Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Greg 'Tallman' Cross racing with 'Seniors'

Published:Sunday | October 21, 2018 | 12:17 AMKajamba Fitz-Henley/ Gleaner Writer

On a list of seasoned competitors in Jamaican motorsports, Gregory 'Tallman' Cross should easily come to minds. Cross has won several drag championships locally and regionally for Jamaica, including the Dover Raceway 'Rookie of the Year' title in 2010. He is renowed as the first and only motorcyclist to ever have taken that title.

Cross' introduction to the world of motorsports came at the early age of nine through his father and later through friend and retired superintendent Paul Gammon. Gammon introduced him to drag racing in which he participated actively.

"I was always a motorcycle drag racer and a car drag racer, but more so with the motorcycle. With the cars it was more for the business (an auto shop he owned while in Jamaica) and with the bikes it was more for fun, but I always excelled more with the bikes. After a while, there was no one to beat." Thus Cross started officially competing at Dover after being challenged by friend and fellow rider Adrian Blake.

"In my very first race I ended up coming third overall out of 17 bikers. I never even had proper gears", the racer informed Automotives with a laugh, "that was when I realised I had a talent for it."

'SUCKERED IN'

Though he did not even own a bike at the time, Cross was 'suckered in' by his compatriots, encouraging him to capitalise on his huge win and compete further: "I did half of the season on a borrowed bike and then I acquired a bike for the final race of the year." Cross credits the improvements in his riding technique to his time racing in the US in 2010.

Despite permanently moving overseas and a five-year break from racing in 2011, the veteran motorcyclist still competes in some international as well as local and regional events: "I come and support Jamaica when they have CMRC (Caribbean Motor Racing Championship); I generally try to do that race meet to help Team Jamaica and I also come for the last race meet of the year which is in October."

Cross was part of the history-making team for May's CMRC events at Jamwest in Jamaica, coming second in the final motorcycle race among his fellow Jamaicans who came first and third; it was the first clean-sweep for the country in that event. The motorcycle on which Cross shaped part of Jamaica's motorsport history was a blue, yellow and black Suzuki 2016 GSXR 600: "I always race with Suzuki. I've been with Suzuki since 2000 and I haven't switched."

His return to Jamaican racing tracks after five years was a relatively noticeable transition for him due to the differences he noted between overseas and local racing tracks. However, the return wasn't too challenging. "Dover is my home track. There's always a love in my heart for Dover as that's where I started racing. However, Jamwest in the type of track I can really execute more techniques on."

NOW A 'HOBBY RACER'

Continuing to race does come with challenges for Cross in the form of time and travel constraints due to living and working in New Jersey in the US. He labelled himself as more of a 'hobby racer' rather than a professional one. However, his love for motor racing is not limited as he continues to race as a member of the 'Senior Citizen Racing Crew' along with fellow racer Randy Dyer.