John Ulrich, the man behind both Team Hammer and publication Roadracing World, seems to be content on airing his dirty laundry about rider John Hopkins on the WERA board this week. In his postings, Ulrich accuses Hopkins of keeping secret his hand’s deteriorated condition, and misrepresenting his physical fitness and readiness for the 2010 season. This issue has lead to Ulrich saying he won’t work with Hopkins ever again, despite Ulrich discovering the Anglo-American rider at a young age, and essentially jump-starting his motorcycle racing career.

If true, these acts and omissions could amount to fraud and misrepresentation on Hopkins’ part, and our sources tell us Monster Energy Drink is less than enthralled about Ulrich failing to take proper due diligence before signing the rider.

Politely accusing Hopper of being misleading about his physical condition and ability before the 2010 season Ulrich says, “I did a good-faith deal with him based on being told that he was in the same condition as he was when he was getting on MotoGP podiums in 2007. I thought he was ready to win AMA Pro Superbike races in 2010.”

Hopkins in the 2010 season would later go on to have two surgeries to his hand, and as Ulrich puts it, “had the problem and associated extreme pain prior to signing the contract. He [John Hopkins] said afterwards that his wrist lacked so much mobility and had so little range of motion that at the first couple races he had to put his palm flat on the top of the twist grip and pull his hand back to work the throttle, vs. a normal twist of the wrist.”

Hiding an injury is of course nothing new to professional sports, but it could land Hopper in hot water legally if things get taken to court. While oral statements made during a contract negotiation are typically not binding unless written down and incorporated into the contract, it still could be argued that Hopkins entered into his contract with Team Hammer under bad faith, knowing that he would not be able to meet the terms of the agreement.

Whatever the legal ramifications, this appears to be the end of the road for Ulrich and Hopkins. After discovering Hopper when he was eight-years-old, and giving Hopkins his big break in motorcycle racing, Ulrich now says that he won’t be working with the Anglo-American ever again, which may have prompted Hopkins to begin looking for a ride in British Superbike.

While this is certainly just one side of what is surely to be a complex story, John Ulrich has been left holding the bag on the situation with Monster Energy Drink. Rightfully saying that Ulrich failed to do his due diligence before signing Hopkins to Team Hammer, our sources tell us Monster Energy Drink is not too happy about signing up to be a title sponsor to team with an internationally known racer, only to see him not compete in 8 out of 19 races during the season. It’s not clear at this time who will replace Hopkins at Team Hammer, although some indications of whom it will not be, namely Jake Zemke, have been made by Ulrich. As the world turns…

Source: WERA Board; Photo: © 2010 Dan Lo /

  • bruce armstrong

    So…… addition to being a motorcycle racer, Hopkins is expected to be a doctor, able to predict how physically fit he’ll be months out…….and Ulrich is surprised that a motorcycle racer would put a smiley-face of his future physical prospects in search of a contract ride. Sounds more like basketball to me.

  • georGe aka-VintageWrencher

    Bruce,no doctor can give as accurate a prognosis as the patient himself/herself. Its not that Hopper was expected to be a doctor,it was expected that Hopper be up front. It doesnt seem like he was.

  • Keith

    John Ulrich is the worst thing to happen to US motorcycle roadracing.

  • keet

    well, we know john doesn’t really care about winning, well, as long as he keeps his son as a rider.

  • LutherG

    I feel sorry for Hopkins to a certain extent. I’ve seen enough of him to see he is not very mature, and could well have personality disorders. His crashing, which can be traced to his inablity to control his emotions on the track, has severely damaged his career.
    Ulrich now has his own son to push along in racing. No kidding the racer downplayed his injuries. What a shock. The proper thing to do is not blame the racer for saying he’ll be fine. How much schooling does that kid have anyways? Due diligence is having an independent doctor evaluate the rider.

  • Steveo

    Keith You are dead wrong.

    Ulrich and the life saving efforts of Roadracing Action fund, Starting Ben Spies, Hopper, Geoff May, Elena Myers, Jason Disalvo, Martin Cardenas. And hundred of other riders, not to mention the solid advocation for better safety, pay, equipment rules etc. John is a man that supports and loves the sport. And he got his start because he truthfully wrote about performance part that was not very performing on more than one occasion…

    Hopper missed a ton of races and did not perform well at the beginning of the season, to Oust him like that is a bit extreme but in the end if Hopper lied or misled Ulrich I can’t blame him, Remember he was sought by Hopper’s Mom to coach him after her Husband died. Hopper owes a great deal to Ulrich period. Imagine if your own son lied to you just so that he could have a 2nd chance and in doing so put your reputation, business and livelihood at stake.

    Hopper I was a fan keyword

  • richmeyer

    I think Jake Holden did a pretty good job at filling in for Hopper so I cant see the argument of Monster Energy being that torqued off. Holden regularly ran up front, providing the energy drink maker with tons of exposure.

    Though I’m sure John Ulrich has done his fair share for American road racing, he still comes off as a self-serving jack wagon.

  • LutherG

    Look, the whole hopper mythology is built on what I beleive is a lie. His dad won the junior TT at the Isle of mann and was disqualified for being too young? And he never raced again. Oh, come on. I don’t care what year it was, you didn’t get on that course without some proof of age. And to be so good as to win it, and then never race again? please.

    Ulrich should not be airing his laundry–or as I would say –trying to cover his ass– by posting this crap in public. He is likely to lose Monster energy, so he is blaming Hopper. Frankly, that kid’s wrist was trashed in 2007, who knows what happened in between the signing and the racing. All I know is Ulrich is busy covering his rear on this one, otherwise he would not be publicly floating this all out there.


  • Ed Gray

    Ulrich is always going to go public. It’s his MO. It’s what we love and hate him for. He is a reporter.

    Clearly the relationship between them was deeper than usual in the business. As a father I feel for them both.

    I would have to guess that getting on the bad side of John U. is probably the singular worst thing a rider could do to his/her career barring jumping a contract.

  • ck

    i’m sorry but like JU or not, he is the best thing that has happened to road racing, air fence fund, changing rules for rider safety, RRW is a great mag, shall i go on

  • Bobby Ricigliano

    Heres an idea, if you don’t want something spread, don’t talk about it on the WORLD WIDE WEB. Buncha Mongo-loids lol.

  • I was always under the impression that Hopkins brought Monster to Ulrich, not the other way ’round. Wasn’t he a Monster athlete long before RRW ever carried Monster sponsorship?

  • Mark, Yup.

  • vonich

    oh boy.. that is the final nail on the coffin of hopkins road racing career.. i think its time for hopkins to hung the leathers..

  • Shrike

    Hopper is a great guy. I have met him on several occasions and pitted next to him at Daytona this year. You can’t honestly say that he knew that this was going to turn out the way it did. Even if his hand hurt when he was making the deal it is no assurance that it would not heal. I have had many many injuries in my life and the all get better. Some slowly and some quickly.

  • Bobby Ricigliano

    Three sides to every story. JU’s, Hopper’s, and the TRUTH! That thread on WERA is very unprofessional to be spewing such information.

  • LutherG

    I am totally with Bobby on this one. You can’t tell me JU got nothing from hopper? When healthy, he was winning races for him. Then he got credit for being an amazing talent spotter. JU is busy covering his ass for failing to properly assess this kid, and he’s trying to twist opinion against Hopper to prevent monster fro
    coming after him.

    It is absolutely as unforgivable as misrepresenting your health. Hopper doesnt have a
    Magazine to push his point of view. Frankly, I prefer the British racing mags, and bike magazines far more than the us magazines. Suzuki can’t seem to win in anyplace other than the US.

  • jack k willie

    whats his problem with jake zemke // jake is the best guy for the job//

  • John D’Orazio

    Its a fact that Hopkins never lived up to the hype surrounding him. It always looked like he had more guts than skill. It has been sad to watch him fall from Moto GP to World Superbike to AMA racing. Signing him was a gamble with long odds in my opinion. No doubt he is a great guy, but you have to perform to keep a ride and crashing is not going to advance your career. All that being said, I think airing this type of comment about Hopkins in public does not really help anyone.

  • LutherG

    Jason disalvo? You mean the kid who had a factory ride with triumph WSS only because he was an American, left them high and dry, and then ran down the team in public after he was gone?

  • Ricardo

    “LutherG says:
    December 9, 2010 at 9:24 AM
    I feel sorry for Hopkins to a certain extent. I’ve seen enough of him to see he is not very mature, and could well have personality disorders. His crashing, which can be traced to his inablity to control his emotions on the track, has severely damaged his career.”

    I recommend you go back and see how many skeletons the Suzuki gp bike has broken after Hopkins was gone. It actually has the highest record of injuries of the 4 stroke era.

    Hopkins’ falls were clearly due to the bike being a POS. Look how poorly Bautista and Capirossi are doing on it.

  • LutherG


    There isnt much doubt the Suzuki gp bike is a POS. In fact, I’m confused as to why suzuki only wins in american road racing. But hoppy was unforced crashing back when he was on yamahas.
    My opinion regarding his emotions afftecting his driving was gathered from listening to him commenting on his racing in the documentary “the doctor, tornado, and Kentucky kid.”. His talking about getting his energy from anger.

  • Drifter

    As this thing all plays out it becomes quite evident that Ulrich was just after the Monster Energy cash. As for the poster praising JU for the air fences……….. he has an alterior motive, keeping his no talent son Chris from getting killed!