MXLarge Logo
Mark Eastwood - World Vets

Mark Eastwood - World Vets

Jun 14

  • Interview

Mark Eastwood is a name very well known in the industry, not just in the UK, but Worldwide. Son of a British motocross legend (Vic Eastwood), former factory Grand Prix rider for Honda, team manager for the British Motocross of Nations efforts and supporter of the sport. A wealth of experience and somebody well respected for his outspoken and at times controversial comments and his positive vision for the sport.

Now long retired from GP battle, Eastwood still works at his father’s motorcycle shop and races veteran races when time permits. Always a good chat about the sport, so we called him up and asked him about his future plans, which include racing the World Vets Motocross at Farleigh Castle on July 20 and 21.

Now, before we start, it should be noted, that his father (Vic) was one of the early GP winners at Farleigh (Vic Eastwood won there in 1968), and while Mark was too young to remember those victories, he himself did get to race the circuit in his career and also visit with his dad to watch some of the all-time GPs in the 1980s at the historical venue.

MXlarge: Tell me, for those too young to remember your racing career, I was pretty close to it, and I remember some really good rides by you in the 1990s, at Brou in France and some other ones. Can you remind the younger riders about your career, the standout moments?

Eastwood: Yes, Brou was a good one, I led both races at some point and led the second one for a couple of laps and was then second for a lot of the moto and finished with 5-4, which was a really good day for me. In that era, the 250 class was so deep with talent. Also, Indonesia, Brazil, a lot of places, Foxhill in the first moto and the second moto, up the sixth and DNFed after my electrics broke and I crashed. San Marino, I did well and plenty of GPs where it all went wrong. I did well in 1994, finished with a 6-8 for seventh overall in deep sand. Days I will never forget, and it was the toughest class with a lot of British riders. Back then a top ten or top five was really something special.

MXlarge: You have obviously done a lot of veteran’s races and you still take it seriously, maybe not Mike Brown serious, but you want to do well?

Eastwood: I don’t know about that, I mean, I want to do the best that I can. I want to put on a good show for the fans, but I wouldn’t say I take it as seriously as Mike (Brown), he is definitely on it you know. He is flat out and I am trying and enjoy it really, but of course I want to do well and when it is breed into you, it is hard to not take it seriously. It is a bit of fun, go down and enjoy it, but as soon as you go to the start line, you are in race mode, and I can’t help it.

MXlarge: I have mentioned it many times, I am not a risk taker, not into speed or danger and watching motocross, for sure even more so the last few years as the bikes get quicker and quicker and the riders are technically better and I watch you guys race and keep reminding myself, this is a ridiculous sport. A guy gets on these machines that can go amazing speeds, around a track that is full of danger, so many variables, maybe more than any other sport. It just seems crazy to me. What attracts somebody to that?

Eastwood: It is something you start riding bikes, and if you love it and enjoy it, it gets you, it is like a bug and you got to get out and ride bikes and it doesn’t even matter what level you get to, but if you get to a level, travelling around the World, and making a living and the speeds get faster, the tracks get bigger and you grow with it. Looking back, it would be hard to race a GP in Lommel, or Hawkstone Park, or Farleigh Castle, if you haven’t done all that what I mentioned. You more or less grow into that speed and danger, just naturally. You just end up at that level and it is where you wanted to be and if you get there, you don’t want to moan about it, but you are correct, it starts off as fun.

MXLarge: I sometimes think that motocross riders have some type of short-circuit in their brain and common-sense leaves when the gate drops. Then its just balls out and as fast as you can go? Obviously, it isn’t that way, but it sure looks that way watching.

Eastwood: I would think, you are 100% right. When you are around motocross riders, they are not the same as normal people, you have to be wired differently to take these risks.

MXLarge: How old are you now?

Eastwood: I am 53.

MXLarge: So, you are in the 50-age group with Mike Brown, and it is a stacked class.

Eastwood: Yes, I did it last year and it was stacked out and it was a great day. I did pretty well, finished second to Mike (Brown) and I really enjoyed it. I like this race, because it is on modern bikes. A lot of the other vet races are on old bikes, and I know a lot of people love that, but for me, we raced those things to death in the 1990s and my Grand Prix career was on those bikes and definitely for me, it isn’t that exciting anymore.

MXlarge: Obviously it’s a lot safer for an old rider to be on the new ones or not?

Eastwood: Yes, and that is exactly it. At the time, when we raced those bikes, they were the best we knew and the latest technology and I remember when we raced them, all we tried to do was get more bottom end power and the rear suspension was always a challenge and some people can ride those old bikes, but now I am over 50, I don’t want to race those old bikes. Give me a modern bike any day.

MXLarge: Were you old enjoy to remember your dad racing at Farleigh, or were you too young?

Eastwood: I do remember later on, but I don’t remember him winning there, because I wasn’t even born yet, but he raced there until 1978 and I do remember being around the GPs of Namur, Luxembourg at the camping and stuff. I remember all those guys being around there, playing badminton with the likes of Roger De Coster, Heikki Mikkola and those type of guys and at the time, you didn’t think anything of it. Looking back, pretty special times with Noyce (Graham Noyce) and everyone else and of course my dad.

MXlarge: These veteran races have really taken off, so many now in the UK, but what gets me the most is the camaraderie between the old riders and the stories they tell. Old rivals suddenly become best mates, and everyone is there to have fun and reminisce about the past.

Eastwood: That is correct. I don’t get to see Kurt, or Mike or Dobber, and then we get to see them and its nice to see your old rivals and as you said, even if you hated each other, it doesn’t matter anymore. You try and go and have some fun, but then as I said, you get on start line, it all changes again.

MXlarge: Do you like a beer, are you likely to end up in the beer tent at some point?

Eastwood: I do like a beer, but I can’t really be drinking on a race weekend. If I am racing the next day, I need to be feeling well. Last year at Farleigh, as I said, I had a really good day and then a week after I was doing the old shake-down on the old bike for another veteran’s race and I busted my leg, and it turned out to be pretty serious. I have only been riding a couple of months now and only now getting it back together. I will go down and have some fun and rider around.

MXLarge: As you said, you visited Farleigh as a kid and you raced there, but can you tell me some stories about your time there, both as a kid and a racer?

Eastwood: A lot of good memories, like jumping in the river while my dad was racing and messing around with my mates and then later watching the races when my dad had retired and watching Dave Thorpe, Eric Geboers, Georges Jobe and all those great GP races and dad being with me and giving me tips and also seeing them race Namur and for me, a lot of nostalgia at these tracks. At Farleigh I raced there, but we did British championship races. We didn’t go to Farleigh when I did GPs, we went to Hawkstone Park, but I never did a GP there, just the British championships.

Adam Duckworth images (Thanks mate)

More similar articles

World Juniors - Highlights image

World Juniors - Highlights

Jul 15

  • Video
Chase Sexton interview - Winner image

Chase Sexton interview - Winner

Jul 15

  • Interview