Former super bike grand prix winner Alan Carter has led a truly incredible life.
The middle son of notorious Halifax business man, the late Mal Carter, and younger brother of Halifax Dukes speedway hero Kenny Carter, Alan’s life and career have often been overshadowed by events off the track.
Having become the youngest ever rider to win a World Championship Grand Prix in France in 1983 aged 18, Alan seemed destined for a long and successful career.
But just three years later, the world of motor sport was left stunned when Kenny, already a two time British Champion, murdered his wife and then shot himself at their farm in Bradshaw, Halifax.
A long line of personal and professional disappointments followed, and Alan eventually retired from the sport in 1992, having never stood on the podium again.
In his book, Light in the Darkness, he explains why his career never reached the heights that many predicted he was capable of.
“I think a lot of people could never understand why I never made it, but I think the book will explain why,” he said.
“I only won one Grand Prix but I hope people will read the book to find out why. In the foreword James Whitham describes me as one of the most naturally talented riders Britain has ever had and I wanted to tell people about what happened in my life.”
Alan’s life has certainly not been straight forward.
At the tender age of 6, his mother Christine was left paralysed following a car accident, which also lead to the death of Alan’s youngster brother Malcolm at the age of 4.
From there Alan describes the most intimate moments and details of his life - his mother’s suicide, his turbulent relationship with Mal, the night Kenny murdered his wife and then shot himself, the death of Alan’s baby daughter, going bankrupt, severe depression and, ultimately, how a career which promised so much ultimately produced so little.
“Losing Charlie was the worst bit to write. I actually cried more writing about my Mum and I was dreading getting to the bit with Charlie. I didn’t cry as much which I was surprised at, but it was so hard to write. . Losing my grandma in 2005 hit me hard. It sunk me for two or three years. She was a rock really.
It took just one year to write and is published by Tony McDonald at Retro Speedway, who produced Tragedy - The Kenny Carter Story, in 2007.
Despite being told by Mal not to get involved in the book at the time, Alan said read a copy after Mal’s death in 2009.
“I read it and thought it was brilliant. It was 99% accurate. Tony said to me he didn’t have any knowledge of the road racing market, and would I write some draft copies and send it over to him. He was really impressed and said it’s better work than any journalist had ever sent him. I knew Tony was the man for the job.
“I’ve read about 50 autobiographies some have been absolute rubbish. Some have been good but I’ve never read one that I would say was absolutely fantastic, and that has the humour and the tragedies I’ve put in.
“I think it’s a book that you could certainly shed a few tears over, especially girls. And it will make you laugh as well.
“Personally I would like this book to help somebody - nothing to do with road racing or speed way. I would like somebody to say, ‘you keep moaning about life, so here, read that. The one thing I’ve said is that anybody who buys the book and is not happy, I’ll refund there money and good or bad, I’d like your feedback, I genuinely care.
“I don’t think I’ll be giving refunds though.
He now lives in Wakefield with his partner Cathy, and said he is now finally happy.
“Do I drive the car of my dreams? No. Do I live in the house of my dreams? No. Have I buried four generations of my family? Yes. If I had been a multi-millionaire would have I been a drug addict? Would I have killed myself in a Ferrari? I don’t know, maybe.”
Next week in your Courier: Heartache upon heartache...and that fateful night when Kenny ended two lives
Courier readers can order a signed copy of Alan’s 320-page book direct from publishers Retro Speedway for £16. Phone their credit card hotline on 01708 734 502. You can also go online at www.retro-speedway.com. Or send a cheque (payable to Retro Speedway) to: Retro Speedway (AC Book), 103 Douglas Road, Hornchurch, Essex, RM11 1AW.