Anita
Buxton

My occupation is a Motorcycle Road Racer, but to subsidise the running costs I am currently employed as an ‘Engineering Technical Operator’ by a major pharmaceutical company. Before this, I worked as Motor Vehicle Technician at a local FE college.

I first became interested in motor-cycling when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I remember watching the great battles between Roberts and Spencer on the TV, and I had a poster of Barry Sheene in my desk! My parents thought it was a phase that I’d grow out of but having ridden horses from the age of 4, I’ve always loved speed. By the time I was 19, I’d bought myself a CBR600 roadbike. I am very competitive by nature, and from the age of 9 years old, I have been competing regularly at show jumping events. Although it appeared to be a natural progression to motorcycle racing, it wasn’t until 1989 when I was involved in a serious road accident, that I was given the incentive to get out on the track. Due to a lack of finances, the ‘big’ moment didn’t happen until two years later.

During 1991, I began racing my FZR600 roadbike. My first race was at Snetterton, I’d never been out on a track before, didn’t have a clue about race lines, got lapped and finished last! But I was hooked. I couldn’t drive at the time, so I used to ride to the meetings, tape up my lights and go out racing. My spares kit consisted of a roll of duct tape, brake and clutch levers. If it was a weekend meeting I took a tent and panniers! I didn’t worry about crashing.

The following season, I finished 3rd overall in the KRC Novice Championship despite crashing fourteen times! I was definitely kamikaze - win or crash, trophy or hospital!

In 1993, I was forced to take a year off from racing due to a serious cash flow problem. I’d actually decided to quit the sport through struggling to meet the costs, however the racing addiction was too strong, I bought a ZXR400 and returned to the fray. In 1995 I finished 2nd overall in the KRC Supersport 400 Championship.

Since then, other highlights of my short circuit career have included - finishing 18th in the 1996 British Thunderbike round at Brands Hatch, and competing in the 1997 British Supersport 600 Championship. Although I have good product sponsorship from Harris Performance, Hideout Leather and Bob Hill Motorcycles, my racing is entirely self-financed. My race transport consists of a Transit van, caravan and awning which doubles up as a hotel and workshop! We always stay in the Paddock to keep costs down, and Seacat provide invaluable support with ferry crossings. As a privateer, without financial backing, trying to race competitively in the 1997 British Championship was extremely difficult, and it has taken me nearly two years to repay the debts incurred from that one season!

Anita Buxton - Motorcycle Road Racer

Isle of Man TT Production race 1999

In 1996 I had my first taste of ‘pure’ road racing coupled with the fantastic Irish hospitality. I’d entered my RS125 in the North West 200, and although I had a DNF in the race, the magic of ‘pure’ road racing had cast its spell! The ultimate challenge in road racing has to be the Isle of Man TT circuit, and not wanting to ‘jump in the deep end’ at the TT, I decided instead to enter the Manx GP.

In preparation for the Manx, I raced the 125 at the Skerries, finishing 11th and 16th before buying a race kitted FZR600R which I took to Aberdare Park, finishing 4th and 5th. I then went back to Ireland to race both bikes at the Ulster GP finishing 16th in the Regal 600 and 29th in the 125 races. After having some reasonable results on the Roads, I felt fairly confident about tackling the Manx on the FZR.

I can honestly say that I did not enjoy my first visit to the Island. Although I’d read all the books and endlessly studied the ‘on bike’ videos nothing could have prepared me for that first ever lap of the TT course! I didn’t have a clue where the circuit went, and I was completely unaware of the hidden dangers. The length of the circuit was totally daunting and incredibly difficult to remember, with many places looking similar. I spent a wet practice week trying to learn the place and surviving numerous scary ‘moments’. I was relieved to finish the damp Newcomers Junior race in 14th place and return home still in one piece!

During 1997, I raced at the North West 200 and concentrated on the British Championships. I didn’t return to the Isle Of Man until 1998, when I was offered Peter Nolan’s Fireblade for the Production races at both the North West and the TT. I’ve always considered the TT Races to be the pinnacle of achievement in motorcycle racing and coupled with the offer of the Fireblade, the temptation was too much to resist!

At the North West, I finished 19th in the Production race which was a good warm up for the TT. I went back to the Island with a fresh attitude, I tried to learn the circuit by breaking it down into small sections and then tackling each section in turn. This time I didn’t get fazed by the length each lap, and the new approach worked. The challenge of tackling the TT Mountain Course on a good bike and finishing - the whole experience was absolutely fantastic, from the Gooseneck down to Signpost Corner on the final lap, the crowd were encouraging me and waving their programmes. To compete in the TT Races, and be a part of whole event, with its unique atmosphere is an incredible feeling. When I finished the Production race in 55th place, I couldn’t speak from excitement and the sense of achievement – I was on an adrenaline high for weeks!

Preparations for this year’s TT started in December 1998, when I bought a ZX-7R for the Formula One and Senior races. My boyfriend, Pete is very supportive acting as both mechanic and moral support! Between us we set about the enormous task of converting the original roadbike into an F1 Superbike. In January, I began working on my fitness programme with running, rowing and weight training in the Gym. In March Pete became a sponsor when he bought himself a ZX-9R roadbike, and I promptly asked him to loan it to me for two weeks in June!

I’d entered the Superbike races at the North West 200 as a shakedown test for the 750, but a delay in parts being delivered meant that it wasn’t ready in time. However Pete’s roadbike/Production racer was all set for the TT, so we took the 900 to the North West instead. Despite losing one qualifying session to torrential rain, the ZX-9 was good fun around the triangle, although it wasn’t very competitive against a 200mph V+M tuned R1 down the long straights! I finished the first Superbike race in 35th place after a race long scrap with Alan Bezzant on his ZX-9, before retiring from the second Superbike race with steering damper problems - after several 160mph tankslappers through Station Corner, I decided pull in before I went through the hedge!

At the 1999 TT, I’d entered three races - the Formula One, the Production and the Senior. Teething problems with the 750, meant that several days during practice week were spent testing at Jurby Airfield trying to sort the bike out. Fuel starvation was the major problem, after several minutes testing the bike would cut out, leaving me to push it back down the runway. By the end of practice week I hadn’t even attempted one lap on the 750. Luckily the 900 performed faultlessly throughout practice with no problems, apart from a broken exhaust bracket which forced me to retire at Ramsey. A very worried Pete came to collect me, after being misinformed that I’d crashed!

Although I’d entered the 750, I requested a change of machine for the Formula One and I was given permission to race the Production bike instead. This meant that I would be unable to ride in the Senior due to the rule about Production bikes.

The forecast for the F1 was wet, and sure enough it rained all morning. This caused problems deciding which tyres to use and I opted for heavily treaded intermediates. Just before the start the rain stopped, but the roads were still wet, so we stuck with the inters. About a minute before I was due to start, the race was red flagged due to Paul Orritt’s crash on Bray Hill. While we waited for a restart, the roads began to dry out and the returning riders decided to change their inters for slicks. This presented a big problem - the Proddy bike only had the one set of wheels, and we didn’t have time to get the wheels out and the tyres changed. I was forced to stick with the original tyres.

By the time I reached Quarterbridge on the first lap, I knew I’d made the wrong tyre choice! The bike was sliding everywhere on the dry roads and by the second lap I decided to retire at the Pits - I’d had enough! However, when I pulled in my crew did a blinding pit stop, and told me to carry on! The bike was all over the place and the tyres were totally shot, presenting a major handicap but I struggled on and managed to finish 47th.

In contrast, the Friday’s Production race went really well. The weather was fine and the roads were dry, which meant that I was able to use the Michelin Pilot’s that I’d used during practice. The bike felt good, it was flying, easily keeping up with the Yamaha R1s. I finished 55th and did my quickest lap of 103mph, which was very encouraging as I’m still getting to grips with the circuit. I was riding well within myself, didn’t have any ‘moments’ and I knew there was a lot more to come!

During 2001, Foot and Mouth disease forced the cancellation of the North West 200, the Isle of Man TT and the Southern 100 meetings. Despite this, racing at the Ulster Grand Prix went ahead and I finished 18th in the Production race on the ZX9R (lapping at 105mph). This was a particularly good result, with the UGP being the first (and only) Road meeting of the season, held over an altered course that included an extra chicane. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to race the ZX7RR due to engine failure in the qualifying session.

Highlights of 2002 included finishing in 27th place in the Lightweight 400 TT and winning the Club Team Award with Jim Hodson and John McGuinness. We won a Silver Replica for the Darley Moor MCC for the fastest aggregate time in the race, and I also received a Finishers Medal. I also got another good result at the Ulster Grand Prix where I finished 5th in the 400cc Race lapping at 102mph average on my ZXR400. Earlier in the year at the North West 200, I’d been clocked through the speed trap at 171mph on my Production spec ZX9R (not bad for a four year old road bike!). This made me the quickest female rider ever at the North West 200.

For 2003, I bought a brand new Suzuki GSXR1000 as a replacement for my ageing ZX900R, in order to compete at all the big Road Race meetings on competitive machinery. Unfortunately, once again my entries for the F1 and Production TT were refused. I have been caught in a cycle of entry rejection since TT2000, thus not giving me the opportunity to improve my lap times on the big bike at TT – very disappointing! However, my results this year speak for themselves….. 5th place in the S400cc race at the North West 200, 11th place at the Southern 100, 5th place in the 400cc race at the Ulster GP lapping at 103mph (on a sick engine!), and the biggest highlight of the year was lapping at 112mph average to achieve 22nd place in the Production race at the Ulster GP, making me the fastest ever female at the Ulster GP. Wow! Roll on next year…….

www.racecorporation.co.uk/Anita_Buxton.htm or E-Mail

Raced in April, 2005

Related Issue: Women Racers Directory, Women in Racing, Women Racers, More Women in Racing, Race Schedules, Notable Women

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