There are many young boys who dream of great fame and a career as an athlete, but only a handful of them manage to “shoot” at the right moment, find a niche or simply explode with talent, and are very lucky to find the right people on their way, without which cannot be taken a step forward. There are many obstacles to overcome along the way and you have to be able to overcome them. We invite you to an interview with Artur Wróblewski, the dad of 13-year-old Brandon, who lives in England almost from his birth and started his adventure with black sport there, although he dreams of being able to race for Poland in the future. At the same time, he is a perfect example of a young boy who has to deal with problems on his way to a professional career.
Mr. Artur, how long have you lived in England and where did you get the idea of your son Brandon cultivating speedway? Someone persuaded him to do so or did he catch the magic of this sport himself?
Brandon has lived in England almost from birth. I persuaded him to practice speedway personally, because it was always my dream when I was a little kid, but it didn’t work because I was born in different times, a few steps from the track in Bydgoszcz. Whenever I heard the whirr of motorcycles in the stadium, I immediately rushed to see who was driving. I was fascinated by it, I wanted to try it, but my mother did not agree. Reason? Fear, I cannot be surprised. As for Brandon, I honestly had no idea it would get this far, though I know it might go further. It was supposed to be just fun, but I can see (and not only me) that every time he goes to the track it gets better and better and you can see it with the naked eye. He is making amazing progress from training to training. We recently made the decision to get on a professional 500cc motorcycle. When I saw him, I was flabbergasted because he was handling it as smoothly as if he had been doing it for a long time.
And when did Brandon’s adventure with the black sport begin?
Relatively not so long ago, because he was 11 at the time, and now he is 13. When I noticed that he has a talent and is attracted to it, we started to take part in literally every competition. We are lucky to live in Corby, which is more or less in the middle of England, so we can drive both in the North and in the South. Not everyone has this option due to the long distances.
So how was it in the beginning? What did he start with and where is he now?
My son makes my dreams come true (laughs). It started innocently because I gave him his first bike, such an innocent toy. And then the young one surprised me for the first time, because from the beginning he turned on the gas to the top, he was not afraid of anything and after a while this toy simply lacked power, and the engine was run over, defect after defect. Then I bought him a pit bike with which we went to the motocross track several times. However, something was missing, that wasn’t it. It was then that I decided to take my son to the Peterborough competition and from then on it started for good. I found out about training competitions organized in Scunthorpe, we borrowed the equipment from the organizer, and after the training I had to buy Brandon a little speedway motorcycle because he got infected at first sight (laughs). Good, because he could train on his own equipment from then on.
I understand that from this moment he started regular trainings, first competitions?
Exactly, Wayne Carter (ex-small track rider) once invited us to take part in a competition on the big track in Scunthorpe. Of course we went there and Brandon came in second place in the 125cc support class. And I was proud of him. In 2019 only, he won a lot of awards and cups, in amateur competitions, because only in such he could compete. However, he had the opportunity to race with the best riders from England and did not stand out from them at all, and often turned out to be faster on the track. Here is a collection of cups won last year.
Has Brandon switched from 125cc straight to the professional 500cc?
Due to the lack of a passport and lack of access to the British Youth Championship, we decided to skip the 250cc class and go straight by putting Brandon on a professional 500cc speedway motorcycle. For economic reasons it was also probably more profitable as there are not many of these smaller motors on the market so the maintenance costs may be higher. Not every tuner takes care of them. Therefore, Brandon got on the “500”, and it was just a few days ago.
Who helps you, who guides Brandon and advises him on the way to professional career?
Of course I am as much as I can, but I am a layman and do not know much about things. We were so lucky to meet Dave Harris once in Scunthorpe. It turned out that we are practically neighbors and it is him who helps us a lot. It was him who first became interested in Brandon and saw talent in him. He offered his help, both in terms of mental and bike preparations, because I do not know anything about it. I am very grateful to him for that. Currently, Dave is my son’s mentor, while Radosław Rumiński is the mechanic, who also looks after Rohan Tungate’s equipment.
What about sponsors? Is it easy in England to get someone to help young guys?
I can only talk about us because I am not a specialist. We don’t have any sponsors, we’re not at the right stage yet, and I don’t even know how it’s done. We live off my job, I am a truck driver in England, and as far as my financial situation allows, I make sure that Brandon has everything he needs.
Who is Brandon’s greatest idol that he would like to follow?
Probably he is not entirely sure, because when asked about it, he sometimes mentions Bartosz Zmarzlik, and sometimes Tai Woffinden, but that’s good, because he follows the world champions, i.e. the best in their profession. Recently he told me that he liked the late Danny Ayres, because the week before the tragedy and his death, we were training together at the Rye House. Danny took a great interest in Brandon’s ride, watched him progress on the track and gave him valuable tips in the parking lot. To honor him, my son asked me to sew him number 15 on his new jumpsuit, under which Danny was riding.
What are your son’s problems and what is the obstacle to participating in more competitions?
The main problem, of course, is the lack of an English passport. We applied for permanent residence and a settlement card a long time ago, but it turns out that Brandon is not entitled to an English passport at the moment. According to the local policy, one may apply for it only after the age of 18. This precludes him from being able to develop normally and compete in all competitions, such as the British Youth Championship. The young one has a junior license from the British federation, but what if he cannot fully participate in the local speedway. Personally, my biggest regret is in the context of the Northern League, where also only English children can participate. We were allowed only because there was a shortage of applicants, but Brandon’s points would not count towards the classification. So what is the point of taking part in this type of competition? He tries as much and puts his health at risk as the others. Such a law and that’s it.
How does Brandon himself react to the situation? He is experiencing it strongly?
Of course he’s surviving, he’s still a child, and some things are hard for him to swallow. He watches as his good colleagues and friends race in competitions that he cannot. It certainly has a negative effect on him. He himself admitted recently that he is disappointed with this policy and in the future, if only he could make a career, he would like to ride for Poland. He is eager and loves to race. There is also another reason why we decided to go straight to the 500cc class at this point. In England, he can race on such a motorcycle at the age of 14, having a recommendation from someone from the speedway world, while in Poland you need to be 16. So we have more time to prepare, which will certainly pay off in the future.
So what are your plans for the further development of Brandon’s career?
Our plan is simply to continue to train as much as possible and participate in as many competitions as possible. And we will see how the fate unfolds. I am in contact with Mr. Jacek Woźniak from Bydgoszcz, who invited us to a show of skills in Poland, but the coronavirus pandemic temporarily torpedoed this plan. Brandon is full of talent and willingness to train, the obstacles that we have to deal with also do not discourage him.
Thank you for the interview, good luck and achieve your goals.
Thank you very much.