Meeting De Coster in Farleigh Castle
In 1978, I was completing my last year of high school in Bristol, England. As a student, I was living on a tight budget with a British family, in the Southville region of Bristol. One day, walking back from school, I saw a poster announcing the upcoming world 500cc Motocross championship in Farleigh Castle, which was not terribly far from Bristol. The excitement of going to this event and seeing the legends and icons that I had admired throughout my teenage years kept me up at night. I saved as much money as I could to pay for the train ticket to Farleigh Castle. Finally, on the day of the race, with my old biking buddy Feri, we took the train and then walked a long distance from the train station to the event location. We could hear the sound of the bikes from distance and were mesmerized by the setting from outside. We soon learned that the cost to get in was five pounds per person which would have wiped out all we had with nothing left for the return train fare. Totally bummed we decided to come up with a solution.
Missing the event was absolutely impossible. We decided to trespass through fences on the side hill and find our way in. After over an hour of climb through a dense forestry, we found ourselves on the top of the race track in a completely prohibited section. World champions were practicing with a shocking face looking at two kids walking by the side the track cheering them up. Soon we saw authorities waiving and yelling at us for getting out of the way. To avoid being busted we ran to the side and descended towards the spectator’s section and faded into the crowd. We were beyond stoked and overwhelmed by the colors, smell of the engines, softness of the race track soil, having our legendary champions so close to us, and the overall experience. In between the two motos, we illegally penetrated into racer’s pit, looking for our hero Roger De Coster, a five time world champion. Finally, we spotted his yellow Suzuki RM and crawled into his tent. He was resting on a chair with his eyes closed. I carefully whispered his name a couple times, “Mr. De Coster,…Mr. De Coster…” he suddenly opened his eyes, and in shock, asked us what we were doing in his tent. I explained to him what a legend he was to me and if I could just shake hands with him. Then, suddenly as if he felt my genuine passion, he smiled and shook my hands sincerely. And a historic memory was made for me, at that moment.