Carl Fogarty was, I think it’s fair to say, the last of his breed. He raced motorcycles at a unique time in the history of the sport: a time when superbike racing was ridiculously popular and the British round of the championship would attract a crowd of more than 50,000 people.
But it wasn’t just the popularity that made his era unique: it was a period during which the professionalism of the riders still hadn’t quite caught up with the professionalism of the teams. Motorcycle racers were still the bad boys of sport and definitely a few hoops short of a croquet set. They were a million miles from the lean, fit, corporate robots that populate the world championship paddocks these days and the sport was all the better for it.
Carl was famous for being a player of mind games. He liked to get under the skin of competitors; throw them off their game; distract and intimidate them. In post-racing career interviews he has claimed that he did this because he ‘had to hate them to beat them’.
But despite his love him or loath him demeanour and almost unprecedented fame in the UK, ‘Foggy’ will be remembered, first and foremost, as a truly fantastic motorcycle racer. He took three World Superbike Championship titles aboard Ducati’s 916 and a fourth on the 996 against some of the stiffest competition the category has ever seen; scored points in the MotoGP World Championship, and would have stood on the podium had he not run out of fuel. He even competed in the Isle of Man TT (practically unheard of for competitive closed circuit racers now), scoring a lap record that stood for seven years and coming within a mechanical failure of winning the 1992 Formula One race on the island.
One of the last great all-rounders, Foggy’s not an icon of speed: he’s a legend.