Spotlight On: Thundersport GB’s Syd Day

In Features, Spotlight, Thundersport GB

HE’S the face of Thundersport GB and without him the show simply wouldn’t happen, let alone go on. And he also owns perhaps the most famous pair of Crocs in motorsport.

But Syd Day is far more than just the man who welcomes winners onto the podium and badgers riders to get their videos in to him on time.

“I live and breathe Thundersport, this is how it’s been since we first set it up,” he reveals. “Yes, there are probably far more relaxing things a man of my years could be doing to occupy his time, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

Syd pounding the beat in his natural environment – the Thundersport GB podium…

As owner/director of Thundersport GB, Syd has been there from the very beginning, setting up the club with Dave Stewart in 2007. And it was all borne from an idea of something they both felt passionate about.

“Dave and I had been talking and we both felt there was a need for something new, something to bridge the gap between club racing and the British championships,” Syd explains.

“It’s something we both felt strongly about. The gap between the leading club at that time and the British series’ was just enormous and a sad situation was developing where riders would dominate in the clubs and move up to British and it was too big a leap.

“We’d lost count of the amount of riders who had gone up too soon because there was nowhere else for them to go to continue their development. The result all too often was they got a big shock, it knocked their confidence and eventually their heads would go.

“We were losing a lot of riders who had the potential to be brilliant but in the end they were packing in because they couldn’t deal with it. We both felt something was needed to bridge the gap, and that’s where Thundersport GB was born.”

Though not technically classed as a club (ask the ACU about that one…) Thundersport GB is regarded as the leading series in the club racing world.

The Crocs can also be found regularly loitering around scrutineering as Syd finds himself doing a bit of everything over a race weekend…

“We don’t want to be BSB – people ask about that a lot – we want to be Thundersport GB. We have never deviated from our initial mission and we have no intention of it either.

“What we do is put on as great a show as we can – there’s a little bit of glitz here and there – but we always want to make it as good as possible for the riders. They get a lot of track time with us and our events are meticulously organised.

“I also think we are at a level where riders who do go up to British level and then find they still don’t feel ready, that they can come back to us without any shame or worry. Out fast riders in say the GP1 class could hold their own in Superstock 1000 easily, but for many reasons some just want to stay at this level and enjoy their racing.”

Syd is clearly passionate that the organisation’s focus is always the riders. And he’s not shy to tell his racers if he thinks they may be tempted to move up too soon.

“I’ll tell them, I think it’s something that sometimes you need someone to tell you. If they tell me they want to move or if it’s a parent keen to push their child to the next level and I don’t think they’re ready, I’ll give them my honest opinion.

“And that’s not just because I want to keep them here. I am actually speaking from the heart because when it comes to being a parent of a rider moving up too soon, I have to admit I was one of them.”

If you win at Thundersport, you can expect to find Syd waiting with his mic and camera crew to document the moment…

Syd is, of course, speaking of his son Steve. Now jetting around the world working as a MotoGP commentator, Steve had headed to the British paddock in his teens following a successful run in clubs.

“It was Steve who wanted to move up and I agreed and helped and encouraged him. It turned out to the wrong decision, and had he spent another year or so in clubs he’d have been a lot better prepared for the jump.

“That’s why I try and do my best to stop anyone else making a similar mistake, and it’s what Thundersport GB is all about. Neither me nor Dave expects to make millions from this; it’s more a labour of love.”

To riders and visitors to the Thundersport paddock, Syd is often the first person they see as he spends much of race days hosting the podium celebrations.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what he does. “That’s probably the most enjoyable part – I get to meet everyone when they come back happy after a good result,” he chuckles.

“However, what you don’t see is the very early starts where we have to get there and get everything organised and set up, nor the late finishes when we have to take everything down again afterwards.

The Phantom of the Podium is there… probably not one of your best looks, Syd…

“Add to that the rest of the work that follows. Before and after every race event we have all the organisation to do and I’ve also got the whole media and multimedia side to do, too.”

Syd looks after all marketing for Thundersport GB as well as overseeing the social media operation and the organisation’s all-important video shows which are available on the Thundersport iPlayer

While he has a production company to put them together, it’s Syd’s job to collate and edit the on-board footage.

“It is a lot of work and takes a lot of time, but it is worth it. We have found our internet TV format has been incredible, it’s really taken off.

“We are pulling in millions of viewers from all around the world and we’ve had a phenomenal response to everything we’ve done. We need to evolve as the world evolves and we want to give our riders the best exposure possible. By doing our internet TV shows we can deliver just that.”

As Thundersport GB reaches the ripe old age of 10 this year and continues to go from strength to strength, full grids mean more work but Syd says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It can wear you out at times and it can be frustrating but I still wouldn’t change any of what I’m doing for the world. I’ve always loved motorcycle racing and I love what I do. As clichéd as it may sound, I’m living my dream…”

*Images: Colin Port

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