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Images from the 2022 Wroclaw Speedway Grand Prix
NEWS

Interview with Tai Woffinden, The Multi-time FIM Speedway GP Champion

Sep 082022

His name alone is probably the coolest in all of motorsports. Monster Energy's Tai Woffinden. “Woffy.” It's like howling cool and man does it draw the fans to FIM Speedway Grand Prix (GP).

The three-time (2013, ’16 & ’18) FIM Speedway GP World Champion's riding speaks for itself amongst the speedway faithful. But it's his look – tatted practically to his eyeballs, earlobes gauged past thumb circumference, a steely-eyed stare that cuts right to the point – and an omnipresent flashy smile that's endearing to all whose paths he crosses.

Speedway racing here in the States is limited at best. AMA Dirt Track racing is bigger, but nowhere near the stratospheric status that FIM Speedway GP enjoys in parts of Europe. There, in major dateline cities like Warsaw and Prague, FIM Speedway GP sells out major soccer stadiums – and Woffinden's popularity and draw at the gate is akin to that of Monster Energy’s Ricky Carmichael in motocross here in the States. 

Everyone here at Monster Energy thinks FIM Speedway GP is just epic to watch. The crowd gets into it like no other form of stadium motorsport we've seen. We're pumped to be on board with Tai, who was cool enough to carve a few minutes out of his packed schedule to field a few questions. So here's FIM Speedway GP champ Tai Woofinden, getting out of the gate quicker than an F1 car from 0-to-60 mph. And with no brakes, just like the motorcycles he races.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! What’s the good word from the 3-time FIM Speedway Grand Prix champion today?

 

Tai Woffinden: Obsession.

 

Back in action this weekend (Sept. 10) for the 2022 FIM Speedway GP of Denmark – Vojens – presented by ECCO. Outstanding venue and fans. What’s your history been at the Vojens Speedway Center?

 

I have had a great time in Vojens. My first World Cup was there in 2007 when I was 17 years old. The Danish fans show their Viking heritage when they support their riders. This year we won a silver medal in the World Team Championship, so we’re looking forward to getting out there and strutting our stuff. 

 

You’re currently in 8th place, about 20 points off the overall FIM Speedway GP podium. A runner-up finish in the Czech Republic at Prague’s iconic Marketa Stadium has been the highlight. Talk a bit about your season thus far, how it’s gone, and where do you intend to take it from here.

 

Yeah, that’s right, for sure. We will climb up more as the season has been a tough one after changing our engine tuner mid-season. It’s put us on the back foot a little, but we love a challenge. 2nd place in Prague was good, but we always want more, and we will keep on striving to be better day by day week by week year by year.

 

We’ve been in your corner for some time here. Talk a bit about your relationship with the M-claw company, how it came about and how the partnership has been going over the years.

 

Yeah, so we started our cooperation in 2013 as I was going to win my first world title. And to be honest, I have loved working together with the brand ever since we have won together – five world titles, five silver medals and a bronze. And we’re only just getting warmed up. It’s also been amazing to meet and collaborate with everyone at Monster.

 

As you know, Monster Energy cuts a wide path through all the raddest sports. Outside speedway racing, what other action sports are you in to – and do you get a chance to participate in them much during the off-season now that you’re a dad with all sorts of new responsibilities?

 

Yes, well I’m pretty much a motorsport fan, so anything with an engine. But I also enjoy surfing, skiing, snowboarding … bull riding. So maybe not motor sports, better to say action sports. And yeah we have a good off-season, so I get up to heaps when I’m not racing!

 

Back to motorsports – and motocross. Dirt bikes are huge in Australia. Some of the world’s top racers, guys like Chad Reed, Brett Metcalfe and Michael Byrne, all crushed it in the States as pros. Was there ever a time in your career when you hit a ‘Y’ in the road and had to choose between dirt bikes and speedway, or road racing? How’d that play out for you?

 

There is always ideas in my head, but I’m good at what I do and can keep the other sports for fun. That works better. We have some cool content in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled!

 

Rumor has it you can backflip a motorcycle off a jump. This true?

 

Yeah, that was a while ago! So I flipped my BMX bike, then had an idea to flip my MX bike, So we hooked up with Josh Sheehan (Aussie FMX star) in Perth and went down to the Apple Farm (Sheehan’s father’s farm, and FMX training compound) and got it done in a few hours! But January we have the next step, but I won’t say anymore until the vlog is done, and we upload it to YouTube.

 

Fair enough. Back to FIM Speedway Grand Prix, what’s your take on why there isn’t a stop on the global tour here in the States? We see the packed stadiums in Europe – similar to a big time soccer match. Seems like there should be at least a stop here on the east coast of the U.S., don’t you think?

 

For sure. USA is on the cards with Discovery (Sports, the promotional arm of FIM Speedway GP) taking over now and being able to televise around the world through their thousands of channels. Once they build us a fan base (in the States), it will make sense to travel out there. But hey, my job is to ride the bike – I’ll leave the promotion to them. But I’d look forward to the day where we walk out in front of a stadium full of Americans.

 

Along those lines, have you ever thought of taking one of those AMA Dirt Track HD V-twins to speed on a mile oval? Steel boot and all?

 

Hey, I’m always looking for a buzz. So if that opportunity arrives, I’m down – just give me a call. Or sticking to the oval, stick me in a sprint car and let me rip in that! Literally, I’ll do anything. My latest thing is skydiving. I get a nick kick when jumping out of a plane.

 

Win or lose, you’ve, for a long time, been one of the fan favorites on the FIM Speedway GP tour. What is it that drives you to do what you do? And how does that relate to your relationship with speedway fans?

 

Yeah, I get what you mean. So my drive to win is from deep within. I don’t really know where that comes from, but it’s with everything I do. Even passing a car on the road before a slip road or a ‘No Passing’ sign. But anyway, without the fans there is no sport, right? And I recognize that and always make time for photos or a chat replying to a DM, sending birthday videos, etc. It’s a part of what we do, and without the fans watching, we simply wouldn’t race.

 

Motorcycle racing is inherently a hurt sport. And speedway is right up there near the top in terms of racers having to deal with the results of miscalculations and other riders’ errors. Pain is part of the master plan. And you’ve had your fair share of injuries to deal with. To mere mortals, how do you deal with the physical pain of being an FIM Speedway GP racer?

 

Again this also comes with the job. We don’t plan to have injuries, but it’s a part of what we do.

 

Tai’s more recent injuries include:

 

2019 – Broken back and shoulder blade.

2020 – Broken foot (twice), broken hand (including operation and K wires).

2021 – Broken, shoulder blade, dislocated shoulder, damaged shoulder ligaments, fractured tibia and femur.

2022 – Fractured ribs (2) and a back injury after a training accident. 

 

First time I have looked at it like this. It’s a lot since 2019, but we just keep on keeping on! 

 

Lastly, and we’ll link everyone to this, you do a bang-up job of marketing yourself, along with your sponsors – including Monster Energy. Talk about your self-drive and what it takes to holeshot in the world of self-promotion, how you seemingly have fun with it and why you feel it’s so important in this day and age.

 

Ah, thanks, man, I have done it all on my own sometimes. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but I just do it my way. We’re lucky we live in a day and age where we can reach out to tens of thousands of people by simply posting something on socials. Right now, I feel ready to take on the world, and I’m putting everything in place for that to happen year after year.

 

Outstanding. Thanks again for taking the time to get the States caught up on Monster Energy’s big time racer over in Europe. Good luck at FIM Speedway GP this weekend in Denmark and keep us posted on that big stunt you teased.

 

Oh, yeah. We’ll for sure be in touch on that one. Thanks again. Look forward to getting back after it at Vojens. And thanks to Monster Energy for everything.

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