What’s the worst thing happened to you that broke your spirit? For me, maybe it was the time when I met an accident that paralyzed my wrist movement for a couple of days. This scared the soul out of me telling me that I wouldn’t be able to ride anymore. But it was nothing major, and I recovered in no more than a week. Imagine how such small things manage to scare us for life. And then think about losing your half of body, but still not giving up.
Meet Alan Kempster, the “Half man” who lived his life on full throttle. Alan was a born racer, but soon after getting his racing license, Alan met with an accident at a young age of 20. He was hit by a drunk lorry driver that cost Alan his two limbs. And then started his second life, his real struggle of recovering from the accident that changed the entire course of his life. Alan went through a number of recovery operations, and pain, he struggled to do even the basic day to day activities. But nothing broke his will. Maybe his body was fragile, but not his spirit. The Aussie took up water skiing and represented his country in 5 World Championships out of which he won 3.
The only thing the Alan truly wanted back was to ride his motorcycle, and he did. Back in 2009, he brought a Kawasaki and modified the controls as per his requirements.
Alan not only got his motorcycle license renewed, he convinced race officials to let him get back on the track. The officials responsible for technical checks said “umm, but where's the throttle, the brake lever and the right footpeg on bike number 1/2?!”
Alan designed his race bikes in such a way that allowed him to control gas, brake, and clutch, all from his left fist. While foot braking and gear shifts were controlled by his left foot, using heel-toe technique. The number ½ described him well, and so this became his racing sign, and his identity, the “Half Man”.
Imagine how Alan controlled his body movements and fought with all the high-speed forces. With time, Alan improved his riding technique with day in and day out practice sessions and started doing competitive laps. His rivals knew that Alan was not messing around. He was a real threat, who feared nothing. Alan went on to become the first disabled man to win races against able-bodied riders.
In 2013, he was awarded The Burt Munro Family Trophy for Competitor of the Year at the Burt Munro Challenge New Zealand. Also, he competed in various racing championships in his homeland and overseas including Barry Sheene Festival of Speed Australia 2010 2011 2012 and 2015.
The first of a kind competitive race dedicated to guys like him happened in Mugello (2014), where racing personalities like Cecchinello, Marchetti, De Angelis made their presence felt in support of the race.
Chiara Valentini from the Di.Di. Diversamente disabili association knew him well and remembers him with these words: “thanks to a fundraiser, we hosted him in Italy. The apartment where Alan stayed was on the first floor and had no elevator. When we asked him if it was a problem, he replied with a smile "no, all I need is a case of beer". Kempster was a real force of nature, an example for us all. Alan was a free and crazy spirit, but his craziness was positive and exhilarating”.
“When the organizers ask me if I'm scared to break an arm or a leg, I tell them that there's 50% less chance of me doing so compared to everyone else”, said Alan Kempster when motivating a number of disabled racers like him who wanted to return to racing.
Alan passed away at the age of 56, on April 15, 2018.
Our thoughts go to Alan’s family and friends.
We salute his undying spirit that will inspire racers forever.