August 8th, 2019.

We’re launching a series of rider profiles starting with the racers picked to represent their country in the upcoming Quadcross of Nations in Germany. Here we highlight Scotland’s Murray Graham who will be riding for Team GB.

Murray Graham has been racing quads for 15 years. He became Scottish champ for the first time in the 50cc standard class in 2006. By the end of 2012, he had won almost every Scottish youth class championship. As a young adult, his dominance in Scotland continued, taking the Adult Support class title in 2013, and top Scot overall in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

The 20-year-old Scot hails from Wishaw, some 20 miles east of Glasgow. He started young and remembers his first race vividly, or more accurately the road trip there, to a racetrack in Aberdeenshire with his dad and an LT50; ironically it was travel sickness that made the day so memorable and thankfully he quickly grew out of it.

He’s been a regular south of the border, racing NORA and NETT as well as the British. His determination and dedication was rewarded last month when he took the overall win in both the British Championship and Under-21 at Dean Moor at the meeting dedicated to the memory of his close friend Connor Smith. It was a tremendous weekend for Graham as he had dominated the NETT Championship round the previous day with three wins from three starts.

Murray Graham on way to British QX win at Dean Moor

His performance at Dean Moor, and earlier in the season, had clearly caught the attention of QXoN team manager Karl Robinson. Graham knew before Dean Moor that he was under observation, but it was by no means a done deal and competition was fierce. So, when the call came, he had no hesitation in accepting the invitation to represent his country, alongside Oli Sansom and Harry Walker.

This is Graham’s second time representing Great Britain at the QXoN event. He was in the 2016 team alongside Luke Cooper and George Callaway in France. That was a hard event as they all had difficulties in qualifying. However, despite many challenges, they finished fifth overall; a position that has been matched but never bettered by more recent British teams. Graham was just seventeen, and freely admits that he was relatively unprepared and inexperienced. “It was a late call in 2016. This time will be different,” he asserts. “I have more knowledge now, and more understanding although for sure the pace is quicker, and the competition will be stiff. I’ve heard mixed reports about the track - by the second moto, it could be chaos, Desert Martin style, but we’ll work as a team and prepare the best we can.”

As with the majority of quad racers, after Dean Moor and the elation of being selected as part of the QXoN dream team, it was back to earth and the reality of the day job. Graham is a newly-qualified plumber with a maturity that belies his years, he took on the stresses of studying for his final exams this summer alongside full time employment and a strict fitness regime under the direction of Kevin Maguire. “I just work, eat, train and sleep on weekdays,” said Graham. “I have a wee practice track near home, but finding the time to use it as much as I’d like is a real challenge.”

Graham started the season with two identical Walsh frames, built by KIK and powered by Honda CRF 450cc engines. Known simply as the black quad and the red quad, they are now prepared by One23MX principal John Pattinson, from Alston, Cumbria. John has built Graham’s engines for a couple of years but this season he has taken on the development and set up of the machines, fine tuning them to suit each track and Graham’s strengths. Their recent development work paid dividends at Dean Moor, and as John commented afterwards, “we’ve worked together to understand what the quad was doing and how to improve it, and we saw the results on the track. Now it’s time to do the same again in preparation for Germany.”

Pattinson is undoubtedly a positive influence on Graham’s mind as well as his quads. His commitment clearly helped Graham at Dean Moor when he posted; “Big thanks to everyone helping me this weekend, especially John Pattinson and his dad at one23mx. Can’t thank these two enough for their contribution, especially John coming today straight after his night shift.”

Four Scottish champs - Murray Graham, Leon Beda, Michael Brewis, John Mitchell

When asked whose influence helped Graham in the past, two names came out immediately. The late Connor Smith was no surprise, the two were the closest of friends from the time when Graham was about eight. The other rider Graham named was veteran Northern Champ Lindsey Duke whom he has often raced at NETT events since joining the adult classes in 2014. “He taught me how to pass,” Graham laughed. “I’ve sat behind him so many times and tried everything to get past. It was a godsend if I happened to get off the start line ahead of him, such a relief!”

Outwardly laid back and calm, Graham is quietly determined. Looking towards the event in Germany, he says: “Preparation is key. The aim now is to stay focused. I’ve got a brilliant support team, including my family, girlfriend, personal trainer and mechanic and they believe in me, which is great - but ultimately, it’s down to me, out there on the track, to do it.”

Reflecting on his quad racing career to date; “An awful lot of people have helped me get to this point, notably Bill Smith and of course, my family too. Dad’s often on the side of the track and I just look for that thumbs up when it goes well. As for mum, he joked, “I’d never have done any events if it wasn’t for her - one day I’ll have to learn how to put in an entry myself!”

Family values - Murray with dad Bobby and sister Lori

The QXdN event date has scuppered the Graham family’s plans to celebrate the 16th birthday of Murrray’s sister, and budding quadcross photographer, Lori. A party was arranged in Cyprus for that weekend, with Graham and girlfriend Kelsey among those due to fly in to surprise her. The party is now on hold as Lori announced the only place she wants to be that weekend is in Germany with the rest of the family, supporting Graham and the British Team.

Before the big weekend though, Graham still has the Kenny Contest at PDV to do in August and the final round of the British at Canada Heights in late September. With that, Germany, and a game plan sfor next season which includes some European rounds, preparation and teamwork will surely be his watchwords.

Words: Ann Wood
Images: Julian Webb, Paul Irvine and Ann Wood

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