Friday, April 19, 2024

Top 5 This Week

5 Minutes with… Levi Day

5 Minutes With… Levi DayTurn One
“5 Minutes with….” produced by First Turn Media and photos supplied by Levi Day ( Pit Lane Studio) 

I chatted with Levi for a few stolen minutes in between the customers of his new business venture, Max Moto Graphics.  Where he is forging a career beyond the seat of a race bike. Levi is no stranger to etching out a piece of life in the UK having moved from Australia, to take on the British Superbike Championship.

SBN:   Where are you from Levi and how did you get into bikes?

Levi: I grew up in a town called Mount Gambier, Australia. There is a small race track there called Mac Park which was only 10 minutes from where we lived, my dad grew up there racing mini bikes and motorcross bikes as a child, his dad was also into bikes so naturally you end up following what your parents take you out to do. I always wanted to race when I was young, however it wasn’t until I was 15 that I started road racing as in Australia at the time there was no pit bike championship, no Ohvales and such to race as such so a junior was classed as a 15 year old in South Australia, so I just raced bmx up till that point and did a 6 months to a year of motocross just to learn to change gears and when I turned 15 I started riding at Mac Park.5 Minutes With… Levi Day

SBN: How did you start with the racing side of things?

Levi: I never really had a goal like I wanted to get to Australian Superbike or World championship or whatever though you always dream of being a MotoGP rider. My Dad never pushed me, he always said “..if this is what you want to do, we’ll do it, but don’t ever feel like I’m making you do it..” but it was something great that we could share together, it was something we were both into so over the years from about 15 to 18 I did a bit of club racing in my local area,  up at Adelaide and Philip Island. I started to get a little bit better and a realised that if I trained and started to read some books about how you could go faster (so I read Kieth Codes, twist of the wrist) and if I put my mind to it I could get a bit better at this. I then moved up to Australian Superbikes and I started racing the 125cc bikes, I was on a Honda RS125 GP bike and did a year of that, at the time Josh Hook was in it (former world endurance champion) Jack Miller (Moto GP) and I think I finished 5th or 6th that year. In about 2009 I did a wild card at the Philp Island MotoGP which was probably one of the best experiences of my career and that really was the start of a lot of it really.

SBN: At this point you’re still a dad and lad set up, walk us through how this changed?

Levi: Yeah, it was me and my dad and a friend of ours who was good at tuning bikes and 2 strokes and that sort of thing, but certainly the level of bikes in Australia weren’t like what they were in Europe at the time. I remember the 125 we had was like still a 20 thousand dollar bike, but that was nothing. I remember the GP guys coming over and looking at my bike and laughing, I think their front forks were worth more than my whole bike was. But that was all we could afford, and we did the best we could and I qualified for the race and finished the race and that was all we could have asked of the machinery that we were on. The hardest thing about racing in Australia is the travel, the tracks are just so far apart as opposed to the UK. It’s similar to traveling around Europe for tracks which got harder as I finished high school and got a job and difficult to take time off from. I had a few friends that raced in Europe and we were weighing up what it would cost, we didn’t have a lot of help and support in Australia but at the time there was a larger base of people who where sponsoring riders in England at that time, providing them with a bike and a mechanic which was a huge help. So we decided to make the move to England. I had done my apprenticeship as a machinist, so I knew I could come over and get a job and even if I could only manage a year or two at it I would at least come home with some great stories to tell everyone. That was 2013, I’m still here.5 Minutes With… Levi Day

SBN: How did you enjoy the world Endurance experience?

Levi: I did the Suzuka 8 hours in 2013 , which came about with the classic racing weirdly enough, its all a bit of who you know and who you meet on the way and I did the 8 hours on the Aprilia and absolutely loved it. I thought maybe after I finished racing at BSB the world endurance would be where I would like to go. At the end of 2022 I chatting with Platty (Chris Platt) of ADSS Racing and a few other teams about moving into the world endurance, however at the last round of BSB at Brands hatch I broke my collar bone, all my own doing, tucked the front. At the end of the season I went back to Australia and was racing some classic bikes out there, really well turned out bike but unfortunately the brakes failed on this 1200 Kawasaki Harris that I was riding and it was only 5 weeks after I had broke my collar bone, so I had to jump off the bike and broke the right collar bone and did a pretty good job of writing the bike off too unfortunately. So speaking with ADSS and explaining that I had broke both collar bones in the space of two months that when we go to Valencia testing, I’m just going to take it easy, not be going for lap times or anything. So we arrived for testing and it was a brand new bike, with custom made fuel tanks which need to be bigger for the world endurance. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the fuel tanks, not sure what it was but basically there was fuel leaking out the bottom of the tanks and I did about 6 laps before it sprayed fuel over the back wheel and I cartwheeled, resulting in me breaking a bone in my lower back. So in the space of three months I had broke both my collar bones and my back, and I had already broke back twice before that so it was defiantly one of those years where I thought I’m 33 and having all  these injuries close together and you don’t heal as fast as you once did. Come the first round at Spa I just wasn’t feeling it, I probably come back to early and jumped the gun as I felt ok training wise but when I was on the bike I couldn’t ride to the level I knew I could if I was fully fit. So decided to not do the last round and really came to the realisation that how many more times can I jump off a bike at high speed and my body take a beating, so for now I’m taking a break and focusing on my new business that I have just started and really see how my body feels and what other opportunities may come. I will be doing the Goodwood members meeting in April and the Goodwood revival in September on a Norton Dominator, if you’re ever invited to Goodwood, you never say no! I might also do a couple rounds of the F900 or Sportbike cup at BSB, I rode for Powerslide for a couple of years and they have built a GSX8R and I might go and help them with that.

SBN: Speaking of the F900, you did a round on that last year, how did you find it?

Levi: Yeah it was weird how that came about really, a friend phoned me on the Wednesday or the Thursday and said my brother races with me in it but he can’t come this weekend do you want to come and do it with me, so yeah loaded the kids up in the van and headed down there it was a cool little championship to do and I really enjoyed it. Again I had a couple of opportunities to do it this year but with everything going on at the moment I’m just trying to do one or two things correctly at the moment and focusing on the new business.5 Minutes With… Levi Day

SBN: Tell us about your new business.

Levi: Moto Max Graphics.  Bike wrapping is just one side of it we are doing all sorts of graphics and wrapping. We have some vans booked in, plant machinery and that sort of thing anything that I can print on a printer I can print out graphics for. The other side of what we do is based in Australia. I have a coaching school out there which I run in the summer months which is a little quieter for track usage. It’s back in my hometown and we hire Mac Park. We have riders such as David Johnson and Billy McConnel, Josh Waters and Joel Kelso from Moto 3 come for a weekend and we run it pretty much what a Ron Haslam school used to be, bit like a Jamie Whitham day here in the UK.  I started the school about 7 years ago. When I lived in Australia and while I was doing my apprenticeship I was also a drum teacher and always enjoy teaching people about things that I enjoy. I had taught at the Ron Haslam school for a number of years and I really wanted to take something like that back home and teach people how to ride. Every other sport has the opportunity to get taught by people but there isn’t an awful lot of that in the motorcycling world with it being such a dangerous and expensive sport. There were some good systems in the UK but there really wasn’t back home in Australia and I thought if we could take that back home and have people like myself and Davo teach it would be popular, and it really has been going well.

SBN; What other plans do you have for the 2024 season bike wise then if you’re taking a break ?

Levi: I do a little bit of 1-0n-1 stuff here in the UK so I will continue to do that as and when and this year I am working with a couple of aussie riders that are moving to the UK. Brodie Gore and Henry Snell in a more mentor capacity. They will be riding for the Leon Haslam team in the Ninja Superteen Cup. I’ll be working with the crew chief along with providing them rider coaching and generally helping them settle in to the UK. I want to make sure that every avenue that I work in this year is going well and that I am producing or giving people a product that expect, whether that be in graphics or in coaching and if I can grow it to a point where I can help bring more Australian riders over or I can help more riders as a rider coach then I am always keen to get involved and stay involved in the sport as it’s given me so much over the years. If I can give back some of my experience then I’d love to be able to do more.

SBN: Do you have any regrets over the course of your career? Biggest achievements?

Levi: I don’t know if regret is the right word, because I think at the time I have made decisions and felt it was the best one to make but on looking back I think, yeah I could have done something differently but not necessarily regrets. If I looked back now and thought where I was when I was 18 or 19 and I was told that when you’re 35 you’re going to have achieved all that I have and the opportunities that I did, I would have ripped my arm off for it. So I try and be appreciative of the things I have done. For sure when I look back at times when I have crashed I think if only I hadn’t have pushed that hard but, If you always thought like that you would never push hard at all, so I guess mistakes more rather than regrets. I finished 2nd in the Ducati Tri options cup in 2020 and that was one of my most successful seasons, but definitely doing the Grand Prix at Philip Island has got to be one of them along with the 8 hour at Suzuka.

SBN: Plans beyond 2024 for racing? Europe?

Levi: If the opportunity is right, I would definitely consider it, but there are plenty of younger riders that would get these opportunities. World endurance is still something I would consider in the future and some classic races in Europe would be great.

Finally. What’s the one food you couldn’t live without?

Levi: ”Pizza.. not like dominos Pizza, proper wood fired Pizza”

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