When Patricia Fernandez and Corey West tied the knot last year, the newly married American couple didn’t realise they would become the first husband and wife team to compete at the fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200.
Travelling from their Eureka Springs, Arkansas home to Portrush for this year’s event, the pair are racing with the JMC Roofing squad. Patricia has entered the Supersport, Superstock and Superbike races while Corey makes his debut in the Supertwin events.
“Corey says he has saved all the crazy stuff for his wife.” Patricia smiled.
Although his new wife is the one with the road racing experience in the family, Corey enjoys an impressive record in bike sport during his 23 year career. In 2004 he was Rookie of the Year in the US Superbike series. During the years since hehas competed in 250cc Grands Prix and finished runner-up in the prestigious Daytona 200 three times.
“That has been a real heartbreaker for me because I lost out twice on the win by just 0.2 seconds.” Corey recalls.
Competing in the American King of the Baggers and Super Hooligans series with Harley Davidson, Corey has previously raced against NW200 riders like Richard Cooper, Alastair Seeley and Jeremy McWilliams which means a lot of the faces in the North West paddock are familiar to him. But the North West 200 course offers a completely new challenge for the American visitor.
“There are no smooth lines around here.” Corey smiles.
“It has given him a newfound respect for me because I didn’t realise how crazy road racing is.” Patricia agrees.
Mrs Fernandez West has been on something of a one-woman mission to promote road racing to an American audience,competing in Armoy road races and at the Ulster Grand Prix alongside her appearances at the North West.
“I truly love the sport and although safety is always my priority, I want to try to better my personal best times each year.” she explained.
Her newcomer husband’s horizons are a little less ambitious as he finds his feet around the 8.9 mile course amidst a field of road racing legends.
“I wasn’t that nervous ahead of the first practice before I realised I was sitting beside Michael Rutter on the grid!” he smiles.
“I’ve heard all the stories and know what these guys have done so if I can learn from them in the first race and maybe do better in the second race I will be happy. I am here to have good fun but like any racer, I am competitive.”
During their visit to this year’s North West 200, the couple called into the Atlantic Hotel in Portrush, a business that has sponsored the north coast races for almost a decade.
“We have had a close relationship with Patricia since she started racing at the NW200 and have followed her career closely.” General Manager, Natasha Garrott, explained.
“It is good to see her again and meet her new husband, Corey. We wish the both of them immense good luck for race week.”