Program which looks after riders in the 9 to 15- years age bracket and the GYTR Yamaha Under-19 MX Team. I was also involved in development and testing of the new YZ250F prototype for Yamaha in 1999 in the US and I hold the dubious honour of being the first rider to blow one up.
You’ve brought home a few titles over the years, what are some you hold?
I’ve won various state junior and senior championships during my racing career. I won the 2001 and 2003 Queensland Supercross Championships in both the 125 and 250cc classes, also the 2004 125cc Queensland SX championship, and I came equal third in the Australian 125 SX championship in 1998. I also won the Sunshine State Series six times. I always raced just for the fun of it though, not for any trophies.
Have your ever tried anything other than motocross?
I dabbled in dirt track or short circuit as a kid but, from when I was 16, it’s been pretty much all motocross. I’ve done a few Yamaha road days and enjoyed that, but I get the most satisfaction from motocross. I tried the A4DE in 2002 but was bored by lunchtime each day, I was looking for jumps and things and not concentrating properly. I also got lost on the morning of Day One and lost a lot of time, although I did finish the event.
Does any particular win stand out in your memory?
I think most people would remember their first big win and for me it was the 1982 Queensland Junior Championship.
Are there any events still to be marked off your bucket list?
Not really, I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot. There is one ride that every motocross rider should do though and that is Manjimup, it has heritage and history and is to motocross what Bathurst is to cars. I also had the opportunity to ride overseas and have raced in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, New Zealand and the USA.
Are you still riding regularly these days?
Unfortunately, not as much as I’d like to. It’s a common thing within the industry, the more involved you get, the less actual riding time there seems to be. Whenever I do have the time though I have a YZ450F to jump on and peel off some laps.
What changes in the sport stand out to you?
Well the obvious one is how far the bikes have come, and the switch from two to four-stroke motors. Today’s bikes are a lot safer and easier to ride which, in turn, makes them faster. The manufacturers put a lot more support in now as well, with the huge trucks and support teams at events. I remember in 2007 we gave two bikes and $1000 worth of spares. Now we have two full- time staff and four mechanics on weekends, personal trainers, airfares, things that could only be dreamt about not too far back.
Does any bike hold a special place for you? Do you have a particular favourite?
The 1994/95 YZ250 was a good bike, I always enjoyed riding that, it was good right out of the crate. The 1998 YZ125 was a good, well-refined package.
What was your toughest race?
That’s easy, Indonesia, 1999. I must have been about eight million degrees and we arrived on Wednesday and rode Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then had to race on Sunday. It just got hotter and hotter from the day we arrived. Sunday was a 25-minute moto plus two laps and, by the 20-minute mark, I was getting pins and needles over my entire body. The choice was to keep going or to slow down and maybe pull into the pits. I kept going to the finish and passed out shortly after crossing the line. The last thing I can remember is sitting on the podium and then waking up in a tent stripped to my undies and people talking about taking me to hospital. I freaked out at that thought and got up to walk away, but went in the wrong direction to where I needed to go. That was the third moto of the day and I was a real mess. I flew home after and drank as much water as I could the following week before my next race at Townsville but I didn’t go too flash there either, as I hadn’t fully recovered.
Who would be your most respected rival?
From my era it would have to be Peter Melton. I admired his style on a bike, he was efficient and graceful, he just had a talent to ride a bike well, but he was an ordinary type of bloke as well. Chad Reed was another, I was on the same track as him but not racing him. Another I would include would be Anthony Gobert, he was a great talent wasted and I believe he could have taken it to the top and even challenged Jeremy McGrath.
The biggest influence in your career would be who?
My family, Mum and Dad were not bike people but they’ve always been cool and helped me a lot, especially in my early days. They gave me a good grounding and support and were there when I needed them.