Tuesday I called Vanson with crap news. No need for two-day shipping on our leathers repair, we aren’t making round 3. I called Chris VanAndel straight after. He was building us our new MotionPro throttle by Thursday night. “No need for the rush, brother, we dropped out.” Shocked as everyone was, they all supported our decision. All that is, but Alex. “Dude, Michelin needs us out there. Tigerboy is selling his old 1198RS, let’s buy it and race him with his own bike. We can even leave his stripes on it!” He’s big and he’s ugly but I definitely love that moose. Who thinks like this?
Tuesday I was accepting, even a little proud. It was about respect, my agreeing to withdraw. But when I told Tracy about us dropping out that night she gave a shocking response. “This is bullshit. This is NOT why we race. This is not HOW we race. Since when did we start quitting? Quitters don’t make champions – you’re the one who taught me that!” Wednesday came and I was sad, considering doubt. Thursday came and I was devastated, consumed with doubt. …and then something interesting happened. Chris VanAndel showed up with not only one, but two MotionPro throttle assemblies made special for our RC8R. I thanked him over and over, but he had no idea what for. That one thing Chris did, even though he didn’t have to, ignited something in me. That one decision he made not only solved our broken throttle problem; it also turned devastation into hope. My mind was already at the track, but we need so many parts that you can’t just buy anywhere. No way could we get them in time at this point. And then it occurred to me… Sam Coates still owns his race prepped RC8R, and we talk all the time. I texted him, “Dude, I need your help. I need to buy, borrow, rape or steel some parts off your bike.” Instantly Sam responded, “I got your back bro, but I’m in Dubai right now…” “Shit Sam, if I start driving now can I get to Dubai by morning?”
It’s 15hrs later and we’ve got all but one part. Still it’s most likely we won’t make it by Sunday, but I’d rather fail trying than give up. Just one, final link in the chain to get us there Sunday remains – permission to intervene, to turn everything upside down, to go against final decisions already made, and race our RC8R anyway.
It’s one thing looking back at life, figuring out after the fact how you got here.
It’s another plotting your way forward.
*let’s hope there’s a chapter 2 to this story
Chapter 2: 5/30/14
Somehow you just knew there’d be a chapter 2. …Racing, and racers. Both can be selfish, tenacious, and even sometimes rude. Ready or not, these weekends march their way straight through us. You get no credits, no special treatment, no mulligans. It can be haunting, it can be defining, it almost always makes you one huge pain in the ass to those around you. With the latter of these three points in mind I texted, rather than called, Mike yesterday. “I know we pulled out of this round, but… some key people rallied. We have most of the parts. If I build the bike myself Saturday can we run the bike Sunday, just for points?”
I felt two unsettling things; One, the fact that I texted this. Two, the fact that Mike never responded.
Two hours, and a few more parts later, I emailed Mike. I told him what, I told him why, and then I asked again.
I felt two unsettling things; One, the fact that I emailed this. Two, the fact that Mike never responded.
Fuck… We’re gonna throw the whole year away. Doesn’t sound like it, those aren’t the words being used, but that’s exactly what’s happening. Get any result possible; last, mid-pack, crash, get hurt – sponsors roll with the punches. It’s racing after all. But don’t show up? We’ve been over this, it is the steamroller that is racing – nobody cares why you weren’t there. Just that you weren’t.
I got in my truck, drove straight to CalMoto, walked straight to Mike’s office – east coast style. Nothing felt unsettling anymore, until he looked up at me as I walked through the door. Man did that face say it all. He was my old girlfriend after I told her I wouldn’t be at the family reunion, because I’d be racing. He was my mom, any of the many years she asked if I’d retire soon, twenty years ago. And now he was our team owner, obviously thinking out loud, “What, in the middle of this epic storm of shit, do YOU want now…?!!”
You gotta love racing. Really. What else drives us to so blatantly abuse our favorite people?
Three sentences in, Mike looked back up from his hands full of his face and said, “You are right. We need to do this. We won’t give up.”
Permission, granted. Build, begins.
Chapter 3: 6/2/2014