Chinese New Year special series:
I Never Thought I’d Experience Something Like That
Spirits of Young Talents Motivate You to Go Further
© All photos, including featured cover, provided by Jackie Hope Tam
It’s the Lantern Festival, the celebration for Chinese New Year is coming to an end, and we wrap up this year’s Chinese New Year special series with the story of Jackie Hope Tam (谭燕杰), manager and rider of HRT – Happy Racing Team.
Hailing from Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, Jackie was led onto the path of motorcycling by a job interview for her day job. But then one day, she changed profession because of her passion for motorcycles.
Before 2013, Jackie didn’t know much about motorcycles or motorcycle racing. Through a job interview, she met people who provide racing services at the circuit. Out of curiosity, she tried out riding a motorcycle herself afterwards. “I met some people who run a team at the circuit providing services for motorcycle and formula car racing. One day they were testing a MiniGP bike, I saw how the bike could perfectly fit me in terms of size. So I got interested and tried. At first, of course, I was really nervous. But I thought it was really cool and fun! I also learned a lot!”
From feeling the fun, Jackie gradually started chasing the speed, and according to her, it’s like a natural progression for anyone that would sit on a bike. “At the beginning, I was just riding the bike for fun. But then I stumbled upon a chance in a race, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how good I was on the bike. I didn’t plan for any of the racing I did. But after I started in amateur racing, I started thinking about how to get faster, how to get the next 0.5s, how to constantly beat yourself. You get greedy and want to get more.”
In Jackie’s pursuit for better performance, she was sometimes accompanied by the world’s best. Through her rider coach, she was able to connect with H43 and train in Spain four times a year in the years before COVID prevented her from travelling. “The atmosphere in Spain and Europe is really different from here in China. I got to see a lot of top riders train and race. There are big names like Marc Marquez, as well as young talent like Pedro Acosta, all the way down to riders in the European Talent Cup. Their training schedule is packed every day. It is inspiring seeing how much effort they put into it. It motivates you to do more and strive for better results each day.”
While chasing the speed in her own free time, Jackie also started thinking about pivoting in her day job. This time, motorcycling led her onto a new path that intertwined the two. “My old job was in jewelry. My role covers a lot of administrative stuff. I start early and finish late every day. I didn’t have much time on my hand for myself. In 2014, after riding bikes for a year, I moved industry. I started selling bike and car parts. I don’t need to stay in the office all day anymore, and my hobby now connects to my day job. I need to test the parts I’m selling, what better way than testing them myself on my bike.”
Moving to a new profession also gave Jackie the opportunity to form her own team. She named the team after her dog Happy and secured support from her employer and partners. The team became the platform to showcase their parts and their partners’ parts. “Most of our sponsors are our own brands and other brands we work with. Big sponsors would want to see results. It’ll be like a promise from you to them. For now, our team is like a marketing campaign for our own brand.”
With Jackie’s petite feature, she usually rides in 300cc class, but she also explores other categories like enduro or motocross from time to time. “600cc bikes are a bit too big for me, so I think for roadracing, I’ll stick to 300cc. I’ve tried enduro here in China as well as overseas. I’ve also tried motocross. It’s interesting flying on the course and choosing your line as condition changes.”
Having tried many different types of motorcycle racing, surprisingly, Jackie doesn’t have a bike that she can ride on the road day-to-day. More surprisingly is the reason – it’s dangerous. “I actually don’t have a bike license for the road. There is too much traffic on the road, I don’t think it’s safe to ride on the road. It’s of course also dangerous on the circuit. I’d be afraid from time to time. Sometimes if I feel like I’d highside, I’d be afraid in the moment, but at the same time, I gotta keep cool and save it. To get better, to push yourself to the limit, you have to go through some crashes. That’s how you learn.”
Life is short. It’s important to do things you love, things that make you happy. For me, riding my bike on track relaxes me. It calms my mind.
In this Year of the Tiger, we hope Jackie, and everyone who loves motorcycling, can continue with what they love and achieve all the better results they strive for!
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