Ask Ping

Ask Ping

June 12, 2015 10:35am


I consider your counsel on MX matters to be beyond reproach as you are often called upon to mediate in disputes among our members. I wanted to see if you would share your opinion and possibly set some precedence in this matter.

When at the track with my wife (seldom) she rebukes me for sitting in the back of my truck and stripping down to my skivvies to change into my riding gear. I make no attempt to be discreet because as I explain to the wife, this is how it has always been at the track. The attendees are almost all males and those females that are around were brought there by a guy that should have explained the scene to them beforehand. I tell her I’m a guy with a dirt bike and a truck in the middle of a field and I don’t give a damn. She says I’m uncouth. What say you? Should I show more civility or just continue to ‘air it out’ ?



There are some nuances of motocross culture that simply aren’t acceptable in any other realm. For instance, would you go out to a nice dinner and a movie with your wife wearing any of the colors or designs you find yourself in at the track? Honestly, we look like we’re dressed for a Vegas revue most of the time. And you would never pull up to the tennis court and hop in the back of your truck to strip down and change into your short shorts, tennis shoes, visor, or whatever silly equipment tennis players wear. Having said that, the first thing I do when I get to the track is hop in the back of my truck and drop my pants like I’m the only person around for five miles. There could be women, children, and old ladies parked right next to me, yet I’m completely oblivious; the cash and prizes are out and in full view until I get my socks, knee-brace sleeves, and knee braces on. I’m so focused on getting dressed to ride that there is literally nothing that will distract me. This strange little motocross family we all belong to is as dysfunctional as any other family, and just like with your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving, we have to accept each other as we are. Sometimes that means averting your gaze for a few minutes while we get our bits and pieces put away.


Hi Ping,

I love reading Ask Ping every Friday. My question is: We always see the team mechanics at the sidelines or on the back of the bikes with their headsets around there neck. I was just wondering who they communicate with? Do they communicate with people back at the rig? It seems like communicating with the rider would make sense, like in formula one. But I have just never heard anything regarding riders talking with their mechanics during the moto. It does seem like it would be helpful though to be able to talk to your rider and have your rider tell you if something is broken or isn't working right. Just wanted to know what they use those headsets for and if they aren't communicating with the rider who are they communicating with, and if there not communicating with the rider, why not? It seems like a valuable tool.




First things first: radio communication with riders is illegal, per the AMA. It does seem like a great idea and the folks at Feld have tried it at the Monster Energy Cup, but it hasn’t really taken off. I think the amount of money they would have to spend on it for one race that doesn’t even count in a championship would be a waste. The headsets are really for the rest of the crew. The team manager, mechanics, truck driver (who is usually filming from a high vantage point), and other suspension/engine technicians will be wired up. The manager is sitting in the tower so he has a unique view of the track. He can relay things to the mechanics who can then communicate with the riders via pit board. Remember, the mechanics can’t see much from their spot on the floor. Plus, they’re busy taking lap times and writing down their message to their rider. Sometimes the driver will see something from way up in the stadium, like a line in the whoops or a better way to go through a rhythm section, and he can relay that down as well. Any advantage helps at that level of racing, and good communication is always important. During the down time the radio traffic on certain teams can change a bit. When I was wearing the manager headset we used to tell jokes, rap, and talk trash between the sessions; it was always fun. We had a pretty fun group of guys, though, and come to think of it, I can’t picture Roger DeCoster beat-boxing and rapping a Dr. Dre tune over the headset on his way back to the pits. Maybe it was just us.




No questions here, just a thank you for "never forgetting" our members lost on 9/11. I read your column weekly and, like everyone, enjoy your banter and knowledge. Your wit reminds me of the kitchen table at the firehouse. When I saw your helmet a few weeks back, I was filled with pride, not to mention how cool it looked.

I was working the morning of 9/11 in the South Bronx in Ladder 17. It was a beautiful Indian summer morning and was another typical 24, up until the first plane hit. Busy night tour, lots of running, a small job and another shooting in front of the firehouse. The morning of, we ran in with Squad 41 to a reported gas leak. Shortly after returning to the firehouse, the first plane hit. Squad 41 responded down and never came back. Ladder 17 responded after the towers went down.

I grew up an hour north of the city, raced district 34 and watched Barcia and Nicoletti grow into amazing riders. Entering the Fire Department was the perfect transition to fill my adrenaline need. My first day off after 9/11, I went out and bought a bike and started racing after not riding for 10 or so years. 9/11 got me back to my passion and made me realize how precious life is. I've never forgotten that. A perfect day was riding an open practice at Englishtown or a district 34 track, then heading into work. Now, my 7 year old son rides and I love seeing his passion grow for the sport.

It's been about 14 years since that horrific day and many continue to suffer. I've since retired on a 9/11 disability which cut my career short. Many have come down with cancer, developed ailments, etc. It seems like every time I go to the medical office or attend a FDNY function, someone I know is sick. Congratulations on becoming a member of the Fire department family, I know the long wait it takes! It took me 5 years to get on the job; extremely competitive. Good luck in your career brother, be safe and enjoy it. And remember, "Never forget".

Brian O'Connor

FDNY- retired Captain


Thank you for all your years of service. I can only imagine the chaos that all of you dealt with that day and the issues you continue to have. Losing 343 members of your family at one time is unimaginable; that number eclipses the size of most departments. We definitely stand on the shoulders of those who went before us in the fire service, and that isn’t something I take lightly. It’s an honor to serve. I love that you and your son have motocross as a common passion and that you’re back out on the track. In my opinion, there isn’t a better therapy in the world than riding some laps on your favorite track. I asked Troy Lee to help me with a tribute helmet, and, as usual, he absolutely blew me away with his design and attention to detail. The guys in the TLD paint shop are incredible; they’ve designed and painted my racing helmets every year since 1995. My helmet collection is the one thing I’ve held onto from my racing days, and this one is easily my favorite. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for reading, Brian.