Tainan’s Roger Chen (羅傑陳) has quietly been making history on the far side of the world. He is the first and only Taiwanese to race a motorcycle in Ireland, competing regularly since 2015. Chen, who is the owner of Warhorse motorcycles, is now well-established in the Irish race paddocks where he is a popular addition.
In Ireland they race on public roads. The tracks are lined with trees and walls making it a highly dangerous sport. It’s not uncommon for a racer to lose their life while competing, yet, somehow the risk is part of the attraction. For the racers involved, the opportunity to flirt with danger in such a manner creates a high-octane addiction that keeps them coming back for more. Chen is no different.
However, for him there’s more to it than risk and danger.
Photo courtesy of Alastair McCook
As Chen prepared for his first race of the season, he told the Taipei Times:
“It’s not just the racing, it’s the culture here. The landscape, the people, the history; it’s very unique. Honestly, it’s a big honor to be back here and join this big family.”
Family is a word that Chen uses often when he speaks of the Irish racing community. The locals have embraced him and appreciate his efforts. Supporters and well-wishers follow his progress on Facebook where messages offering encouragement are not in short supply.
Photo: Ben McCook
Chen’s passion for road racing began over 40 years ago. As a 17-year-old, he picked up a motorcycle magazine that featured the races.
“This had a huge impact,” he said. “I realized that I had to do it in my lifetime, I saw it as the true challenge to the human limit.”
Thirty-four years later he finally realized that dream when he made his debut at the 2015 Cookstown “100” races.
Photo: Ben McCook
At that time direct flights from Taiwan to London were the norm. Post COVID, the trip now takes 30 hours and includes multiple stops. Despite the arduous journey, Chen returned once again this year to that same event.
“Honestly, I could not sleep last night” he said.
This year the Cookstown “100” celebrated its 100th anniversary. Keen to join in with the festivities, Chen gifted a motorbike manufactured by his own company to the race organizers as a token of his appreciation. It is the only Warhorse in existence outside of Taiwan and the gesture was well received.
Warhorse motorcycles is a relatively new Taiwanese motorcycle manufacturing company. Despite the company being in its infancy, he hopes the machines will be distributed throughout Europe in the near future. Perhaps one day he will race one on the roads of Ireland, however, that fantasy will have to wait as he slowly moves his business forward with “baby steps.”
Chen currently races a Yamaha which he hires in Ireland to compete in the Senior Classic category.
Shortly after talking to the Taipei Times, he took to the Cookstown circuit for qualifying. Things didn’t go so well as the bike developed an issue with the clutch and Chen qualified last for the following days race.
Thankfully the issue was resolved overnight and a determined Chen took to the start line with a point to prove. He steadily picked his way through the pack during the seven-lap race, eventually finishing in sixth position as the crowd waved and cheered in appreciation.
Of the race he said, “I’m grateful to the many fans, riders and teams. I have a super awesome team behind me. I am the last one from the start line but finished 6th… what a great race.”
The following weekend Chen should have raced again, this time at the Tandragee “100” road races. However, poor weather conditions caused the meeting to be abandoned.
“I don’t mind really,” he said philosophically. “All I care about is that the riders go home safe.”
Despite his business commitments and the travel issues that have arisen since COVID, expect to see Chen back in Northern Ireland to compete at the Armoy road races in July; his favorite event. At the age of 58 the Tainan City businessman-turned-racer shows little sign of slowing down any time soon.
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