I was a flagger for a few years at the Lakewood national and one year was wandering through the pits (before the unwashed masses were allowed in) when I came upon the Suzuki pits and there in quiet contemplation stood "The Man" staring at a perfectly-prepped RM-Z450. And ever since that moment I wish I had asked him "don't you just want to throw your leg over that thing and show Ryan how it's done old-school style?" but lacking adequate stones, I never did. So here's the question: Do team managers ever get on the bikes and ride around with their riders? Do they scope-out the tracks for better lines, gates, ruts, etc.? There are some very accomplished ex-racers who have been or are now team managers (you included). Do you guys ever get out there and mix it up or instruct by example, or do you stay off the bikes and behind the fence?
There are a few that do. I heard a rumor last year that Searle was being a whimp in the whoops at the KTM test track so Casey Lytle, an animal in the whoops in his day, threw on a helmet and skimmed the whoops to show Tommy how it was done. He went through them in tennis shoes and shorts! I know Erik Kehoe still rides a little bit, but I’ve never seen him suit up when he’s out with his guys. I took the opposite approach. I rode with the TLD guys all the time. I found that they pushed a hell of a lot harder when they saw me in front of them then if I was just standing there with a stop watch and waving a towel. I also walked the track before the first set of motos at every national we went to. I could see good and bad lines better on foot than those guys could while they were trying to run quick qualifying times. I would report back with the guys about what I saw and what to look for on their parade lap. I think there are some guys that should ride with their riders more; Nathan Ramsey, David Vuillemin and Mike LaRocco come to mind. Those guys are much more valuable working with their young riders on the track than sitting behind a desk ordering parts. But that’s just my opinion.
Just listened to the off-week Podcast where Weege told you guys about "Ultimate.” Growing up racing at E-town, I was always like ‘WTF is up with this creeper?’ The folklore is he was severely burned at an early age so that's why he wears a complete fire retardant suit, including face mask.......It doesn't matter if it's raining or 105 degrees in the middle of August, he never wavers from his protective suit. Here's a shitty black and white picture of him.
That was a pretty interesting and weird story. If you missed that podcast you should go back and listen to it. It’s about jobs in the industry so it won’t ever become outdated. Weege’s story about working on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights is classic. Every time I look at him now I just see a guy in a red and white striped shirt and old-timey hat trying to get people to throw a quarter onto a plate that has been greased down with Pam cooking oil. Weege was a carnie!
Anyway, we all know flaggers that have been doing it forever. There is a guy I see at every southern California supercross since back when I was racing and he can tell me stories of how I swapped out and almost hit him during different main events. He remembers everything about every race he’s ever worked. They are true fans and you have to tip your cap to them. So, here’s to you, Ultimate… thanks for all those years of kicking ass in an old, white jumpsuit. You are the Ultimate.
I saw the press release that says Kevin Windham is not doing anymore nationals this summer because he is “Burned out.” He needs to go “charge his batteries,” or whatever. These racers that think riding a dirt bike is exhausting should get up with me and work construction six days a week for the past fifteen years. These guys don’t have any idea what “burned out” means and it drives me crazy when they talk about how hard it is to stay motivated to ride bikes. I’d love to be able to ride bikes every day! I’d like to check in with them in ten years and see how burned out they are then.
You pompous ass. You have no idea what it’s like to be a professional racer and no idea of the workload and stress that these guys are put through day in and day out. It is physically and emotionally draining and something that most people will never fully understand. I don’t know what the life of a carpenter is like but I’m sure it sucks at times. Still, there are plenty of guys without jobs, or with jobs that suck way more than yours, who would call you a pussy for complaining about what you do. Until you walk in another man’s shoes, you should shut your whiny pie-hole. And that goes double since you obviously didn’t have the talent to make a living riding bikes yourself. Man, you piss me off. I hope you hammer your thumb the next time you try to hit a nail.
Got a question for Ping? E-mail him at email@example.com.