MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Inside the mind of Casey Stoner
I spent some of the festive break reading Casey Stoner’s autobiography, Pushing the Limits. It’s an enjoyable book and should be required reading for any aspiring kid racer (presuming they’ve been off the bike long enough to learn to read) and for any parents of same.
Stoner’s abilities and his success confirm the verity of the 10,000 hour rule which suggests that’s the minimum amount of time you need to spend doing any pursuit if you want to be world-beating good at it. In other words, there are no short cuts on the way to the top – it’s just work, work and more work.
The young Casey Stoner
As a kid, Stoner did pretty much nothing except ride bikes. And the struggles through which his family went to ensure that he kept climbing the ladder make for uncomfortable reading, especially if you’re a parent. Would you go to the same ends? I’m not sure I would.
As is usual in autobiographies (at least, in my opinion), it’s the childhood years that are the most fascinating. You get to fully understand why Stoner was the way he was when he was racing Grands Prix. After that, there’s plenty of interesting stories you won’t have heard before and he also manages to settle a few scores, because, after all, that’s half the point of writing an autobiography.
Among those who get it in the neck are Michelin, who he says didn’t look after him so well when he graduated to MotoGP in 2006, and Randy Mamola, who was briefly involved in managing his career.
Perhaps the most illuminating part of the book is the tale of his very first race, as a four-year-old, at Hatcher’s dirt track on the Gold Coast. As Stoner lines up at the start aboard his PW50, he starts to cry. There are harsh looks from other parents and race officials, all of them no doubt jumping to the conclusion that Stoner’s mum and dad are the kind of desperate racing parents who force their kids into doing something they really don’t want to do.
In fact Stoner is shedding tears for a different reason – he is upset because people are looking at him. Born and bred in the middle of nowhere, he’s not used to all the attention and he hates it. A few years later he was bullied at school, so his parents took him out and home-schooled him, further divorcing him from the rough and tumble of normal life.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.