The message below started as a tweet but as I was sitting at the bar the evening we all found out Jeremy Burgess, crew chief for Valentino Rossi and my boss, would be doing his last race I just started typing more on my phone (turns out JB and the boys were at the bar across the road). It's now become the first thing I've put on this blog.
Bike racing is a sport where you are never sure what will happen next, on the track or in the garage. There is no script, nothing's definite. The only certainty is it's real, as real as life can be. The highs are so high that you can never get enough. The lows make your gut wrench and you struggle to breath. But all of that is what makes your hair stand on end. Real life can also cheat you, scare you and disappoint you.
In this sport everybody does whatever they can to scramble to the top of the pile. Whatever it takes. JB knows that better than anyone I know. I have worked beside him for my whole 21 years in road racing. He has had more highs than any person in this game. He has taught me everything I know about racing and a million other things - he has probably forgotten more than I will ever know.
He will leave this sport with the most GP wins of any mechanic in history, and with his head held high.
Racing has many benefits but it also has many costs you cannot escape. One is the cost to your family. Now JB will be able to stop paying that price and his girls, wife, dog and his garage will all be happy to see him.
Most people in this paddock don't really know him that well.
I know him, and if you knew him you too would be sad to see him move on but you would be happy you knew him, had met him, or even been yelled at by him.
Many people in this paddock don't know why they do certain procedures or how things became the way they are. They might say "oh well that's how we have always done it!" but they don't realize that that's how JB wanted it done and his riders and team were winning so everyone started to take notice of what he was saying and then implement it.
When I started everyone came to work at all sorts of times and warmed the bikes up any old time it seemed. Jb always wanted us at the track two hours before practice to warm the bikes up just incase there was a problem. He said in the worst case we still had time to change an engine before first practice. ( it happened only a few times but it happened! ) Now pretty much every MotoGP team warms their bikes up in a 15min window from 8am.
I guess its up to us, the people that knew him well, to pass on the paddock history to the new guys in the same way JB told us story after story about Isle of Man TTs, Suzuki UK, Freddie, Kevin, MR, John Brown, Barry, Wayne, Frank Spencer, Mick Smith, Eddie, George, filthy Phil from Louisville, Daytona, Muma's Bar, the log cabin, paddock lock downs, brown paper bags full of money, girls, motorhomes...the list is so long you need to have spent 15hrs a day with him for over 20 years just to hear 'em all.
I know I will share many more beers with him telling stories. It just won't be every day now.
I also know he will be having a beer on most race days watching us carry on trying to make the Rider go around in circles faster than the other riders. He may even cheer us on. That will make a change to the all the times he yelled at us to do something better, faster or smarter!
I had a message to call a guy 22 years ago. I said "who is it?", my boss at the time said, "Dunno! He said his name was Jerry Burgess".
Thanks mate for everything, but mostly thanks for that call. AB