I often run into motorcycle riders that say that they wish they had my job. I try to be sympathetic to their aspirations, but I’ve never known any other job—so I don’t know what’s so bad about being a lawyer, doctor, real estate agent or car dealer. I’m not dense, so I do see where my job beats washing cars or mowing lawns.
I’m always reminded of how movie actors want to be race car drivers, rock stars want to be movie actors and race car drivers want to be rock stars. I’m not sure what professional motocross racers want to be—because historically they haven’t been very good at anything that doesn’t involve dirt (save for Jeff Ward who had four top five finishes in only seven starts at the Indy 500). I discount motocrossers who switch to off-road trucks, rally cars and Baja buggies. Of course they are good at going fast on dirt—especially when you give them four wheels and a roll cage. With age comes the cage!
I know motocross racers who want to be rappers, but I’m confused as to why they would want to be bad at rapping. Perhaps because every racer who had dreams of being a rapper didn’t have much success in fulfilling his motocross dreams. Rappin’ and racin’ are not compatible. However, there is nothing wrong with listening to rap—apart from how embarrassing that is to tell people.
IN TRUTH, THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MOTOCROSS STARS TYPICALLY DON’T WANT TO BE ANYTHING AFTER THEY RETIRE—EXCEPT WELL TANNED (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE GINGER STARS).
In truth, the most successful motocross stars typically don’t want to be anything after they retire—except well tanned (with the exception of the ginger stars). Why would they want to work for a living? They made plenty of money, married the tallest woman they could find, built ostentatious castles to their greatness and, if forced to, became color commentators (with the most grammar gaffes this side of a Grammy Awards acceptance speech).
The most common answer that an AMA Pro gives when asked what he wants to do after he retires is to “stay in the motorcycle industry.” No offense to modern Pros, but apart from glad hand jobs, repping products to the riders who replaced them on the circuit or working as a riding coach to riders who have half the talent they have—the only jobs in the motorcycle industry that a home schooled former Pro is qualified for is washing the CEO’s car or mowing the grass in front of the factory.
Work is counter indicated for professional motocrossers. While the rest of us were going to college, toiling as an underling in a giant corporation or balancing the books in our own startup companies, the stars were being treated like future veal by their factory teams. Most people don’t know this, but every factory team hires one employee to laugh at every joke their stars says. It makes the star feel good and is well worth the money over a long season. Plus, since the star always has a leggy blonde around to clean his goggles, the team saves money on not having to hire someone to do that for him. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know first hand that the work ethic of a factory rider is an amazing thing—especially when it comes to training, cycling or walking from Lamborghini to Lamborghini at the car dealership. But, getting up at 6:00 a.m., driving through rush hour traffic and working in an office until 5:00 p.m. is as foreign to them as Giuseppe Luongo’s Italian suits.
Okay, I don’t do that either. But being an MXA test rider is a lonely life. And while it has lots of perks, which I won’t mention because it would only make more people come up to me and say how they’d love to have my job, is does have its downsides. For example, the only people you get to hang out with are other MXA test riders—everybody else you know either got up at 6:00 a.m. and drove through traffic to get to work or are factory stars and have no intention of ever getting up at 6:00 a.m.
I love racing motorcycles. It’s what I have done for longer than I can remember, but testing isn’t racing. Testing is work. For me it has been 45 years of doing laps whether I felt like doing them or not. It’s being the only rider on a totally empty track in the middle of the week. It’s frying in the sun, freezing in the cold and getting wet in the rain. It is riding injured because you have to and it’s sitting in a lawn chair watching other people ride because you rode while you were injured.
It’s a terrible job—so stop asking me about it because I plan on suffering this miserable existence for as long as they’ll have me.