Beyond the Ben Spies Twitter Fiasco

08/26/2013 @ 3:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS


Ben Spies was, and perhaps still is, America’s great white hope when it comes to MotoGP racing. A sensational young rider, Spies cut his teeth in the AMA on six class championships before going onto winning the World Superbike Championship in his rookie season.

Fast-tracked into MotoGP, Spies served his time, by rule, in Hervé Poncharal’s Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team, before finally getting the nod into Yamaha Racing’s factory outfit.

Fans expected a punctuated evolution from Spies when he put on Yamaha’s blue and white factory colors, as the Texan had shown great promise at Tech 3, and surely now with the very best that the tuning fork brand had to offer, Spies’s star would continue to rise, and a new generation of American GP domination could be ushered into the premier class. That was the hope at least, as unreasonable as it was.

Coming off a disastrous season at Yamaha in 2012, which ended with Yamaha declaring it had lost faith in the American, and Spies throwing a wrench in Yamaha’s marketing machine at the US GP at Laguna Seca, the hope would be that Spies’s move to Ducati would be a fresh start.

Instead, Spies entry into the Ignite Ducati squad has been a non-starter, with the Texan competing in only two grand prix races thus far this season. Instead of redemption, we have seen frustration, which perhaps is what brings us to today’s news, if you can call it that.

A day doesn’t go by where someone takes to the internet to vent their frustrations, and even lash out at another person. Removed from physical confrontation, and mixed in with a layer anonymity, services like Twitter show mankind’s great disposition to becoming an asshole, 140 characters at a time.

With all that has occurred in the past, and the previous paragraph said, it should then come as little surprise then that before it was promptly deleted, the following was tweeted from Spies’s official Twitter account, “Off to surgery tomorrow! Bet Carlo is so excited he wont remember to wipe the powder off his nose.”

The Carlo in question is presumably MotoGP powerbroker Carlo Pernat, who also happens to be the manager of Andrea Iannone (Spies’s teammate) and Alex de Angelis (Spies’s likely replacement), and the comment made is surely done so in light of the rumors that Spies could be ousted from his seat at Ducati for his lack of performance this season. Needless to say, the tweet caused some waves.

Mary Spies was quick to deny on SuperbikePlanet that the message came from Ben, or if it did, it came as a side-effect from the pain-killers used ahead of Spies’s surgery. Mary also added that, at the very least, Ben knows six men named Carlo, which lay doubt over whom the GP racer intended to receive his social media barb, though she doubted it was in reference to Mr. Pernat.

With the incident reaching tabloid levels in Italy, and getting some attention here in the United States as well, I have little interest in exploring the he-said-she-said nature of this story. For me, the issue between the interested party ends with Ben and Mary Spies apologizing to Carlo Pernat via phone, with the Italian telling GPone that “the matter was closed” as far as he was concerned — and so that’s where the story here ends for me as well.

As a singular incident, the Ben Spies Twitter fiasco doesn’t rise beyond the petty gossip news that is more akin to TMZ’s fascination with Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMA’s. However, taken in the light of everything that has happened over the past season and a half for the Texan rider, one has to raise an eyebrow.

I don’t believe in bad luck, I believe in shit happens. Sometimes you can manage the shit that happens to you, sometimes you can’t, and that is pretty much the crux of life.

When approaching this article, I didn’t want to get mired down in the GP gossip — so many other publications do such a better job of that than A&R. Just as quickly though, I didn’t want to let this incident fall through the cracks either — as so many other American publications will undoubtedly do because of their proximity to the issue.

I think the ultimate point I want to make is that too many “unlucky” things have happened to Ben for luck to be a factor in their occurrence.

One day perhaps we will know the full backstory that connects these incidents with a narrative that revolves on reason rather than superstition. Until then, I wish the Texan a speedy and full recovery. He still remains our great white hope for an American on the podium come Sunday afternoon.

Source: GPone (x2) & SuperbikePlanet

  • Aj

    In my eyes, the problems stems from an attempt to change the ” elbows” riding style that earned him the nickname. Yes, it’s not as aerodynamic, but it was a winning formula. Now that elbows down is the only fast way to ride a motogp bike, Ben might consider emphasizing it again.

    Ducati is a moving train wreck and unless they divest themselves of that ridiculous L configuration, that bike will never work properly. It’s a career ending machine for all who ride it.

    Ben, go take a ride with Nicky on a satellite Honda.

  • Anvil

    Ugh, another social media malfunction. I swear, sometimes people lose all sense when confronted by a keyboard. Sure, social media can be an (arguably) useful tool for athletes and celebs when used properly, but it seems like a loaded gun to the head for the stupid and passive aggresssive.

    I thought Ben was smarter than that. Regardless of who the target of this tweet actually was, if Spies was the author, he should have thought twice and then three times. How could he not have known that people would assume he was talking about Carlo P.? Something doesn’t seem kosher here.

    The only permittable excuse for this is if someone hacked his account. I was excited to see Ben enter MotoGP and have been rooting for him to come back to form, but something about his demeanor has turned me off. His bedside press conference sounded a little odd, too.

    Unfortunately, social media is a double-edged sword and, frankly, it’s largely a giant echo chamber full of inconsequential tripe. If he can’t control himself and use it with productive discipline, he should just stay away.

  • TheBrain

    JB, it sounds like you are suggesting other forces are at play in Ben’s situation? Aj, are you claiming to know more than a team of engineers and technicians?

  • 2wheels2fun

    AJ, that “ridiculous L configuration” like Honda uses? Yeah, that’ll never work.

  • Calisdad

    Ben’s misfortunes at Yamaha are beyond the laws of probability. Why they continue at Ducati would make anyone’s head spin. But then he did run out of gas while leading a race in WSBK. Luck? Dot your own i’s and cross your own t’s. If I were him I’d be searching out the best witch doctor in Haiti. Maybe 11 is not such a lucky number.

  • Ultimately the lesson here is that MotoGP is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, if your not ready to bring your best all of the time, every time, anytime you probably won’t last very long.

    His comments and other things he has done point to the fact his heads not in the right place. He’s a professional athlete – do his tattoos strike anyone as professionalism?

    Some people would argue that they are not that important I would argue that at this level everything is. Certainly what he publicly says on his twitter account – drugged up or otherwise.

    I really like Ben, he seems like a nice guy and certainly extremely talented but it’s possible his height and weight mixed with his mind set have taken him beyond his limit in terms of what he’s really capable of.

    I hope to see him back in WSBK perhaps where he was more comfortable.

  • kevin hayes

    Spies MotoGP career is over, too many bridges burned.

  • @ AJ… the L4 will never work just for the two bikes leading the championship in Marquez and Pedrosa. Spies was on the same bike as Lorenzo during his championship year and didn’t do much with it just don’t think Spies is cut out for MotoGp. He has a point and shoot style (SBK) so maybe he should just switch over and go SBK racing.

  • Yeeha! Stephen

    on August 26, 2013 at 4:58 PM
    kevin hayes says:
    Spies MotoGP career is over, too many bridges burned….

    Some of us Texas boys sure hope you’re wrong kevin. But then again, he is suffering ”Foggy” type injuries and a Texas Big Hat type chip on them.

  • TexusTim

    ok so theres only two ways you know if someone is into “powdering there nose” 1- you did it with them 2- you heard about it…either one is trouble and this is the type of nonsence that ends things once and for all…..maybe wsbk for 2014 then back to motogp in 2015 ..o waite theres the powder the nose comment to overcome now so it may be all over….I HOPE NOT… HE CAN STILL GET IT DONE WITH HIS HEAD IN THE RIGHT PLACE,,right now he has a dark cloud following him around. one more thing dorna owns motogp and wsbk( or there parent company does) so it may be a tough road to hoe over at wsbk and he could use a year of riding and winning there if he’s to make a resturn to motogp.

  • #AJ, Ducati is a career ending machine almost for eveyone not Casey.

    I really had my hopes high with Ben since AMA but the shit that happened to him is the kind of shit you see in the middle east ( a cluster fuck). since I was a kid now in my late 30’s I wonder when the shit in the middle east would end and until this day I see the same old shit and now with Ben since he joined Motogp, the shit won’t stop (granted he did Ok with Tech3 but not great)

    good luck Ben, I hope you can get at least a 10th place with Suzuki in 2014

  • forgot to subscribed to this one, shit I love this site

  • “2wheels2fun says:

    August 26, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    AJ, that “ridiculous L configuration” like Honda uses? Yeah, that’ll never work.”

    Actually Honda utilize a 90 degree (or possibly a 75.5 degree as the V5 RC211V) V configuration as opposed to Ducati’s 100 L configuration that precludes Ducati from making COG adjustments/improvements.

    I don’t doubt that Audi will change to a narrow V for a more compact package that allows there improvements.

    On topic, Ben was shite at Yamaha factory team but a look at the various failures of parts (when does a swing arm ever break?!?!!) is almost enough to make one consider some kind conspiracy.

  • Gritboy

    At the end of the day, I “hope” Ben heals and finds his mojo again — be it the bike or the mindset. MotoGP hasn’t been kind to him, but hey, fans a fickle, factories are dictatorial, bikes are unreliable, and well that’s racing.

  • JW

    @ two version-

    I think there are some that would find Rossi’s earring more distasteful than a few Spies tats.. Also go to as see rossi showing off a tat he got when he was about 18. And how bout the frenhman who beat up his girl? That said I could care less about the looks, but rather how does the athlete perform, period. Spies for me is a liability based on performance alone. I believe he is done in GP. There are too many talented riders in the wait

  • John

    Jensen, I don’t think it’s fair to discuss this tiff without clarifying that Carlo Pernat’s affinity for cocaine is no secret in the paddock. By many accounts, he is also an insufferable prick and likely deserves to be called out.

  • nerve

    My favourite Spies quote: ‘ riding a motorcycle is about the ability the think, while you are about to die. ‘ Sums it up nicely, but might have gotten to his head. As to Carlo, maybe his employers, sponsors, or family will pay heed to the exposure. It’s not all bad. I’d like Spies behind a mike, talking true and wise-ass.

  • nerve

    Ability ‘to’ think.

  • JD

    Heres what I do know, and only because I do know…all his drama (in the paddock)stems from his mom managing him. she doesnt play well with the other kids. You have to play well with the other kids or they all gang up on you and kick you out of the club

  • Westward

    I thought the first comment was a little daft. That was until I read the comment blaming Spies’s mother for his misfortune.

    At Yamaha, most of Spies woes stemmed from technical issues, which last time I checked are not the pilots responsibilities. Leaving a clamp on the brake cables affecting ones ability to brake, and having a swing arm collapse on the corkscrew at Laguna, are beyond ones ability to ride a motorcycle.

    Spies was injured, then reinjured himself in an unfortunate accident which is no stranger to Moto racing. I’m just thankful Spies has not suffered career ending injuries or ended up dead.

  • WarDog

    The man has all the talent needed, but besides the bad luck (and yes, he HAS had some bad luck)–on one side, he’s spread himself too thin. Starting up business ventures like restaurants and especially heading a pretty serious competitive bicycle racing team–that can take a lot from you mentally and physically. Plus just plain time spent on things besides racing, leaving not enough bandwidth left over for the necessary single-minded preparation for racing in the top echelon, let alone against the likes of such Aliens as Marquez.

    On the other side of that bad luck perhaps another cause of his troubles is political. Twitter fiasco being case in point. Some say Spies has a personality like Stoner (though he is his own man and seems more outgoing). The perception of a Stoner-like personality without Stoner-like race results MAY have contributed to conflicts with Japanese/Euro-centric team managements, who misunderstand this particular American.

    Of course Spies DOES have the ability to run with the Aliens and we are all pulling for him to get back to doing so soon!

  • Slangbuster

    Hey Ben! Loose the mom and think for yourself you might find some good things come your way in a hurry. Your’e a talented guy but your not getting any younger or lighter and the young guns are moving fast to take your job. I hope you can overcome all your obstacles as I’d like to see you succeed and do well.

  • BenFaster

    Ben’s injuries will end his career as a top league rider. He now has glass bones. All the other stuff is weird stuff and it does seem that his manager has a knack for creating an ” un-endearing” quality with every team he works with.
    He’s WSB fodder at best. Its a shame – goes to show that potential is just potential until it makes results. Too bad because I’m a big fan of him and the 12th place , zillion dollar quacker!

  • “His comments and other things he has done point to the fact his heads not in the right place. He’s a professional athlete – do his tattoos strike anyone as professionalism?”

    Dumb. Ever notice how many F1 world champions wear ink? No, I didn’t think so. Hint: Button, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Alonzo all sport designs. Get over what you think you know about professional athletes.

  • Ross Ewich

    for anyone that has followed his career from the earliest days on this side of the pond can piece together the problem is with his mother. the whole crazy-haired, i-know-whats-best-fo-mah-boy might work well at your local track… but sticks out like a sore thumb in the polished/monied/professional world of motogp. she sticks her nose in where she has no authority, thinks she owns the whole team and anyone can see that she breeds discord. she doesnt realize a rider is only a cog on top of a huge machine and he has to work well with everyone (mechanics, management, sponsors, etc) underneath him.

    from a team standpoint, you think youve hired a rising star, when 1/3 of the way thru testing you realize you also have an unwanted new team manager.

    i can see why a team might sabotage (lets stop calling it luck) their own rider.

  • Phil

    “Off to surgery tomorrow! Bet Carlo is so excited he wont remember to wipe the powder off his nose.”

    Ooooooooh that’s rather cutting of him.

  • Norm G.

    re: “social media is a double-edged sword”

    exactly, if you simply stay off social media, your chances of NOT being lewis hamilton, amanda bynes, or selena williams increase by a factor of 10.

  • Norm G.

    re: “Leaving a clamp on the brake cables affecting ones ability to brake, and having a swing arm collapse on the corkscrew at Laguna, are beyond ones ability to ride a motorcycle.”

    NATCORK (No Amount of Talent Can Overcome Recalcitrant Kit).

  • Norm G.

    re: “just don’t think Spies is cut out for MotoGp.”

    no, white anglo saxons simply aren’t the DRAW in MotoGP. this ain’t the 70’s.

  • Norm G.

    ps: and one’s with moms in tow are even less desirable. when he left for Europe, I honestly thought mary was going to stay at home…? Europe (and pretty much anywhere outside the states) isn’t exactly know for it’s liberal attitudes toward women. but hey, I guess the kid loves his mother. I love mine too. oh, what to do…?

  • Chaz Michael Michaels


    the 70s? and I’m not really sure what qualifies as an “anglo saxon”, but if you mean “American” we’ve had plenty of success also in the 80s, 90s, on up to Hayden in “06.

    This is a real shame because I don’t think Spies strikes anyone as an asshole. He’s melting down.

    Twitter is the perfect device for personal and professional self destruction.

    We still love you Ben Spies…we’ll miss you, but we still love you. ugh.

  • sideswipeasaurus

    Unprofessional comment? yes. Funny & candid? absolutely. I bet there are lot’s of people in the paddock breaking their own collarbones from falling over laughing. I don’t know anything about CP’s nose but for god’s sake man button up your shirt once in a while!

    This is a bit of nothing. Spies’ injuries however I fear might KO his career at a time where he needs to show his form.

  • jzj

    This is of course mere arm-chair psychological analysis, but I don’t think Spies loves racing. I think he did for years, but became more enamored of bicycling and business interests and perhaps having a bit of nice pocket money to walk around with, and fell out of love with going fast. It seems that all the top riders are constantly training on motorcycles, and living and breathing the stuff, and yet the year he went to the factory Yamaha team I think he wrote that he hadn’t been on a motorcycle the entire off-season. I don’t fault him for this as it must be very hard to stay so focused on one thing from an early age and not be able to let up, but on the other hand I have to look at the other tops guys and believe that this is a 100% full-time commitment for them. In any event, I wish him a full recovery, I wish him well in his endeavors, and for my own selfish entertainment I’d like to see him race with complete commitment and win races.

  • sunstroke

    Ben was raised by Mat Mladin. Who expected him to grow up with good table manners and polished media presence?!

    Assuming slander is out of the question, Ben’s comments are only wrong b/c he isn’t winning. That’s what he learned from Mladin. When you’re a champ, you can trample whoever you want.

    Unfortunately, Ben is more of a Biaggi so he may get blacklisted to WSBK. Ben is not accustomed to losing nor the humility that comes with it.

  • Paulo

    I met Ben Spies at Laguna Seca, he signed a tail piece for my bike. He was and still is someone I look up to because as it’s been said before ANYONE who starts a grid at the MotoGP level is a Gladiator and beyond the skills of mere mortals.

    Ben, I still think you’re a BADASS no matter where you end up riding. I wish you the best in your recovery and future endeavors, I’ll always be a fan!

  • Shawn

    @AJ @CornerCarver

    Both Honda and Ducati use a 90 degree V4, also known as an L4. In what world is an L shape 100 degrees? None, that’s what. I don’t get why people find that so hard to understand. An L4 or a 90 degree 4 (or twin) are the same configuration, Ducati just likes to call their configuration an L configuration. In neither machine is the front cylinder bank parallel to the ground. Ducati may have a packaging problem but Honda has shown that there is no inherent problem with the 90 degree V4 (= L4) configuration, which to beat a dead horse, is the same configuration.

    I know that the above paragraph is repetitive, but some people are clearly a little behind in their geometry class.

  • “Ben is not accustomed to losing nor the humility that comes with it.”

    Nothing that riding a Ducati won’t cure. Assuming he keeps his ride, that is.

  • Jd

    @ Westward

    I thought the first comment was a little daft. That was until I read the comment blaming Spies’s mother for his misfortune.

    you missed the mark, like in all groups there needs to be good flow between all when your goal is to be the best or better than the other groups. So think of the path of less resistance….which shes not How can anyone focus when all the members of your group hating on your mom?? youd probably do some hating back in her defense and now theres walls put up in the group offering more resistance and so on. Not an ideal team climate to be around im certain

  • Matt

    @JW – it was Barbera that beat up his girl, not a Frenchman. Aside from that – I agree, the tats aren’t an issue. Dovi has tats all over his arms as well.

  • @Shawn

    Thanks loads for the geometry lesson. I do understand (penmanship aside) that an L is 90 degrees but you fail to mention the angle of V in the alphabet.

    Here is some additional information that you may not know regarding motorcycle racing history.

    Honda introduced the first racing V4 four stroke engine in 1978 and raced it at Silverstone in 1979. The angle of that V configuration was 100 degrees, not 90. Both bikes suffered failures and DNF the race. They also had upside down forks and a carbon-monocoque/aluminum chassis as well as other uncommon forward thinking components.

    By the time they raced the new racer (NR500) in 1981 it had morphed into a 90 degree V.

    Fast forward to the RC211V introduced a decade ago, it had a 75.5 degree V5 engine. I don’t know the exact angle of the RC213V currently leading the points under MM93 but since the 800cc RC212V was also 75.5 degrees I doubt that the newest bike is a 90 degree based V engine.

    I very well could be mistaken about the 100 degree V or L engine reportedly used by Ducati as I read more of their stuff in passing as I am a longtime fan of the Hayden clan.

    I do have 9 V4 Hondas in my garage however (of the 21 I have owned since purchasing a VF750F new while stationed in Japan in 1983) and certain of the details on those.

    Thanks again for the geometry lesson, repetitive as it was, but Honda has not had a GP based V4 of 90 degrees for more than a decade that I am aware of.

  • A Different Shawn

    5 minutes of research on this very website showed me that the RC213V does, in fact, use a 90-degree V4 engine.

  • sideswipeasaurus

    Yep. That was big news this year. Honda’s current bike is indeed 90º V4. It was that revelation that stuffed the yaps of all the armchair experts that insisted Ducati’s problem was the 90º V4. It’s ok if you missed that news but there it is.

  • Shawn


    While Honda may have used other angles in the past it currently uses a 90 degree V. Ducati uses a 90 degree V, which they call an L4. They started using 90 degree Vs almost fifty years ago, and so that is one of the reason they persist on using it now. There is no such thing as a 100 degree L4. Both these engines use the same included angle ( ), which is 90 degrees. One quarter of a circle is 90 degrees. Here’s a whole story by Dave Emmett that was published here on A&R about the fact that they both use the same 90 degree engine configuration and so the weight distribution problem is not inherent to the 90 degree included angle:

    Again, I apologize to others who may thing this is a bit repetitive, but the idea that the 90 degree configuration is the Ducati’s only problem should stop coming up. I’m not much of a Ducati fan or a hater, but the fact that they stubbornly keep the 90 degree engine configuration isn’t their problem, as Honda aptly demonstrates.

  • I see that I was incorrect about the current angle of the V in the Honda GP bike.

    Thanks for the link Shawn. I am not sure if it was you or a different Shawn but there was a geometry Nazi on the other post topic as well.

    Good article.

  • Shawn


    I really enjoy David Emmett’s pieces, and I also believed that the 90 degree angle was a problem until it was revealed that the Honda uses the same configuration.

    The Shawn from the other post actually is a different Shawn, but I commiserate with geometry accuracy.

  • Tigre

    What the hell do tattoos have to do with professionalism in athletics? I know I hate all sports outside of motorcycle racing, but have you looked at any athlete in the “ball sports” lately?! They’re all covered in tattoos. Who gives a shit?

  • irksome

    I’m reasonably certain the author of the “unprofessional” tattoo comment was my 85-yr old mother.

  • You are wrong, he is my neighbor and he is 87

  • Monica Bing

    Let’s see. I’m American and female. 2 great reasons to love Ben Spies. Not. I’ve been to 10 U.S. races where Ben Spies was at. Not once have I seen him be friendly or obliging to any fans, including the kids. Your odds were better of getting Casey Stoner to stop for a photo or autograph than from Ben. Ben does nothing to promote this sport through his fans and he’s more interested in promoting his restaurant and cycle team than anything else. Oh wait, Ben is just simply more interested in Ben. With only 3 American riders in GP, one of whom looks depleted and tired and the other trying to hang on with a production racer bike, I am looking for any reason to want to see Ben succeed. That’s not gonna happen. In the end Ben is responsible for everything that happens to Ben. Karma is a bitch.

  • “I’m reasonably certain the author of the “unprofessional” tattoo comment was my 85-yr old mother.”

    ROTFL – Classic!

    ‘That Ben Spies used to be such a nice boy till he got those awful tattoos. His poor mother!’

  • ted Baxter

    funny how no one…. nobody… thinks House is doing cocaine. (fat joke)

  • tonyw

    Interesting reading the comments. People question Spies talent but seem to forget his showing on the Monster Tech III Yamaha. His first 2 seasons where he ended up 5th and 6th in the points with a few podiums including a win. I can’t deny his problems of late, but he still has more talent to come, just needs some better health, a new manager (sorry, but his mother should not be managing him), and a good bike that will help him. I have 2 ducatis but think Ben will not be an asset at this time for them. He needs to either be back on the yamaha or on a honda.

  • 1199Freak

    Forget Yam and Duc, I want to see him on the new Suzuki next year.. back to the brand that took him to all those championships in the AMA

  • 1199Freak

    Oh and I forgot.. dump the mom Ben she’s only bringing you down..

  • conrice

    It’s not the degree of the motor that’s important. Even if the degrees are the same, the orientations are different. And, because Honda uses pneumatic valves, the head is physically much smaller and lighter than Ducati’s, thus you can change the orientation of the motor inside the bike more easily. Add to that, Ducati just recently started trying to use that “twin beam” type of frame. Nicky broke a record using the carbon fiber frame in testing when Rossi first came to Duc. But Rossi and Burgess told Duc to scrap it and focus on a conventional twin beam frame like Yamaha and Honda. This Duc is a very different machine from when Stoner rode it to the winner’s circle. He constantly admitted when he was at Honda, that there was no possible way he could ride the “current” Ducati fast.

    Personally, I don’t think Ben is really cut out for motorcycle racing period anymore. It’s not for lack of talent (he has tons of it – more than enough to be competitive), but his mind and his heart are elsewhere. I think he’s more interested in cycling now – and if that’s the case, he should go do that. He seems to be “done” with motorcycles – and that’s fine. I don’t want to undermine the extent of his injuries – but he doesn’t even seem to be in a hurry to get back. I’ve never seen one motorcycle racer wait until they were 100% to get back on the bike. I’m sorry to say – but his recent interview on sounded like a prima donna making excuses. I’m not saying his injuries aren’t substantial, but doesn’t seem to be too upset sitting out.