I was reading something awhile back about how pro riders, factory teams and even clothing companies take out insurance policies against their bonuses. Supposedly an insurance company like Lloyds of London will evaluate the rider’s possibilities and then indemnify the manufacturer against having to pay the bonus. When you spread all of the insurance policies out across a wide range of riders and circumstances, Lloyds (or any other underwriter) makes money. Is this true? I suppose it is a cost of doing business, but it is kind of like betting against “your guy” to cover your butt in the event they win a title, or whatever you are insuring against. Is this really common in our sport? It seems like one of those things that the average fan never hears about, but it would make for an interesting discussion of how this process works. I assume you never benefitted from this process with your consistent string of runner-up finishes, but you might have some insight on this topic.
Taking out insurance policies has become very common in the sport in the past ten years. Prior to that, only the sport's elite riders had insurance policies and they took them out against themselves in the event of a career-ending injury. Jeff Emig, for example, is collecting on a Lloyd's of London policy from the back breaking crash that ended his career. Today, team managers draw policies against championship bonuses and race bonuses for certain riders. For example, when I was managing the Troy Lee Designs team in 2010 I took a policy out for Ben Townley. Because he hadn't completed a full season in the 450 class, he was reasonably affordable to insure. We offered Ben really good top-three overall bonuses and a massive championship bonus for the nationals that year, and instead of TLD assuming all that liability as a company we paid some money up front to ensure that Troy didn't go out of business if Ben went on a tear. Townley landed on the podium just enough times that summer to make the whole policy worthwhile for us. Ben came very close to winning RedBud that summer and then the policy would have really paid off. It does seem weird to "bet against your rider," if you look at it that way. But the way we approached it was we were betting against Lloyd's of London and we were trying to help Ben take all their money. In his contract we had to pay the first $20,000 in bonuses and then they paid up to $1,000,000 if he had more wins or podium finishes. We also had a large championship bonus for BT—which was under $10,000 for us to buy—in the event he won the title. When you are negotiating with a top-level guy you have to be able to produce that kind of money, whether you pull it out of your own pocket or buy an insurance policy. Back when I was racing, the manufacturers paid the race bonuses and the championship bonuses. For a select few the insurance policy program was used, but for most the money was reasonable for the manufacturer to pay. For reference, I made about $40,000 for each of my wins in the 125 class. That number is well over $100,000 now and significantly higher for some.
I have read your Q&A page every week for a long time and I thoroughly appreciate all the time that you take to help us mere mortals understand your (and the motocross) world a little better. The question that I have has to do with riding technique. I have been riding motocross for quite a few years for fun (I am certainly not fast by any definition of the word) only. I watch every race that I can get my hands on and I have noticed the SX riders seemingly "Pushing" the bikes down to land them on the downslopes of the bigger obstacles. If I am seeing this correctly, I can understand the need to perform this maneuver especially on the bigger bikes, to reduce over jumping and to increase the power to the ground time. It just amazes me that all the racers make everything look so easy! That is certainly a great testament to their abilities.
Thanks for taking the time for me today,
#739 (50+ class)
Thank you for reading and taking the time to write in today. I love being able to offer a perspective on motocross-related topics to the many committed fans across the world. I don't want to seem pushy here, Jim, but what is your question? I read through your comments a few times and couldn't find a question mark anywhere in your commentary about today's riders finding the landing on the downside of a jump. I realize that certain physiological changes happen as we age and perhaps you became confused as you were typing; great job learning to use the computer, by the way! Maybe you under-dosed on the Alzheimer meds or perhaps you had to pee mid-thought and never quite got the train back on the tracks. Either way, I'm happy to answer your question if you can come up with one.
All the best.
As we are all aware, the "Let Brock Bye" pit board, from the 1977 125cc series final race, is frequently held up for public criticism because of two misspellings. People have made fun of the mistakes contained in that message for more than 30 years! However, every week, I read and listen to riders, race commentators and even some magazine journalists say things such as "I had came from .....", "if he had went....", "I have not rode...." and nobody makes fun of the fact that grown men have not learned a level of grammar contained in child's bedtime story book. Seriously, they could correct the vast majority of their grammatical errors by simply reading books written for 6 year old children. Perhaps fans could donate their children's books at the supercross races. It is ironic that most of these riders are homeschooled and homeschooled children always perform well at the National Spelling Bee competition.
I simply ask why the guy who misspelled 'Broc" and "By" is singularly subjected to ridicule into perpetuity while all the others are not mentioned, at all????
The simple reason that grammatical faux pas, which included Mr. Glover, is remembered is because it was a historical moment in the sport where a national championship was decided. On top of that, the competition between manufacturers had gotten so heated that team tactics were employed and in that moment they were on full display. Honestly, you could fill a book with the double negatives and straight-up hillbilly speak dropped regularly at the races. If I had a dollar for every time Jeff Emig and Ricky Carmichael said, "I seen him do that in practice…" I would be building a spacecraft with Richard Branson and giving financial tips to Bill Gates from my private island in the South Pacific. Look, this isn't tennis or polo or some other high-brow competition where we clap softly and sip tea with our pinkies out. Motocross is very much a blue-collar sport (I wouldn't want it any other way) and, as such, you can't lose your mind when a couple of puddy-head mechanics write "Breath" on a pit board when they are trying to tell their guy to breathe. So, quick recap: The past tense of “see” is “saw,” I don't live on an island in Tahiti, and we need a stack of books for first graders at the races. Thanks for reading.
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