Interview: Edward Allingham reflects on his Motocross career
Back in 2008, Edward Allingham won the MXY2 British Championship and was tipped to be a big rider in the future, he had the potential to be the next big thing from Ireland after the likes of Gordon Crockard, Martin Barr and Graeme Irwin.
Allingham decided to go and race in America as a youngster and got experience racing the Loretta Lynns before signing a deal with Steve Dixon’s Cosworth Yamaha to race the MX2 World Championship. Injuries weren’t kind to him and in the end he decided to hang up his Motocross boots a few years ago.
We caught up with Allingham to discuss his Motocross career and what he’s up to at the moment.
Gatedrop: Ed, let’s go way back to your youth career, you showed good results and got picked up by PAR Honda which was a good team to be on. What fond memories have you got during that time of your career when you look back?
Allingham: Good to hear from you. I have lots of great memories from that time in my life. I done a lot of racing in Europe once I started showing some potential as it was were I showed my true self and had some great results compared to England and Ireland as I just didn’t like the tracks as they didn’t suit me. But that said yes winning the MXY2 championship and finishing second in the BYMX is still fond memories for me.
Gatedrop: You decided to spend a year or two racing in America, what was the reason behind that?
Allingham: I didn’t actually start racing properly until my dad stopped road racing and by that stage I was the age for an 85 and was quite a ways of the pace when we went to the first round. Actually I remember very clearly being a complete lap behind Drew Goudy and the leading group. From there my dad picked me up every day from school at 3:30pm and we would practice to dark and by the end of the year I was a front runner in the 85 class at home but for England I still wasn’t good enough and knew we had to up the level.
I was at a Supercross in England and my dad knew Mike Craig (Christian’s dad) and they had a chat about me going back to America with them. I went on my own at 14 for three months and I have to say it was a steep learning curve for me, Mike was one of the best trainers I have seen to this day and he really made me excel. The only reason to there was, we knew I had to do something different to bring me to the front and where else to do it but with the fastest 85 riders in the world.
Gatedrop: Obviously not too many riders from here can say they raced the Loretta Lynns but you have! You were also competitive finishing second in your class. Just what was that event like and what’s your memories from it?
Allingham: Well, that year I actually raced the entire amateur series in the US in the B class which was then the fastest group with guys like Tomac, Savatgy, Nelson etc. I went to America that year as the fastest 250 youth rider from England as I won the MXY2 and should of beat Elderfield in the BYMX also, only I had a couple of bike failures. I remember I turned up at Lake Whitney and got absolutely smoked, it was a disaster! Riders were taking me out, running me wide and just generally walking over me on track. I actually remember I got taken out, got up and got taken out again in the next corner in the first race.
From that I knew I had to change everything about me or I wasn’t going to last out there. I had to change my whole riding style to be seriously aggressive, ride out of my control at times to be able to run that pace and after a year of just breaking top 15’s to top 10’s I progressed to be able to turn up at Loretta’s on the pace. I turned up there and it was like something we never seen before the place was thousands of acre’s and the motorhomes were parked miles away from the track as there was that many riders there you needed a golf cart to travel through lanes to get to the track.
The temperature and humidity was unreal and I remember my dad and James Mac Ferran (who was there all year with me) would take the bike to the line and I would sit in the motorhome with Gail in the AC until the last minute and then jump on the cart and get straight onto the bike at the last minute before the gate dropped. I was fast there and should have won that event, I missed it by one point to Leib but that was my fault as I crashed stupidly in two of the races.
Gatedrop: What was the level like of the American youth races you competed, did many of the young riders go on to have a good career and if so who?
Allingham: Well they are the fastest kids in the world and they still are. Ken Roczen went there the year before and finished 9th and 10th overall which kind of shows you how fast the kids where at that time compared to Europe. Things change then though when the majority of them turn professional as the amount of riding they do and the amount of pressure they are under they just can’t take it anymore and a lot of them disappear and stop riding. Now there is still a lot of riders I raced with racing – Tomac, Leib, Craig, Savatgy, Barcia, M- Stewart etc I raced all them guys.
Gatedrop: I remember a few weeks after you done Loretta Lynns, you came home to do an Ulster or Irish round at Desertmartin, I think you only rode your brothers bike but you were around the top five, were you surprised by the Irish riders speed that day after just coming back from America?
Allingham: No, the only race I done straight after Loretta’s was a championship race for Phil McCullough on a (MotOne) Suzuki. I was clearly the fastest that day, In the first race I finished second as the race was stopped because of a crash and it was taken back a lap while I had just passed for the lead, In the second race I passed for the lead and went down. I closed Garrett down from 12 seconds behind and I think to this day it’s the best I’ve ever ridden at home on bike which I rode once beforehand. I wasn’t surprised at their speed as around the tracks at home the guy’s know them extremely well and let’s be honest, there’s no difficult or technical sections to separate anyone which is why I could never ride the same at home tracks.
Gatedrop: The season after you obviously decided to sign with Steve Dixon’s Cosworth Yamaha team as it was known at the time. How did that deal all come about and were you happy to race the MX2 World Championship?
Allingham: I was actually supposed to ride with Steve the year before but I just couldn’t ride the 2009 Yamaha, I was terrible on it. I was enjoying it but looking back we made the wrong choice as I spent all the time preparing to race in America and adjusting then I had to change everything again. I still had some good rides though.
Gatedrop: There were rumours at the time that you had offers from Geico Honda to stay in the states – is that true and/or did you have any others from other teams there, if so why did you make the decision to come and race MX2?
Allingham: Well, at that stage after Loretta’s I did yes, it was for another Year in amateur as I only really turned on the pace in the last quarter of the year before Loretta’s. We were talking to the amateur Kawasaki programme also. I’m not sure but I know now it was the wrong decision for me but I guess it was to be back closer to friends and family.
Gatedrop: In 2010, it’s scary to think it’s ten years ago! You’ve got a great team with Dixon behind you and your racing the MX2 World Championship. Back then there was very very little track prep going on, tracks were getting very rough, coming from America were you had shorter sprint races and tracks don’t get so rough there. How did you find that side of it?
Allingham: Tough, it’s completely different, The European guys were strong on them tracks, I remember going to Valkenswaard and I’ve never ridden a track like or Lommel and my god it was an eye opener. I think in Valkenswaard I crashed consistently and I’m almost certain three times in the same corner where my dad was standing.
Gatedrop: At the second round you scored points coming home in nineteenth – do you remember much from that moto? It must have felt amazing to score your first and what would turn out to be your only championship points that day?
Alllingham: That’s right but I was riding terrible compared to how I was going in the US, I was really struggling to get it together from a mental point and comfort on the bike. It was good but I wasn’t excited and neither was my dad or Mike as they knew the speed I could turn out when I was riding like myself.
Gatedrop: Looking back how would you describe the level of the MX2 World Championship that year? Musquin, Roczen, Herlings, Tonus… They’ve all went on to have superb careers!
Allingham: It was very strong, they are the fastest guys in the world today and it shows you the level of talent in the class that year.
Gatedrop: You worked with Trampas Parker and Mike Brown during your career, what was it like working with them and what sort of things did you learn?
Allingham: I enjoyed it, I only worked with Trampas for a few months as Mike was busy racing. I learned a lot from Mike Brown, his work ethic is one of the best I ever seen, he is seriously committed to his sport and his talent on a motorcycle is unreal. Trampas was trying to teach me European style in America and as an amateur it just didn’t work. I had to change it to gain the results I did at Loretta’s but if I had of chosen the GP route earlier Trampas methods would have worked I believe.
Gatedrop: A couple of years after you did the GP’s, you kind of focused on racing at home and the British Championships more. What was the reason for that? At home you were always at the front but you didn’t win too many races, what would you put that down too?
Allingham: At that stage the interest and commitment was gone, I wasn’t focusing on it the way I used to and was in-between emotions whether I was still wanting to race or just doing it because I liked to ride a bike. For me it was the latter, I didn’t want to go through the pain of training hard at that stage which lead to injury’s and ultimately stopping then.
Gatedrop: I’ll never forget the day the Temple Club run the International race at Downpatrick in 2011 with some GP riders there, that day you were our best rider apart from Gordy yet at an Irish or Ulster you’d have been another guy at the front. Why do you think that was – I think you battled with a 16 year old Ferrandis as well as Potisek that day!
Allingham: (laughs) That was a day I actually rode like myself and believe it or not I was on a stock second hand Kawasaki I picked from Watt’s. I wasn’t even taking it overly serious then and was just riding for fun at the weekends but that day because it was listed as an “International race”.
I remember very clearly I was sitting beside Ferrandis who was Bud Kawasaki in the holding area before practice and when I looked at him something clicked in my head and as soon as I rode onto the track I knew I’d be able to run with him and everything felt perfect to me. I think I finished up the races just behind him but was frustrated as I had passed him and fell over in a corner in the first race I believe. But it was good fun that day.
Gatedrop: You represented Ireland a number of times at the Coupe de l’Avenir (U21 Des Nations), you must have good memories from that event?
Allingham: I loved that event and on those tracks I really excelled, in the Mx masters I was on the podium on the 85 and the 250. The under 21 was a similar race and I loved them, the atmosphere and tracks was always top notch and I felt myself to be there racing at that level.
Gatedrop: You kind of just disappeared from the Motocross world, do you miss racing, what are you up too now and what’s the future hold for you?
Allingham: I started working for my father in the business and I found a new love. He taught me new things and I really enjoy putting deals together and it’s great to see buildings complete that you put together and also gives you a better income and I have two girls and a family to support now.
I toddle at the thought of getting another bike and starting to ride and was actually going to pick a Kawasaki up from Steve Dixon before the COVID-19. I’m not sure if I’ll ever race for fun again, it would need to be the easiest situation for me with work commitments but my brother Jordan wants to go home and do a few races and you never know you might see #23 make an appearance for fun in the future.
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