Thursday Summary at Jerez: Of Full Paddocks, Named Corners, & Sexuality in MotoGP

05/03/2013 @ 12:00 am, by David Emmett31 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Jerez: Of Full Paddocks, Named Corners, & Sexuality in MotoGP jerez spanish gp motogp scott jones 635x422

The MotoGP paddock is assembled in all its splendor at Jerez, and it is positively bulging at the seams. Shiny new hospitality units (very shiny, in the case of the Go&Fun Gresini unit) now pack the paddock, the existing units larger and new units added, causing the paddock to loosen its belt and expand into the adjacent car park, sequestering part of the area previously reserved for team and media cars. Under a bright blue Andalusian sky, it really is looking at its most appealing.

The expanded paddock makes you understand why IRTA decided to ban Moto2 and Moto3 riders from having their motorhomes in the paddock, all of them now expelled. The riders themselves are less impressed. “It was nice to have somewhere you could zone out during the day, and relax,” Scott Redding said of the change. Sitting in the hospitality and watching the world go by was very pleasant, but still left him on his guard, he explained. Private quiet time was gone.

And it also removes part of the socialization process which young riders used to undergo, with the Moto2 and Moto3 men wandering around the paddock chatting to team members and other riders, everyone getting to know each other, and catching up on the latest news and gossip.

It was part of what made the paddock feel like a village; a small Italian village, high in the mountains, with an inexplicably male-dominated population.

The Moto2 and Moto3 riders added much to the fun of the place, spending most of their evenings challenging each other to wheelie competitions on mountain bikes and scooters. The paddock loses much with the change, feeling more like a workplace than a community.

Despite the loss of teenage hooligans trying to outdo each other at various two (and one) wheeled contests, there is a real buzz in the paddock. The race is shaping up to be one of the most interesting in a very long time, possibly one of the best races of the season. The reason is simple: this is a track which, though it favors the Yamaha, the Honda can compete as well.

“Every track has places where each bike is strong,” Dani Pedrosa told the Spanish media today, pointing out that the poor weather at the test in March had worked against the Honda, and not given a true picture of how well they thought they could do.

But the Yamahas are favorite, with Jorge Lorenzo’s name being penciled onto the trophy on Sunday. Cal Crutchlow spent an interesting five minutes explaining to the assembled English media exactly why Jorge Lorenzo is so fast. “Every time we get to the same lean angle that he does, we crash,” Crutchlow said. “I crash, Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso) crashed, Rossi crashes. Jorge does it in every corner, on every lap.”

A win for Lorenzo at Jerez would be fitting, as he has a special connection with the circuit. It was the first proper track he ever rode at, back in 1997 when he was 10. It was the track he made his Grand Prix debut on, on his 15th birthday back in 2002. And he will celebrate his 26th birthday on Saturday at the track, where a corner – the final hairpin, scene of many legendary battles – will be named in his honor.

Renaming that hairpin will also remove one of the last traces of tobacco sponsorship from the sport; it is currently named the Ducados hairpin, after the Spanish cigarette brand which sponsored racing throughout the 1980s and 1990s. To this day, there are pictures of Sito Pons riding a Ducados-liveried Derbi to be found in bars all around Jerez. The pictures remain, but the cigarette sponsorship is now gone.

A lot of the interest is in the Ducati garage, where Michele Pirro will be racing the latest version of Ducati’s lab bike. The two factory Ducati men are also intrigued, and are looking forward to riding the bike on Monday at the test. Nicky Hayden expanded further on the differences between Pirro’s ‘lab bike’ and the existing GP13. He had taken a close look during the test in November.

“At that point it was still a bit of a lab bike,” Hayden explained, “so it wasn’t the cleanest bike. But it was very interesting what they did with the adjustable chassis, it was very nice to see and a great concept. That was something Filippo [Preziosi] had shown me drawings of last year, and right away it was something which was pretty impressive.”

The main point of the lab bike was to allow Ducati to rapidly test changes in chassis flexibility, Hayden explained. “Last year was the first time Ducati built an aluminum chassis, and we’re up against manufacturers who’ve been doing it for years,” Hayden said.

“Number-wise, geometry-wise, we knew where we wanted to be, but the one thing we’ve had a hard time doing is finding the right stiffness, flexibility, lateral. There’s more than just one kind of stiffness, you need torsional stiffness for braking, for turning, and with this bike it’s easier to try to dial in the right stiffness without changing a complete chassis every time,” Hayden went on to say.

“The main thing is to try to find the right stiffness without building a new chassis, which you can’t do overnight, and you can’t make the change in 20 minutes in a run, you’ve got to wait two hours and then see, but then the track’s hot or whatever.” The adjustable chassis made it much easier to make comparisons based on differing flexibility.

Hayden himself appeared with his right arm covered in bandages. Between Qatar and Austin, his right wrist had started to swell, though the cause was not entirely clear. He had a lot of tendonitis, he said, as well as a lot of inflammation in his wrist. It was painful, and he had a lack of motion in it. “Sitting here talking to you, it’s OK,” Hayden joked. Riding a MotoGP bike is an entirely different matter.

Now on to something much more sensitive. As a rule, I try to avoid politics, as for the most part, the world of motorcycle racing is only tangentially related to politics, but there is one issue that caught my imagination recently. Last week, NBA center Jason Collins came out as the first openly homosexual athlete in any of America’s four major sports.

He did so very publicly, in Sports Illustrated, the United States’s most important sports publication. It triggered a debate that is long overdue, on the fact that there are so many professional athletes, and yet a statistically improbably low number of openly homosexual or lesbian players in almost any sport.

It is a conversation I have had a number of times with various people in the paddock. Coming from a country in which homosexuality is a non-issue – or at least, in big cities, and outside of certain communities – it seemed to me odd that there were no openly homosexual riders in the Grand Prix paddock.

In fact, there are very few openly homosexual journalists, mechanics, team managers, or whatever in the MotoGP paddock. That goes beyond a statistical anomaly; that reeks of prejudice.

Though I personally believe what people choose to do in their bedrooms (or any other room) is entirely up to them, to be in an environment where no one feels comfortable enough to be open about their sexuality is slightly disturbing.

Clearly, motorcycle racing – or rather, all of motorsports, as F1 journalist Will Buxton wrote much more eloquently than I ever will about homosexuality and the role of women in racing – is a very old-fashioned environment.

Let me correct that: motorcycle racing is a hotbed of misogyny and homophobia. That’s not to say that everyone in the paddock is a misogynist or homophobe, but that the atmosphere in the paddock, the pervasive machismo, is such that openly denigrating women or homosexuals is tolerated.

Even the most open-minded of the friends I have made in the paddock (and there are a lot of wonderful people there, open, honest, and authentic) will often say nothing when ugly attitudes towards women or homosexuals are given a public airing by others. Those airing them are in the minority, but people do not speak out against them. Nor do I, from cowardice, my worst vice.

My fear that the lack of openly gay individuals in the paddock is down to prejudice and homophobia has been fed by a number of incidents. I know personally of at least two individuals who have left the paddock because of the prejudice they felt against them.

It is not a pleasant environment in which to work for those who are openly gay, though it is markedly easier for lesbian women than it is for gay men. That, in itself, is symptomatic of the misogyny in the paddock, feeding male fantasies already stoked up by the plethora of women serving a purely decorative role in racing, regardless of what other qualities they may possess.

With all this in mind, and thinking of Jason Collins’s experience in the US, I asked a question in the press conference at Jerez on Thursday. It was phrased badly (something I know I need to work on), but it was as follows: “This is a question for everyone – it is quite a difficult question. Last week Jason Collins, an NBA player, admitted he was homosexual. Now there have been are no openly homosexual MotoGP riders. I want to hear your thoughts on why that is not the case. Are people afraid of coming out as gay, or are you all just more really interested in women?” The latter comment was meant as a light-hearted jest, trying to break the ice. I am still no good at asking the tough questions.

The full transcript can be found here, but the responses, and the conversation, was illustrative of the problem. The responses of the riders were all entirely supportive, unsurprisingly. These are all young men who grew up in an age when being gay was not ‘a thing’.

To them, it is almost entirely normal – almost, as they all felt the need to clarify their own situation, despite the fact that I did not ask them whether they were homosexual, merely why there were no openly gay riders in the paddock. The best answer was that given by Stefan Bradl, who joked “Maybe if it makes us faster we will think about it…”

The response of the assembled media was not quite so enlightened, given the sniggering and nervous laughter with which both the question and many of the answers were met. This, too, is no surprise, given that the average age of the media representatives is probably twenty years higher than the riders.

Here, the generation gap shows through, and it is here, it must be said, where the prejudice that has chased others out of the paddock emanates.

I was not interested in outing a particular rider, nor am I interested in which of the riders may or may not be gay. The way in which riders are perceived by the fans does interest me, however. There have long been rumors that a number of the riders are gay, as Jorge Lorenzo alluded to in his response. The suggestions of homosexuality are, as far as I know, based almost entirely on a cultural misunderstanding, on a failure to understand the different behaviors and signals found in various cultures.

An obvious example is the use of the rainbow flag. In the US and Northern Europe, the rainbow flag is a symbol claimed by the gay community, and flown proudly outside gay bars and social clubs. It is a symbol behind which the entire gay community – which is in itself incredibly diverse – can assemble to present a single, united face to the world.

In Southern Europe, it is different. In Italy, the rainbow flag is largely used by the peace movement, and other movements on the political left. When you see riders such as Alex de Angelis wearing a rainbow-colored helmet, it has nothing to do with his sexuality, and everything to do with his politics.

Then there are the rumors of riders being gay, usually surrounding riders and their friends and assistants. The example most often cited is, naturally enough, Valentino Rossi, who is widely suspected of being gay throughout the UK and much of North America.

Let us make one thing absolutely clear. Valentino Rossi is not gay. When I discussed this with an Italian journalist recently he was horrified, and he went on to explain to me at some length the culture that exists between Italian male friends. Friendships are tight, and sacred: you never, ever betray a male friend, you stand by his side at all times.

This culture is even stronger in small Italian villages such as Tavullia, where Rossi grew up and still lives today. The group of friends which surround Rossi is one of the reasons he remains so grounded, the jocular atmosphere making it abundantly clear that Rossi is one of them, not someone who stands above them. He may be a multiple world champion, but his still just one of the guys.

Rossi’s friendship with Uccio (the nickname of Alessio Salucci, Rossi’s close friend and assistant) is a bond forged in childhood, and of unbreakable strength. The two men are close, yet the impropriety suspected in the English-speaking world is entirely without any basis.

Rossi himself has had a string of girlfriends, who usually remain carefully out of the media’s prying eyes, while Uccio has a child with his long-time partner, a daughter born late last year. The friendship between the two men is built on the fact that they have grown up together, having known each other since pre-school.

The relationship is not unlike those seen among male friends in Britain. The numbers of men who would rather be down the pub with their friends, instead of at home with their wives and children, is large beyond measure. So it is with Rossi and his friends: a group of men growing up together will stick together and hang out together in later life as well. That has nothing to do with sexuality; it is purely a question of companionship, nothing more.

But enough of riders who are not gay, will there ever be a rider – or team manager, or crew chief – who feels secure enough in the MotoGP paddock to come out as gay? In the current climate, that seems unlikely, given the atmosphere that still pervades motorcycle racing, especially among the generation of men in their late forties and beyond who fill some of the more senior roles in the paddock.

That climate will change, however, and some time – sooner than we think – being homosexual will not even be an issue. The first rider to come out openly will cause a stir, but the second one will probably go almost unnoticed. That is exactly as it should be: it is none of my business, nor any of your business, which rider does what with whom, as long as the activities involve consenting adults.

Before that, however, the homophobia and misogyny in the paddock needs to be dealt with. Steps are being made with the poor attitudes towards women in the paddock, there are an increasing number of women performing serious and important roles. That includes roles which have not been traditionally seen as feminine, including data engineers, mechanics, and of course, now also riders.

Having women feature in prominent roles opens the sport of motorcycle racing up to a wider public; little girls watching racing can now aspire to do more than just hold the umbrella over a rider, while wearing an ill-fitting and unnecessarily skimpy outfit. They can dream of being the cool woman in the team uniform with the headphones and the laptop, giving the bike one last check before the race.

Or the team owner, ensuring that her rider has everything they need before the race starts. Or the rider herself, strapping on her helmet and buckling her gloves, ready to take on the greatest challenge of her life. More girls and women watching means a bigger audience, and more money in the sport.

A similar transformation has taken place in British soccer, which has gone from an underfunded, hostile male atmosphere to a wealthy, successful, family-friendly leisure outing. The same is true for making the sport more friendly towards homosexuals – or I should perhaps say, less openly hostile towards homosexuals.

The pink dollar/euro is much in vogue with restaurants, hotels, and other leisure-related businesses: largely free of children, gay and lesbian couples have more disposable income to spend. That money could be helping to fund motorcycle racing as well, if the sport was perceived as being neutral towards sexuality. The sometimes rabidly macho culture which surrounds motorcycle racing only chases potential audiences away.

This does not require massive changes to the sport. In fact, it requires barely any changes at all. Making the atmosphere at a race a little less raucous, a little less macho, already helps. Providing decent facilities at a racetrack, clean bathrooms, plentiful and healthy food options, spots for children to play, will make a racetrack feel more like a nice day out for everyone, regardless of age, sex, sexuality, or race, and less like a survivalist challenge based around the Mad Max series of movies.

Here at Jerez, where family groups roam both the paddock and the hillsides around the track, there are signs of a better future for motorcycle racing. One where everyone is welcome, and more people spend their money to watch racing.

That might even mean more companies are interested in sponsoring motorcycle racing, and that in turn would mean that more factories could afford to return to the sport. A more open, accepting racing environment is also one with more money to spend on exotic prototypes. And that is good for everyone.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Pearty says:

    I found this a rather clumsy and confused piece of writing.

  2. Chris D says:

    Really? I agree with pearty

  3. Shawn says:

    Part of what I like about motorcycle racing is the escape from other day-to-day issues. I like the non-political nature of watching the best riders in the world engage each other in a race. Thanks for screwing the pooch, A&R.

  4. Whatever says:

    This was a messy article at best. MotoGP appeals to people who love motorcycles and racing. All of my girlfriends have gotten into it after dating me for a bit and they weren’t offended by the umbrella girls. Stop trying to make everything a padded safe room for every special interest group. Next week it will be, “why isn’t there a black GP rider?” etc. Who cares? Just enjoy the show. It’s a male dominated sport because men participate and mostly men spectate.

  5. Stephanie says:

    This was a really good article, and highlights the one thing motorsports needs to embrace, in order to gain more main stream acceptance. As for it being a poor piece of writing, I disagree, I think it is the content you are not liking. I have A LOT of experience with this sort of thing – I have raced motocross at a high level, and have since undergone gender transition, from male to female. Pretty much all my competitors (including the women I now race against) have been very supportive, it is the older parents and riders that have a problem. And before people try and tar me as a dirty tranny freak, I am just a normal woman that doesnt even raise an eyebrow, except fot my love of all things motorcycle :)

  6. protomech says:

    Perhaps overly long. Still well written and a timely topic.

    Moto racing as with all other aspects of society will change naturally, if forces within do not prompt change. The old guard will be replaced with newer generations, and attitudes will shift.

  7. anon says:

    Thanks for writing this. The misogyny of motorsports (if not the sports culture in general) has long bothered me. There are many fans and athletes out there who are being alienated by the current sports culture, and this needs to be addressed now.

  8. ctk says:

    I dont see the misogyny. Paddock girls volunteer to do their work, no? And maybe it is different at press conferences and in the paddocks but I watch MotoGP for motorcycle racing. Shawn said it best. Its an escape from the inundation of political squabbling and polarization. Lets stick to the bikes, the riders, and the championship. I dont care what these people do outside of racing.

  9. Gerard says:

    Great piece of writing. I’ve worked in the paddock, and it goes beyond the article, as it is common that half the paddock goes to the stripclubs at Sunday night, it is weird when you don’t go. However often you can say ‘I’m here for the racing, I don’t care for the politics”, it doesn’t take away the fact that a woman in the paddock is perceived as a mechanical object, whether engineer or umbrella lady. If we want more woman and gay people to get excited for this great sport, first we have to welcome them.

    I admire your courage to have asked the question, Jensen!

    p.s. I found it quite cool that I was much slower than this cool gay dude when racing in the AFM:)

  10. Cheese says:

    I didn’t find it clumsy or confusing. I’m just hoping the comment section doesn’t turn out to highlight the lack of tolerance we as a country tend to display. Whether we like it or not politics is part part of racing and always will be. Nobody is forced to read these articles. And I have a feeling that David knows about the paddock a lot better than any of us.

    @whatever – perhaps if it was a family member/friend/associate of yours that felt the need to leave the paddock due to prejudice your attitude would be different.

  11. JoeKing says:

    Jensen..you’ve been played being drawn into this vile drivel. A fitting end to a sad week in MotoGP begun with the Schwantz-Puig-Pedrossa melodrama…the National Enquirerization of m/c journalism.

    This is a horrible violation of the privacy of public figures by a pathetic voyeur clum-silly attempting to unearth the lingering “questions” of various rider’s sexual proclivities hiding behind the Collins story. What next..are you a Communist..a vegen…a child molester?

    What of the riders who didn’t pledge their heterosexuality..should we wonder???

  12. G says:

    While I enjoy the article, and many good points are made (those dealing with money) I disagree. Maybe because I am from the “who gives a shit” generation, the fact that there are (or lack there of) homosexual or black or whatever has absolutely no affect on my view of the sport. As for making the sport more politically correct (lets face it, thats what you are saying here) I would resist. Everything around us is already way too tongue in cheek as it is. Sport; Motorsport specifically, is one of the last venues where men can still go to be men. To be roudy, to get excited and to be in our element of competition and do all the things that society (largely to be more corporate “family friendly”) has told us is unacceptable. Its competition, its not supposed to be polite and fair.
    Much like the lack of hooliganism you noticed missing from the paddock, it in the nature of the sport and would be sorely missed with the core supporters. Even if the casual elite spectators are more comfortable, the sport is driven not by casual spectators, but by fans. Casual spectators dont buy overpriced Honda Fireblades in Repsol liveries. At a motorcycle race, be it GP or a local track day, I enjoy the rudeness and hooliganism of a hormonal teenager doing a wheelie on a pitbike into a gatorade cooler to impress a RedBull girl. Its part of the show.

  13. uberbox says:

    I frankly don’t understand why there needs to be talk about who is or isn’t gay in sport. To me it seems that it’s more discriminatory to have to make a point about who’s gay then simply to accept that some athletes are homosexual and leave it a that, this is 2013 after-all. I really could care less about a rider’s sexual preference, and until the media stops slapping people in the face with it so they can have something to talk about, there will be more perceived inequality then may actually exist.

    On a side note, I do think making Gran Prix more family friendly and less macho is a good thing. I know my wife would certainly appreciate being able to go to races with me not have to eat $10 fried Twinkies and know that there are half naked women walking around trying to get me to buy something.

  14. Sean says:

    Did any of the rest of you notice the Asphalt and Rubber logo made a change a few weeks back to emulate the blue and yellow equal rights sticker found on the back of many cars? It was the red field with two Panigales viewed from above creating the equal sign.
    I feel like there is a real effort to create this issue in every single aspect of our daily life, and it’s getting old.

  15. smiler says:

    “in the fact that there are so many professional athletes, and yet a statistically improbably low number of openly homosexual or lesbian players in almost any sport……in America. What is the issue exactly? Such a parochial country inspite of all the noise to the contrary.

    Everywhere else no one cares at all. As long as people are treated with respect for what they do and do not bring others into disrepute.

    Much more interesting is to see Cal in 2nd place after FP2, 0.3 secs between the usual suspects with Rossi in front of Merguez.
    CRT’s performing better than Ducati but Pirro knocking off 0.4 secs and in doping so dropping the gap to the front whilst the team boys had got slightly worse. But with a Ducati just 1 sec off the front spot.

  16. GT says:

    There’s 10 minutes of my life I won’t get back.

  17. Daja says:

    Can we just keep it at motorcycle racing? I’m no homophobe but mand I just cant stand media shoving their sexuality on us all. Anyone ever stop to think, that openly expressing one sexuality might be offensive to someone else. Of course not! Fact is everyone has a bias. People are rooted out of social events, gatherings, etc because of countless other differences. One thing we can all enjoy is racing. Not politics or social engineering. Stick with what makes the sport great. Racing!!!

  18. TheSwede says:

    @Sean

    It was a temporary change coinciding with a major debate in Congress. It wasn’t made into a big deal, just a small way for Jensen to show his support. It was there and now its not. I’d hardly call that creating an issue.

    I don’t necessarily see the paddock in the same light as its been described, but I’ve never even been to a GP race, so I’m certainly not going to tell anyone they’re wrong, I just watch the BBC coverage online (because Speed sucks) so what do I know..

    And I think people are getting confused about the question. Its not about if someone in particular is gay or not. I don’t care, and neither does David, that’s not why he asked. Its about if someone is, would they feel comfortable having their significant other greet them in park ferme to celebrate. That’s it. I don’t see how or why anything else has to change IMO

    Nobody forces you to read this. The acceptance of openly gay athletes is gaining traction, and to think its going to stop at basketball or football is a little short sided.. The odds are someone in the paddock is, and I’d rather this sport be a forward thinking entity than be the last one out in the cold

  19. Bob says:

    Thanks for writing an article that just lumped A&R in with the rest of the trash rags you find at the grocery store checkout lanes. Bringing the topic up is simply low class.

    It’s been my experience in this life that the only people who feel the need to bring up topics of racism and sexism because of perceived discrimination are those who are themselves racist and sexist. Ask anyone who cries wolf that they’ve been discriminated against and you’ll mostly find that they caused the problem in the first place or unjustly feel some sense of entitlement because they believe they are different.

    Let’s leave the seedy gossip, politics. racism and sexism out of motorcycles. Keep your personal agendas to yourselves rather than shove it in everyone’s faces. It brings nothing of vaule to the motorcycle world. It only ruins things for the fans of all things motorcycle related. There’s are plenty of other forums on the web to talk about this crap that really doesn’t matter to anyone else but those who actually have an issue with it themselves…and it’s usually their own issue. Those who don’t have an issue, don’t talk about it.

    Let’s get on with FP1 and FP2 results now.

  20. William says:

    Good article

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

    ― Dante Alighieri, Inferno

  21. SFChris says:

    I’m gay. I love motorcycles. Most of my surplus time and money goes into them and consequently I read A&R. In my early 30’s, in 2003, I told my parents I was gay (they asked) and they (to no surprise to me) disowned me outright. Dad died of cancer two years ago and I never even knew. On the other hand, he picked me up from school one day when I was 8 and we went right to the Honda dealer and he bought me a new shiny red Honda 80cc enduro. At the time piloting that bike down old railroad grades was the proudest moment of my young life. I could do something that most adults couldn’t do. At the same time I’m aware that I likely had a bike at a young age because we didn’t live in a “big city” and we lived outside of “certain communities”. Not randomly, I live in a big city now and am inside certain communities and most everyone I meet here is fine with gay people and are terrified of motorcycles. Fate it seems is not without a sense of irony. I’m not here to moan about my adolescence lived in the closet, my misanthropic outlook and general paranoia that results from knowing you’re two words from being thrown on the street by your redneck parents. At the same time avoiding such needless problems are an obvious social good. I can hear the peanut gallery saying, “Sounds like a personal problem having nothing to do with motorcycles.” That’s true to a point but how did homosexuality not become an issue in places where it is not an issue today? Poll after poll (Gallup, Pew) show that the single most important indicator of people treating gay people as equals at best (or at least not criminals) is knowing gay people directly or indirectly. For that to happen gay people need to come out of the closet. It’s worth keeping in mind that being gay is still a serious crime in a number of third world countries and severe discrimination is real and pervasive in many places in the world, just as it was most everywhere else if you go back in time not so long ago. Jason Collins was tired of telling lies and half-truths to conceal that he’s gay. He was tired of living a lie. At the same time he has single-handedly increased the level of oxygen gay athletes can breathe today. Jackie Robinson forever changed the landscape of race in sports in America and gay athletes like Collins are doing the same. They matter. They matter most because they exist and by their existence give gay kids role models and straight kids / future parents an understanding of the diverse world they live in and a better way forward for all of us, gay and straight, to live together more harmoniously.

  22. Westward says:

    Asphalt & Rubber has censored one of my post in the past for having a perceived affront to homosexuality. Personally I find censorship more offensive than anything else.

    However, this article is as well written as D.Emmett has always done. The reason for writing it I guess is timely, I only just learned about the NBA fella via a second hand source.

    Personally, I think MotoGP could be as big as any of the main sports once it figures put how to attract more than just motorcyclist. MotoGP will always be a niche sport consistantly under threat of deminishing fan base if it continues the way it has. The sport is bracing for the moment Rossi retires, hoping the remaining personalities are enough to grow the sport further.

    I travel a lot for work. I can’t wait for the day I can walk into a restaurant that has its TV tuned to MotoGP without me requesting it, as I pry it from the usual bowling or shuffle board contests.

    Martial Pasini once raced in hot pink liveries in Barcelona during one of the last 250 seasons. It was an interesting conversation having to explain to a few Americans that the pilot was not gay, rather that he was sponsored for that race by a local night club featuring ladies night.

    Also, thanks for the explanation for De Angelis’s rainbow helmet. I knew it had some significance other than gay pride. I use to just say its cultural. Now I know it’s political…

  23. Kevin says:

    Dave & Jensen,

    Very nice article and cudos for haveing the cajones to write it. Maybe it’s my gay brother, gay friends and having so many women friends but I’ve never felt anything out of the ordinary in the paddock except for the ever growing damn we need money VIP setups growing and that’s my focus here.

    VIP is at best a prayer that one of those with pockets full of cash will end up a sponsor (not) and at worst a downgrading of the paddock. The paddock should be about the riders/teams mixing and mingling and those new younger moto3/2 getting to know the more experienced riders and members of the paddock. Kicking the smaller teams out to accommodate the “VIP” crowd is pathetic at best. At least in MotoGP unlike the Isle of Man TT the press isn’t pushed away from the start to make room for VIP’s who don’t know sheet about what’s going on. At COTA Dorna did so little for the teams that the track was selling VIP passes to the grandstand to the teams. Meanwhile back at the Four Season’s in Austin ($649 a night race week $549 regular rate) was the Dorna staff although I know of at least one Dorna media staffer who was elsewhere. To me Dorna whining about their $$ plight while staying at the Four Season’s is a bit hypocritical.

    So Jensen and Dave how about a story on the VIP status and it’s effect on the younger racers being kicked out of the paddock. As has been said before racing survives on the fans who really care not those you can recruit to a VIP Village for a couple thousand dollars a weekend.

    Lastly, Jensen, it’s OK mate. We all know you are a single man past the usual serious dating and marriage time of life. Hang in there mate none of us care. LOL

  24. Nathan Weber says:

    Why does everything in the freaking world have to be about gayness in one way or another?

  25. Kev71 says:

    In North America Rossi is “widely suspected of being gay?” I’ve lived in North America my whole life; Watched and raced at many tracks over 40 years, and have NEVER heard in my thousands of conversations with riders, fans, dealers, etc. That Rossi is gay. Not sure where you got that bit of information but it’s way off base.

    As for Jason Collin, he is NOT signed to a team for next year, and averaged 1 point and 1 rebound. His salary was $1.1 million. If he is not signed next year it will not be because he is gay. It wil be because teams can get better production at a cheaper price. His “coming out” was a media ploy because he knows he probably won’t play next year. Is homophobia rampant in sports… yes! Should it be….. no! I do not think Jason Collins revelation to the world will change anything.

    If athletes decide to remain silent about their sexuality, it is because they know what the locker rooms and paddocks are like. They know that the “right words” will be said to the media. Behind closed doors, attitudes wil be much different. This will not be a story in a few months, then the media will drag it back out when basketball season is starting.

  26. MikeD says:

    I say good read. I love a good bickering and bantering and reading the sane/crazy replies here, i say time well spent reading it all.

  27. hoyt says:

    It’s pathetic that in the middle of 2013 we are still talking about issues that all of us as individuals have no more of a decision in than what color of skin each of us has or whether each of us were born male or female with x height.

    The day when tangential topics to racing, basketball, etc. (such as sexual orientation) do not make headlines will be great, but unfortunately, the under current is swift & dangerous.

    The blatant racial discrimination of the 1960’s (just 50+ yrs ago!) didnt occur over night. It continued slowly & profoundly since the Civil War, largely due to passive attitudes.

    Many parts of American culture became too much of a risk for many passive whites to take a stand against The bullshit in the 60s. This is even more tragic when you consider the largest loss of life the USA has ever endured took place a hundred years earlier, largely over racism.

    Think the passive attitude about sexuality isn’t running parallels? Matthew Shepard died a torturous death in 1998 b/c of something that was as natural to him as your own sexuality….and eye color and foot size.

    Speak up until the under current is just a trickle

  28. “It’s a male dominated sport because men participate and mostly men spectate.”

    It’s also a male-dominated sport because there’s a significant percentage of males who believe that women have no place participating in it. As an example, I remember reading an article regarding Maria de Villota’s unfortunate crash test driving for the Marussia F1 team last year. Some of the comments were shocking, along the lines of her having no business in an F1 car simply because she was female. I find such thinking primitive and repulsive.

    Personally, I love women in racing. Back when I was parts & accessories manager @ Gran Prix Cycle in Toronto, Toni Sharpless and Kathleen Coburn would drop by and talk shop. (I crushed hard.) Both featured prominently in the Canadian racing scene and went on to compete @ Suzuka in the 8-Hour for Yamaha Nescafe Americana. Great racers and wonderful people, both.

    In MotoGP, I’ve loved watching Taru Rinne and Katja Poensgen in the lower classes. In Moto2 last year, I kept hoping that Elena Rosell would find her pace and keep her ride. I sponsored Stacey Nesbitt in the last year to head to Qatar for the Red Bull Rookies try-outs. We need women in racing. We need to stop acting and thinking that sexism = sexy.

    Strong females feature throughout society. Racing is a tough area for them to enter, though. After all, no guy likes to be beaten ‘by a girl’.

  29. Norm G. says:

    re: “I frankly don’t understand why there needs to be talk about who is or isn’t gay in sport.”

    that’s what i’m screamin’. who gives a rat’s..?!

    from my perspective, i’d feel just as uncomfortable with say an openly HETERO mechanic in the paddock if they’re runnimg around playin’ “grab ass” with the brolly all day. why…? because we got work to do, and if you’re doing that…? then you ain’t focused on spinnin’ the wrench that i’m paying you to spin. we’re “in country” for all of 72hrs, full stop, now you had best unfukk yourself. (best sgt. hartman voice)

  30. Norm G. says:

    re: “In North America Rossi is “widely suspected of being gay?” I’ve lived in North America my whole life; Watched and raced at many tracks over 40 years, and have NEVER heard in my thousands of conversations with riders, fans, dealers, etc. That Rossi is gay. Not sure where you got that bit of information but it’s way off base.”

    i’ve heard the topic broached once or twice. that being said, perhaps a better statement would be “In North America Rossi is NARROWLY suspected of being gay”.

  31. Norm G. says:

    re: “The main point of the lab bike was to allow Ducati to rapidly test changes in chassis flexibility”

    oh if that’s the case, then the people they need to seek input from (or benchmark) are neither the Brits nor the Japanese nor anybody else… it’s their own countrymen…

    APRILIA.

    they wrote the white paper on adjustable ally.