MOTORCYCLE HERO: STEVE HISLOP
'THE FLYING HAGGIS' - GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Steven 'Hizzy' Hislop, was born in Hawick, Scotland on January 11th 1962 into a motorcycle racing family. Despite growing up with a racing father and younger brother, Steve started off as a mechanic, not a racer himself. But tragedy struck when his dad died of a heart attack aged 43 and then his brother Gary, was killed racing, aged just 19. The death of the other two men in his family hit Steve hard, but he battled his demons and in 1983 launched his own motorcycle racing career.
Time for TT
He first raced that most challenging of motorcycle circuits on the Isle of Man in 1985, seeming immediately at home and attacking the course with consummate skill and courage. From that flying start, Steve Hislop went on to be the fourth most successful TT rider ever, notching up no fewer than eleven Isle of Man TT wins. He totalled 19 visits to the podium in his career and beat the TT lap speed record, with a 120mph lap in 1989 – some thought speeds like that were impossible!
Steve was a fearless yet adaptable rider. Sometimes riders excel on the Isle of Man but can't cut it on the circuit, but not Hislop, he was a master of both, winning the British 250cc Championship in 1990 and BSB Championship in 1995 and 2002.
He was such a daring racer that he was really exciting for the watching fans. One of the most notable races, being his tense duel with Carl Fogarty in 1991. Or the fans favourite could be his 1992 TT win on the rotary-engined Norton - the last time an all-British machine won the TT.
Ups and downs
It wasn't all straightforward for Hislop though, injuries beset him - perhaps unsurprisingly with the speeds he was achieving - but they didn't help his career. He broke his neck in 2000 at Brands Hatch and in 2002, was seriously injured hitting a solid barrier behind a safety fence. Undeterred he carried on to win the 2002 BSB championship.
Despite his many achievements though, it could be said that he never really reached his full potential, partly due to the fact that although he was loved by the fans, he may have been difficult to manage. When he won the 2002 BSB championship, Monster Mob Ducati team owner Paul Bird didn't renew his contract and then, to everyone’s surprise, he was fired from Virgin Mobile Yamaha team.
The final curtain
In an unlikely twist of fate, Hislop died in June 2003, aged only 41, but not on his beloved race track, but piloting his Robinson R44 helicopter. He had started training to become a helicopter pilot as his motorcycle racing career waned.
Gone but not forgotten
It's now 30 years since Steve Hislop produced that remarkable record-breaking 120 mph lap speed and a limited edition 1,000 anniversary stamp and coin set went on sale this year to commemorate it. Some TT legends will never be forgotten!
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