TRACK PERSONALITIES

It doesn’t matter what track you go to in what part of the country, there are always the same types of people you come across. They may not look the same, or talk the same, but there’s no doubt you will see the following people at your track.

THE GURU

The motorcycle expert! He knows everything and in fact it was all his idea that bikes have one wheel behind the other because until he intervened they were going to build them with the wheels side by side. Motor, suspension, seat foam hardness, chain torque, you name it and he has an opinion on it and, more importantly, a way to fix it because it was designed poorly.

The Guru can get your bike to handle like there are no bumps on the track. The Guru get you more power than a top fuel dragster and The Guru will redesign any part on your bike in an afternoon in his workshop using just shifting spanners and an oxy welder.

My question to The Guru is, if you’re so good at what you do, why aren’t you working on a factory team or in a role developing new bikes because your knowledge seems a little unworthy at the local dirtbike track?

THE BANDIT

You know the guy. The rider whose bike looks like it’s been stolen with shredded graphics, ripped seat, bent bars and levers, and he rides in flanno from Best & Less. Every track has one of these guys and I love ’em. They ride for the right reasons: because they love it. It doesn’t matter how they look or how they ride, they’re there at the track week in, week out spending their last cent to ride a dirtbike.

The only frustrating thing about The Bandit is he often tries to ride at the same speed through the pits and car park. The Bandit loves a good doughnut and is usually the king of skids; a dusty car park with plenty of people to impress is The Bandit’s true home.

Then The Bandit pack forms and, before you know it, there are 10 guys in black and red Best & Less flannos doing a range of stunts up and down the car park, creating more dust than a construction site in a drought.

I love The Bandit. I just wish he’d do it somewhere else and not get my ride covered in dust before I even hit the track.

THE CLAIMER

The coaching business in Australian motocross is thriving and any guy with a spare weekend can become a coach. Now we have competition among the coaches and the commonest way for them to promote is to claim every good result of every rider that’s ever walked within shouting distance of The Claimer.

“I told him to do that.” “We worked on that during the week.” “I spoke to his parents about his starts.” Hell, there are heaps of things you hear from The Claimer and all reflect the sheer wisdom of his words passed onto the rider.

Now I’m all for assisting the riders and helping them get the best results they can but if you’re going to stand trackside and claim every success of the rider, you also have to take on every failure. And there’s always plenty of those. Claiming is a two-way street and, on top of that, the rider’s the one who must absorb the knowledge, put it into practice and do it right in the heat of battle. Why not let the rider take the kudos for getting it right and improving his riding? He’s the one putting in the long hours at the practice track and in the gym — let him have the credit for a good race or season.

THE KING

At every track, some guy with a little bit of authority let’s it go to his head and suddenly thinks he’s Obama of his own little patch. He’s usually a “my way or the highway” kind of guy and seems to think no fun should be allowed on his watch. Offer a suggestion to help things run a little smoother and you will be told to back down, soldier. Offer some advice on the track and you’ll be told you’re walking on thin ice and the track is not your domain. You are the rider and you ride what we put in front of you.

The King usually doesn’t stay around too long as the stress of leading a club in an iron fist way usually burns him out pretty soon and he often walks away in anger at the lack of support from his disciples.

You meet all kinds of people at motocross and most of them are good people who love the sport and love to be involved. Every sport needs a Guru, Bandit, Claimer and King and motocross has plenty, but that’s what makes the world go round.

The last thing we need more of is some smart-mouthed, washed-up racer taking pot shots at the grass roots people of motocross in his monthly magazine column. That guy is a Guru, Bandit, Claimer and King all rolled into one — and nobody likes that!