The open road
PUBLISHED: 06:17 04 August 2014
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
"You don't need high hills, Norfolk has some great roads and as long as you are riding a bike the thrill is there."
So says Shawn Taylor, owner of the eponymous Shawn Taylor Racing Motorsport business in Norwich, and a confirmed car and bike nut. The former stunt driver, racer and now race instructor with manufacturers including Lotus, Porsche and Ferrari, also teaches racing and driving skills to drivers, with between 300 and 500 people going through his courses each year.
“I am a bike lover and the freedom that you get from being out on the bike, on Norfolk’s twisty roads and straight roads – there’s everything you can look for. I was born in Australia and there’s a reason I haven’t gone back – because I love Norfolk.”
Shawn has had a life-long love affair with riding, driving and anything with an engine. He began his competitive racing in motocross, and from motorcycles moved in to single-seaters then GT salon cars. In 2000, he launched Shawn Taylor Racing, now based in Norwich’s Mountergate but with driving bases around the county. “I’d always worked on my own cars and bikes and wanted to offer that same service and expertise to other people.”
But in 2005, Shawn broke his back in three places and suffered internal injuries in an awful bike accident at the Cadwell Park Circuit in Lincolnshire, three months before his wedding. “I was paralysed but I started moving forwards and by the wedding I was able to walk Theresa down the aisle. I had the body brace on beforehand and then had to put it back on straight afterwards but at least I’d done it.”
It was a long rehabilitation and an end to Shawn’s competitive bike racing. “Every racer knows the risk and we think about it just before going out there, but you have to have your mind in the right place. The biggest fear I ever had was of being paralysed, and when you have to face your biggest fear you have to find a way to move on again - it totally changes everything.”
As he recovered, Shawn was determined to return to the business which had been growing and developing. He invested in a rolling road for motorcycles so that he could continue working – and although he struggles to find time to ride them, he still owns several motorcycles himself.
“We look after everything that has an engine – bikes, all vehicles and vans – and on the prestige side we are Porsche and Mercedes specialists,” he says. “What makes this place exciting is that all the people who work down here have got the same attitude and passion as I have – we are all engineers and we do it for our customers.”
Since the accident, charity work has become an important part of Shawn’s life. He organises annual fundraising motor shows at the Snetterton racetrack, with some 200 performance cars, the next being planned for November 23. His fundraising – more than £91,000 in the past three years – supports charities in the area, primarily British Heart Foundation, The Big C, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and East Anglian Air Ambulance.