Thanks to IM senior editor and member of the 2023 class of the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame, Colin Fraser, for this transcript of Jordan Szoke’s speech upon being inducted into the CMHoF alongside Colin:
Well, I guess I’m getting old now! I’m here, but I’m not done racing again, I can promise you that! I still have a few years left in me.
I think with most of my stories, where I will begin, is around the friendships I have made in this room here.
You know, it’s great that (host Pat Gonsalves) and I become friends. We play a lot of golf together, and we are all part of such a cool community.
With all the people in here; I’m honored to have all these friendships. Chris Ellis: we talked about how awesome he was and then he was a good friend of mine, you know, as well Joe Rocket’s Bruce Parker, messaging me tonight as well.
I feel so lucky to have these connections, you know, people like Pat Chambers and Doug MacRae, even Jason; all the Alberta Blackfoot boys, have been great to me over the years.
I’ve traveled all around the world riding and those are my favorite memories outside of the racing.
For me with racing, it was initially bout riding, it wasn’t necessary to be competing, at first , but then you start winning, and that becomes very addicting. That’s how I went further in to further my career, as far as I have tonight, i guess.
And I listened to Colin Fraser just now, and you know, we forget a lot of stuff. But he remembers everything!
Okay, in the Canadian Superbike Series, we wouldn’t be where we are with Colin, we all owe him a great, great thanks. Thanks! He can ramble on, and I don’t know how he remembers it all!
When I first started racing, as you see me pictures, it was very, very much different from today. It’s like nowadays, if you’re not a Pro Champion by the time you’re 19, you’re washed up! So, it’s cool to see them all that way.
When I was racing in the USA with Nicky Hayden and Tommy Hayden, Tommy was kind of like the only young guy down there that had a factory ride and in ‘98 I was riding for Kawasaki when I earned my first championship in Canada, but I was also riding for Ferracci Ducati in Formula USA; In Superbike down there with Tom Kipp as my teammate.
We were teammates again in in 2006 at Kawasaki in Canada, once you mature what you get older it’s harder to get the best jobs.
And so it’s, it’s interesting to see where it is nowadays. Like watching the young racers, especially in Europe, the way they farm them into the key seats.
And now it is Toni (Sharpless, with MiniGP) trying to replicate that here, it’s a great step!
For our sport to bring a better future in Canada is great, and like Colin also mentioned, we have all these great Canadian racers over the years and I’ve always, at least when I was younger, I had that confidence early, I just wanted to win.
I always wanted to be there, in the mix, riding my motorcycle. That is all I cared about – I skipped school to ride my bike or, when my dad left, I would try to ride his bike to school. and things like that.
I was very lucky to travel the world, riding bikes. And, not just for me but also my dad too. We were in the isle of man on 1986, I was a kid, we were there watching.
And then, later on going back there to ride at the World Trials de Nations there myself, i thin that was quite the experience too.
The Suzuka eight hours was a another very amazing race for me. I just love that track. I love that challenge and yeah, very lucky to travel around doing all that.
it’s tough to make a living in road racing, any motorcycle sport nowadays. I’ve been very lucky to have done that my entire career. Unfortunately. like Colin said, it’s been tough times since the recession and the challenge for the OEMs; I’m still here and I am the last Kawasaki rider.
I never really thought much about riding a factory bike in the US, back when I rode for Kawasaki at Laguna in 2008 as Colin mentioned. I had a deal on the table for the following year to be, I think it was Roger Hayden’s teammate. Exactly what happened I couldn’t say but that deal fell through, unfortunately.
Like with that Ferraci Ducati deal that fell through, there were a few hiccups along the way that that prevented my career from going a little further outside of Canada.
But I am very thankful to be a part of the legacy in Canada, back where it was at its height, when we had 10 rigs in the paddock and all these factory riders, and the teams, it was very exciting and we made money out of it, which made it fun too, but we gave most of it back though.
Okay, it felt like such a cool thing with all my idols in racing like Don Munroe and Michael Taylor, and then Crevier came back for 2000. So to see it go from that core group into the Championship that it became for more than a decade was really cool.
People ask why I came back from the U.S.A. to do CSBK in the early 2000s, but it was good, really cool. It was amazing to be in that atmosphere, like going to develop racing tires with Pirelli, the same equipment as the World Superbike guys.
I have a plaque in the display out there, from all the engineers at Kawasaki Japan. All of our knowledge would go off to Japan for Kawasaki’s development.
They were using all of our notes and data because our bikes were closer to what they’re putting onto the street.
So, it was really a cool time. There’s an amazing era to be a part of it and the field was very deep and you know, to look back at it now and see all those great races, it makes it that much more memorable when there’s only two or three of you out there at the front. It’s not as gratifying as when there’s a whole grid of top-level guys.
I have to say send a special thanks, I have three tables here, kind of my group over here. It’s not easy for anybody to do what we do in in this room, but add the pressure and the level of performance we expect. This core group of people are there for me, behind me all the away, for that level of training.
I remember when Brett McCormick turned Pro and joined the Kawasaki team as my teammate. I think he’s probably one of the greatest talents that this country’s ever seen. But he was initially put off about what you had to do in terms of preparation to ride one of these motorcycles. My trainer, my long time best friend and trainer Scott is here. And we pushed man, I’m telling you we push hard with our training. I have a couple of good friends of mine that are professional Iron Man athletes here, too. And, you learn just what is put in behind the scenes to become the level of athletes we are.
And then, obviously, the crew of the mechanics, the boys there, that give me that the bikes, the support. Also sitting over there Jamie McGregor; if it wasn’t for him., I definitely would not be here tonight – I remember just trying to chase him around in trials, like, for years and years and years. And he’d just be like, “if you can keep up kid, you’re coming.” Obviously, I would lose him halfway through the ride, but over time I just learned to keep up.
Trials is a really important part of my career. I always said, Trails taught me patience with the controls, the throttle and all that. And I love trials, and I have so much respect for that sport and it’s still one of my favorite parts of racing because you can do it even with someone better than you, or you’re better than me, you can all ride together, not like motocross or road racing. A group of you can ride together have a good time and that’s what’s really fun about the Trials. You know, it’s a real family atmosphere.
After that ice riding is my favorite thing. You know I hang out with the Beatties, Steve and Doug, all winter, they’re all here tonight. We ice ride, all winter. So those are my two favorite go-to riding outside of the road racing.
I’m not done road racing. I’ve had a rough few years with my health. Most of us in here have health problems from our own doing. I don’t feel like I’m a past that point where I need to stop racing, not yet. I’m really itching to keep going.
My parents have dragged me around this world, and paid for a lot of it! And they put up with a lot from me, laying in a hospital bed. I get my passion for riding for my dad, you know. And people don’t know about my mom, she’s the real true athlete in our family, she and her brothers. My uncle was in a boxing bill where the main event included Mohamed Ali at Madison Square Gardens.
So yeah, I come from a good sporting family, I’m very thankful for that.
Thanks to my girlfriend, Kay; she’s been motorcyclists her whole life.
So, I’m ready to keep going with this, with racing. It means more to me than anything.
I always said to call me, and if you just put the trophy in a room and shut the door, I’m coming out with it! So I still feel that way. I want to win a few more races.
The only thing that makes me sad about today is that my son is not here with me tonight. Unfortunately, but hopefully, he will be back in my life, one day. I would trade every moment I’ve ever had since the start, give it all back to have him around again, but I can only wish that he’ll come back. I love doing the trial shows traveling around doing the crowd field with him. And it really meant a lot to me, I was like, traveling with my dad doing riding too, so hopefully, that’ll come around.
Thanks again, everyone.
- From Colin Fraser