By Jody Weisel
I often run into motorcycle racers who 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 offroad 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 fulfilling his
motocross dreams. Rappin’ and racin’ are not compatible.
However, there is nothing wrong with listening to rap—
apart from how embarrassing it 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).
Why would they? They made plenty of money, married
the tallest women 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,
“Stay in the motorcycle industry.” No offense to modern
Pros, but apart from glad-hand jobs representing
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 job 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
Work is contraindicated 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 its star makes. 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 having to
hire someone to do that for him. Oh, don’t get me wrong,
I know firsthand 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 a.m., driving
through rush-hour traffic and working in an office until
5 p.m. is as foreign to them as Giuseppe Luongo’s
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, it 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 a.m.
and drove through traffic or is a factory star and has
no intention of ever getting up at 6 a.m. I love to race
motorcycles. It’s what I have done for longer than I can
remember, but testing isn’t racing. Testing is work. It is
doing laps when you don’t feel like it. 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. ❏