Five-time 500cc World Champion...
Five-time 500cc World Champion Mick Doohan splashes through a corner at the '98 Japanese GP. "The drive to actually want to better yourself is something that I kind of miss, and it's hard to replicate that in anything yet that I'm doing, anyway," he admits. "All the ways you're striving to fulfill your day, it's not the same sort of challenge, but it's never going to be.
"I obviously miss some of the competition. Some of the preparation, some of the things that you used to think were a pain in the ass-they weren't too bad, as far as the testing and the preparation and all that type of thing. The drive to actually want to better yourself is something that I kind of miss, and it's hard to replicate that in anything yet that I'm doing, anyway," Doohan explains. "All the ways you're striving to fulfill your day, it's not the same sort of challenge, but it's never going to be. That was the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, so unless I'm doing something on that sort of level in some other field I doubt I'll ever find that again."
When Baldwin retired he took a job with Spectro Oils in his home state of Connecticut. "You know, the good thing about working at Spectro for 16 years is I've still been involved in the industry," Baldwin says. "I'm not completely out of it. Probably not out of it enough to really, really, truly miss racing. I go dirtbike riding with my friends once a week and riding in the woods and smash around. I've got an Arctic Cat snowmobile that I ride that has about 160 horsepower, that has just as much power as the 500 had. I go snowmobiling in the winter with my buddies all the time-still do. Those things are like riding a GP bike on the snow."
"Now, winning a Grand Prix, standing on the podium, there's nothing like it because you're on the elite level, top of the pyramid," Spencer remembers, "and all of those things were challenges. Being the youngest world champion and beating somebody [Roberts] that was unbeatable was rewarding, and doing the two championships." These are all feelings he can never replicate. Spencer continues to be a regular at racetracks. Much of his time is spent sharing his knowledge with students at Freddie Spencer's High Performance Riding School. And he's also a consultant to American Honda's Superbike team.
Doohan changed direction when he retired, starting a number of successful businesses after moving back to Australia from Monaco, where he lived during his career. Now married and with two children, he spends much of his time running Global Jet International, a charter jet company on the Gold Coast in Queensland. The company has a fleet of jets worth an estimated $30 million. He's also half-owner of CatHouse, a lounge in the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas that claims it "combines a world-class restaurant . . . with an upscale lounge, creating a seductive nightlife venue."
Former 500cc World Champions...
Former 500cc World Champions Mick Doohan (left) and Freddie Spencer chat during a press conference for the '05 USGP. Interestingly, Doohan has mostly distanced himself from motorcycles since his retirement, while Spencer remains involved with the sport through his riding school and with American Honda.
Doohan does the occasional parade lap for Honda but otherwise rides very little. "I think the last motorcycle I rode was a Harley with a few other friends in Europe," he says. Instead he flies his own helicopter most days when he's home.
Some riders don't miss the travel; some do. Spencer spent as little time in Europe as possible, more or less commuting from his home in Shreveport, Louisiana. The most extreme example came when he flew home after one Saturday's Dutch TT but was back for the following weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
Schlachter loved the travel, the opportunity and the chance to see new cultures and meet new people. His first European adventure was in the '78 AGV Cup of Nations, a meeting that pitted the best of the world against the best Americans. The American team included Schlachter, Baldwin, Roberts, Mamola, Wes Cooley and Dale Singleton. The world team was led by Barry Sheene, then at the height of his clash with Roberts.
"That was a great time, where there were all the great international [races] where you could actually pick up some money or get to go over there and race against the Europeans and go see some of the world. And that to me was wonderful, incredible," Schlachter says wistfully.
It's something he clearly misses.