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Grid Talk – Carl Cox | Columns | Gassit Garage

The unlikely sponsor of TT star Michael Dunlop talks about what drives a DJ-techno legend to sink money into motorcycling

Carl Cox Motorsport has been around for a while but not a lot of us know about your connection with Michael Dunlop. Please explain?

Yes, we’re getting a bit of a profile in Australia with our sponsorship of some classic racers and teams, but Michael Dunlop is taking it to another level. He actually came to me. I seem to be a collector of people. I guess through my work (ground-breaking DJ of the 1980s and early 1990s), I’ve opened the door for a lot of people. I’m a leader, not a follower but I’ve got an open ear to everything.

So what’s Michael Dunlop like?

He’s brilliant, very much misunderstood and also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He has a real sense of humour but it takes a while to decipher the accent! We first met when he came to New Zealand’s Tri-Series championship over the summer of 2016-17. He’s always in the zone and I understand what being in the zone is all about. He rides the hell out of every bike he gets on. I admire that.

So tell us about your ‘zone’ these days.

I have a very satisfying circle of life at the moment. I work, mainly in the UK and Europe, from March to October. Then I am based at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.

That’s a pretty conservative, white-Anglo-Saxon part of the Shaky Isles, compared to multi-cultural Auckland, isn’t it?

Not really. The world has changed. That part of New Zealand has the best roads for motorcycles and I ride a motorcycle here whenever I can. Kiwis are pretty reserved about approaching well-known overseas guests. I could grow a beard but that would just make me look like Morgan Freeman and I’d get even more attention.

So it’s basically chill-out time Down Under?

Yeah. The nightclub world can be a bit mad. So in this part of the world it’s a bit of riding, racing and living a little. But we are trying some new things. Last year I played in Vietnam for the first time. That was 10 hours and pretty awesome.

And you put a fair bit into motorcycling in New Zealand?

You’re referring to our Hyosung Cup. The Carl Cox Motorsport Hyosung Cup is a four-round championship for standard but race-prepared Hyosung 250cc production motorcycles. We’ve run that for three years now and it’s all about getting people out on the track. We want riders to come forward and cut their teeth in an affordable class. We’ve worked hard with two circuits (at Taupo and near Hamilton), the sport’s governing body in NZ and the Hyosung importer. Avalon Biddle (international NZ racer) is our club patron and helps with coaching when she can.

I hear you have an interest in vintage sidecar racing?

Yes. We’ve been involved with sidecars since 2015 but I also have an interest in anything with a motor, and we are involved in everything from drag cars to the Ducati Tri-Options (support class to BSB in the UK). Regarding sidecars, this year we are helping Tim Reeves (seven-time world champion and TT Sidecar winner) in the FIM World Sidecar Series. He’s doing okay, you know. Follow us on Facebook for all our updates on the people we sponsor and our work. We’d love the support and we love what we do. 

  Interview Hamish Cooper