Mat Oxley's account of his foray into the biggest race on the endurance calendar: the Suzuka 8 Hours. This story is one of many that appear in Mat’s The Fast Stuff, available on Kindle
The Suzuka 8 Hours race celebrates its 40th anniversary this Sunday. I contested the race several times in the 1980s and 1990s, with a best finish of sixth in 1986, riding with Vesa Kultalahti for Team Howard Lees. This story, written at the time, tells the tale of the 1989 race, when I partnered French journalist Gilbert Roy to 12th. They were the boom years of the 8 Hours, when you got to share the track with Rainey, Schwantz, Doohan, Gardner and the rest
The weather is typical of Japan in July: so steamy hot that the air you breathe feels second-hand and rivulets of sweat run down every part of your body.
I shouldn’t care though: I am lying on a couch with two women draping nicely chilled towels across my legs and torso. I have an ice-cold drink in one hand and a bowl of sliced orange and banana within reach of the other. A Japanese doctor massages my body and an electric fan blows a cooling draft at my face, rustling the leaves of the nearby palms.
Heaven surely couldn’t be a much more delightful place but the pleasure of this visit through the pearly gates is tainted by the knowledge that soon I must return to the fiery torment of hell.