Ask Ping

February 8, 2008 8:04am | by:

Hypothetical question about the extension of sponsorships: Let's pretend I'm Grant Langston and my kid has this burning desire to play the tuba. As a factory rider for Yamaha, could I get a discount on a Yamaha tuba—or possibly a free one? Or what if I'm Davi Millsaps and after a bit of car shopping I've decided that I want a Honda Civic (not that I really think he would get one because I don't think it's really his style), could I get Honda to give it to me for free? Or are Honda sponsorships strictly for motorcycles?

Kennett Square, PA

P.s. Do you get massive amounts of junk mail because your e-mail's on a public website?

Courtesy of Yamaha
Dear Isabella,
For the most part, the motorcycle divisions of these companies are separate entities. Millsaps can’t just go over to the vehicle department at American Honda and order his girlfriend Britney a Civic. The department managers would laugh at him… and so would Britney. I don’t think Langston plays the tuba, but even if he did, they aren’t just throwing out free tubas to every rider and team manager in Yamaha’s motorsports divisions. They have their own budgets and their own programs to take care of. I’m sure Kenny G. gets lots of free, um, whatever those things are he plays from Yamaha. Stevie Wonder has a factory ride for pianos and when Harold Faltemeyer was putting together the soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop I’m sure he got a butt-load of synthesizers without paying for them. Besides, I’m pretty sure GL is a fan of the Jazz Flute anyway. On his off-weekends he puts on a crushed velvet smoking jacket and throws down like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman.

Now, there are some perks. Ryan Villopoto got some Jet Ski’s from Kawasaki last year and I know a few riders that have gotten street bikes from their employers. And when Roger DeCoster’s riders are in town testing they get Suzuki cars to drive around. Of course, these guys could just take some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that they are being paid and go buy it themselves.

P.s. Yes, I get tons of junk mail. To whom it may concern: I do not need any medication or penis enlargement programs, and I already invested in helping my new Nigerian friend Omarafet to secure the money hid the old dictator’s daughter had stashed in a Swiss bank before he was chopped to pieces by a machete-wielding mob, so please stop sending me correspondence. Thank you.


Hey Pingster,
I was wondering what your supreme being of a brain thought of Gibbs Racing hiring the two riders it did. No disrespect to them, but why didn't they go after some riders who would run up front more? Thank you O' Mighty One! (bow down, bow down) Clark

Dear Clark,

Simon Cudby photo
Are you just saying bow down because I’m short? Not cool, man. Here’s what I think: I think J-Bone and the guys at Gibbs realized that they couldn’t get a rider capable of winning (Carmichael, Reed or Stewart) so they took a shot on a couple of guys with potential. Josh Hansen has the skills to be a top-five guy the premier class. And Charles Summey has been steadily improving for the past couple years, especially since changing his name—kind of like the boxer once known as Cassius Clay. Both of these guys have been in the top ten several times already this year. I would say that they made a good choice, so far. I also think that the Gibbs guys knew this was going to be a learning year. It takes time to figure out, for instance, that you must have brown AND yellow mustard in your hospitality area for sandwiches—not everyone likes Grey Poupon. And ham is a necessity. Chicken is too boring and roast beef is too chewy…. These are issues that a first-year team is just going to have to work through. They already have the best-looking bikes and rig in the pits and once they get rolling they are going to be one of the best teams in the sport. Well, as long as they get the lunch meat thing figured out.

Dear Ping,
I was just wondering what a dedicated, professional athlete like yourself thinks of a guy hitting a ramp fully tapped on a worked CR 500 in an attempt to clear a football field? Do you as a rider have  respect for a stunt like that?

Dear Dan,
How do you not respect something like that? The television coverage was a little bit cheesy, and the commentators didn’t really know what they were talking, about but the jump itself that Robbie Maddison did for the Red Bull Experiment was amazing. It isn’t that difficult of a thing to do. I would say that any pro rider that can make a Supercross main event could pull that jump off. All you really have to do is work up to the distance, get the bike geared right and hit the ramp straight going full throttle in the highest gear. It really isn’t that complicated…. However, the difference is that none of them would try! Maddo has some serious berries tucked away in his boxer shorts. All I would be able to think about is what would happen if something went wrong. If the ring spun, or a tire blew or an ignition wire wiggled loose or the cotter pin fell out of the footpeg… if anything at all went wrong on the approach or off the lip you would be dead or wish you were. Evel Kneivel was able to shut off the what-ifs and just go for it and Maddo has that same ability. It is an admirable quality. The scary thing is that that record won’t stand for long. I’m guessing that before the end of the year there will be a new distance record. And, before long, that will be broken too.


Robbie Madison and his berries.
Courtesy of Red Bull