International Road Race Legend from Yesteryear: Rob McElnea

The international road racing legend of yesteryear, where has he gone, what is he up to now, and how does he view today's road racing sport? In this section, we ask these former heroes a series of (the same) questions. This week: Rob McElnea.

Rob McElnea during the Dutch TT in 1987

Who is Rob McElnea?

Name : Rob McElnea
Nickname : Big Mac
Born on : December 12, 1959
Nationality : Lincoln, England
Start of road racing career : 1977 (Honda 400cc)
Active in : 500cc Grand Prix, World Superbike, British Superbikes, Road Racing
Number of titles : 3 x TT winner, Senior and Classic
End of road racing career : 2011
Current profession : Semi-retired, involved in real estate, taxi driver, and actively playing tennis with young children

How did you first get involved in road racing?

My father was a racer in the 1950s and started again after 25 years, so I grew up in the English paddocks. The first years of my career, we raced together! It was quite scary to race against your own father!

Which rider did you have the best battles with on the track?

I've had many battles on the circuit, but I think the best battles in the early days of my career were with Joey Dunlop.

Best motorcycle you've ridden and why?

The best motorcycle I've ridden and have the best memories of was the 1000cc suzuki XR69. My first factory contract was with suzuki, and it was the most exciting time of my life. Winning the TT and Assen F1 are still the best days of my career!

What is the strangest or most hilarious experience you've had in racing?

There are several, but the first that comes to mind was in Brazil during a fashion show where Randy Mamola unexpectedly came on stage almost naked and only in a thong. Beer cans being thrown at us on the start grid in Assen! This was because nobody wanted to start as it was raining on the other side of the circuit, but the audience sitting in the sun at the start and finish didn't believe us!

Do you have a special memory of racing in the Netherlands?

CMSNL is based in the Netherlands

Oh my god!! I love Assen, I love the Dutch. The 1983 World F1 is still one of the best days of my life! This was during the time when the event in Assen was called Speedweek and all Eurochamps raced during the week, then the Grand Prix guys started on the weekend. We had to go to Assen to register and then ride around the circuit to get to the paddock. It was the old circuit with about 300,000 fans, and I had the race of my life with Joey for the F1 championship. I managed to win in the last lap and still think about pushing my bike back after the flag and the crowd going wild. Great memories, the day ended with Joey and me sharing some strong Irish drinks while watching the 500cc race!

The best thing you've gained from racing

Escaping from normal life! Great memories for life.

What did you do after your active road racing career?

I had the opportunity to take over the British Yamaha team and had a very successful period as a team owner, winning many titles, mainly with my old friend Niall Mackenzie.

Are you still involved in the sport in any way?

Not at all, I like to follow it from my couch. In my free time, I'm a taxi driver for my daughter who plays international tennis. We've started tennis tournaments in Europe, so I'm back on a kind of tour.

Rob McElnea and Eddie Lawson

Which current or past motorcycle would you like to ride?

I don't really have any wishes about this. I think I've been so lucky to ride the best Superbike and Grand Prix bikes of that time. But if I have to name one, maybe a Ducati from the time when I was in WorldSBK.

For which current rider do you have a lot of respect and why?

I was never really a fan of Marc Márquez, but seeing how he never gave up and what he did to himself to be competitive on the Honda, I'm converted and look forward to his winning time on the Ducati.

Who do you see as the greatest (currently active) road racing talent and why?

Toprak Razgatlioglu and Pedro Acosta, both are great new riders and the characters we need in the sport.

Who will be the 2024 MotoGP & WorldSBK world champions?

Marc Marquez (MotoGP) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (WorldSBK).

With your experience, how do you view the current developments within international road racing?

I really don't like the new technology, scrap it all, wings, electronics, back to the 1980s when men were still men and almost all riders limped!!!

This blog was written in collaboration with

issued: Wednesday, April 24, 2024
updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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