I wanted to steer away from all the excitement and glamour of racing in China and different countries around the world to talk about one of the amazing by-products of motorcycle racing. Yes, we all know the speed, excitement, and chasing for that win are all well documented reasons why we race. However, we all share some similar characteristics that are not often discussed or written about.
We are racers after all. We are all chasing the win, the perfect photo, the spotlight. However, whenever the sport goes through troubled times, we all tend to come together, put our beefs aside and help one another. It is this part of motorcycle racing that is truly amazing and I think one of the reasons so many of us love to race. It is also one of the main reasons so many of us try to retire at some point but end up getting sucked back into the sport.
I recently went to the CSBK National at Mont-Tremblant. It was my first time going to a race in Canada in over five years. I haven’t raced in Canada for probably over 10 years. I figured it would be a fun day and it would be great to see all my old friends. Besides, with a one-month-old baby who loves to sleep in the car, a road trip sounded like a great plan!
As soon as I got there, I started seeing a lot of familiar faces. Not 10 minutes went by and I bumped into Michael Taylor. He was one of the top Superbike riders when I stopped racing in Canada, and I clearly remember how friendly he was to me back then as I was just an up and comer and he was an established champion. As soon as I saw him, he saw me and there was an immediate smile and we started talking. He was friendly as ever.
Then I saw Steve Crevier, then Frank Trombino, John Sharrard, Kevin Graham, and so on. It was like a school reunion. The big difference was, everyone was happy to see me and I was happy to see everyone. I don’t know of another sport, or situation in life for that matter where you can pop in and out of people’s lives like that after 10 years and still have that feeling that they would give you the shirt of your back if you needed it.
I often mention how lucky I am to have gone racing/testing on so many world-renowned tracks with some well know riders in various countries around the world. I start by saying that because when I look back and reflect on it all, I realize that no matter what country, what culture, or what caliber of competition, everyone pretty much goes through the same things. It could be the long lonely drives/flights from event to event. It might be as simple as the horrible food we all need to survive on when away from home (I will come back to that in a future blog as there are some funny stories when I travel in Japan). It might be the late nights at the race shop prepping the bikes. In these days especially, it is also the endless struggle to find enough financing to even keep the team’s race program alive. I think the common denominator worldwide is the personal sacrifice we all devote to remain in this sport.
No matter what level of competition, we all like showing up at the track for each event and see the familiar faces. It might be the small talk between teams, it might be the more serious discussions within one’s own team, or it could be as simple as saying hello to the track officials during riders meeting. The same goes when we complete a race and all the corner workers are cheering us on. (I think we can all agree that without them and their love for the sport, there would be no amateur racing, which means there would be no pro racing!)
The race track provides us all with a wide range of emotions. Most of them are good emotions. Unfortunately, from time to time, the emotions turn to sadness. When we lose a fellow competitor the entire racing community shares in the grieving process.
Recently, Canadian road racing lost two racers doing what they loved to do. It is at times like this when we realize that we all need each other to get through it and, as sad as these times are, having the racing community come together is truly an amazing thing. I personally did not know the two riders we lost recently in Canadian road racing but I am still filled with sadness and feel a great deal of sympathy to their families and loved ones. RIP to them both.
I do want to end off by saying that I left Mont-Tremblant with mixed feelings. The overpowering feeling was definitely one of pride. The Canadian road race community deserves more than it has. I hope there are better times ahead in terms of race support, rider entries, and eventually an across-Canada series from east to west. The riders deserve it, the organizers deserve it, and so do the fans.
I am proud to know many of these great people and it is comforting to know that they are all part of our big global family of motorcycle racing.