Mick Doohan was an Australian motorcycle racer who became famous because of his achievements throughout the years. Speaking about performance, you will find out more info here about this legendary moto racer’s Grand Prix takeover. Even up until now, only three people have won more 500cc titles than him.
Mick Doohan – the early years
Born in Gold Coast, Australia, Mick Doohan quickly made a name for himself among motorcycle racers. He debuted at the age of 20 on a two-stroke motorcycle – an NSR 500 – in 1989. One year later, in 1990, Doohan scored his first major victory on the 500cc, making him one of the favorites for the championship. This happened late in the season, at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
One year later, in 1991, he won the 8-hour Suzuka endurance race in Japan alongside his fellow Australian, Wayne Gardner. He was quickly building momentum and many people speculated that he would become the next champion. However, fate wasn’t on his side. One year later, just before the 1992 Dutch TT, he suffered a serious injury during practice.
He broke his right leg so badly that at one point, doctors even suggested amputating it. This came as tragic news to him because he was 65 points in the lead for the championship and he could not compete. If doctors had gone through with the procedure, he would never have been able to compete again in his entire life.
He insisted and begged the doctors to find another way to make his recovery faster. After battling through unimaginable pain, a heart-crushing wait time, and intense treatment, he finally managed to fully recover after just eight weeks. Doctors were amazed by his speedy recovery, especially that they didn’t have the technology we have now.
Going back in
The competition was still going strong when Mick recovered, so he still had time to enter the race track and do what he did best. However, the final two races in which he participated weren’t enough to earn him the title. Wayne Rainey, one of his main rivals, managed to win his third consecutive title, while Doohan was just four points behind.
In 1993, the following year, while still struggling with pain in his leg, he decided to step down from tournaments and take some time off to fully recover. He kept riding his Honda to ensure that he wouldn’t lose his skills, yet his leg still gave him a hard time. It was at this moment he realized he needed a drastic change to the way he rode his motorcycle.
He switched from a pedal brake to a left thumb brake to ensure that he would no longer need to put so much pressure on his injured foot. It took a while for him to get used to this change, but in the end, he got used to it and never switched back. At this point, he felt ready enough to compete in the following year’s tournament.
In 1994, after his long battle with recovery, he managed to win his first 500cc World Championship. But he didn’t just win. He dominated. He won the title five consecutive times, with each year being more spectacular than the previous one. Only Valentino Rossi, Giacomo Agustini, and Marc Márquez have won more titles than him. And they didn’t do it consecutively.
Doohan’s most successful year was by far 1997. If you weren’t alive back then, or if you didn’t watch motorcycle racing at that time, you have no idea what you missed. He won an impressive 12 races out of a total of 15. Out of the three remaining races, he got second place in two of them. And in the final race, he sadly crashed while he was leading by six seconds.
His achievements brought him numerous accolades, the most important probably being his induction in the Order of Australia for his accomplishments in the country’s sports division. His success was not just a matter of talent or skills, but of wit as well. He had a strategy that ensured his success in most races.
While other racers were hesitant to go at top speed at the start of the race, he would do the exact opposite. He would push his motorcycle’s limits to the max. And once he got a good lead over the others, he would just continue racing at just enough speed to avoid crashing. As you can tell from his winning streak, that tactic worked wonders.
Sadly, it would all come to an end in 1999. It was raining during the qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix, and as such, the terrain became very wet and slippery. Subsequently, Mick Doohan crashed and broke his leg yet again in several places. This was the final nail in the coffin for his career, and he soon after announced his retirement.
Despite his numerous accolades, Mick didn’t act like his success was simply his own doing. Jeremy Burgess, the man responsible for tuning and repairing Mick’s motorcycle almost his entire career, had received great thanks from Doohan and his fans alike. Burgess would go on to work as Valentino Rossi’s chief engineer, managing to propel him into the spotlight as well.
However, not all were pleased with Mick Doohan’s demeanor. Honda engineers actually spoke out about several frustrations they had while working with him. He was more of a conservative when it came to technology. Although they insisted numerous times that Mick should try their electronic braking system, he refused every single time.
It was only when Rossi took over his helm that they finally got to see their innovations in action. Mick still continued to work with Honda for several years after his retirement. His job was to supervise the roving part of Honda’s Grand Prix division. It was only in 2004 that their partnership would come to an end.
Lesser-known facts about Mick Doohan
In April 1998, he would also try his hand at Formula 1 racing. He tested the Williams FW19 race car, but he found it to be a little too complicated to drive and crashed against a guard rail. This was his one and only sports endeavor outside the motorcycle racing scene at that time.
He married Selina Sines, with whom he had two children. One of them, Jack Doohan, became a race car driver and is a member of Red Bull’s junior racing team. At just 17 years of age, he shows a lot of promise, just like his father did before him.
In 2001, he would participate in the Targa Tasmania Tarmac Rally, where he would sadly crash a Mercedes Benz CLK55 AMG after being the 13th place on the third day of the rally. He and his co-driver, Mark Stacey, suffered a few injuries after the crash, but nothing life-threatening.
If you ever plan on visiting the Gold Coast in Australia, you should check out the theme park and zoo called Dreamworld. You will find a ride called Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster, which Doohan himself helped construct by collaborating with the Intamin Motorbike Launch Roller Coaster team.
One last thing: in 2006, Mick Doohan pleaded guilty for assaulting a bouncer at a strip club. Yeah, his married life wasn’t that good after this incident. Luckily, no conviction was made, and he only had to pay $2,500 in damages.
Michael Sydney Doohan’s life sure sounds like a spectacular ride. Going from winning five consecutive 500cc titles to racing in Formula 1 to having a son who is basically following in his footsteps and beating up a bouncer at the strip club, it is indeed a roller coaster of experience and wow-factors.
Although he has been retired for several years, his name still gets tossed around within the industry. And that’s a good thing because it’s rare to find such talent, work ethic, and persistence. We Grand Prix fans should be thankful whenever guys like him show up and light up our watch parties.
The only bad thing we could possibly say about Mick is that we’re sad he had to retire so early. Seeing a race between him and Rossi would probably be a marvel to look at.
The YoungChoppers team pay their respect to this absolute legend and are thankful for all the memorable moments that he has offered us.