I once asked a man who was Casey Stoner’s boss (twice) why Stoner made the curious decision to retire from racing at age 26, when he was on top and had the potential to win many more races and championships.
This man knew Casey very well, and also knew Stoner’s family including his mother, father and sister. They had worked together for years. He knew Casey when he had basically down to his last $500 in the bank, and was with him through to his MotoGP first win and on to two world titles.
Again, I asked him why he thought Casey left racing so early. He summed up the move in one sentence: “Honestly I don’t think Casey knows why himself.”
Stoner was clearly very unhappy while racing. He later admitted that unlike Valentino Rossi or the late Nicky Hayden he was never motivated by passion in racing.
Several years ago an Australian publisher offered a signed copy of Bryce Courtenay’s novel The Power of One at auction. Curiously, the book wasn’t signed by the author. It was signed by Stoner and in the inscription he wrote “This book helped to inspire me”.
The Power of One tells the story of a young boy pushed into a horrible boarding school after his mother is shut away in an asylum. At the boarding school he is treated to near unspeakable bullying by fellow students, including but not limited to being forced to eat feces and other forms of abuse. The lad, over years, learns to fight and to defend himself, and he pushes himself with an unshakable self-belief to forge on and defeat anything and everything put in his path.
Courtenay’s novel has been made into at least one feature film.