Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Be careful what you wish for

As the ratings for televised motorcycle racing continue to go through the roof in North America, I find myself more frightened than happy at the ever-increasing popularity of two-wheeled conveyances.

Indulge me for moment with your imaginations. Envision, if you will, a U.S.A. where the names Rossi, Gibernau, Mladin, and Bostrom are as commonly known and objectified as the names Earnhardt and Waltrip. Conjure up your own vivid mental images of big-name companies like Budweiser and Wal-Mart with their logos emblazoned upon the fiberglass bodywork factory superbikes. Imagine a Sunday at Fontana when 150,000-plus screaming motofans pack the bleachers in support of the AMA roadracing series. It's a wonderful picture, isn't it?

Actually, no. It's not wonderful at all.

To help me illustrate my opinion, please indulge me again. But this time, envision a world where decent seats at a superbike race cost $200 per head. Imagine not being granted paddock access without a pricey-yet-restrictive press pass. Think about the effects of superbike mass-commercialization on a generation of young people that is already doing its best to stunt and street race itself into the grave. Consider how the empty-headed legislators of American government will react in the wake of such a series of events. Last, but certainly not least, envision a premier American motorcycle roadracing series where privateers are either unwelcome or excluded altogether.

Those things considered, now how do you feel?

The bigger picture for me is this: When I'm truly honest with myself, all I really want as a sportbiker is to live within a culture that understands and respects me, doesn't tread on my rights, airs the big races on cable TV to lukewarm ratings, and is more or less willing to tolerate my eccentricities so long as I ride and conduct myself within reason. The thing is, friends, should all things motorcycle continue to grow and flourish at the current rate, I fear that those rights and pleasures will be killed at the tip of the lawmaker's pen, and by the razor-sharp blade of public opinion.

I don't know. Perhaps I'm just intimidated at the idea of this thing I have loved for so long becoming everybody's sport. Maybe I'm afraid it's slowly losing its uniqueness and sacredness. Whatever the reason, I can't help but fear that motorcycle popularity on a NASCAR-sized scale would be an utter disaster.

Be careful what you wish for.


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