By Jody Weisel
I’m one of those people who doesn’t remember last week’s race. Even worse, I have very little memory of what happened in a moto once I pull off the track. Human memory is quirky, complicated and unreliable. Even people who pride themselves on remembering everything accurately are probably coloring the events with past experiences. I don’t have this problem, and if I do, I don’t remember having it. Don’t ask me the names of my high school friends, the name of my college professor or even the name of the street my family lived on. I have no clue.
Psychologists say that the brain records significant events, and the more significant the event, the longer the memory lasts. I’m only guessing here, but my threshold for what I consider to be significant must be higher than the average person’s. Thus, I don’t store what I consider to be mundane. Since I have raced over 2000 events in my life, I don’t find the circumstances of any given race to be all that different from the hundreds that came before.
I am a little better at recalling the events leading up to a big crash. I think this happens because I can visualize the events and store them as though I saw them from a remote camera—instead of from the saddle. In lots of ways this remote-camera approach to memory is better than the scab, bruise and broken bone system that many people use.
I really don’t have any recollections of my early days of racing. I’ve raced all across the USA and in Europe, but when people ask me what it was like to race at Finland’s Ruskeasanta track, I am forced to admit that I don’t remember, but I do recall that they sold pickled fried herring at the concession stand. I’m probably the only American motocross racer who ever went to Europe and remembers more about the hotel rooms and restaurants than the racetracks.
One time when I came back from a trip to the Husqvarna factory in Sweden, Lovely Louella asked me to show her the snapshots I took while I was abroad.
“Let me see the photos of your trip to Sweden,” she said. I handed her a pack of 4×5 Kodak prints.
“What’s this a photo of?” she asked while thumbing through the photos.
“Oh,” I said, “that’s the door lock on my hotel room. I shot a photo of it because it lifted the door out of a slot in the ground.”
“And this one?” she asked.
“Those are the elevator buttons. I’d never seen buttons arranged in that manner,” I said.
“Do you have any scenic photos of Stockholm?” she asked.
“Here’s one of the bidet in my hotel in Vimmerby,” I said.
“No,” said Louella. “Didn’t you shoot any photos of the Swedish countryside?”
“Yes, I did,” I said. “See this photo of the farmer shearing a sheep that I shot out the window of the train I was taking from Linkoping to Uppsala? That’s the countryside in the background. It’s a little blurry because we were doing 100 kilometers per hour.”
“What about photos of the track you raced at? Do you have any of those?” she asked.
“No,” I said.
“Why not?” she asked. “Isn’t that what you went to Sweden to do?”
“If you’ve seen one racetrack, you’ve seen them all,” I said.
“Didn’t you want some memories of your trip?” she asked.
“I have lots of memories,” I said. “Didn’t you see the photo of the door lock?”
“Okay, I’m going to ask you one more question, and you better think hard about the answer,” said Louella. “When is our anniversary?”
I can tell you this, I’ll never forget that moment.