This is a shorter version of the full interview that will appear in DIRT ACTION issue 229.
I’ve had to Google some of the places you been lately because I’d never even heard of them.
I’m there and I still don’t know where I am (laughs).
At some of the places you sit back and think, wow did I really ride through all that today? It’s not accessible by a normal car and not too many people in the world have even explored that part I’ve just been through.
That’s the biggest thing you gotta look forward to and that keeps the drive and the energy flowing for all that travel.
I’ve probably got a five to eight year window of doing this flat-out and then I’ve got plenty of time to relax and retire and chill and drink beers.
You’re going to need sponsorship from Nurofen by then.
Yeah I’m going to need some big sponsors on that side of things with the pain I’m gonna endure when I’m retired (laughs). But that’s the way it is and it’s all good.
Do you get sick of the constant travel?
To a point yeah I do. But at the end of the day it’s not going to last forever so the way I look at it is take the chance while you can. I get to enjoy racing the motorcycle which I love to do; I get paid to do it and get to see the world. Sitting on a plane for 22 hours to go to Europe is an absolute headache but at the end of the day you gotta deal with.
At Finke when you raced after getting a stick though your foot – that must have bloody hurt putting a boot on! What makes you so different that you can ignore that level of pain and ride?
Ooh yeah! It was swollen, black and bruised and looked it had been through a mincer. But I just hate missing out. I want to go and race and have fun and I just block that pain out somehow and I get the job done and don’t stress about it.
Are you competitive at anything you do?
Pretty much. I hate to lose in just a card game. I’m not a sore loser but I just don’t like losing. I’m not going to chuck a tantrum but I’ll probably be saying hey, line that up again we gotta keep going till I win one or I’ve got the most wins. I’ll eat my dinner faster than the guy beside me because I wanna finish first in that; absolutely everything I do is a competition.
How involved is testing for a Dakar?
The biggest thing is when they change the motorcycle completely. We’ve had the latest shape Rally bike for a couple of years and we are still fine tuning things and they will bring things out that we can change.
I remember when this bike was first getting done and it was just none-stop riding and if you didn’t ride for seven hours in a day then they wanted you to ride for eight. For engine development we’d get in the thickest bulldust, fesh-fesh (similar to bulldust), shittiest soil you’d could imagine and they’d say click top gear and hold the thing till it pops; we want you to pop the thing. We’d go out and make a 20-kay loop and just run lap after lap after lap after lap.
There was one day and I don’t really know what the temperature was because the thermometer on the truck went over 50 and just said ‘H.’ It felt like it was about 53 to 54 degrees.
How much do you feel like a businessman now? You’ve kind of become an industry unto yourself now.
Yeah absolutely. That kind of kicked off back in 2012/13 really, and this to me is a business. Everyone looks at me enjoying going racing and riding and seeing the world which 100 per cent I am but if I don’t do this right I don’t make any money and I don’t keep the lights on at my house. This is my job and the business that I’m trying to run.
There are so many other things I do to bring more exposure like the V8 Supercar thing with the Stadium Supertrucks, Superutes and my own Trophy Truck. I try and keep my name out there racing something and trying to build this TP brand (Toby has a range of merchandise that can be found at his website).
Does it feel like you’re under a lot scrutiny?
A little bit, like some people frown upon things that I’m doing and don’t want me to do it – they don’t want me racing cars and go and sky dive and bits and pieces like that. The eyes are definitely on you.
It’s weird how people could get upset about you doing things that are nowhere near as dangerous as your actual job.
I get frowned upon a little for the car racing but I’m in a five-point harness strapped to a seat with a pretty damn strong chrome-molly cage around me. You can get hurt I the thing but I guarantee you nine times out of 10 I’m going to climb out of that thing and not even have a headache.
Like when you rolled your Trophy Truck five times at Alice Springs just before Charles Wooley was about to get in for the 60 Minutes story!
Yeah! That was a great day (laughs). He looked good in his [driving] suit and he was pumped and prepped and thank God that happened two minuted before he got in the thing. But I literally climbed out of that thing and didn’t even have sore shoulders from the seat belts. I crash a bike at that speed and you’re going to be lying there waiting for a helicopter.
We don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what’s going to happen. I just want to live every day to the fullest and they always say that you only live once, but I think that should be changed to you only die once and you live every day.
You’ve certainly done that – at least since that day in Young (2009) when you beat Stefan Merriman for the AORC title and everyone thought, ‘What the hell just happened?’
Don’t worry I was saying the same thing (laughs). I’m still saying the same thig now when I’m winning Dakar. It just feels like it was two years ago that it was ’09 and I’d won my first offroad championship – it’s been a big blur but it’s been a rad journey and it’s got me to do some badass and pretty cool things like race trucks, race bikes, race Can-Ams and race whatever and experience the world. I got to fly a helicopter with Red Bull in Austria, I’ve done aerobatic stunt flights and raced Baja and met great people there.the fan favourite at Finke – Toby spends hours and hours doing this over the three days
And when you arrive in the middle of Australia for Finke, you’ve got five hours of autograph signing with a line that barely fits in the pits.
People line-up at Finke and they think they’re the lucky one to meet me but I think I’m the lucky one to meet them. Because they’ve driven two or three days from the east coast in Sydney or the west coast in Perth into the middle of Australia and the middle of absolute nowhere, just to get 30 seconds with me and ask if they can get a photo and a signature and if you give them that 30 seconds and have a chat and interact with a kid, then you see the kid walk off and looking back with the biggest smile on his face. That to me is – winning races pays my bills but seeing a kid smiling like that – that’s a bigger win for me.