BEST OF JODY’S BOX: “IT’S OKAY. IT’S ONLY A SCRATCH”
By Jody Weisel
I admit that I know absolutely nothing about the people I race with. I don’t know what they do for a living, if they are married, what town they live in, their phone numbers or have ever looked at their Instagram page (if they even have one). It’s not that I studiously avoid learning anything about them, it’s just that those things aren’t important to me. I do know that Fred Phalange swerves down fast straights, Jimmy Mac will never pass anyone on the outside and that Crazy Dave will cross-jump on the last lap of a close race.
The people I race with don’t know what I don’t know about them, but they always ask questions that I can’t answer and want me to guide them to someone who can help them. But, it turns out that I don’t really know anything about those people either.
* * * *
Through most of the 1990s I race against a Swedish guy named Bengt Johansson. He was a great guy, owned a Volvo/Saab dealership and spoke perfect English (with the requisite Swedish accent). He was a good racer, but never really showed anything special until one day we went to Indian Dunes and it started raining. He came alive in the rain and actually won the race.
When Crazy Dave, asked me what got into Bengt, I said, “He’s Swedish. He probably grew up racing in the mud and rain. He must have felt right at home in these sloppy condition.”
When Bengt came walking over, I said, “You probably felt like you were racing back in Sweden.”
He looked at me strangely and said, “I never race motocross in Sweden. I started racing when I came to America.”
* * * *
“Do you want me to call Louella and tell her to meet you in the emergency room?” asked Fred Phalange after I took a nasty spill and ripped most of the skin off my left forearm in the first moto.
“Why would she be going to the emergency room?” I asked.
“Isn’t that where you’re going?” asked a stunned Fred.
“The only place I’m going is back to the starting line for the second moto in about an hour,” I replied.
“But, your forearm is ripped to shreds and the sleeve of your jersey is soaked in blood,” said Fred.
“In that case you better call Louella,” I said, “and tell her to meet me here at Glen Helen…and to bring me a new jersey.”
* * * *
One day at Glen Helen a guy I knew came over and asked if I could bleed the hydraulic clutch on his KTM 450SXF. Since I had never bled a Brembo slave unit, I said, “You should go talk to Willy, he graduated from MMI and probably can do it in his sleep.”
I walked the guy over to where Willy was pitted and said, “Hey, Willy can you help this guy bleed his KTM hydraulic clutch?”
Willy said, “I don’t know how to do that.”
Startled, I said, “But you graduated from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute.”
“That’s true,” said Willy, “but motocross bikes didn’t have hydraulic clutches when I graduated back in 1984.”
* * * *
A well-known motocross guy turned off-road racer told me that he got invited to race the Hattah Desert race in Australia, but he agreed to the deal without getting any details. “Do you know where the Hattah race is held in Australia? Or what city it is near?” he asked.
“No.” I said, “but there is an Australian racing here today and he would know where the Hattah race is held. I’ll introduce you to him.”
We tracked the Aussie down in the lower pits and I said to him, “We need to know as much about the Hattah Desert race as possible—especially where it is held in Australia and what airport to fly into.”
“How would I know,” he replied.
“Well,” I said, “it’s one of the biggest races in Australia and I just assumed that every Aussie knew all about it.”
“What makes you think I’m Australian. I’m from England and, no, we don’t have the same accent.”
* * * *
“Where is that guy who knocked me down in the hairpin. He took me out and I’m going to go have a serious talk with him about his riding style,” said Jimmy Mac as he climbed off his bike and dusted the dirt off his gear.
“I didn’t see it. What was his number?” I asked.
“It was a Honda with number 214 on it,” said Jimmy.
“Oh, she’s parked right over by the scoring tower,” I said.
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