Having been a fan of the sport practically since I was born, I've seen a lot of #111s come and go on KTMs. Grant Langston, Jay Marmont, Juha Salminen, Jeffrey Herlings last year, and Michael Sleeter, just to name a few. Why are there so many #111s riding KTMs? I know Langston did it because he was a world champ that came over, but what about all the others? Your wisdom is very much appreciated.
WSU, Pullman, WA
There are a few numbers that are held for visiting riders from other countries. Obviously the top 100 numbers are earned by riders the previous season but the AMA usually holds onto 100, 101 and 111 for times when a top International rider wants to come over and compete in an AMA event. It doesn’t mean they have to use it, but often times they will. Notice that all the riders you mentioned, with the exception of Sleeter, are foreign riders. And Mike married a foreign rider’s sister, so I think they gave him some leeway when he requested the number. I always think of Greg Albertyn when I see 111, but that number has been used by many great riders, including Stefan Everts when he raced supercross here in 1992. As for 100, well, Hansen is going to have to give that up because the new rules dictate that you must take the number you’ve earned. Sorry, Hanny. And 101 is my number, so that one is off the table. That leaves 100 and 111 wide open for Russian Bob or some other Euro speedster to come take a whack at American motocross.
I love your stuff. I was able to meet you at the Powder Mountain race a couple of years ago. My impression was that you're a great guy. Now to my question: How many bikes do retired pros generally get per year if any? Does Suzuki still give Carmichael a full factory bike every year? How about Jeremy McGrath and Honda? Or even let's say Jeff Emig and Kawaski? What about you? Do you get free bikes?
Thanks for reading. I don’t know how it works in other motorsports, but in motocross there is some loyalty when a rider has success with a team. Ricky Carmichael still gets bikes from Suzuki, though I doubt they are full-factory machines. McGrath is still employed by Honda, so he obviously gets some bikes to ride. Emig still gets a bike from Kawasaki every year. But even guys like Grant Langston were able to get bikes for a couple years after their careers ended because they won championships for a manufacturer. Things typically run their course after a while, though, and then the bikes are budgeted for something, or someone else. I am lucky to get a bike every year, but it isn’t because of all of the titles I’ve won. As a member of the media I get to ride one of the bikes they have tagged for Racer X Illustrated. Is that a great job perk or what? It’s like a fat Christmas bonus that I get sometime between Labor Day and Halloween. So, do you think it works that way in other sports? Does Michael Schumacher get free Ferraris for life? Does Richard Petty get all the Chevy Luminas (Or whatever brand he drove) he can handle? Does Oscar Meyer send the former hot dog eating world champ free wieners for life? If anyone can shed light, please do.
When will the lame trend of using someone's initials as a nickname stop? Names like Hurricane, The Bomber, Showtime… those were nicknames. RV2, JS7, BT101, not so much. Some people need to try a little harder. Any thoughts?
That nickname thing is a big pet peeve of mine. Some of the really old ones had a tendency to be a little cheesy… Kent “The Rhinestone Cowboy” Howerton comes to mind. But, as you said, most of them were really cool and personal. The Dogger, The Man, Magoo, O’Show, Chicken, Airtime, The Rock, The Jammer… those were nicknames. I’m pretty sure most people would agree that we could do a lot better these days. You know the one thing worse than using initials and a number to create a nickname? Simply adding “Meister” to you name. Come on, Drew, let’s think outside the box here. I don’t even know you and I can think of a couple better than Drewmeister. Mt. Drew. Doctor Ew. Honestly, I’d rather call you Big D than anything that involves your initials or the word meister. Let me know what you come up with.
Got a question for Ping? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.