A list of books about the people that wrote history in their own way. Sure, this list of motorcycling autobiographies is mainly focused on motorcycle racers but the stories aren’t all about racing. From Joey Dunlop’s inner drive for success, to Rossi’s clear precision, to the fact that Jim Redman was orphaned. In fact racing takes a back stage in most of these books as they delve into the inner psyche of the people, not the sport. There’s something in these books that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, as you get a taste of what it’s like to be different. And by different I mean a little bit special. If you’re looking for interesting tales from fascinating characters in the world of motorcycling, this list is a great place to start.
Sox: Gary Hocking – The Forgotten World Champion
Roger Hughes / 2016
A contemporary of the great Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood and John Surtees, Gary Hocking became a double world champion whose name remains largely forgotten. Having retired at an early stage in his career, Roger Hughes’ fascinating book is a positive celebration of Hocking’s life and career. The book outlines how he went from simply riding a motorbike to work to becoming world champion as told by those who where close to him. Gary’s decision to move to car racing because it was safer makes his story all the more tragic as he was killed in a car crash. With photos covering Hockings’ early career racing Nortons in South Africa, through to his final motorcycle ride, at the 1962 Isle of Man TT, this book is a fitting tribute to a forgotten champion
The undisputed master of the Isle of Man TT, Joey Dunlop left a huge dent in the motorcycling world when he was tragically killed in July 2000. For motorcycle fans the world over, he was thought of as royalty and most definitely became true king of the track. In this biography, Mac McDiarmid explores the man behind the myth. From his humble beginnings to the height of his success, Joey Dunlop remained a quiet Ulsterman with a passion for racing and a desire to win. The book is packed with stories and anecdotes from those who knew him best, as well as stunning imagery and fascinating facts.
A riveting read from the mind of one of the sports most popular characters and one of the funniest blokes I’ve ever met. With a forward written by Carl Fogarty, What A Good Do is the honest and engaging story of the James Whitham story and it talks quite a bit about his successful carrer at the TT, too. Having won three British titles, he also competed in World Superbikes (and won a race), World Supersport (won plenty) and proffers a riotous and often moving account of how he has beaten some of the best in the sport, dealt with dangerous crashes and and his battle with lymphatic cancer. A rollercoaster ride though the highs and low of a world class rider and world class bloke.
Valentino Rossi Autobiography – What If I Had Never Tried It
Valentino Rossi / 2006
We couldn’t have put this list together without Rossi’s book in here. Perhaps the greatest living motorcyclist of his time, Valentino Rossi is certainly one of the most entertaining. With an army of fans behind him, the charismatic Italian helped to change the face of modern day racing. His fierce determination to win, and the unnervingly rebellious side to his character, helped Rossi to encapsulate the spirit of racing drivers of old. In this autobiography he gives a candid, enigmatic and often amusing account of his rise to fame, as well as the inside story on his triumphant 2005 season. You know the legend that is Valentino Rossi, but get to know more about the man behind the charming looks and winning smile, in his own words.
This self-penned autobiography was written, published and even sold by motor legend High Anderson himself. As one of the most successful international riders in the history of New Zealand Motorcycling, “Being There” tells his story for the first time and in his own words. Having won four world championships, 25 Grand Prix’s and 47 podium positions at the time of his retirement, he was considered to be one of the greats. He later went on to help Suzuki develop the motocross bike that delivered him four more world titles. Being There shares personal aspects of his life as a racing champion as well as giving the reader an insight into the exciting world of motor racing.
Perhaps one of the most famous motorcycle memoirs ever written, The Motorcycle Diaries chronicles the adventures of two young men who set out from Buenos Aires in 1952. One of them was the then twenty-three-year-old Ernesto `Che’ Guevara. Written eight years before the Cuban Revolution, these diaries are full of disasters and discoveries, the kind of that would have been experienced by any other intrepid young men who choose to explore South American during this era. Geuvara’s adventure of a lifetime may have ended there had he not gone on to become a household name in his own right. The Motorcycle Diaries is an extraordinary account of a hero in the making.
Six time world champion Sir Jim Redmond, tells the story of his extraordinary life, both on and off the race track in this 2016 autobiography. One the most accomplished racers of the Golden Era of motorcycle racing, the book examines the genuine rags to riches story of a how a penniless orphan became such an important figure in the glamorous world of racing motorcycles and how he earned himself a reputation as the hard man of the race track and a shrewd professional in the paddock. After being awarded an MBE in 1964, Sir Jim Redmond continues to remain one of the motorcycling worlds most colourful characters.
Champion of Champions provides an insight into the life of motorcycle racing champion, Giacomo Agostini. Recounting the extraordinary era of motorcycle racing that ran from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, Walker examines how Agostini came to be the man to beat at any top level motorcycle racing fixture. Describing how his precocious talent, his courage and flair set him apart from his contemporaries, the book recreates some of his most fierce rivalries with the likes of Mike Hailwood, Jarno Saarinen and Phil Read. It also celebrates his many successes and his matchless run of 122 Grand Prix wins. Providing an in-depth technical analysis of the bikes Agostini rode and developed, in particular the 350cc and 500cc MVs he used at his peak, there is also a full race-by-race record of his achievements.
Carl Fogarty is a four-time World Superbike champion, and is one of English motorcycling greats. I actually think Foggy is on a bit of a comeback; at the height of his career, love him or hate him you couldn’t avoid him. When he retired, lots of people were bored of his arrogance but he seems to have mellowed in his (older) age and now comes through as a class character. In his autobiography he recounts a lifetime of thrills and spills, both on and off the racing circuit. Popular with his fans, he was once named Sports Personality of the Year and his explosive autobiography looks at how he got so far. With plenty of tales about his hell-raising days, including staggering home at five in the morning before the Isle of Man TT, the book looks at the man behind the legend. A true thrill seeker, he experienced danger on very real terms after a particularly severe crash in 1986, leading him to talk about the tragedies that he has witnessed throughout his career and his disgust for the sports reckless riders. Now, a laid back family man, he has remained loyal to his Blackburn roots and the book is a compelling tale of a working class lad made good.
This autobiography presents an intense and dramatic ride through the life of the the international road-racing legend and maverick star of the Isle of Man TT, Guy Martin. Outlining the highs and lows of his racing career, the book examines his early roots as a spirited team mechanic who prepped bikes for his dad, through to becoming one of the most vocal Isle of Man TT supports and racers the UK has ever known. He explains what it feels like to survive a 170mph fireball at the TT and then come back later and do it all again and lays out the struggles of fighting for a place on the podium. Now a highly regarded TV presenter and pundit, readers can learn more about what motivates him and how he is seen though the eyes of his friends and foes, his family, his teammates and even his bosses.