Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev-Up. I decided to go with a
simple theme for this week’s column. The word “Daytona” alone sends
shivers down my spine and clams up my palms. Daytona is synonymous with
competition, speed, and glory. Some of the most historic and tragic
events in motorsports history have taken place within the confines of
Daytona International Speedway.
They do not call this place the World Center of Racing for nothing. You can ask newly appointed AMA Hall of Fame member Jeff Emig what some of his most cherished accomplishments were, and his win at the 1997 Daytona Supercross will be near the top of his list. As motorsports go, no place in the world holds as much magic as the majestic Daytona facility.
This year’s event arrives with some gray clouds and uncertainty surrounding it. Since the inception of the Daytona Supercross, the track design has been a Gary Bailey original. Dirt Wurx will handle the track building for 2006 on the heels of The Professor’s recent legal turmoil. And in the middle of all of the prestige, pressure, and hype will be a universal mindset surrounding Ernesto Fonseca. Once again, the dark side of our sport has shown no clemency and struck down one of our greats. Let’s keep all of our thoughts and prayers with Ernie, shove past the hurt, and get ourselves Revved Up for the biggest supercross of the year.
And keep your eyes peeled for Martin Davalos. The kid has shown amazing speed on the indoor courses and rumor is, he is even faster outdoors. With Daytona being more outdoor-rider-friendly and Martin riding on familiar soil at the Millsaps Training Facility, we have a legitimate dark-horse contender in The Matador from Ecuador.
Next up on the revenge list … well, you know who it is. James Stewart is doing things on a motorcycle that have us wearing out the rewind button on our remotes! The guy is absolutely amazing. The dirt and design of Daytona typically delivers with the most diverse terrain of any track of the year, and no one can navigate a motorcycle through such terra firma like Stewart. He will be going with full-blown, wheel-slapping, bump-skipping, jump-scrubbing abandon. If he stays up, I do not think the almighty himself can stop him. Let’s say that again together: “If he stays up, he wins.” Thank you.
And everybody keep an eye out for Nick Wey! I was jumping up and down last weekend as he held a handsome set of hands on the handlebars in second place. And can somebody please remind me why he doesn’t have a factory ride?
Before I go, I want to touch on the subject I briefly hit on above: the dark side of our sport. I have heard a lot of recent noise about the danger of our sport in the wake of Ernesto’s heartbreaking injury this week. Now, I do not want to be insensitive here, but where was all of this talk two weeks ago? Ricky Carmichael suffered a similar crash in St. Louis and I hardly heard a word of concern. Granted, he escaped without serious injury, and we are all still holding our breath for good news on Ernie, but folks, this happens somewhere almost every weekend. And it has been happening since the first rider threw a leg over a bike. We were closer than you can probably imagine to losing Ricky in that St. Louis crash. Ask him. Of course, the difference is simple: Ricky got up and Ernesto didn’t. The point I am trying to make is that what we do is dangerous, and it has always been dangerous. I have lost friends and have been within a thread of losing my own life riding motorcycles. I have learned the hard way just how dangerous and deadly riding and racing motocross is. What do we do about it? Unlike most sports, we have done virtually nothing.
What has been done? What is being done? Sadly, not a damn thing. It’s time to start doing something. If scientists can make a tree grow 15 feet in a year, we can construct a protective device that better protects the neck and back. It needs to be made, and the AMA, FIM, Clear Channel, or whoever the hell runs this show needs to enforce it as required uniform. What is stopping us? Are we more afraid of litigation than we are of losing our riders? For now, we do nothing. We accept the danger. We send our riders to the line in nothing more than a helmet, maybe some knee guards, long pants, and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Pro motocross and supercross is the admiration of the entire sporting world. Professional boxers, NASCAR drivers, stick and ball icons, they all come to watch us and most leave with a the same words: “Those guys are nuts.”
And they’re right.
Thanks for reading, see you next week!