RRR talk to Jeremy McWilliams

Motorcycle road race legends Kevin Schwantz, Freddie Spencer and Jeremy McWilliams are in Sydney this week for the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at Sydney Motorsports Park. The trio dropped into the offices of Ride Rage Radio earlier this week for a chat with RRR presenters Phil Harlum and Tim Graham. This interview with Jeremy McWilliams was conducted in March, 2016, ahead of the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed.

Jeremy McWilliams with Trevor Birrell - Barry Sheene Festival of Speed 2016 - Image by Mark Bracks
Jeremy McWilliams with Trevor Birrell – Barry Sheene Festival of Speed 2016 – Image by Mark Bracks
Jeremy McWilliams Interview

Phil: Someone that’s got a lot of replicas in his shed from Grand Prix racing and a couple of Ken Wootton trophies from the Island Classic is Jeremy McWilliams, welcome back to Australia….it’s almost like you never left.

Jeremy: Thanks, thanks I wish I had never left. It’s nice to get back over again. Just been in Perth for a couple of days. It’s an honour to get back again, I love the place.

Phil: What is it about these classic meetings that keeps you coming back? I guess the racing has to one of the attractions. But the bikes have to be one of the attractions.

Jeremy: I only got invited to go classic racing when my career kind of slowed off a bit, I wasn’t professionally racing and I got an invitation from Phillip Island and Roger Winfield to ride for Team UK and I’d never given a thought to classic racing…..you know I couldn’t have imagined it to be fulfilling any kind of hole from my professional career and was really impressed with how good the bikes are, lap times, level of competition and that kinda kept me coming back. We do this because we still enjoy it. There’s a very competitive element to it and when you see  the guys that you’ve just been talking to, Kevin and Freddie turning up to this, I guess what they’re trying to do is replicate the buzz we got from when we were racing full time. And certainly in my experience that’s what the classic racing has been all about….it’s been about fighting for a win. And I’ve been lucky enough to get a number of wins at the Island Classic, and hopefully I will be able to run with the boys up here as well.

Phil: The parade laps that will be held this weekend…as we said to Kevin and Freddie, they are just parade laps……

Jeremy: It does get serious…you know pretty early on from when you look at the lap times, the qualifying times…you know who’s out to make a mark and whose there enjoying the whole scene. But you put any ex professionals out there…….and you know….you put them in any scenario when there’s a competition, they all want to win. But the parade lap…we already had a discussion about that and it doesn’t sound to me like a parade lap….it sounds like 4 laps of qualifying and see who comes out on top….and Kevin’s on something competitive….so you looking to see how you fit into that……and I haven’t been to Eastern Creek for years and years.

Phil: The bikes that you’re going to be riding on the weekend, one of them is going to be pretty special, it’s his old bike…or something that’s made up of parts of his old bike that you’re going to be riding.

Jeremy: Yeah..and that’s the 4 lap…parade/dash……and I’ll be riding it….I’ve got to look after that bike…it’s a very valuable piece of machinery….you know we have to look after the bikes to a certain degree….but talking to Kevin and Freddie…you know…you’re trying to ride them at about 85%….you know that’s going to be a quick laptime.

Phil: We’ve seen your competitiveness on the Roger Winfield machines, what bike are you riding in the top 50?

Jeremy: I’m riding the XR69 and that invitation came through Tom Dermody who supplies Cam Donald’s bikes and they’ve always been immaculately turned out…..and that’s like a sister bike to that……And I know how well Cam goes on that down at the Island…..and I’m sure with my experience on the XR69, we should be able to get it into some kinda shape to be competitive….but I also want to bring it back in one piece…….

Phil: I’ve done a few laps on one of the XR69’s and I remember you and Glen Richards going flying past me up through the hayshed….and I thought that’s how fast you’ve gotta ride if you wanna win a GP.

Jeremy: Those guys that have been here before they want to, you know…put there name down in history again…..It’s a very good thing whenever you can come back and still be competitive. I think we have to thank Peter and all the organisers for putting it on and making it such a unique event and hopefully if things go to plan and I can run with them, I can get back here again in the future. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around Eastern Creek, it’s an awesome circuit.

Phil: And there is so much happening over the weekend with the trade stall. Theres so many reason to come out and bring the whole family out. So many bikes. I’ve seen you guys jus twalking around looking at the bikes and I guess you guys are motorcycle enthusiasts just like we all are.

Jeremy: I probably take more pictures of other peoples bikes. And the other side of things that we aren’t used to, it is that the fans can come in and interact with the riders and teams and that’s quite unique. It happens at the Island, it happens here and it happens at Goodwood. And the people that I have kept in touch with here, it’s quite nice to see them again.

Phil: Is it great to also sit down and have a chat with guys like Kevin and Freddie that you have so much in common with.

Jeremey; Well we’ve been like school kids…talking about the bikes and set up and the differences between the bikes. They’ve got so much more information than I’ve got, it’s a pleasure to sit and chat with them. It’s not something that you could envisage happening when you were racing. It’s been a pleasure spending time with them and I’m looking forward to the weekend.

Phil: It’ s been a pleasure spending time with you in the studio, thanks very much for coming back and participating in the weekend and spending time in the Ride Rage studio.

Fans of Jeremy McWilliams might also be interested in reading the extensive interview Trevor Hedge compiled with the Northern Irishman last year.

Jeremy McWilliams - KTM 1290 Superduke R
Jeremy McWilliams – KTM 1290 Superduke R
Jeremy McWilliams with wife Jill and son Zac enjoying Rottnest Island - January 2016
Jeremy McWilliams with wife Jill and son Zac enjoying Rottnest Island – January 2016

This interview was conducted in March, 2016, ahead of the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed.