Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 28 Feb 2015
In the 1990s Carl Fogarty was a household name if you knew anything about motorcycling. Four times World Superbike Champion under the Union Jack, the Blackburn-born biker was the last of his kind to be honoured with an MBE.
Now, some 16 years on, Fogarty is more famous than ever after winning a reality television show.
When news came out that the 49 year old had flown to Australia to participate in ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here” in November, the bike industry was almost in disbelief.
Two weeks later after being locked in a box with rats, eating kangaroo testicles and much more, Fogarty was sat in a throne being crowned ‘King of the Jungle’ by the most famous presenter duo in modern British television, Ant & Dec – almost 15 years to the day since he was last crowned World Superbike Champion in 1999.
We caught up with Foggy to see how he was finding his new found fame as a television star.
How are you finding life as a mainstream celebrity?
Things have gone crazy but I guess it’s to be expected when you win one of the biggest shows on TV! I’m really enjoying it, I’m at an age and stage in my life where I’ve got a lot of patience for what’s happening, I’m walking around with a huge smile on my face. 15 years on to win something different and bigger than my titles is brilliant and having won it by the public voting for you makes it even more special.
At any point in the jungle did you think, ‘I can win this!’?
I never thought I could win it once when I was in there, even in the final. When Mel went out and it was down to me and Jake I was still thinking ‘he’s going to win this, he’s a young, good looking lad all the girls will vote for him!’ I don’t think you can go into something like that wanting to win, you go in wanting to survive, not look like an idiot and make it to the vote off without walking out and I did that. People kept me in there and I don’t know why. I thought I would be the first one out! To last to the end and walk out King of the Jungle... it still gives me goose bumps!
Do you think your long-standing bike racing fans boosted your chances?
I’m still unaware of how much support I had while I was in there, but I think a lot of my support did come from bike fans and the following I had when I was racing. Before this, I’d be recognised in the streets every so often but now it’s every day of my life everywhere I go. I walked through London the other day and everybody I passed recognised me whereas before it’d have just been a handful.
Do you think having a figurehead in the mainstream press such as yourself is a good thing for the motorcycle industry?
It makes me laugh in some ways, bike manufacturers have been crying out for something like this for ages and here I am, I’ve managed to do it so let’s make the most of it. We’ll see what happens. It’s been great, amazing and it’s still fairly new. I’ve got a full year of engagements, I’m so busy and I love what I’m doing. The best thing about it is I don’t have to do it.
Did the other celebrities know who you were, did you talk bikes with them?
Most of the guys in there knew who I was. Jimmy did, Mel knew, even Jake did. Kendra probably didn’t but Edwina did! We didn’t talk too much about bikes though.
You’ll now get quite a few work opportunities outside motorcycling, will you continue with the bike stuff as well?
The London bike show was the first event I’d done since I came out of the jungle and I was glad it was a bike event as I want to stick by my roots, I don’t want to lose that. I love motorbikes I really do, I probably love them more now than I did when I raced them if I’m honest. I’ve had a few TV projects thrown at me so it’s all a case of choosing which ones I want to do!
What are you riding at the moment?
I’ve got a two stroke KTM off road bike and a couple of little funky bikes. The kind of bike I want nobody seems to do so I got a company to build one last year (IDP Moto), stripped back, naked seventies stuff, flat-track American style! Now Ducati have the Scrambler and that’s more me! Ducati will always lend me a bike for summer so that’s great. I never really rode bikes on the road before but now I feel like I want to more and more each year. I’m really looking forward to Spring now so I can get my bike out, get on the road and do some skids and wheelies!