When Bruce Anstey announced in April 2018 that he would not be competing in the next road racing season because of the disease it was a major shock to the closely related fraternity of sport.
It was widely known that the popular New Zealander had previously been diagnosed and treated for cancer, but news of the disease’s return sparked a wave of sympathy and concern.
Anstey’s partner Anny revealed on a Facebook post at the time that he had “multiple tumors in his lungs and a tumor in his spine and a blood clot in his lungs.”
The 52-year-old’s impressive racing CV to date includes 12 Isle of Man TT wins, plus 13 and 10 wins at the Ulster Grand Prix and North West 200 international events respectively.
But in addition to his rare talent and exploits on the track, it is Kiwi’s affable personality and laid back demeanor that has made him endearing to legions of road racing fans across the globe.
“I’m a bit of a mystery to the doctors”
“I had cancer 25 years ago and it decided to come back in 2018,” Anstey explained.
“I had a hard time with that, going through all the chemotherapy again, it was a bit of a pain.
“In the second half of 2019 I was just starting to succeed and won the 250cc Classic TT race on the Isle of Man, then Covid hit and I had to stay away for the last two years as a that my immune system is all shot down.
” Everything is fine now. I had another small operation in 2019 to get rid of it and have been clear ever since, although I still do blood tests every three months.
“The first time I had the treatment I had a really hard time, but 25 years of medication keeps you from feeling sick, so it was a lot better.
“It was still difficult but it seemed a lot easier this time because I knew what I was going to do.
“Doctors still don’t know if the cancer was the original cancer or the new one. They don’t know how I’m still there really, so I’m a bit of a mystery to them.”
Anstey’s ability to claim major wins despite attending a few select meetings each season has baffled sports watchers for years and his consistency is evidenced by the fact that he has secured at least one podium in the Big Three. international for 14 consecutive years. between 2002 and 2015.
The Wellington Rider was a Winner of the Superbike TT in 2015, the same year his accomplishments were recognized by his homeland when he became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in New Year’s Honors.
He is also a former lap record holder for the Isle of Man TT mountain course and the Grand Prix course from Ulster to Dundrod.
‘Classic TT in 2022 the goal’
“I don’t know if I’ll do the main TT again because I don’t think I’m strong enough to do six laps,” Anstey said of his plans for the future.
“But I really want to get back into the Classic TT – maybe do the 500 and 250 races – that’s my goal and I hope that will happen in 2022.
“I really want to do the Classic TT and maybe other songs in between.
“I’m just happy to be here and plan to go out and enjoy life and have as much fun as possible.”
Now resident in Northern Ireland
Previously residing in Windsor, outside London, Anstey now lives in the village of Cullybackey in County Antrim after recently moving to Northern Ireland with Anny.
“We needed a change. It’s much quieter than where I was outside London and we are looking forward to it.
“I was at Cookstown 100 on Saturday and it was great to be back because I haven’t been out for a long time.
“I hadn’t been to a bike reunion since 2019 so it was good to meet old friends. Everyone is so friendly and it was nice to chat with everyone. It’s been so long with Covid and all. “