By Jody Weisel
I may not look like it in my cargo shorts and faded T-shirt, but they tell me that I’m an industry mogul. Who tells me this? Mostly disgruntled former employees of other so-called industry moguls. For the record, I’m not the all-powerful Oz, ruling over a fiefdom of my own making and pulling the strings behind a giant curtain. I’m more like the Tin Man looking for a heart. I say this not because I’m cold and callous, but because my joints creak like rusty metal after pounding out laps for decades.
If I’m an industry mogul then why do I spend my days at lonely test tracks, getting my hands grimy changing shocks, forks and wheels in the fruitless pursuit of the “Magic Machine.” You know what the “Magic Machine” is, don’t you?” It is that one special bike, yet to be ridden, that will bring back lost speed and with it imaginary glory. Perhaps I should say “transitory glory,” because this week’s glory only lasts until next week. The idea that a new bike could bring back something that will only flit away in short order is what sells anxiety drugs.
The imaginary glory that comes with being a motocross star is similar to being a U.S. Congressman. Members of Congress may be the power brokers in America, but in truth most of them only got elected to office with 49 percent of the populace voting for them—and 48 percent voting against them. So, in reality, the real power brokers in American politics are the 3 percent who could have swayed the vote either way, but didn’t. Motocross stars and Congressman are both just a few metrics away from selling insurance in Fresno. In politics the end comes by being caught with three showgirls in a Virginia motel and in motocross it comes with being three feet short on a triple.
DO I THINK PARENTS SHOULD HOCK THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION FOR A ONE-IN-A-MILLION SHOT AT FACTORY STARDOM? YES, BECAUSE I SEE NO POINT IN EXTENDING THAT FAMILY’S GENE LINE.
When I get e-mails that start, “Since you are an industry mogul, you should do something about….” You can fill in the blank with any of the following things that I’m suppose to fix:
AMA incompetence. Why would I want to stop that. I find it a great source of weekly entertainment.
Luongo’s greed. As opposed to who’s greed? Us industry moguls have to stick together when it comes to love of the almighty dollar. Although his love is more like cultish devotion.
Bad National tracks. What are you talking about? The future will only be brighter when all the AMA Nationals are held in road race infields, dry lake beds and Wal-Mart parking lots. There won’t be any of those pesky trees and mountains spoiling the spectators view (that will be left to the annoying sponsor banners lining the track).
More privateer rides. Motocross has always been about the haves and the have-nots. The funny thing is that every factory rider started out as a have-not. He only became the enemy when he trained, practiced and excelled. We don’t need more sponsored rides for privateers, we need to ban excellence.
Save the two-stroke. Why don’t you just ask me to mystically increase the intelligence level of the buying public while you are at it. I can’t make people buy bikes that are less expensive, more fun to ride, 20 pounds lighter, cheaper to repair and twice as powerful per cubic centimeter. Who would want that?
Home schooling. Do I think parents should hock their child’s education for a one-in-a-million shot at factory stardom? Yes, because I see no point in extending that family’s gene line.
Work for the AMA. The sad truth is that if I left MXA to go to work for the AMA I would actually increase the intelligence level at both places. However, I don’t see the benefit of making both the AMA and MXA smarter in one move. Perhaps the AMA could hired a home schooled President.
Increased price of technology. Decades ago Preston Petty and I were sitting in the pits and he said to me, “Since you are an industry mogul, you should do something about stopping bikes from being water-cooled. Water-cooling won’t change a thing about the way bikes are raced, the competition or anything important, but it will raise the price of bikes and decrease the number of people who can afford the sport.” I laughed at him, proving for all time that I was a moron and that the uncontrolled pursuit of technology is akin to the sport’s suicide. When you are having fun on your bike, does it matter if it’s fuel injected, digitally controlled, water-cooled or CAD designed. No, I didn’t think so.
I want to assure all of the people who look to me to fix the sport that I’m not your typical do-nothing industry mogul. I have a master plan to tackle injustice one project at a time. And for my first objective I’m going to discover why factory riders get to practice in special sessions with other factory riders only. The AMA says it would be unsafe for factory riders to be on the track at the same time with unskilled privateers. Then, when the races start, the privateers roll out onto the stadium floor like so many Christians being fed to the lions in the Coliseum! Can’t practice with ’em, can’t race without ’em!