Steve Hislop in 1993
11 January 1962|
|Died||30 July 2003
Robert Steven 'Hizzy' Hislop (11 January 1962 – 30 July 2003) was a Scottish motorcycle racer. Hislop won at the Isle of Man TT eleven times, won the British 250cc Championship (1990) and British Superbike championship (1995 and 2002).
Hislop was born into a close, Scottish Borders family. He grew up in the village of Chesters near the town of Hawick with his father Sandy, mother Margaret and best friend and younger brother Garry. Their father inspired the boys to be enthusiastic about competitive motorcycling and take up racing. However, when Garry was killed in a racing accident at Silloth circuit in 1982 aged 19, Hislop's enthusiasm waned and he slumped into an alcohol fuelled depression [the death of his father three years earlier from a heart attack may also have contributed].
Hislop recovered and began his Isle of Man road racing career in 1983 by finishing second in the newcomers' race at the Manx Grand Prix, the year after Garry won it. On short circuits, his first championship success came when he won the 250cc British Championship in 1990. Superbike victory followed with the British Superbike Championship in 1995. Some attributed his success to James Whitham leaving the series mid-season to deal with cancer [Whitham was behind in the championship prior to his illness]. Although he did not take a BSB victory in 1996 or 1997, Hislop was hired by Rob McElnea's dominant Cadbury's Boost Yamaha team for 1998 [to the surprise of commentators and journalists, most notably BBC pundit Barry Nutley]. The nature of the fight for the championship between Hislop & team mate Mackenzie was illustrated by a near-collision on the last lap at Snetterton which cost the team a 1–2 finish. Hislop generally matched his countryman before an injurious crash took him out of title contention. His last championship success came in 2002 when he won the British Superbike Championship riding a Ducati. A notable feature of his season resulted from Hislop lapping Donington Park circuit more quickly on a superbike than the fastest Moto GP machine: Hislop's modified production Ducati was heavier and less powerful than the bespoke Grand Prix bikes.
The 1992 Senior TT was an absolute classic. It is often described as one of the best races in TT history.
After their successful 1991 TT on all conquering Honda RVF machines, Hislop and Carl Fogarty had not planned to return in 1992. However, they both lined up on the Glencrutchery Road that year on unfancied machinery: Hislop was on Ron Haslam's Norton with Fogarty on the Loctite Yamaha. The Norton 588 had been developed on a shoe string budget when compared with the Japanese competition. John Player [the main Norton sponsor] had no intention of backing Steve's TT campaign but after scratching around for some support and with minimal testing time, the team headed for the Isle of Man.
Hislop's Norton took to the circuit in the unconventional white livery of Steve's long term sponsor Abus. Hislop and the team defied the bike's detractors by taking a fine 2nd place in the opening TT F1 race. The bike proved it could complete 6 laps of the gruelling Snaefell Mountain Course in hot weather so the team looked forward to Friday's Senior TT.
A number of adjustments had been made to the Norton prior to the Senior: a larger screen was fitted to protect Hislop from the high winds, the front mud guard was removed to admit more cooling air to the engine and protective covers were fitted to the front forks.
Hislop's main rival was Carl who started at number 4. Steve started at 19. Not only did this give the Scot more traffic to contend with but it also gave the crowd an anxious wait as the officials calculated the time difference between them [a gap that never exceeded 7.4 seconds]. As the race progressed, the two riders smashed records they set the previous year with Hislop taking a narrow advantage into the final lap. In a last-ditch attempt to catch Hislop, Fogarty recorded a record lap time of more than 123 mph on his Yamaha. It was all in vain however as Hislop guided the fly splattered Norton home to an historic win. This was one of Hislop's greatest achievements and one of the most popular TT wins. Carl Fogarty's lap record stood for 7 years.
Hislop and Fogarty went on to become two of Britain's most successful motorcycle racers, winning many races and championships [Hislop mainly domestically and Fogarty internationally]. It was the 1992 Senior TT that saw them battle together for the last time.
Described by some as a flawed sporting genius, success in the world championships never materialised for Hislop. This was possibly because of a self-destructive aspect to his character. The flaw may have led to a number of well-publicised clashes with other riders and teams in the British championships which hindered progress into international series.
Having lost his brother and many friends in motorcycle accidents, Hislop made a point of never going to the funerals of fellow racers, saying: "Some people might find that a bit callous. I only ever attend family ones and people find it a bit strange that I won’t go to a friend’s funeral, but it’s just my little way of shutting off."
Hislop had two children by former partner, Kelly Bailey, but the couple split just before his second son Connor was born. He had joint custody of the children, and had found love again with girlfriend Ally Greenwood.
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