Revolving Racer – Josh Pickering | Columns | Gassit Garage
The stadiums are fairly small, there might only be about 1500 people, but they make so much noise it feels like 20,000
I’ve had an unusual path to end up riding speedway. All I knew is I wanted to make motorcycle racing a career. I started racing dirtbikes when I was seven and had a crack at road racing in 2012. I didn’t ride my first speedway meet until the start of 2014 and then set a goal that I wanted to be racing in Europe by 2017 – and here I am with the Edinburgh Monarchs in the Premier League!
Some of the guys racing speedway here in Europe are competing in five different leagues. A few might race in the Premier League (which I’m in) or the Elite League, or they might race in Sweden, Poland, Denmark or Germany. Life is hectic for them, they are just on the go all the time.
At the moment I am pretty lucky with the Monarchs; they haven’t put too much pressure on me at all. At the same time, I probably put a lot of pressure on myself just because I know what I’m capable of.
As far as racing goes, I treat it like racing back home, only this is a little more intense. There’s a lot of preparation that needs to happen in a short time between races and without having my mechanics doing the job they do, life would be a lot harder. Usually there will be four races in the space of 30 minutes.
The stadiums are fairly small, there might only be about 1500 people, but they make so much noise it feels like 20,000.
At the moment every track is new to me so it is difficult to prepare. To make it more challenging, most of the other guys have more experience than me. Each track rides differently with varying levels of grip, which is why a home track advantage is so important – the more knowledge you have of any track, the better.
What is the most challenging thing about racing and living in Europe? A lot of people say this, but maybe it’s being away from family and friends. Most of my mates back home that I hang out with don’t even know what a speedway bike is, so I can go about normal life and get a bit of a break from it. Over here, life is 100 per cent speedway. It’s full-on, but really I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Back on the home front the Australian championship is tougher than it’s ever been, especially considering now if you win the Aussie title you get the wildcard into the World SGP round in Melbourne – and it’s definitely a goal to race the home SGP round.
One of the highlights this year has been racing with the Australian team in the U21 World Cup. We had the semi-final in Germany which we won, and the feeling was unbelievable … there was a job to do and we did it. It’s an amazing feeling being on the podium in the green and gold, I would’ve slept in that uniform!
Now we’re off to Poland on 2 September for the final. It will be a home race in Rybnik for the Polish and they are red hot favourites, but we have Max Fricke, the current U21 World Champion, former Australian Champion Brady Kurtz and Jack Holder. This is a good chance for us and we know it. I hope everyone can get behind us in September!