Professional athletes only perform at their peak during a finite period. That shrinking window proves ever so narrow for countless careers, but a select few dominate for decades on end. In the National Football League, that’s Tom Brady. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James. When it comes to motorcycle road racing, though, John McGuinness takes the title.
Born in 1972, the 50-year-old racer contended his first Isle of Man TT (IOMTT) race in 1996. Over the past 27 years, the quinquagenarian amassed 23 TT victories, 16 of which he captured aboard a Honda. At the 2022 IOMTT, McPint and Big Red celebrated major milestones together. The Japanese OEM commemorated the 30th anniversary of its Fireblade platform while McGuinness reached his 100th TT start.
“Riding a Fireblade again at the TT last year was something special, so it only felt right to continue for another year,” admitted McGuinness. “Celebrating 100 TT starts with the team and riding with that one-off livery and all of the history that we have was really something else. We also managed to crack the top 5 last year on the superbike, which was great, but I'm hungry for more. I just want to get started now and go racing again!”
It’s that drive that powers McGuinness to yet another IOMTT in 2023. Last year, the Englishman shared the paddock with 31-year-old Glenn Irwin. Despite the British Superbike rider obliterating the TT’s newcomer record, he won’t return to the Snaefell Mountain Course this year. Instead, Honda taps Isle of Man native and rising road-racing rider Nathan Harrison as McGuinness’ new teammate.
“To race alongside John and to ride in the Honda Racing UK team has always been a dream of mine,” noted Harrison. “Coming from a Manx family that has always been involved in motorcycling, the TT has always been in my blood. Watching the TT as a child with John & Honda dominating, it made me want to be the next ‘John McGuinness’ and that was my full focus.”
Team Red has afforded Harrison that dream opportunity, with McGuinness asserting that he has no qualms with mentoring the young rider. Yes, the Morecambe Missile’s career will come to an end one day, but not before he passes his sage advice on to the next generation of road racers.