Why do all these guys hate on J-Law so much? He served his time; doesn’t he get a second chance? I saw this mean photo posted on a web blog.
Irwin R. Fletcher
I was really torn when I got this letter. On the one hand I really want to give Jason the benefit of the doubt here. It seems like he’s maybe had a breakthrough and can start to rebuild his career and I think that’s great. It’s great for him and great for the sport because he is a unique personality. On the other hand I thought the photo was pretty funny. I laughed, then felt bad about laughing and then laughed again anyway. So I’m not sure what to say here, man. I’m pulling for Jason but at the same time I’m posting this photo because I think it’s funny. What’s wrong with me?
Oh great all-knowing Ping,
I didn't know where to find the answer to this question and since you're the closest thing to a top 5 racer I figured I'd ask you. What is a racer's "program"? Is it a nutritional and fitness plan? Is it related to contractual/money concerns? Or is it simply how racers refer to their day-to-day routine that they get into as an off-season and/or season progresses?
Also, can you shed any light on what expenses the riders have to pay for out of pocket? Factory level on down to satellite team rider. I'm talking about track time, transport of his ride, medical insurance, transportation to the races, lodging, bike maintenance in the off season while still under contract, etc., etc. Obviously the privateer pitting out of a van or truck is getting to the races on fumes and hoping his and his parent's credit cards make it through the whole year. This year seems to be a lot different as everywhere I read riders are riding for peanuts and many of the luxuries of years past have all but disappeared. Thank you.
P.S. Your TLD Honda team seems like a first-class organization.
Tundra Lover in SoCal
Dear Tundra lover,
A racer’s “program” is an all-encompassing term for his day-to-day and month-to-month schedule of riding, training, eating, sleeping and general preparation and maintenance for the racing season. It is usually a narcissistic schedule of what he should do every day, basically. I know it sounds simple but many young riders don’t know exactly what to do at the practice track. They don’t know what type of training they should be doing or how long they should do it or when they should do it. One of my riders, Cole Seely, is a perfect example of this. He has loads of talent but last year he didn’t have any guidance. Now I’ve got him working with our trainer, Charles Dao, and following a schedule of riding that makes him ride with a purpose. All those little specifics and details add up to make a huge difference and I think Cole will definitely have a breakout year as a result.
Every team and rider has a different deal for what they pay in the way of expenses. Most good teams cover any race-related expenses including travel, lodging, entry fees, meals and rental cars. Practice tracks are provided for factory teams but they can be very expensive for riders to build or lease; it costs upwards of $60,000 to build and maintain a factory track for a year! Insurance is usually not part of a rider's contract. His practicing expenses (gas, gate fees, etc.) are usually not covered either. And the guys that are doing it on their own pay for everything. I don’t know how they do it.
Over the summer, you and a few members of TLD Honda were out riding at Cahuilla Creek. I was pitted just across from you guys and contemplated coming over and saying hi. I thought better and figured most pros/team managers would prefer to be left alone. Unfortunately in my experience, while out at a local SoCal tracks, most of y'all are total dicks when it comes to curious fans. How do you feel about a fan or two coming over to you for an auto signing or pic?
A dick, really? I guess I can understand that. I’ve seen a lot of riders act like idiots when a fan approaches them. Hopefully I’ve not been one of those guys over the years, but I’m sure I pissed someone off at one point. My only suggestion is don’t come over right after a rider gets off his bike. Let him stop sweating, wipe the mud out of his face and get something to drink before you come up. Riders are more likely to be friendly when their adrenaline levels drop too. I remember a guy coming up right after the second moto of a national where I rode myself into the ground for, like, tenth and asking me why I wasn’t on the podium. If I had the energy I would have jumped out of my chair and strangled him. Aside from those suggestions, there’s no reason you shouldn’t come right up and say hello. I’m actually a pretty nice guy. Just bring your own Sharpie or I will roundhouse kick you in the esophagus.
Got a question for Ping? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.