The following postcard from the pits story is another adaptation of a Robin Crutcher MotoMom original. I’ve been wallowing in my basement office over the last week or so - thank you, ‘Rona - and have done some more reading on her stories. This one sticks to the ribs they way Grandma’s Christmas mashed taters will, and I've really enjoyed freshening it up to meet today. It was written twenty years ago and still - the meaning - and they types of MotoDads - haven't changed.
It sits real close to home. You see, I’ve experienced it first hand with all the types. I’m not sure if that’s a privilege to say I’ve seen it all and close to home or if it’s a burden knowing that not every time to the track was a shining moment.
But those moments, both at the track, in the truck and at home will shape us and our youngsters in the present and the future days.
Honestly I’m stoked for the changes that have been made around my own home recently - my boys’ own MotoDad has worked hard to find the fun again and I’m super proud of that.
This year has been rough for everyone I know. That’s not an exaggeration. While some have had the sun shine a bit brighter on them, 2020 has been throwing punches at all of us. What we choose to do next year with very hands-on training we’ve received in this one, only time will tell.
I hope everyone takes their lessons, licks their wounds and comes back to show what they’ve got. This is especially true to the MotoDads. Many of you have had the burdens of financial and additional race stresses: Here’s to you in 2021.
The MotoDad Type
There is a sport called motocross. And motocross is a microcosm of the world around us. In other words, it takes all kinds. There are many different types of people to be found at the track, at the motorcycle shop or huddled around a screen watching MAVtv. Pherpaps, because I have a couple sons and they a father, I have become more attuned to watching the different types of men at the races. They seem to fall into four distinct categories: The MotoDad, The StepIn, The Dad, and The Asshole.
A father is probably the single most important piece of motocross equipment most MotoKids take to the races with him. There is a bond formed between the child and his dad that needs to be cultivated carefully to survive a lifetime of ups and downs in this highly competitive sport.
Moms know about bonding. It happens when we squeeze, breath, focus and scream through twelve hours of labor. We call our partners names, we swear to retaliate (Okay, but how are we going to do that? Get THEM pregnant?) and we forget the months of swollen feet, the aching back, and every pain filled moment the instant we clap eyes onto our little cherub and start counting fingers and toes. Women are created this way. How else would we make it though the diapers, terrible two’s and teenage years without that instant bond? But back to dads - they don’t get that initial Gorilla-Glue-I’m-Stuck-On-You bond; they have to work at it.
Some dads work at it, try, fail, try again. Some just sort of cruise through it and some dads are in need of remedial training in the art of not being a dick.
The Asshole: We’ve all seen this type. He knows his boy will be a superstar someday. A million dollar contract, clothing deals and His Boy will owe it all to him. The MotoKid might even be raking it in now at the ripe age of 12 - a social superstar and track phenom. The Asshole will see to it that his racing child will know every mistake he’s made, and will call him names that would make a sailor blush to hear. Loudly, and with great detail he will inform his son that So-And-So could ride circles around the child, even with both hands tied behind his back. If necessary, he will knock his opinions and self-styled coaching into the child. After all a little taste of the belt or the backside of his hand will teach his child to race better, to listen to what he’s told to do on the track. To meet The Asshole's expectations. It’s a real shame that once this kid hits eighteen or twenty-one his dad will never again be in that racer’s pit area. Or life. But then again, maybe it isn’t a shame after all.
The Dad: He really loves his kid. Honestly, he does. He will usually rearrange his busy schedule to come to the races. He likes to socialize and is often the life of the pit party. He seldom is making phone calls while his kid is on the track, and can even aid in some wrenching if pressured. He’s proud of his kid’s successes, rarely mentions the losses - unless he can put the blame on another racer, or the bike, or the fact that it was too sunny, too wet, too hot, too cold. He really doesn’t expect constant appreciation for all he does for this child, the long hours of work, the money spent, the missed football games on TV… really. He’s just looking forward to the day his child is old enough and capable enough to do his own bike work and able to get himself to and from races, so he can get on with what he wants to with his own fun.
The StepIn: This dad isn’t the MotoKid’s dad. But it doesn’t matter. He might be the MotoMom’s boyfriend, brother, dad or family friend. He’s there because he loves MotoKid and wants to see the child live the best life possible - on and off the track. We love these ones - their special. They’re the uncles that tirelessly shop for the coolest track shoes, light up toy cars and the newest Stacycs. They’re the stepdads and boyfriends that know they aren’t replacing a dad, but there with some words of encouragement and maybe a knowledgeable line choice. They do the very best they can. They’re the friends and MotoGrandpas that know how to set suspension sag and bleed a fork. If a MotoKid is lucky, these people are additions to the motofamily, adding to the MotoDad repertoire. They might be the clan that takes a kid to the track when MotoDad is out of town and mom’s Chevy Equinox just can’t quite fit the 65cc inside. We applaud these guys.
The MotoDad: he’s there because he wants to be. He couldn't stand NOT to be. Maybe he raced when he was younger, maybe not. Either way motocross racing is a way for he and his son or daughter, as the case may be, to develop the parent-child bonding. MotoDad’s aren’t perfect, and that’s as it should be. They make mistakes, sometimes they forget to bring spare parts, but they admit it and try to correct their faults. In so doing, they provide an example for their child to follow. MotoDads are up late at night, wrenching and fine-tuning the bikes, trying to give their little racer every advantage they can. They put in even longer hours driving to races in out of way places, put up with mosquitos the size of the State of Delaware, and change flat tires on the inside dually wheel at midnight, on dark country roads that have no shoulders, with a minimum amount of cussing. Do MotoDads expect accolades for all the time, work and money invested in racing? No, but they do expect their child to put forth their best effort, and to have fun.
But most of all they provide love, encouragement and acceptance for their racing child. They teach them what good sportsmanship is about. They always find some aspect of their child’s race to make a good comment on what may otherwise be considered a dreadful performance. Even if it means they have to think really hard or resort to finding humor to not break the heart of a teary-eyed youngster disappointed at the trophy window. They don’t let their child whine, or place fault on some other rider. They teach them responsibility for their own equipment, performance and attitude.
They teach their children how to grow up in a world that is not fair. Yes, sometimes, nice guys finish last, but they still finish. Do MotoDads ever get frustrated? Are they ever disappointed? You bet. But when Father’s Day rolls around twenty years from now, they won’t hope for a card or maybe a phone call, they will have a son that comes by and says “Let’s go riding, Dad.”
And that’s what it’s really all about, no matter what version of the MotoDad you find in your pit.