WHEN Westhoughton motorbike racer Joe Lawrence takes to the track for his first club competition on Sunday it will be the realisation of a lifelong ambition.
The thrill for speed is in the Lawrence blood; grandad Leslie Jack was a pacemaker for the race bikes and cars at Brooklands while dad Dave competed in the Manx 100 sidecars on the Isle of Man in 1976.
But it has not been an easy ride so far for the racer born with one leg six inches shorter than the other.
A will to keep the family racing tradition going and the support of his relatives has driven him on through a succession of operations.
Now Joe hopes he can go full throttle and make a career out of the sport he has loved since helping his dad repair and rebuild bikes as a youngster.
He rides a CBR 600series Honda 1993 steel-framed motorbike and is a member of both the Preston and District Motorcycle Club – that trains in Wigan – and the East Midlands Racing Association (EMRA) with his JDL team.
This will be his first year of competition and he is relishing the opening race for EMRA at the refurbished Mallory Park circuit next weekend.
He told The Bolton News: “I cannot wait. We tested the bikes two weeks ago and everything is all set now.
“I know it is only amateur for now but who knows where it may lead.
“It is what I have wanted to do all my life.
“My grandad raced motorbikes and my dad competed in sidecars so it is definitely in my blood.
“I’ve been on the back of a bike since I was four and waited a long time for this chance so I want to grab it.”
At 25 years old, Joe admits he is entering the amateur race world later than most.
But when he explains how he was born with a left leg shorter than his right, it is easy to understand the fight Lawrence has had just to be following in his dad’s footsteps.
“It has not been easy for me,” he added.
“I was born with my left leg shorter and had my first operation aged just six weeks.
“I had ongoing treatment right through to the age of 16 because I was born with twisted bones.
“I have had casts and braces on my leg regularly and a lot of reconstructive surgery over the years.
“But I never gave up the dream of racing and it’s a case of making up for lost time.”
It is not just physical and mental support from friends and family but financial as the team looks to build.
Lawrence is grateful for the help of his employer Ainscough Training services who support him.
But with a huge outlay needed to maintain the team and bikes, Lawrence is always keen for more assistance.
He said: “I have to thank Ainscough for being a sponsor and also my family and friends, as it would not be possible without them.
“My girlfriend Ruth is fully supportive as well as mum and dad.
“I have had a lot of help but when you think we have a £10,000 bill this year, any more sponsors would be fantastic.”
Anyone interested in sponsoring Joe can call him on 07584 076352, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jdlracing888.