Thursday, June 28, 2012

This post: poned. Quite a morning for motorcycle news...

 It's already been quite a morning for motorcycle news. I was reading about the Colorado Springs wildfires in the mainstream news, and found myself wondering if it could possibly be wise to run the Pikes Peak race next week.

The Waldo Canyon fire is just north of Pikes Peak, and there are a couple of hot spots that have already jumped south of Highway 24. It's one thing to evacuate a neighborhood, it's another thing altogether to get thousands of fans off a mountain with one winding two-lane road for access. (And, in case you're wondering about abandoning your car up there and getting off Pikes Peak by foot... unless you're an Army Ranger, you can probably forget it.
Then, as soon as I switched from scanning my 'media' feed to scanning my 'motorcycle' feed, I learned that the July 8 event has been postponed.

That only makes sense. Having raced there a couple of times, I know that under the best of circumstances, it takes hours to get thousands of fans off the mountain, since there's only one road (and one slow rail line) up and down. Egress from Laguna Seca is positively free-flowing by comparison.

A fire on the mountain, particularly one that cut off the road, would set up a disaster. While I assume that the feds will do what it takes to protect the Air Force Academy, and bring the immediate fires under control, until there's some rain up on the mountain it doesn't make sense to line the road with thousands of fans who might themselves accidentally start a fire. Lightning strikes are also common up there. The reason Devil's Playground has its name is that there are so many lightning strikes in that particular spot.

When the organizers do reschedule the race, I hope this experience serves as a wakeup call. They need a helicopter SWAT team of firemen on call.

Mike 'Stu' Stuhler dishes on the Brad Baker/Kenny Tolbert 'split'...

Mike Stuhler (who has often supplied me with great photos from his archive, when I've sought to illustrate racing from the '70s and '80s) swapped his camera for a keyboard and posted a very insightful interview with tuning-ace-turned-team-owner Kenny Tolbert, on the subject of his 'split' with the up-and-coming Brad Baker.
If you've never checked out Mike Stuhler's blog, you should. But if you've got work to do today, be warned: there's hours-worth of stuff to pore over here...
Tolbert's always friendly, but I don't know what Mike's trick was to get him to really open up. Kenny never wants to talk that much to me! You should definitely read the whole thing here.

Tolbert really drives home a couple of key points:

  • While you can build a (nearly) competitive Kawasaki for a fraction of the cost of an XR750 Harley, the cost of the bike is only a fraction of the total cost of contesting the season. Kenny said he spent $20k on diesel fuel alone, in his final year as Chris Carr's tuner.
  • While there are a few sponsors chipping in to show their love of the sport, there clearly aren't the sponsors we need, which is to say -- even for a team run by a legendary tuner and fielding one of the hottest young talents on dirt -- we don't have sponsors with deep enough pockets who are drawn to flat track because it will provide a winning return on a sponsorship investment. This is America: flat track can't continue operating on hand-outs. We have to find a way to make it work as a sponsorship-driven business.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again Mark for featuring my stuff. It's always a pleasure to read your great stuff, and more then a pleasure to be able to help you out when I can with shots from my archives.
    Like I told Miriam on her Flat Track Live on Facebook, it's folks like you, Larry Lawrence and Tyler Porter who have given me my info, and inspiration, to be able to cover the racing that I have loved as a fan for so long.
    You da man! Thanks again!