Ask Ping!

March 15, 2008 11:03am | by:

Hey Ping,
Being the long time racer and aficionado of the all mighty AMA rulebook, I was wondering if you can help my amateur racing mind out here. I understand that Reed lapped up to 6th place but how in the world does he get 6th place overall when he never even crossed the finish line?? I can't believe that you can "DNF" a professional race and still get 6th place. Is this a case of the AMA protecting its soon-to-be champ?? I think that Reed should have received a DNF for failing to cross the finish line. Can you enlighten me o' pro-racer to the common man.

Thanks Ping, you’re one of my favorite racers.
Steve from Ohio

Dear Steve,
I got, like, five hundred thousand emails this week about Reed DNF-ing the race and still getting sixth overall. I mean, the actual number was probably more like eight or nine but it doesn’t sound as dramatic when I say that; especially after I’ve already thrown a half million out there, you know? 

Let me break down for you the reason Chad Reed still earned his spot at Daytona. When Chad got the white flag he and Kevin had already lapped up to sixth place. And even though Chad didn’t finish that last lap he had already completed more laps than all but five other riders. So, once Kevin crossed the finish line, Chad could do no worse than sixth, whether he came across and finished that final lap or not.
      After the race he was penalized for cutting the track and docked one position, moving him to seventh overall on the night. The AMA did not make a mistake here and they did not do anything wrong. Reed, on the other hand, cut the track several times and should have been penalized more for it, in my humble-but usually-right-on-the-money opinion. Cutting the track in a mud race like that is a major faux pas. Reed was going inside the tuff blocks to miss a water hole before one of the triples and that was just bad form. But when he pinned it through the grass and pulled onto the track right next to Windham early in the race, well, that was really not cool. Earl Hickey would call it Karma but I like to think that Reedy’s bike taking a big gulp of muddy water three turns before the checkered flag was simply poetic justice.

What five riders (in order and you cannot add yourself) do you notice or have noticed to be the most accommodating and friendly to fans and industry people around the pits? And, if you have the sack: What five riders (in order) do you notice or have noticed to be the most evasive, standoffish and unfriendly to fans and industry people?

Dear Casey,

Good question! And also a great way to get five different riders upset with me. It would be difficult to put them in a particular order but the five most approachable riders are Travis Pastrana, Jeremy McGrath, Grant Langston, Kevin Windham and Nick Wey (with honorable mentions going out to Nathan Ramsey, Andrew Short and Ryan Dungey). These are all great guys that would gladly take the extra time to have a conversation with you and listen to your “super-interesting” story about the one time you were standing in a corner at one of the nationals and you thought you made eye contact while you were cheering for them. They don’t have any idea what you’re talking about but they will still smile and nod politely, take a picture with you and sign whatever you ask them to. You really didn’t think I’d have the berries to list the bottom five in this category? You don’t know me that well….
      The least approachable are Branden Jesseman, Chad Reed, Dusty Klatt, Jason Lawrence and James Stewart. It’s like a rare-bird sighting when you see James Stewart scurry from the confines of the Kawasaki team transporter to his private luxury motorcoach. And if you aren’t one of the first 150 fans to show up and get in line, well, you aren’t going to be meeting that guy—he’s much more shy than people realize.
      It doesn’t mean that any of these riders are bad guys. In fact, most of them are really nice in a casual environment outside of the race track. But Jesseman doesn’t like to talk, Reed and Lawrence don’t want to be smothered by fans (unless they are hot, single girls) and until I found out Klatt was from western Canada I thought he didn’t like to socialize because he only spoke French.
      The rest of the riders fall somewhere in the middle; a chasm where there is an often apathetic attitude towards the very people that make it possible for them to make money riding motorcycles.

Hey Sir Ping,
Congrats on your new arrival. You have a great column and some very insightful answers. Here's my question: What's up with all these red-headed riders? First, there's Jeff Ward, who continues to win titles at the age of 80-something. Then there's the GOAT. And how about Villopoto? There's the resurgence of Steve Mathes' favorite rider, Red Dog. Now we have Trey Canard winning his first two supercrosses and Josh Hill coming in second to Reed again. Can you give us some insight into what is going on here? For those of us who want to ride a little faster, should we be setting up appointments to get our hair colored red?
Just Wondering.

Dear Wondering (or would you prefer me to start calling you Red?),

I’m as confused as you are. Red hair is generally associated with people of Celtic descent. (That means they hail from Scotland and Ireland to the stick-and-ball geeks out there that thought I was talking about the illegitimate children of Larry Bird.) The list of successful redheads is long, too. A quick Google search produced Vincent van Gogh,  Wilma Flintstone,  Pippi Longstocking, Cyndi Lauper, Ronald McDonald, Conan O'Brien, Henry VIII, Raggedy Ann & Andy, Molly Ringwald, Princess Fiona from Shrek, Axl Rose,  Jessica Rabbit,  the Little Mermaid hereself,  Peppermint Patty and Spiderman’s love, Mary Jane, as noteworthy red heads. That is one impressive list!
       Red heads were also widely considered to be witches and burned at the stake or drowned by mobs of people. Personally, I think that is a little ridiculous. I mean, Peppermint Patty always put off a really strong lesbian vibe that I thought was inappropriate for a kids show but I wouldn’t condone setting her on fire. There has to be a reason that we have so many fast red heads in motocross. After all, only 2% of the American population has natural red hair and, like, 90% of the national AMA wins have gone to red heads and/or Irish descendants in the last few decades. (Remember, McGrath is an Irish name so even though he didn’t get the red hair he horned in on the whole “Luck of the Irish” thing—and thank God these guys are better at moto than they are at college football, as any Notre Dame-hater will tell you). Bottom line: it’s too late for you but if want your kid to be the next big thing you should go to Ireland or Scotland and find a wife… with red hair.


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