American rider Dwight Mitchell returns to TT 2002 riding the new MV Agusta F4. This will be his third time racing the mountain course and hopefully his best one yet. This year he is not fielding a multi-rider team but is concentrating on an individual effort with his support crew. Dwight's mission is to capture a silver replica in an individual event to go along with the one his team won in the 1999 Junior TT. Recently we managed to catch up to Dwight for a discussion on his background and future plans.

So Dwight, tell us how did you get started in racing?
It's rather interesting because I never intended to go roadracing. I love bikes and have been riding bikes since I was a kid and yes, I was always competitive, but this was only when I was racing my friends on dirt bikes for fun. One day I was at Reg Pridmore's Class motorcycle school for advanced motorcycle training and was approach by him. He asked if I was a racer, and I informed him no that I just do this for fun. He said, "Well you really ought to give it some thought, because you're really quite good". I said thanks but let it go after that. At the end of the day, three of his associate instructors spoke to me and advised me that I should seriously consider what Reg told me earlier about going to race. They said, "Reg is a former AMA Superbike Champion and he never compliments anyone or tells them to get into racing". So off I went to race the following season.

So how did you do?
I was on the podium for my first race and every race thereafter. I also won the AMA Amateur National Championship in my first year of racing and accumulated enough advancements points to turn Pro after my first season of racing. So I guess Reg was right after all. *laugh* After that it became a whole different ball game.

What do you mean?
I mean the rules changed because now it wasn't only about talent, but it was also about major sponsorship, and the size of your bank account. You know what they say about racing. "The only way to make a million dollars in racing is to start with 2 million. "

Where was your first race located?
It was at Bridgehampton Raceway in Long Island, NY. Boy that was a great fast track. You'd go into turn 1 flat out 6th gear, come back 1 gear and get back on the gas for a sweeping down hill right hander. Too bad it isn't still there. It was torn down a number of years back and replaced by a golf course. Well, so much for capitalism and progress.

How did you initially learn about the TT?
Like all motorcycle enthusiast I was watching TV one day when a program about the TT came on. I was immediately enthralled and went out to purchase some video tapes about the races. I loved the onboard videos and thought to myself, "I have got to do that race. It looked like such a blast!" I mean, flat out through villages and towns, over mountains, and the crowd lining the streets. The night life, the atmosphere, it all looked to good to be true. The following year, 1998, I was here doing the newcomers race in the Junior TT.

What was your impression after your first lap?
I said to friend, "People race this? I mean this is what I'm was seeing on TV?" When I got to the bottom of Bray Hill my heart was in my throat. And as I went over the mountain section and I saw there was a sheer drop off on the whole right side of the course for over a mile I was beside myself with anxiety. My first lap average was 65mph and the qualification cut off was 101mph Eventually I did qualify, so all was good in my world.



Is there real roadracing in the US?
No, we have no roadracing in America. Everything we do is on short circuits. So I really wasn't prepared for what I encountered, and I had no coach or mentor as the racers from here do. I was at a severe disadvantage before I even got here and didn't know it. In retro-spec I should have probably done the Manx Grand Prix first and tried to find a good coach. For that matter I'm still looking for one now. I always come over 10 days before qualifications to get in extra practice and learn more about the course. 220 curves is a lot to memorize.

What do you thing about your chances on the MVAgusta this year?
The MV is a fantastic motorcycle and we are very pleased about our relationship with MV Agusta Italy. It handles exceptional well out of the box, has great usable power, and to have the opportunity to bring a pair back to the Isle of Man after 30 years is truly an honor indeed. Everything appears to be sorted on the motorcycles and I can't wait to get on them here to test them out. Our time and average lap speeds have been improving each year and I think we will be a very competitive this year even if we are racing against 1000cc motorcycles.

Why is that, and what changes have you done to the motorcycle?
First off the motorcycle handles great. In fact I'm always telling people it's like riding a 250cc motorcycle with the power of a 750cc. So I'll be able to carry higher corner speeds than my competitors throughout course. I think this will allow me to make up for the horsepower differences. As far as changes are concerned you can see from the photos we've done quite a bit of work on the bike. Brakes, suspension, motor, exhaust, everything you'd expect to be done to a race bike. The motorcycles are fantastic, we're happy with all the assistance we've received from CRC Italy and we can't wait for the TT races to begin.



Do you have any TT hero's?
Of course, doesn't everyone? I like "Mike the bike" Hailwood and of course who doesn't like Joey Dunlop.

You have a son right, does he like racing?
My son will be 4 in November and he's my number one fan. My wife tells me that whenever I'm racing, he's in the pits saying "Go Daddy go!! Pass them!, Pass them!". And when I pass someone he's jumping up and down happy with glee. It's great that I have a family that's so supportive. My wife is the team manager and jack of all organizational trades and my son is a future racer in training. He's going to take M & A Racing to the next level. We have already been to the dealership to get him fitted for his little 50cc motorcycle with training wheels. But knowing my son those training wheels will only be on for about a week or two. He's a very fast learner and has been riding a 2 speed motorized Quad for the last two seasons. I also give him daily rides on the pit bike. Actually he drives and I balance the bike because his legs are not long enough to reach the ground.

Finally, Dwight, any predictions for this year's racing?
It's, funny people always ask that question, but at the TT it's always so hard to answer. The race is long, the variables are always changing, and every racer is doing his best to win. You just want the pit-stops to be fast, smooth, and uneventful. I know I'll be out there doing my thing in my quest for the title.

Dwight, it has been great talking to you, we wish you well at the TT, and can't wait to hear the howl of the MV's once again around the circuit.