Ask Ping!

Ask Ping!

June 8, 2012 9:00am

Dear Ping,

Is it OK if we forgive Christophe Pourcel now? Now that we can all believe that the particular model of motorcycle he walked away from last summer does not work for certain riders, can we also believe that he was concerned about his safety and not just being a diva?

Thank you,





Wait, when were we mad at Christophe Pourcel? When did this happen? I actually got a kick out of his pre-race ritual at the Nationals where he would dump an entire bottle of water over himself and create a plume of steam that looked like an awesome high school science class recreation of the atom bomb testing in New Mexico. Pourcel is an incredibly talented rider and it is a shame the way things went for him here in the States.

Yes, he was probably villain-ized for being standoffish and, well, French. But that is just a cross that all French riders have had to bear when they first raced here. It goes back to World War 2 and the loss of American lives at Normandy and beyond. Though many Americans forget that without French support we may not have been successful against the British during our own revolution. Still, socialist government ideology flies in the face of our Constitution and Bill of Rights and, right or wrong, there is unspoken tension between the two countries.

That said, Christophe could have made it here if he wanted to. He didn’t interact with fans or the media, much like Bayle and Pichon before him, and it made his stay here more difficult. He should have talked to DV, Roncada or Tortelli about how to fit in a little better. Or maybe he’s better off at home. It isn’t easy for anyone to move to another country and be away from family and friends. If he’s happy at home I say he made the right move.




Dear Ping,

First off, as almost everyone else says, thank you for the most entertaining feature on  I look forward to it every week. 

But now on to my question: what does it cost to run a professional race team for a year?  When I ask that, I'm asking for a ballpark figure on costs for rider salaries, team personnel, bikes, rig, general operating costs, such as travel, etc.

Also, what type of support does a team like the TLD team you managed receive?  Do the teams typically have to pay for things such as engine mods and suspension kits or do the companies that sponsor the team usually absorb the costs for those type things?

Thanks again for the awesome column and online feature each week,

Jess Wilder



  • A better money-making idea.

They say the best way to have a million dollars in the bank at the end of the year as a race team is to start with two million. Though, in this economy you might need to start with even more. The cost can vary. If you are Eleven 10 Mods and you run a couple guys out of a box van you will spend just a little less than Factory Honda. For a competitive 250 team, like TLD, budgets can run anywhere from 1 to 2 million dollars. You’ll find that much of your budget gets eaten up with salary so finding riders who are willing to ride good equipment for little pay are the best place to start. However, you can only get lucky with those guys for so long and when you want to start winning you have to start paying.

Exhaust systems and suspension valving are typically covered in a sponsorship agreement but buying A-kit units is a cost taken on by the team. Those are about $7000 per set, by the way, and each rider needs a race set, a backup set and a practice set. Most teams have three or four riders. I’ll give you a minute to do the math on that.

Chains, sprockets, grips, tires, bars, oils and other products are usually given to the teams at no charge. However, teams are usually given an allowance from the manufacturer for OEM parts and when they burn through that they are on their own. And only the very best teams are supported by the manufacturers at all! Add in the cost of your transporter, travel, entry fees, race shop, maintenance and every other little thing and it becomes very hard to make money running a race team. You might be better off going to Vegas and hitting the roulette wheel. At least you’ll get free drinks and a coupon for the buffet.





The last couple videos you did I noticed you’ve shed some of that spare tire you were known for. What’s your secret? Jenny Craig? Weight Watchers? Meth? I hope you have a good dentist. Nice to see you keeping the ice cream intake to a minimum… good job. Maybe time to sell some to Matthes?

Honda Mike



  • My goal is to be this thin.
Dear Mike,

I’ve never been known as the guy with six-pack abs. Even in my racing heyday when I was fit I looked more like the neighbor kid who spends all day eating Otter Pops and playing Call of Duty than an athlete. Given my genetic predisposition to being a lard ass you can imagine how quickly the lbs packed on when I quit training regularly and started sitting at a desk all day. You can take a look at any number of former racers and see the effects of avoiding the gym. Carmichael, Vuillemin, McGrath, Langston and even the Dogger [before he discovered his Scoobie Snack diet] added some “undeveloped muscle” to their mid-section after they called it quits. Alas, you don’t see a bunch of fat fireman so in order to continue down my new career path I’ve revisited my diet and exercise plan and the results are pretty obvious.

As for Steve, I predict he pulls a Steve Cox when he’s finally sick of being heavy and he drops some major weight. I just hope he doesn’t go around showing everyone how big his biceps are when he finally does it.