As friends we grew up in awe of Dan's ability on a bike, and jealousy as he was allowed to take time off school to practice while we were stuck in double maths. The family track was Golding Barn Raceway and we would spend hours watching the races held there back in the 80's.
At 16, in 1985, Dan was on Team Suzuki alongside Jeremy Whatley. Dan had his picture on his own Team Suzuki stickers, with a dodgy autograph across it, ' Danny Beamish' that was done on his behalf as his was nothing like it, and none of his mates ever called him Danny, especially his Mum and dad, then it was always Daniel. Anyway, How many kids do you know that had their own frickin' sticker? We had them stuck everywhere. He was ready to compete on the World Stage riding in the 125cc Grand Prix, and as friends we were all so excited for Dan. But then we heard the news that at his last practice race, before Round One of the MXGP's, Dan had crashed, crushing his leg, and in that moment, global travel as a MX racer sadly passed.
After years off the bike, he eventually raced again, arguably at the birth of the real four stroke movement, and proved his worth racing in the British 4 Stroke Championship rounds with an overall 5th at Elsworth in 1993. (correct me here Dan if its wrong)
Today, his sons Charlie and Ollie have a team manager, and coach in their Dad, with all this experience, the highs, the lows, and a calmness needed for smooth racing. Both love the fact that their Dad has been there and got both the trophies, and believe me, the scars to prove it. They have huge respect for their Dad, and his knowledge of racing. When I asked what its like to be coaching his sons, Dan's response was that he simply teaches them the fundamentals and basics. Well, by watching the boys ride and progress over the past few years, those lessons must be exceptional.
Charlie and Ollie are both amazing young riders. Charlie already claiming the 125cc National title in 2016 and Ollie now chasing that title himself, just finishing off the podium this season after what he called a 'silly crash' in the last round led to a broken elbow that dropped him to 4th overall. Charlie is on a comeback, his 2017 season a write off, after breaking his femur, should I say splitting his femur, whilst practicing in the sand over in Dunkirk. Dan hated Sand, he detested racing in sand, and with a big grin, Charlie says it's the only thing my Dad can't teach me.
Both boys have followed in their Dad's tracks, both have already suffered multiple injuries, and both still passionate about doing their best in 2019. They would like the year end podium, go for the title, but both are realistic too, as Motocross is a tough and aggressive sport, progression seems so have priority in the Beamish Camp. For Dan, I asked him what his goals were for 2019 and his reply "enjoyment over results". Hallelujah...a Dad who only wants their children to enjoy the sport. I love that about Dan, he has always been so humble. I'm sure Dan tried to put the the boys off from racing, he even became their football manager when they were younger to steer them away. No chance, it was inevitable they would race. Growing up, Ollie recalls seeing his Dad's riding kit, and photos here and there, and with a private practice track up the lane, chances were Dan was on a loosing battle since they were born. Charlie just remembers being up the track more and more, watching the riders and learning, slowly getting more comfortable on a bike.
I wanted to know who inspires them within racing. Dan immediately recalled traveling as a mechanic for Jeremy Whatley, and witnessing the pure art and ease of riding from Jean Michel Bayle. Charlie, sitting aboard in YZ250 had never heard of Bayle, nor had his best mate and pro rider Michael Ellis, the youth of today. Ryan Dungy is Charlies inspiration, his consistency to ride solid all season and take a championships is also his goal, to be consistent. Whilst young brother Ollie surprised me, by firstly saying Graham Beamish, his grandad, and also his father, Dan, for their support and knowledge. "They've both been there" he said. Ollie also backed this choice with Australian Chad Reed, no surprise there, the guy has had a phenomenal racing career and still racing well into his thirties.
The style of riding might changed, especially as an onlooker, with more whips, scrubs, and aggressive racing, the bikes are better, and need to be as the tracks are more technical with much bigger jumps and this is something that concerns Dan, pushing riders to the point where risk is potentially life changing. Big table top jumps have been replaced with immense gaps, triples, huge rhythm sections designed to be ridden super fast and smooth, tapping the tyres on crest of each, get it wrong, and a slight wobble will send you in a different direction to your bike. As practice tracks are getting fewer, Golding Barn Raceway holds fast with Dan at the helm. This track is about nurturing the love of Motocross from all abilities, learning those fundamentals and basics that Dan reminds his own sons. He worries for the safety of Charlie and Ollie, whilst Ollie has a fear of consequence, especially after his latest injury, a broken elbow. When we spoke, its not the actual crash, the pain is even temporary, its the time off the bike, away from racing, the loss of momentum, playing catch up again. But Ollie has a love of media, he's putting some professional edits out there and receiving fantastic feedback. Post racing this is his passion and will be the focus of his attention one day, as he begins a new apprenticeship soon.
Charlie seems a more aggressive rider than his younger brother, not to say Ollie won't be battling when he moves up to the 250cc class. Charlie has dealt with his injuries well, he said when injured he always looked forward, not back, and doing the physical training and rehab necessary to be back racing. Missing 2017 he lost a little momentum moving up into the MXY2 Class alongside his best mate and professional rider Michael Ellis. Charlie still finished the season with a respectable 11th with a heap of top ten finishes. Charlie says he suffers with nerves and confessed in a previous conversation that a small mistake will play with his mind, and this is an area of his racing his Dad notices. His will to progress is fierce, and Charlie knows this when looking for that little gain, training hard most nights. Charlie wants to follow his mate Michael into the ranks of being professional rider, but for now, he's also being sensible and completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter, strangely with my brothers building company. Again Dan sees this as a necessity in today's world of sponsorship, where there are few who receive the complete package, and lucky enough to get onto a professional team. Having the back up of media production, or carpentry will provide careers for both Charlie and Ollie, long after careers in Motocross.
It's always been a pleasure to be around the family. Since I was at primary, then secondary school, we spent so much time at Golding Barn, myself and Dan, riding our BMX bikes up the track, making death defying jumps in the industrial estate, and later, we even had a BMX shop together in the mid 90's. Seeing Charlie and Ollie progress since a young age, (and mostly since I've lived in Cornwall, through social media), is fantastic. They are having fun with what they love, kids on bikes is what it's all about. When I visit Sussex, I always make a point to visit Dan, sometimes with a chance to see the boys practice. Watching the boys get ready to ride back at the house takes me back 35 years. When Dan was 13, getting himself ready for practice, and like Charlie and Ollie's mates do now, I'd follow on the RM50 pitbike, camera round my neck. Dan's father Graham, who sadly passed away in 2006, would cruise up on his pit bike or quad, aviators on, and a big ol' cigar, and watch dan ride, he'd then make sure Dan's bike went away spotless and ready to ride next time. That fundamental and basic process, is instilled today with Dan saying the same to his boys, those bikes are always ready to ride, much like the boys..
Footnote: Although not included in this original post, I'd been worrying about it all day at work. I'd missed out on probably the most important member of the team. A massive shout out to Lindsay Beamish, Mum, Wife, chief nutritionist, kit washer, worrier, curator of perfect teenage haircuts, morning pre-work motivation coach, The Team Managers Manager, Team captain and all things that great Mum's do for their boys. Love ya Linz xx
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