You might think that crashing your first motorbike at age 5 would put you off the two-wheeled machines for life, but for Masoud Behbehani it was only the beginning of a lifelong passion for all things motorcycle that culminated with him hitting the racetracks in Bahrain in 2009.
The paradox of motorbikes, as with sports cars, is that they are not made for nipping down the shops on. “You can only do so much on the streets legally. And with the current technology and power available in motorcycles, there is no way to maximize the machine’s potential unless you do so in a controlled environment (a track). And what better way to work on one’s skills than racing?”
A self-confessed adrenaline junkie, Masoud also has a more serious side, a professional side. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in civil engineering although never actually did any civil work. He took a job that has taken him from the oil fields of Saudi Arabia and right across the globe working as a business development manager for an oilfield service company that designs and manufactures diamond drill bits for oil well drilling. But travel can be a double-edged sword; “There are two types of travelling I do (business and pleasure). The highs are definitely getting to adapt to different work environments (people, locations… etc.). Plus every new location presents a new challenge. The lows are never being able to plan things way in advance and missing my friends and family. Now on the other hand, when I travel for pleasure, there are no lows.”
But motorbikes are a passion for Masoud’s family too. They own Tristar Motorcycles, which deals in Ducati and BMW bikes so he knows his stuff. “My current perfect motorcycle would have to be the BMW S1000RR HP4. But for an all-time favourite, nothing is prettier than the iconic Ducati 916.”
I asked Masoud whether racing scared him. “Fear only brings out the best in you, and it also makes you feel alive. You can’t be great at anything with the security of a safety net.” It seems like a great maxim to live by and he applies this to the rest of his life. There are no five-year plans for Masoud Behbehani, he tells me “My future consists of the next couple of hours. It might be a good or bad habit but I don’t look that far ahead. I live the moment.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Approaching a tight hair pin, braking hard, dropping the bike on its side, and then grinding the knee sliders to the tarmac while powering out of the curve… Repeat at the next curve. My happiness rests somewhere within that process, in-between my ultimate point of concentration and trust in my skill/machine. It’s like bike ballet.
What is your greatest fear?
When everything in the answer to the first question goes wrong! Well that, along with losing loved ones. I feel attached to those close to me, and sometimes just the thought of not having them around might cause a bit of anxiety.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I am a bit of a pessimist. I might come off as happy-go-lucky to some but I do have the doubt bug. I have to learn to trust others more and give them the benefit of the doubt.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Laziness. I consider myself quite active. I’m always on the move and I keep my days (and nights) full of activities. So a lazy person will only slow me down and I can’t have that.
Which living person do you most admire?
I’m going to go with the cliché because it really does apply to me in this case. I admire my mom and dad equally. The understanding they have of one another and the cohesiveness of their relationship (while still maintaining strong individual characters) is something I strive for in my future.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m not much for material things, but I would have to say my time. My free time is all mine. Where I choose to spend it and with whom is a luxury that I cannot afford to lose. It’s one of the few things you can never get back.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I just got back from… (fill in the country). With my job, I’ve been travelling so much that sometimes I forget whether I’m coming or going. Sounds glamorous, but trust me, it takes its toll on you.
When were you happiest?
I always look for happy moments daily. The little things make a huge difference for me like picking up my nephew or niece from school, waking up to great weather, or even having a great home cooked meal. But for specific moments, I would have to say when I heard that my sister Dalal gave birth to Ali and Jude, and when my brother Khaled had baby Fajer.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To race motorcycles professionally in the MotoGP. Alas, I think I’m past the point of getting even close to that. It’s a sport that needs dedication, support, and the proper training at a very young age, but unfortunately the country lacks even the basics when it comes to motorsport racing.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
Whatever it is, I don’t believe that I’ve achieved it yet. For now, I would have to say managing an entire region (Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman) for the oil field service company that I work for. It’s an enormous responsibility but I think I’m up for it.
Where would you most like to live?
I already like where I live and live where I like. I just wish I spent more time in Kuwait. As long as my family and friends are around, I couldn’t ask for more… with the exception of having a race track in Kuwait to cut down on the travelling!