Testimonial from Neil Hodgson
“I wanted to explain why I always say 3 sisters is one of my favourite tracks. I think people think I’m joking but the little Wigan track has a special place in my heart.
It all started because I used to go watch my dad compete there back in the early 80’s. I must have only been about 5 or 6 but I remember everything about it – the speed, the noise, the smell. I’d sit with my brother and my mum and we’d have nicknames for all the riders like “beeman” or “let in all hang out”. It was never boring.
I would always think that if I had the chance to race there I’d win! Even though at that stage I had never raced a bike. I could’t understand why some of the riders were so slow, even at 6 years old I could tell who was on the right line. Oh and how we loved a crash!!! I know that sounds terrible but back then a good crash would make my day!
My dad stopped racing in 1982 and by 83 he had bought me and my brother motocross bikes. From there we both started racing and I loved it. I raced from 83 till 89 and did ok however unfortunately I was really small so I found it hard to compete on the big 125 motorcross bikes. After a lot of big crashes and injuries, my dad and I decided it was time to call it a day.
After 6 months off, my dad was missing it and he asked me whether I wanted to have a go at road racing. We bought a TZR 125 Yamaha and took it to 3 sisters for a practice day. It was a bit of a make or break day as I wasn’t too sure if I’d like track riding. It turned out to be such a good day and I just loved riding on tarmac. I had a strange riding style but I was fast. It felt easy compared to motocross. No bumps or ruts, just beautiful sweeping corners.
I raced at 3 sisters as much as I could that first year. I would win the mini stock races which I enjoyed but the best part was racing in the 1300cc finals against the bigger bikes. It taught me a lot. I learnt what the limit felt like because of the nature of the small track. I did hundreds of laps and pushed harder and harder. I had some of the biggest slides of my career in they first season. My foot pegs were always grinding out. Miraculously I never crashed at 3 Sisters – I’ve no idea why as I tried on so many occasions in my last lap battles.
I was so proud to win my first championship there and it meant the world to me. Your first championship is always special.
Some people look down their nose at 3 sisters saying it’s too small and you’ll learn nothing there. Well I think that utter crap because if you can master a small tight technical track like that you can master any. Because there’s one thing I soon learnt was you had to be millimetre perfect. You don’t have the luxury of meter after meter of track like you do at places like Silverstone so you have to be precise.
I remember after me a young rider called Darren Barton winning everything round there. He was a good friend of mine and he went on to get top 5’s in GP’s. Then there was Casey Stoner!!! He cut his teeth there too and I’ve spoken to him since about it and he said he loved the place.