Ask Ping!Friday, July 13, 2012 | 6:00 AM
I loved your answer to the question about Lars Ulrich last week, even though I had to Google him to figure out who he was. The question made it sound as if you were not successful in your motocross career though. I heard Tim Ferry say one time that Robbie Reynard was the fastest guy that never "made it." Reynard was my childhood hero dating back to the time he fell at Loretta's, took the time to shake the dirt out of his goggles, then went on a tear. Maybe he wasn't as successful in the big leagues as Ferry, but I know a lot of people that would have loved to have his career. You were able to pay the bills as a professional athlete. How cool is that??? My question, then, is how successful must you be to have a successful motocross career?
Thanks for what you have done in all of your careers.
The answer to that question is all about perspective. If you look at championships as the only measuring stick there are some great riders who never “made it.” Ryan Hughes, for example, never won a title. Erik Kehoe never won a championship. Damon Bradshaw and Kevin Windham “only” earned regional 125 championships. The truth is, the list of rider who actually have a number one plate mounted on their wall at home is quite short, even if you count 125/lites supercross titles. Check The Vault, right here at www.racerxonline if you don’t believe me. So, how do you determine whether or not someone “made it?” Is it qualifying for a national or a supercross main event? Finishing in the top ten? Finishing on the podium? Winning a race? The answer will likely be different for everyone. The bottom line is that you have to be content with whatever you accomplish in your racing career knowing that you gave it everything you had and exhausted every opportunity to succeed. I don’t have any regrets. And the only guys who can say they were more successful than I was during my ten years in motocross/supercross are the very best in the sport. I’m okay with that. So, I guess each of us have to make the call whether or not someone “made it.”
I've never been much of an A$$ kisser and I'm not about to start now. Although your articles do humor me, I refuse to contribute to your ego getting any bigger. Anywho… my dad was a great racer back in the day and he always talks about a race down in Lake Sugartree, Kansas. He talks about this young kid named Gene McKay. How he could barely touch the ground on his 125 but hauled some serious tail. He always brags that the kid was the smoothest rider he had ever seen. He's always telling me the story saying, "I wonder what ever happened to that kid?" So, with your infinite knowledge, do you know what happened to this kid?
Bob (that's bob spelled backwards)
First, allow my enormous ego and I to correct your story. There is no Lake Sugartree in Kansas. There is a facility by that name in Axton, Virginia and that is likely where your dad watched this very fast midget win dirt bike races. I hadn’t heard the story of “Little” Gene McKay before but I spoke with a guy who claims he knew him. His mother smoked unfiltered Camels and drank during her pregnancy and her habits stunted the growth of little Gene. Despite being just under five feet tall he loaded up on milk crates and set out to become the fastest little motocrosser in the world. He won local events in the Maryland racing scene and eventually larger regional events at Lake Sugartree. His victory there wasn’t without drama, however, as he sued track owner Gary Bailey for smacking him on the hand with a large stick during his races. They eventually settled out of court.
Just when it seemed like Little Gene was primed to slide into the pro scene under the radar, no pun intended, he got mixed up with some bad people. He started hanging out with a small person gang called the Locos Grandes. This motley crew was known for kicking innocent bystanders in the shins and also for using PCP. Little Gene’s drug habit and random violence towards the lower legs of others would be his downfall and his racing results started to suffer. Before long this little guy with the heart of a normal sized person was out of the motocross scene altogether and into drug rehab centers and a small-scale male prostitution ring. His story remains one of the primary cautionary tales in the sport today.
At least that’s what Eugene “Six Toes” McGee told me down at the methadone clinic. He was the only guy I could find who had actually heard of a short motocross rider named Gene McKay. I pretty sure he is a reliable source though.
What's up man? Big fan of the weekly "Ask Ping" column. Got a question for ya, completely unrelated to the field we all love...motocross. Back in high school I used to think that it sucked when people call me skinny. I was 6'1 140lbs soaking wet. It hurt man. So I decided to hit the weights and put on a few good pounds. I successfully did it. Today, I'm 35 and 185lbs. However, when people call me skinny I still get offended by it. Do you secretly get hurt when people call you chubby, or hey fatty?
Genetics are a bitch, aren’t they? Check you out over there, all skin and bones guzzling down weight gainer shakes and forcing yourself to eat even when you aren’t hungry. And on the other end of the lunch table I’m sitting down counting calories and having a staring contest with a Hostess cupcake that will most likely win. I don’t know if it helps but on behalf of all of us fat kids I just want to apologize for calling you things like Skeletor, Shaggy, twig and beanpole. Pay no attention to the image beside this letter… that’s got nothing to do with you. It sounds like we’re both in a pretty good place right now so keep up the good work in the gym and don’t get talked into anything that has to be injected via hypodermic needle.
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