Steve Hislop, the Scotsman who shut Carl Fogarty's mouth
Steve Hislop, the Scotsman who shut Carl Fogarty's mouth

Steve Hislop, hero and legend

During Carl Fogarty's active years, few, very few had the pleasure of being able to say that one day they shut down the British. He gave himself the pleasure of wearing number one on his back for a reason. He, four times World Superbike Champion, the most successful rider in the history of the championship, always ready to say what he thought without fear of what they will say. Yes, to Foggy there was someone who left him speechless. Someone who beat you with a very inferior motorcycle. Someone even more sincere than the Blackburn pilot. That lucky man, who will not even sound to many, is Steve Hislop. A character who went down in history for that career but who hid much more than we could imagine.

Steve was born in Scottish Borders (1962), one of the Scottish regions bordering England, growing up in rural Chesters. He died on July 30, 2003 when he went out to pilot his helicopter. One of those hobbies that can make you feel, at times, something similar to riding a motorcycle. He did not fall into a tragic accident from a dangerous career, but he left feeling free. This is his story.

He lived through the tragic death of Jimmie Guthrie, childhood hero, European Champion, star of the time and regular winner of the Tourist Trophy. At the age of 17, he had to say goodbye to his father, whom he held in his arms after suffering a heart attack. A little later, at 20, his brother Garry died in a motorcycle accident. With him, when they were little, he used to argue about who was more like Jimmie. His three main references in the world of motorcycling were gone when he still needed their figures. His father, brother and idol abandoned him prematurely. Thus alcohol entered his life, accompanying the blood was flooding every corner to try to make him forget what he had experienced. It took him a while, but he understood that the best thing he could do was honor them. Perhaps that was the reason why, without his mother knowing, Hizzy entered the 1982 Manx Grand Prix race, which is, so to speak, the amateur race of the Isle of Man track. It was Steve's first appearance in the professional world of motorcycling. He was in a meritorious second place. Garry had won it the year before.

Another drug began to run through his veins. Adrenaline became the perfect ingredient for a situation of abstraction understandable only by those of us who ride a motorcycle. The fresh air of the Island filled his lungs, then he opened his eyes and among the leaves of the dozens of trees that surround the TT route he saw a radiant sun shine that invited him to continue on his way. With a blank mind, with nothing to think about, letting feet, hands and body act unconsciously on the most unpredictable ground in the world of competition. It was that state that made him one more addict, the one that turned the hobby into passion and absolute dedication. From that moment, Hizzy could not again disobey the newly awakened instinct.

Steve Hislop 1992

His first victory on the Island came five years later. It may not sound surprising, we are used to seeing newcomers win races in their categories (see Maverick ViƱales). But, let's think for a few seconds that the TT is another world, with today's motorcycling it only shares two wheels. And, as we have stressed from time to time, just to learn the path that leads you to complete a lap you will need at least three years. Three different editions just so each curve doesn't come as a surprise. Despite everything, after his first victory in 87, two editions later Hislop became the first man to do a lap averaging over 120mph(193km / h). That week he got two more victories, and in 91, he added another three. In total the Scotsman took 11 victories but among all of them the one achieved in 1992 against the legendary Carl Fogarty stood out.

It was that year that ended up crowning him as motor world hero. Although neither Foggy nor Hizzy had planned on their calendars to participate in the Tourist Trophy that year, both ended up coinciding with the ferry that left Liverpool for the Isle of Man. Carl arrived with a Yamaha OW1 sponsored by Loctite. Steve, on a Norton RCW 588 with a rotary engine - and Ron Haslam as a partner, by the way -. The differences between the two machines were more than obvious, and the fact is that the means available to the British company were not comparable to those of the Japanese giant. After the Formula 1 races, the whole team set the goal on Friday, the day on which the race of the category would take place. Senior TT, the main course.

Hizzy would come out nineteenth while Fogarty I would have the pleasure of doing it in fourth place thanks to the times achieved. It did not look too good for the Scotsman, who would have to face much more traffic on the track and the uncertainty of being aware of the times set by the stewards to know the final result. Lap after lap both drivers smashed the records set the previous year, both personal and overall. Just a year later they were flying far above what they could have imagined. But the truth is that Steve never separated more than seven seconds from the tail of the blackburn champion. The latter, aware of the advantage his rival had acquired, gave a final lap at 123mph that would last seven years as the fastest ever. However, his last effort was in vain, and Hizzy walked past the checkered flag like the Brit who rose to glory with a Norton, a mark disappeared from the top positions since 1961. The difference between the two was only four seconds. I leave you, for your delight, the summary of that race:

Steve Hislop (Norton F1) vs. Carl Fogarty (Yamaha OW-01) - One of the greatest TT Battle ever !!!, Roadracing

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As a good road racer Steve too had the opportunity to conquer Macau and its special Grand Prix. Those who knew him say that one of his great peculiarities was a great lack of confidence in himself, which too regularly led him to make mistakes on the track. However, for every mistake he made, his desire to prove to "all of them" that he was the best grew in parallel. What you have next is a quarter of an hour of motorcycling, 500cc, two times, on one of the most amazing tracks that we could have seen on video. I know the video is long but, my friend, I also know that you have swallowed a whole MotoGP race without question.

But his story did not end here. In those years it was completely normal to see World Cup pilots go to run the Tourist Trophy, which means that we could analyze whether the pilot who was fast there was also fast on a traditional circuit. The example of Carl Fogarty should already apply to us, as well as all the past of the TT. But Hizzy is another good case, he was champion of the British in the 250cc class and of the British Superbikes in 1995 and 2002. He tried his luck in the Superbike world championship but without great results. In fact, it was in SBK when he was born again in the year 2000. In his biography, he began with a chapter that included that day: "Day number one, life number two", and which was followed by the following words: "Everyone thought he was dead, except me, who didn't even pass me by. head".

At Brands Hatch Steve was involved in a multiple accident on the first downhill corner. The strong blows of the Scottish pilot against the sand silenced the stands:

They didn't detect it, but then Hislop had severely damaged his spine. For four weeks I try to lead a normal life ignorant, without knowing that the slightest bad move I would take him from the neck to the grave or to a wheelchair - He always said prefer the grave -. You could say that he lived for weeks on the brink of death without knowing it, but I think it's not surprising when we talk about a Tourist Trophy racer, right?

Hundreds of pilots attended his funeral and the IOMTT organization dedicated a statue to him in Hawick with the privileged views a hero deserves. A place where you can feel free forever.

Statue honoring Steve 'Hizzy' Hislop

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