Words Scott Bishop
Well, that kooky Alessi family has been at it again. While Mike’s working hard to improve his public image and his racing, brother Jeff whips out a laser light and starts shining his portable disco show on the riders at an AMA National event.
Then, when Jeff’s busted, father Tony defends the kid, threatens to destroy a journo’s career and swears like a drunken truck driver at officialdom. After all is said and done, Jeff is banned from having a pro licence, Tony is banned from an AMA race until 2014 and the MotoConcepts team cops a hefty yet well-deserved fine.
Jeff has been a visitor to Australia and raced the Super X events in 2010. He seemed a reasonable kinda guy, a little weird, but that’s true of 99 per cent of US citizens. While he was here, Yamaha had lined up a heap of dealership promotions and Jeff could often be found behind the counter at the shop on the staff computer, working his Facebook or posting on US MX forums.
So, that led me to thinking about all the visiting riders who’ve done some wild things while here in Australia. Below is a list of some of them — but with the names left out.
IF IT’S ROCKIN …
One recent visitor was obviously on a sex tour. The only time he wasn’t riding in the bedroom was when he was riding his bike. Air stewardess, waitresses, checkout chicks — it didn’t bother our friendly visitor. When he went back I’m sure he could have said, “Been there, pumped her.”
Another rider used to work on the other riders’ girlfriends while here just to get in the heads of his competitors. At the majority of after-parties, our US visitor took the weed whacker out and started cutting the grass of any rider with a cute girlfriend. It didn’t make him popular with many of the Australian riders.
On a plane returning from an event, another US visitor was lucky enough to get the exit row with the extra space. The mile-high waitress wandered over and hit everyone with the safety speech and finished with “Are you all willing and able to help?” to which our hero replied, “No.”
He then went on to say it’s every man for himself and if this thing ditches into the ocean, he’s bailing out instantly. The hostie didn’t know what to say or how to deal with it and just walked off, shaking her head. By the tone in his voice, I’m sure he wasn’t lying; he was a pretty nervous flier and I have no doubt he’d be the first guy out the window.
THAT AIN’T FUNNY!
US riders don’t have a sense of humour when it comes to their bike or their gear. One rider was being a little annoying so his helmet was filled with dirt and a plant was stuck in there. It made the perfect pot plant and was a nice touch in his motel room — until he saw it.
Another rider had his bike plastered in stickers. From tyre to tyre, bars to Footpegs, all covered in stickers. It looked funny and any Australian rider would appreciate the effort someone had gone to for a practical joke — but not a US rider. He was furious and screamed that you never mess with his bike. Then when he found the sixpack of JD and Coke in his airbox, he lost control.
Speaking of lost control, as the freeriding thing gained momentum and the expression session became a fan favourite, the US riders were often up for the show. One of the pioneers of FMX was in Australia at the time and cocked his bike flat of the triple for the expression session, then didn’t bother bringing it back. It landed footpeg first. Our visiting Seppo charged over to the commentator and shouted, “If someone will give me another bike, I’ll do it again.” No, he didn’t get another bike.
A bunch of US riders came over in the late 80s and in the days prior to serious factory support that we now see in Australia the international riders borrowed other riders’ bikes or practice bikes of the supported guys. But there were very few spare parts as riders were in vans and it was all about the basics.
At a track in Queensland during a major event, one Yank must have been channelling Robbie Maddison as he was obviously going for the world’s longest jump. The jump led onto a whooped-out straight where most locals landed in the second or possibly third whoop. Our visiting friend was jumping to the fourth and then decided to go for the fifth. On his first try, he destroyed a front wheel. His second attempt in the next race was much the same. His fourth attempt saw the fourth front wheel smashed. By then the pits had run out of wheels and he had to miss the final race.
Manjimup in WA is a race all pro riders must do. The after-party at the track is always huge and then there’s a back-up party during the week at a local rider’s house. One US rider was having a great time, loving the local beer and getting loose. He got so loose, the hacksaw came out and any bike within sight got the instant free-rider haircut with both the front and rear guards cut off at the bolts. And then, just to make sure they were in sound mechanical order, he fired them up and revved the bejesus out of them for a full 30 seconds.