Doohan mentor supports Rally
THE man who gave five-time 500cc MotoGP champion Mick Doohan his big break in the sport - and was there the day he retired - hopes the Aussie hero will be in Kyogle this weekend to watch the Repco Rally Australia.
Bob Cowley, the owner of Kyogle Motorcycles, has been ringing his good friend to invite him over for a barbecue with 150 of his closest mates.
He's lucky enough to have a property that fronts one of the rally routes and is hoping to track down Doohan.
“He could turn up,” Cowley said.
“I tried to ring him last week but I think he was overseas.
“But he still comes down every now and again to have a ride and brings his young son and daughter.”
Cowley first met Doohan in 1982 when the youngster walked into his shop on the Gold Coast looking for cheap parts.
Cowley offered to fix his busted motorbike and pay his way into his first race.
“I tried to get him off the road because it was a bit dangerous and get him on the track, and he just never looked back,” Cowley said.
“He just had a really good attitude to everything and he loved riding a motorbike, which is half the battle.
“He had a few setbacks with injuries but he proved how tough he was when got through those injuries to win world titles.
“A lot of people didn't realise how injured he was when he was still riding.”
Doohan treated his former benefactor well in return, flying he and his wife to Europe for eight weeks in the lead-up to his retirement.
They stayed in Monaco and attended four Grand Prix.
“He also wanted me there the day that he retired. I was there from the beginning and I was there at the end,” Cowley said.
Doohan, who is on the board of Repco Rally Australia, could be one of the celebrities to hit town this weekend along with Hollywood heart-throb and Australian actor Eric Bana, who is also known to be a motoring enthusiast.
“I think the town is going to get a bit of shock at how many day trippers there might be here,” Cowley said.
“It has been buzzing for two or three weeks now and I think they are all just counting the sleeps.
“I don't think the locals have grasped how big it is. We will find out on the weekend how big it is. I don't think the town or the people are prepared for it.
“It is such a big thing and it is only a sleepy little town.”
Cowley has a big sign on his property calling for the rally to 'Bring It On' and doesn't think much of the arguments of those people who oppose it.
“I think the people who are against it are a minority and I think they are very selfish,” he said.
“Something that is over three days every two years is going to have a minimum impact.”