You have won the World Trophy six times. In 1970, as a member of the Trophy Team, you participated in winning the first world title. Do you take Spain as your biggest success?
Every victory was hard fought, and every Six Days had its own story. Spain was exceptional in that it was officially the world title for the first time and we won. Czechoslovakia has been waiting to win the World Trophy for eight long years. In the seventies, our Trophy Team won five Six Days in a row, I was missing in Špindlerův Mlýn in 1972 due to an injury, and then we won two more, which I was already with. In this decade, Czechoslovaks were not worse than third. It seems unbelievable today, but we were a world extra class. Only failures could slow us down, but the jawas were great, the best off-road bikes in the world. The Six Days in Delton, USA, was also very specific. Until then, Six Days had never traveled overseas.
Was it more difficult to defend than the first victory?
At Six Days, it can’t be said literally, because everyone is different and you or a colleague may encounter a different problem. The harder it is to defend, the more pressure you are under. You feel it at home, from your opponents and you create it for yourself and yourself.
Which of the ten European Championship titles is most valuable to you?
You can’t even say that. I respect everyone. The later ones were harder to get than the first ones. The competition grew. Opponents put the best riders on me to take my points. I won, but it was harder every year. I also got older and the racing hurt more.
You went to two hundred competitions, do you think of one as the best or the worst?
I talked about Spain, it was probably top. I’d rather forget about Six Days on the Isle of Man. My chain fell on the gearbox, and there was hope. Due to the weather there were a lot of tough competitions, motorcycles were drowning in peat. The conditions were also difficult in Italy. Once we rode on a terribly wet, slippery track. So I tried it on such a stone wall, I just looked in front of me so as not to make a mistake. When I arrived at the time control and looked back where I was going, I was obsessed with gloom. Beneath that wall was a menacing, deep abyss …
Have you ever had a very hard fall?
There were … But I could fall. I got on and drove on. In Germany, it once looked very threatening. I fell on my head over the motorcycle, so I had the color of my helmet and rims as we rolled … But I got up and finished the liner. The worst, when I seriously injured my shoulder and was missing at Šestidenní in Špindl, did not happen to me during the competition, but during training. Already after its completion, we collected the marking pins. Suddenly boom and I was on the ground and my shoulder in … You know where.
The famous actor Steve McQueen also rode for the United States for six days. Have you ever met?
Yes, we raced together, he also started in Špindlerův Mlýn, but we didn’t get to know each other any closer.
You raced at a time when the Czechoslovaks and Jawa ruled the world. It must be a sad sight for you, when the Czech riders on the Six Days are more of an average or will even build a Trophy Team …
It is sad. Moreover, Six Days is no longer what it used to be, it has lost its luster. The Trophy Team runs in only four people, it can be repaired, so the basic principle of the enduro, the reliability of man and machine, why it started riding in 1913, has disappeared. With the abolition of factories in our country, especially Jawa, the equestrian base, centers such as Dukla, Rudá hvězda, Svazarm, actually ended. There are only a few clubs left and a few dozen enthusiasts. Young people are missing. There are few of them, because competitions are hard work, and there are many more opportunities to enjoy, even in sports.
At the time when you led the sports motorcycle club in Prague’s Dukla, you also rode accompanied by President Václav Havel, how did you get there?
The idea originated in the Castle, it is common in the world. But at that time, in the early 1990s, the Castle Guard had no one for motorcycles. They turned to me and Dukla if we would take over. Of course, I chose the boys from Dukla that I knew best, among them the first six-day world champions Josef Fojtík, František Mrázek, Jaroslav Bříza, Zdeněk Češpiva and others. There were about ten of us together. The motorcycle escort consisted of seven or more riders. Later, this role was completely taken over by the Castle Guard.
What motorcycles did you have available?
Very strong BMW K 750 RT and BMW R 1100 RT. They brought them folded in boxes with one mechanic who put them together in Dukla’s workshops. Theodord Pištěk, who designed the uniforms for the Castle Guard, including our unit, came up with the idea that the bikes must have a “presidential” design, so they were still sprayed according to his design. We then trained at the airport. , with which we saw the arrangement around the car.When an event was approaching, we also trained at night, for example the way from the airport to the Castle.
What about President Vaclav Havel, did he notice you?
He was very accommodating to us. We went with German President Richard von Weizsäcker for the first time. When we returned to the Castle, he came to thank me personally.
What important personalities did you accompany?
There were many of them, such as US President George W. Bush or British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
But some adventures will not be experienced during this work …
Sometimes a person sweated a lot when, for example, we took President Havel to the airport in Ruzyně and we had to pick him up at the Bratislava airport. That was the fire. Along the highway in a two hundred, and when a trabant, for example, came in your way, you had to go around the grass in the middle lane … On the contrary, the incident with Mrs. Thatcher was funny. We accompanied her from the airport to the Castle, where a unit of the Castle Guard was already standing for the ceremonial parade. President Havel is nowhere. After waiting for a while, Mrs. Thatcher said she could perform these parades and conducted it herself with the commander of the Castle Guard. Mr. President finished, but late …
Do you still focus on motorcycles?
Years ago I worked with young riders. But it’s been a long time. I’m not the youngest anymore. A few years ago, a friend asked me if I could help them with children’s autocross. I quite enjoyed it. But the higher we went, the worse it was, I mean relationships. I don’t do it anymore either.
When was the last time you rode a motorcycle?
It’s been a year … Sometimes Babeta still rides a small motorcycle. But because when I manage it, I have to go through it, otherwise not anymore. Today, I couldn’t even fall well, as before. It would hurt a lot more (laughs).
|Business card legend|
|Born: 2. 10. 1947|
|Motorcycle: Java 350|
|Six Day Starts: 13|
|Victory: 6 (1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978)|
|European titles: 10 (1968 – 1971, 1973 – 1978).|
|Victory in EC competitions: 33|
|FIM Hall of Fame: launched 2014|
|Attractions: In 1962 he ran his first competition. He started at the first Six Days in 1966. After the 1979 season, he ended his career. From 1982 to 1992, he led the motorcycle division of Prague’s Dukla and, as the commander of the motorcycle group, accompanied the presidential column of Václav Havel.|