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29 days ago
By Nick Harris

Wayne Rainey: a true warrior

Some people are just born warriors, Nick Harris explains why Rainey is one of them

It only seems like yesterday all you had to do was whistle and they would arrive in their droves from across the Atlantic. Those halcyon days of Kenny Roberts Senior and Junior, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz and Nicky Hayden are a distant memory. So, what are they going to do about it? Ask Wayne Rainey.

Some people are just born warriors. While most of us turn our backs, and walk away when the going gets tough, whatever the circumstances, warriors face and then act on whatever lies ahead. A different breed to usual human beings.

Nobody who was at Misano on September 5th, 1993 will ever forget the day. The afternoon a supreme athlete and World Champion was at the very pinnacle of his talent. The terrifying fall in the Misano gravel trap that brought a devastating end to a career and life as Wayne Rainey knew it. Television pictures of the fall still haunt the Grand Prix paddock. Rainey the three times World 500 cc Champion chasing his fourth successive world title after 24 Grands Prix wins that started at the British Grand Prix five years earlier, confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life.

Roll the calendar forward 25 long years to the Circuit of the Americas in Texas this weekend, and the third round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship. It’s been a tough barren time for American racing on the world stage. It’s unbelievable that there is just one American rider, Moto2™ competitor Joe Roberts, in the entry list in all three MotoGP™ classes, even for a Grand Prix on home soil.

Wayne was there in Texas supervising the second round of the fourth MotoAmerica series that surely will re-start that production line that brought some many Americans to enlighten the world stage. Six years ago, American national racing was on its knees. The usual problems of money and politics had engulfed a series that was once the envy of the world. Rainey, who had already given so much to a sport that had thrown at him the very pinnacle and lowest pit of despair, decided it was time to do something about it. Together with the likes of Paul Carruthers, son of former 250 cc World Champion Kel and mentor to Kenny Roberts when he led the American charge into Europe, they planned the MotoAmerica project. It’s been tough, and Wayne admitted at the weekend that they were still a few years away but an American rider back into the entry list had been achieved. They are moving forward, and who better to be at the helm.

After the Misano accident, Wayne returned to the paddock a couple of years later to run the 250 cc Yamaha team. Despite being paralysed from the waist down, he raced karts with his old mate and adversity Eddie Lawson. He was heavily involved with MotoGP™ returning to the magnificent Laguna Seca circuit near his home in California, and with American racing on its knees, he decided he would not let it die.

It’s been a long hard road for Wayne with life changing circumstances none of us could ever imagine, but when you are a warrior that is what you do. He will turn American round and without a doubt there will be another American World Champion, even if takes a bit longer than Wayne would want.

Wayne Rainey has faced the ultimate test and came out a true warrior. He will do it again.

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