By Jody Weisel
At last week’s Glen Helen race, I got lapped by Gary Jones. He got me on the last lap of our ace, even though I hugged the inside line and
put my boot on his front wheel. I was pretty happy about
being lapped. What was there to be happy about? As I
told Gary after the race, “I think this proves that I’m
getting faster as we get older and you are getting slower.
In another decade, I’ll be beating you regularly.”
“What makes you think you’re getting faster?” asked
“Simple math,” I said, but I knew he really wanted to
know why I thought he was getting slower.
“How do you figure?” asked the four-time AMA 250
National Motocross Champion.
“Because in 1976, you lapped me twice in every moto
at Saddleback Park, and today you only lapped me once.
If I hadn’t gotten my tongue stuck in my spokes on the
last lap, I don’t think you would have gotten me at all.
To my way of thinking, I’m 100 percent faster and you
are 50 percent slower,” I said.
“That isn’t true,” said Gary.
“Yes, it is. Statistics don’t lie. Do you want me to write
it down on a piece of paper and do the math for you? It’s
all there in black and white,” I said as Gary laughed and
As with all motocross racers, I define my performance
by the people around me. I don’t need a lap timer,
mechanic with a stopwatch, or some fancy iPhone app to
tell me how fast I’m going. Why not? Because I’m lucky
enough to have Lars Larsson to gauge myself against.
When Lars and I were young pups, he was light years
faster than me. He was fast enough to race himself into
the AMA Hall of Fame, while the best I could do was
get my photo tacked to the Hall of Fame ticket-counter
wall with an inscription warning employees, “Do not
let this man in.” I’m to the AMA what a bounced check
is to Walmart.
Lars Larsson and I have been racing against each other
forever, which in motocross terms is twice as long as
Adam Cianciarulo has been alive. We are the two oldest
MXA test riders, but also the most competitive. Note
that I didn’t say the fastest, just the most determined
to beat each other. We like to think that even though
we are going in slow motion compared to decades ago,
racing keeps us young. If we had been keeping track
of our wins-and-losses column, Lars Larsson would have
about 300 wins and I would have about 20. But, I don’t
care about the record book—largely because my name
is not in it. What I do care about is next week’s race,
where Lars will be the rabbit and I will be Elmer Fudd.
That may not sound like an accolade to either one of us,
but Lars is the man I grade myself against (when I don’t
have Gary Jones around to lap me).
Lars will get a better start than me, and I will stalk
him. If all goes well, as it has 20 times before, I will get
him with one or two laps to go and then just barely hold
him off as the 1970s Swedish star suddenly remembers
how much faster he is than me. If scientists really want a
cure for Alzheimer’s disease, they should study the effects
of being beaten by someone slower than you. That snaps
you back to reality in an instant.
Lars is always gracious in defeat. He shakes my hand
after the moto and says, “Jody, du måste ha fuskat.
Visste du skär spåret någonstans? I enxt moto kommer
jag att slå dig illa,” which he tells me is a big compliment
in Swedish and translates into, “Jody, to my way of
thinking, you are at least 100 percent faster than you
were back in 1976. I must admit that I’m about 50
It’s only natural that as you get older, you get slower.
I’m glad to still be fast enough to race with Lars Larsson
and only be lapped once by Gary Jones. I hope every
young motocross star of today has a career as long as
Gary, Lars and I—a feat that Adam Cianciarulo will be
able to match in 2064.
I’m lucky to get to race into my golden years against
my idols, even if they lap me. Plus, there are advantages
to being lapped. You save money on expensive electronic
timing gizmos, you use less fuel, your tires last 10
percent longer, and you get to finish right behind the
leader, which makes unobservant spectators think that
you finished second. ❏