THE BEST OF JODY’S BOX: THE UNMITIGATED GREED OF BIG-TIME RACE PROMOTERS
BY JODY WEISEL
Behind the scenes in motocross there are men who have never raced and never will, counting dollar bills that are earned from the bravery, skill and derring-do of young men. The shame is that the purity of the sport can be so easily corrupted by greedy men. No matter how you cut it, motocross is one of those “profit deals.” Motorcycle manufacturers have to sell bikes. Hop-up companies must move pipes. Clothing companies have quotas to meet. Promoters need to sell tickets. I need to sell magazines, and sometimes I need to sell my modicum of “Jody’s Box” fame to put food on Lovely Louella’s table.
“Jody,” said a voice with a French accent on the phone. I recognized it as the promoter of a well-known French race, “Can you come to my big Maîtres des Passe Vet race in France. I will pay the airfare, hotels and food, and supply you with a bike and mechanic.”
“What? No dough?” I answered over the long-distance lines.
“Doe? What is doe?” asked the French promoter.
“Moola! Bread! You know, good old American greenbacks.”
“I do not understand,” said the Frenchman. “Qu’est-ce que ‘moola’?”
“Money!” I replied. “How much money will you pay me to race your race. You plan to sell tickets when you advertise my name, so how much are you willing to pay me?”
“I think,” he said hesitantly, “that we could pay you $1000.”
“No offense, but I wouldn’t rearrange my sock drawer for $1000. I was thinking about five grand.”
“Maybe we could go $2000, but that is all we have,” said the French promoter. “Is it a deal?”
“The phone connection isn’t very good. I didn’t hear you,” I yelled into the phone. “Did you say $5000?”
“I said $3000,” came the answer over the phone.
“Okay,” I said. “It’s a deal. Are we talking first-class airfare?”
“We got the tickets through Air France,” he said. “They are already paid for, but they are coach. It is too late to change them.”
“All right, I suppose that Louella and I could fly coach,” I murmured.
“Oh, are you bringing your lovely girlfriend with you?” asked the Frenchman.
“I assumed that it was part of the deal,” I said in dismay. “If she doesn’t go, I don’t go. I don’t speak French.”
“Okay, I will give you two tickets. Let me speak to Louella, because my English is not so good. I am much better if I speak in French,” he said.
“She doesn’t speak French,” I said.
“But you said you needed her to come along because you didn’t speak French. I assumed that she spoke French.”
“No, I just want her along in case I wanted to speak English to someone,” I explained.
“Okay. It’s settled. Two tickets, $3000 start money, hotels, food, a bike and mechanic. Is it a deal?” he asked.
“What kind of bike?” I asked.
“2017 KX450F,” he said.
“If it’s a 2017 Kawasaki, then it’s $5000,” I said.
“Okay, a 2020 Kawasaki,” he replied in exasperation.
“Okay, but I need a rental car too.” I said. “I may want to visit some friends.”
“Do you have friends in Paris?” he asked.
“No, but I know somebody in Helsinki,” I replied. “By the way, how good is the hotel?”
“It’s not far from the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Eiffel Tower and National Museum,” he said with typical French pride.
“How close is it to a McDonald’s?”
“How far is that in real distance,” I asked. He didn’t answer for a long time.
“I think we have a deal,” he finally said. “You want two tickets to Paris, $3000 start money, hotels, food, a Kawasaki KX450, mechanic and rental car.”
“It’s a deal,” I said. “When is the race?”
“Sorry! I can’t make it,” I said. “I’ve got a race in Japan that pays better that weekend. Maybe next year.”
I can’t repeat what the French promoter screamed into the phone before he hung up on me, but the unmitigated greed of these big-time promoters never fails to amaze me.