Ask Ping!Friday, June 1, 2012 | 9:00 AM
Love the column… read it every week! A few work buddies and me were debating this the other day and I looked up to see if I could find stats on how many of today’s top racers were Left-handed or Right-handed. I'm right-handed and I don’t think I could ever ride a motorcycle if I had to rely on the left hand twisting the throttle and right hand pulling the clutch. So, how to left-handed people do it? I thought that maybe a manufacturer would make a bike with a throttle and brake on the left side, and then have a clutch on the right-hand side for all the Lefty's out there. Can we dig up some information on which guys are lefties and righties? Is it better to be a right hand racer? What do you think Ping?
This is bringing up some bad memories. The year was 1990 and I was hanging out in my backyard with a buddy of mine. We were throwing a football around and pretending we were Joe Montana and Jerry Rice connecting for one of many Super Bowl touchdowns. I was a Joe Montana fan not because of his skill or accomplishments, but because I thought he was actually from my home state of Montana. I don’t know if I wasn’t bright as a young boy or if I just got fed some bad information. Anyway, we started goofing around and seeing how well we could throw the ball left-handed. Seems like good fun, right? Well, just as I wind up to throw this thing my dad walks into the back yard and sees me chuck up this awful throw that looks like a wounded duck wobbling into the ground several feet short of it’s intended receiver. Thinking back I imagine looking like a young Chaz Bono doing his/her best to throw a football. Shameful. Well, before I could explain what we were doing my dad mumbled, “Nice throw, Alice” and then walked back inside.
I’m not sure if he ever loved me the same after that day.
But enough about me… You were wondering which riders are left-handed and if that made a difference in their ability to work a throttle and a clutch. I have no idea, but my guess is that they would grab the throttle cable with their teeth and pull it if that meant their fathers would be proud of them. Sorry, apparently I’m still projecting some anger here. I do know that Jeremy McGrath is ambidextrous so maybe that is the key to being amazing on a bike? I suppose you could switch the clutch and brake and put the throttle on the left side if it bothered you that bad. My guess is the guys just got used to it and it became very natural for them. I’m sure lefties of the world will unite and fill us in down below in the comments section.
Since the Nationals have started up again and the weather is getting hot I can’t help but think about the heat the racers have to deal with while they’re all geared-up. I hadn’t been to a National since before Kenworthy’s shut down so last year I finally took my son to Red Bud. Obviously the heat played a tragic role in that race. We saw Josh Lichtle being helped by the track workers but thought nothing of it until we heard the sad news a few days later.
My question is: does the AMA have rules against the riders using any kind of ‘cooling aids’, and if not is there anything available to help the riders stay cool? The company I work for designed a cooling vest for soldiers a few years ago, so I was wondering why riders couldn’t use something similar in their helmets? When I did a little search on-line, I found a research paper from the late 80’s where someone designed and tested a Thermoelectric cooled helmet. It only added 9 ounces and the test riders said it worked great.
Am I giving away a great money making business idea or is it just not allowed by the AMA?
Keep up the great work, and stay cool!
The crew at the AMA and MX Sports are very sensitive about heat-related issues. They consult with Dr. Bodnar when temperatures get extremely high and they are not opposed to cooling devices as far as I know. I know the Asterisk guys carry a Game Ready cooling vest that circulates ice-cold water through it and lowers your core temperature. We used it on Ben Townley as several races during the 2010 season just prior to very hot motos. Brett Metcalfe has used something similar before and many riders take wraps for their neck and shoulders to the line with them on those hot race days. The issue with most riders is weight and discomfort. Also, a vest may be cool when you start the moto but after twenty or thirty minutes it warms up and then acts as an additional layer of clothing that actually blocks airflow at the end of the moto when you are the hottest. I haven’t seen any helmet cooling devices but as long as it didn’t alter the integrity of the helmet or inhibit removal in an emergency setting [and it really was only 9 ounces] than I don’t see why it couldn’t be used. Go make you million-dollar idea happen!
I recently watched the '92 supercross finale where Bradshaw lost the title. When he went back to his "box van" after the race, his mechanic can be seen throwing tools in the toolbox and he seemed very upset. Do crewmembers share in the race wins and title bonuses (possibly accounting for the mechanics bad mood) or does it vary from team to team? Seems like it would be fair if they did.
It is very common for mechanics to share in a percentage of the rider’s winnings. Typically, a rider would pay a 10% bonus on any purse money or race/championship bonus that he earns. These things are all agreed upon prior to the season, or they should be, at least. It isn’t uncommon for discrepancies to come up halfway through the season about what a rider owes his mechanic. I don’t know what Damon’s supercross championship bonus money was like back then but I’m guessing at a bare minimum it was $500,000. That means his mechanic, Brian Lunnis, gave up $50,000 that day and, more importantly, he watched a title slip away that he probably worked his ass off for all season long. Any wrench worth his spanners is invested in the racers season almost as much as the rider himself. They put in a crazy amount of hours and the only thing that keeps them going long after most people have gone home is their passion for the sport and their desire to win. Don’t judge Brian for his tantrum… that was a rough day for both of those guys and neither one of them were ever really the same after it.
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