THE BEST OF JODY’S BOX: MY FASCINATION WITH NUMBERS

BY JODY WEISEL

I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated with numbers. When I stop to get food on my way back from the track and the girl behind the counter gives me the number they will call when my food is ready, I get giddy if the number is 192. I don’t think it portends that great things will happen, but I’m surprised by the coincidence.

Back in the day when you showed up for your first race, they assigned you a number: “You are now 294. Put that number on your bike the next time you come here. Until then, tape this paper plate with 294 written on it in magic marker to your bike.”

I didn’t get 192 that way. Before I had my motocross number, I had an AMA Road Race license and it was 192. Back then, the AMA allowed an Expert road racer to apply for an Expert motocross license without having to jump through the hoops. Under this rule, the AMA assigned me 192 for both disciplines. The AMA stopped this practice once they realized how terrible road racers were in the dirt.

To tell the truth, I rarely have the opportunity to race with 192 on my bike. My job is to test motorcycles, and MXA test bikes have a special numbering sequence that allows us to look at a photo of a 2018 Honda CRF450 ten years from now and identify the year, brand and model by the number on the plates. This is very important for a magazine that tests 60 motorcycles a year. Thus, I could be on 62 this week, 36 next week and 58 a week later.

The best use I ever had for AMA National numbers was remembering phone numbers. “Hey, Jody, do you know Jimmy Mac’s phone number?” asked Crazy Dave at Saddleback.

“Jimmy Mac’s phone number is Jeff Jennings, Mike Larocco, Jimmy Ellis and George Holland,” I said.

“Thanks,” replied Crazy Dave. It was a system that only a hardcore motocrosser could figure out. Jeff Jennings’ race number was 364, Mike LaRocco was 5, Jimmy Ellis 19 and George Holland 3. Thus, you could reach Jimmy Mac at 364-5193.

The modern 2018 equivalent of my old system would be R.J. Hampshire, Blake Baggett, Justin Barcia and Mark Worth. That would be 36, 4, 51 and 93, or 364-5193.

Once cell phones took over, I lost interest in memorizing phone numbers, and I don’t even know Lovely Louella’s number. I just press a button to call her.

Over the 2013–2015 race seasons I had racked up 93 straight races without missing a single one. Then I got pneumonia when I tried to race with what I thought was the flu in an effort to get my consecutive streak closer to 100. According to my doctor, had I been able to finish the second moto of race 93, I would not have lived to be on the line for race 94.

I missed almost two months while breathing Albuterol and lying in bed. I came back midway through the 2015 season and racked up 117 consecutive races in 2015, 2016 and 2017. At race 117, with one lap to go in my second moto, I crashed and broke my left arm in two places.

The funny thing is, no one was keeping track of how many consecutive races I did and no one cared, so I had no reason to race while injured, sick or when the wind was blowing 40 mph, but I was fascinated with numbers. My new number fascination is a 7-inch plate, 6 screws and an arm that is 20-percent weaker. Those aren’t numbers I will be trying to exceed.

 

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