Jan 6, 2012

For the Fans in the Stands

 Over 80mph is mandatory heading North on Interstate 15 just to avoid getting run off the road by the sin thirsty pilgrims in their fancy sports cars, hauling ass on this North American version of Europe's Autobahn. I wasn't going to Las Vegas for the money, sex, & drugs, as so many flock to this retched city to try to acquire...with most failing horribly. NO, No, I was going there to help someone, I was going to help the "super-fan." The guy who has raced, or wanted to race, all of his life. The guy who wonders what goes on outside of the stadiums, in the shops, and at the test track. The guy who has dreamt of what it all might look like, if the actual workings that go on here are anywhere close to the images he has held in his mind since he was a wee lad...his visions of what it would be like, to be, "one of the guys."

   The working man, the moto-head, the super-fan is who creates the demand for the extravagant processes that teams go through. For team owners, managers, and especially the mechanics, this can be down right exhausting. I joined the H&H crew for a few days to give you guys a peek at the reality of going racing.

This 1 is for you...Super-Fan Guy!  

 Very few know, and even less ever get to see, what actually goes on during the month before the start of the racing season.

The new bikes arrive in crates.

They are immediately disassembled.

Most of the bolts are replaced with titanium and aluminum to save weight.

Once out of the chassis, the engines are torn down.

The parts get boxed up and are sent out to be modified.

Subframes get cut and re-welded to lower the seat for some of the riders (the shorter ones).

Frames are fitted to have tabs welded on for skid plate mounting.

All the stock parts are put in containers and stored away until the end of the season, then they are put back on the bike along with a "for sale" sign.

Radiators are welded on the seams that come only soldered from the factory, and can split open like an egg if hit just right.

Different brackets are made for the seat to withstand the force of these guy's butts, when they seat bounce a jump.

Brakes are stripped down and sent out to be dipped in a special coating. Excess aluminum is also removed to save weight.

On this day, the mechanics are getting the practice bikes looking good for tomorrow's big photo shoot.

The sticker kits are very time consuming, and weigh a few pounds. I cannot believe that someone has not come up with a better way of printing the sponsors on the plastic, in this technology filled era.

Phil takes Ivan's skid plate off for an oil change, using a T-handle wrench.

Tony butts in with his impact tool (for removal only) and instructs the youngster to "work smarter...not harder."

The manager takes time away from the Sunday football game, to make sure the mechanics are on schedule.

After breakfast, the riders start to trickle into the shop and immediately they start caressing their dirt bikes. 

They all do this.

The next thing they do is take a picture of it and send it in their Tweet along with "how sick is my bike!?"

Next they start asking their mechanic nonsense questions, while he is concentrating on cutting stickers with a razor.

Once shooed away from the work stations, riders usually engage in some sort of kung-fu training.

Josh asks the manager "Why does Windham have a locker in our truck?" 

Kenny ignores Josh, and joins Tedesco in admiring his bike.

The Boss shows up and instantly starts modifying his own seat for tomorrow's ride.

When the mechanics offer to do it for him, he replies "No thanks, I enjoy doing this, it's like a sort therapy for me." Any guy who likes to work on his bike knows exactly what he's talking about.

The guys have been at it for over 12 hours, and still don't look like they're attempting to leave the shop.

The next morning everyone gathers at the shop and rolls out to the track.

The truck driver left in such a hurry he forgot his breakfast.

These guys were eyeballing it.

The weather was "iffy" for a photo shoot day.

The team decided that the rain would hold off, and started to lay down their own water on the track.

By the looks of the new gear, I could tell that Josh Hill was already here. 

After looking around, I found him out in the mud, touching up the track.

Josh is serious about his dedication towards this year's race season.

Next to arrive is the boss. When welcomed by everyone, the only thing he said was..."How come every time I see you, you look homeless?" Everyone wondered, but not me, I knew exactly who he was talking to.

Almost immediately the boss is prompted to do an interview.

Once away from the paparazzi, he takes a minute to reflect on how far his team has come in the last 4 years.

Hanson shows up, and as always, goes straight to caressing his bike.

Each rider had to do a model like photo shoot.

Ivan stayed warm in the truck until it was his turn on set.

The Fox rep was there to tell everyone all about the new boots.

The track is ready to ride.

Since they were doing a photo shoot, I stayed well out of their way, but still managed to grab a few shots of the riders myself...please enjoy.

Kyle's best "winners take all" imitation.

After the riding, there were still more photo shoots.

and interviews,

and interviews...

While the media was doing their job, the rest of us tried to figure out how this guy's buddy spelled Ribben instead of Ribbon, when he even later admitted that there were about 24 empty cans laying on the table during the tattooing process.

Back at the shop, and the washing never ends.

The mechanics keep working on the race bikes, well into the night.

Special tools are required.

The driver gets the honor of cleaning the rugs.

Mechanics start to complain about their "dishpan hands."

Riders' frames are engraved, so there is no confusion throughout the season.

Ivan's race engine is patiently waiting for its chassis.

Mechanics start to argue about who has gotten a worse case of "dishpan hands."

Late into the night and the boss is still hard at it.

On his way out, he stops and checks on Ivan's bike.

His bike has already been prepped and is ready for its next ride.

The truck driver has the honor of washing the riders' dirty gear, as well as the truck.

This is his fuel. Truck drivers are a strange breed, a sort of hybrid...similar to the back to the future car, when it was converted to run off of garbage.

Hansen shows up and starts to wonder which boots are his.

He tries them all on and is convinced none are his.

Kenny opens a "swag" box and looks if there is anything he likes.

Soon Josh has found the box and goes shopping himself.

One thing I really like about Tedesco is he is actually interested in what's going on inside his motorcycle. 

Tony, like any mechanic, is also excited about this and shows Ivan the differences in parts, via the photos on his phone.

He then explains in detail the reasoning behind his modifications.

Cinderella, still looking for the right fit.

All drivers are rockers at heart.

Cinderella finally starts making calls to ask the other riders' shoe sizes.

Soon the tape measure is out and everyone helps in looking for the glass slipper.

Meanwhile Hanny has found something he likes...

And it is now his.

Next thing we know, he is a self pronounced director, and is yelling "Quiet on the set!"

When I got to the track, the first one there, once again, was Hill.

He goes straight to the bobcat and fires it up.

Something told me this is routine for the youngster.

Next to roll in is Kyle, with son Landon, and his dirt bike.

I always like looking in the beds of the pros trucks and taking a quick inventory, most all cary the same things...tie downs, rope, VP fuel cap, dirty air filter, in-n-out bag, oil, dirty diaper, a shoe and sock, dirty rag, stroller, loose change, gloves, dirt, etc...

Landon goes big.

Due to my excellent tracking skills, I can tell you, that there was a truck driver here.

Finally the bikes have arrived.

The mechanics are constantly checking parts on the bikes.

Riders are constantly caressing the bikes.

Josh starts cuddling his little buddy.

Ivan makes the kids look bad, by being already dressed and ready to ride.

After he tells the kid to get his ass in gear, he hops on his bike for the first laps.

One of the few glories that a mechanic receives is watching his rider do amazing things on a bike that he built.

Out of nowhere, Hanson pops onto the track and lets Ivan know that he is a goon.

This starts an intense battle


After lap.

Hill was on his own training program.

Then Partridge jumped in on the tiff these two were having.

In the end, they made up with a mid air hand hold.

Josh thought a pop-a-wheelie would be the cutest thing ever.

Until half way down the start straight, he thought of something even cuter.

Ivan kept clicking off fast laps.

Landon got his turn on the track as well.

When I started to hear the term "Brokeback motocross" flying around, I figured it was best for me to pack up my gear and head on down the road. For my return trip home I carefully mapped out back country roads and stayed far away from the Interstate. I knew that if people were driving like such maniacs to get to Sin City, they would be driving twice as crazy to get the hell away from it.