At the gates, St. Peter told Arthur, “Since you’ve been such a good man and your motorcycles have changed the world, your reward is that you can hang out with anyone you want in Heaven.”
Arthur thought about it for a minute, and said: “I want to hang out with God.”
St. Peter took Arthur to the Throne Room, and introduced him to God.
Arthur then asked God, “Hey, aren’t you the inventor of woman?”
God said, “Ah, yes.”
“Well,” said Arthur, “professional to professional, you have some major design flaws in your invention.
“There’s too much inconsistency in the front end protrusion; it chatters constantly at high speeds; most of the rear ends are too soft and wobble too much; the intake is placed way too close to the exhaust and, finally,
the maintenance costs are outrageous.
“Hmmmm, you may have some good points there,” replied God, “hold on.”
God went to his Celestial Supercomputer, typed in a few words, and waited for the results. The computer printed out a slip of paper and God read it.
“Well, it may be true that my invention is flawed,” God said to Arthur, “but according to these numbers, more people are riding my invention than yours.”
Actually, we could imagine our own Aaron Slight having a conversation just like that. It’s well known that former bike mechanic Slighty was a genius when it came to analysing what was happening with his bikes. Indeed he was a master at it and his mechanics loved him for it.
How many riders could roll into the pits after a couple of quick laps and tell the spannerman all the specific, minute changes he’d need to make to get the superbike turning right, while still getting power to the ground and avoiding head-shake on the straights?
Having recently re-read Aaron’s autobiography “You Don’t Know The Half Of It”, we now know a lot more about the man that we had respectfully interviewed perhaps a dozen times in the past.
We thought we knew a lot about Aaron’s career but, while we were probably more privileged than most to share time with him, the title of his book summed it up perfectly – we didn’t really know the half of it.
In a very chatty style, almost as if Aaron was writing a personal letter to a friend, the book gives an insight into the triumphs and tribulations of his sparkling career, which, afterall, began with dirt bikes.
He talks candidly about the frustrations of racing a bike that, because the rules favoured the lightweight 1000cc V-twins over his heavier 750cc four-cylinder bike, he was always at a mechanical disadvantage. He touches on the handicap of coming from a country so far removed from the hub of world motorcycle racing and the politics involved in the sport.
He talks of being annoyed that he could attract little support from mainstream business in his country of birth and lamented not having the opportunity to have a Kiwi company logo stitched on to his leathers.
“I still don’t know why New Zealand companies see niche sports such as rugby as their best opportunities for global publicity. A Spanish Grand Prix or a Suzuka 8-Hour can pull in up to 180,000 spectators at the track and the TV ratings are right up there with Formula One car racing.
“Perhaps motorsport is considered incompatible with the clean, green image New Zealand likes to present. Another factor is the low profile of bike racing in New Zealand. I would soon become better known in Europe than in New Zealand.”
Despite this, because he was proud of his country, he had a stylised Kiwi and, in later years, a Maori moko design painted on his helmet.
Slight competed in 229 World Superbike races, more than any other rider in the history of the series. He has stood on the WSB podium 87 times. He has also won the glamorous yet gruelling Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race three times in a row – a record that still stands.
He has won the respect and admiration of thousands of fans for two miraculous comebacks, first from a horrifying and deforming hand injury, then a stroke that led to complex brain surgery.
It’s a clever little touch that page 111 of Aaron’s book is numbered in the fashion of a race bike number-plate. Afterall, that was his trademark or autograph.
From a personal point of view. We here at BikesportNZ.com have been honoured to have known Aaron since he was racing 250cc proddy bikes around Manfeild in the late 1980s. We watched and reported on his Castrol Six-hour wins and, when he headed overseas, we continued to track his progress.
We recall getting a phone call from him as he lay in a hospital bed, recovering from the hand-mangling smash at Suzuka. We were impressed that, despite all the turmoil and pain he was experiencing, this professional had the cool presence of mind to phone his journalist mate with the news.
His autobiography is just like that phone call … a down-to-earth superstar chatting with a friend. If you get the chance, beg, borrow, buy or steal a copy of Aaron’s autobiography … just do it.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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