WARRNAMBOOL motorcyclist Rob Kenna will fulfil a boyhood dream when he starts in one of the most famous races in the world, the Manx Grand Prix.
Kenna, 65, will this month make the 17,000km trip to the Isle of Man to contest the 90th anniversary of the race.
The veteran rider committed to the Manx Grand Prix about six months ago, having arranged to lease a 650cc Kawasaki ER6 from Isle of Man rider Billy Cummins.
He leaves Australia on July 29 and will complete a week of qualifying from August 17.
He will race in the newcomers B and super twin classes on August 28 and 30.
“Why? Well I suppose motorcycles have been my life,” Kenna told The Standard yesterday.
‘‘My brother used to race and that’s how I got the bug.
“I lived in England for a couple of years of my life and I’ve lived in Canada and it was all based around bikes.
“Next August will be my 50th year of racing. I started when I was 16.
“It’s the ultimate, the Mount Everest of motorcycle racing, the Mecca.
“Even though it’s horrible and terrible and killed a lot of people, it’s still the Manx Grand Prix.”
The Manx Grand Prix started in 1923 and asks riders to complete four laps of a 60.7km road circuit.
The event is highly sought after by riders from across the globe.
But it is just as renowned for the dangers rider face — the course uses public roads which for two weeks of the year become a race track.
A total of 240 competitors have died contesting the Manx Grand Prix and the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, a similar event for professional riders.
Kenna said he could trace his affinity for the Manx Grand Prix to when he contested dirt scrambles, aged 16.
He once wrote to British world champion John Surtees outlining his ambition to one day race in the iconic event.
Surtees wrote back, encouraging him to follow his dream.
The letter, while slightly ripped and faded, remains a treasured possession.
Kenna attended the race in 1969 and 1970 as a crew member while working for Syd Lawton in England, but will finally get the chance to race next month.
“It could be the last big thing I do,” he said.