Scott Redding attacks BSB this season after ten years in GPs and one of the toughest upbringings in racing
Motorcycle racing is all that Scott Redding has ever known. Well, apart from all the ladies, the mad hair, the dirt-core fashion, the boozing and the dark underbelly of Bangkok and various other cities around the globe.
Redding started racing minimotos when he was a kid, got talent spotted by the same man who spotted Casey Stoner and made his Grand Prix debut in 2008, when he was a 15-year-old schoolkid; except he never went to school. Within four months he had won his first GP.
Now 26-years-old, Redding has won four GPs, challenged for a world championship and been a factory MotoGP rider. He has also posted vlogs on YouTube that are like no other racer’s vlogs – dragging the giggling viewer (assuming you’ve got a good sense of humour) from racetrack to drinking den to Buddhist temple. Over the past decade he has transformed himself from a single-syllable teenager into a racing star with more character than half a grid of pro-racers.
However, Redding’s road to very near the top wasn’t always a bundle of laughs. It’s not like he even wanted to go racing when he was a kid.
“I was born into racing, it wasn’t my choice,” he says. “I was too scared to say no, that was my problem. Did I want to go riding every Tuesday, every Friday, every weekend, when my friends were out doing other stuff? No, I didn’t, but I never had the balls to say, no.
“I remember coming home from school: no one here, so I’ll go down the skatepark with my mates. I’d be down there 10 minutes and my uncle would turn up. Everyone goes, ‘fuckin’ hell, Scott, your uncle’s here!’ I’d be like, ‘fuck, I don’t care’. Then it’d be, ‘Scott! Get here!’ Nah, can’t hear him, keep skating. So he comes over, grabs me, throws me in the van and says, ‘go home, do your hour’s training and then you can go out, okay?!’ It was the same shit every day.”
Redding’s early career was like a boxer fighting his way out of the Bronx, except he was racing to get out of Quedgeley, Gloucestershire. His background was tough, scary and skint. His mother left home when he was four and his father was a long-distance truck driver, so he was mostly brought up by his grandparents. His dad and his uncle decided that motorcycle racing was the way out of the hole that he might otherwise have fallen into.
“I saw a lot of bad shit when I was a growing up. I grew up in quite a shit area with a lot of bad people. When you see a mate beating up his parents and you have to go to him and say, ‘what the fuck are you doing?’ – it’s not nice. You know that’s not normal. But I could’ve done the same; I could’ve turned to drugs and alcohol and done nothing, like most of them. But I had a chance and luckily I dug deep to do it.”
At first, he didn’t know what he was doing. He still has vivid memories of his early days of minimoto, riding an indoor go-kart track at Hullavington airfield, a Second World War RAF base.
“I used to be fucking scared!” says Redding, who was four at the time. “I remember going down the straight and through this fast right, where there were these big doors into the hangar. It was pretty dark in there, so when they opened the doors it scared the shit out of me because I thought someone was coming to get me.
“Every time I went around there, I went as fast as I fucking could, because it was all the old war shit – the ghosts and this and that and the stories you hear. I was shitting my pants. But I could never tell my dad I was scared because he would’ve fucking thrown me in the van and that would’ve been it.”
Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, Redding got faster and faster and faster. Soon he was venturing into Europe with his dad and uncle, all the way to Rimini in Italy, where the minimoto craze began in the 1990s.
Redding recently had a huge flashback while visiting a Rimini minimoto track with Moto2 winner Sam Lowes and former 125cc world champion Manuel Poggiali.
“I was thinking, this place looks a bit familiar. Then I realised, fuck, I raced minimotos here when I was seven! I remember it clear as day. I high-sided, went headfirst into a manhole cover and chipped my Alex Barros replica helmet.
“I loved Barros and that was my favourite helmet. It was brand new and I’d fucking damaged it, so I started crying. I wasn’t hurt, I was just crying. I got back to the van and my uncle was like, ‘what are you crying for?’ I said, ‘my helmet’. He grabbed the helmet – ‘fuck the helmet!’ Then he smashed it on floor, threw it out of the window and said, we don’t come here for you to cry! That was to teach me that the helmet wasn’t for show, it was there to do a job.”
Redding, his dad and his uncle spent the next few years crisscrossing Europe: Italy, France and Spain; minimoto 50s, then Metrakits 80s and 125 GP bikes. He still gets flashbacks whenever he races at Valencia.
Read the full story in AMCn Magazine Vol 68 No 20
Words Mat Oxley Photography Gold & Goose and AMCN Archive