By Jody Weisel
“Jody, can I borrow a set of tie-downs?” asked Jimmy Mac as he was trying to load his bike into the back of his truck.
“Okay,” I said, “but can I have a few moments alone with them. We’ve been together a long time, and I’m going to miss them.”
“I’m only borrowing them for a day,” said the Mac. “I’ll bring them back tomorrow.”
“Why don’t you have the Easter Bunny bring them back, along with my deed to the Brooklyn Bridge?” I replied. When you lend out as many tie-downs and tools as I have, you know that as soon as they leave your hand, there is a signpost up ahead, and the next stop is the Twilight Zone.
There is an old adage that says, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend.” But whoever coined that phrase was not a motorcycle racer. Without lending and borrowing at the races, the starting gates would have lots of empty gates. People lose, break, need and search for the most obscure things in the pits. My loaning of tools, axle nuts, clutch levers, tubes, duct tape and those funny little neoprene inserts that hold KTM airbox covers on had gone on for a long time. I lent out enough tie-downs, ramps, tools and bolts to fill the Parts Unlimited warehouse. Parts went out regularly, but they never came back. If I asked “Crazy Dave” where the torque wrench that he borrowed two months ago was, he’d say, “I brought it back to you a month ago.”
It got so bad that I was forced to tighten 13mm bolts with a 14mm wrench that I had to stick a piece of duct tape into to take up the slack. I know that my 13mm wrench was in my toolbox that morning, but it wasn’t there before the first moto.
MONTE FLOYD BEGGED ME TO LEND HIM MY WP FORK PUMP AND THEN GOT MAD WHEN IT WOULDN’T WORK—UNTIL I REMINDED HIM THAT HE BORROWED THE BATTERY OUT OF MY PUMP THE WEEK BEFORE WHEN HE PROMISED
THAT HE WOULD “REPLACE IT THE NEXT DAY.”
I vowed to never lend any wrenches to anyone. That vow lasted about five minutes before Monte Floyd begged me to lend him my WP fork pump and then got mad when it wouldn’t work—until I reminded him that he borrowed the battery out of my pump to test his pump the week before when he promised that he would “replace it the next day.”
That is when I got smart. When I got home from the races, I unloaded all of the toolboxes in my barn and spread the wrenches out across the backyard. I shook the rattle-can of red paint vigorously and proceeded to spray every wrench I owned—and a lot of grass—bright red. It was brilliant. The red paint stood out like a beacon; therefore, I could recognize my tools from across the pits.
Every time somebody borrowed my ramp, they got a shiny aluminum ramp with candy red stripes on it. Nobody could say, “No, this isn’t your ramp. I brought yours back a long time ago.” The red paint was like the homing pigeon of tools.
Crazy Dave thought that painting my tools and equipment red was such a good idea that he spray-painted his tools. Luckily, he used black paint so that we couldn’t get our spray-painted tools mixed up.
I was proud of Crazy Dave, and when he showed me his toolbox full of painted tools at the next race, I asked, “Painting our tools was the smartest thing we ever did. When somebody borrows a tool, the bright paint is so visible that we can find our tools among theirs. I chose red because of its high visibility, but why did you choose black instead of yellow, blue or green?”
“Because it was the only color that covered up the red so well,” he said.