From the nevergoingtohappen.com files
Get a few motorcycle race fans together over a few beers and inevitably some one will bring up man so and so from insert series is a far better rider than insert MotoGP rider, or if only insert my favorite rider could get a break they could really show how good they are.
In years past, there were attempts to bring riders from varying series together to duke it out and show who really was the king of the mountain. Problem was the equipment was to varied running at tracks few new in weather that was questionable at best. See the last attempt at the Trans Atlantic Match Races.
The idea here is that we would take all the variables out of the equation. Just like back in 1973 when Jay Signoe created the IROC series and the world’s best drivers banged fenders in identically prepared Porsche 911’s. We want to take the worlds best motorcycle road racers from some of the major series, put them on identical bikes and let them go at it around the world.
Since we are off visiting Mr. Roarke and Tattoo on Fantasy Island, we might as well go all the way and suss this out. First lets talk about the machine to be raced. This one took a little thought, mostly to come up with a machine that WOULD conflict with everyone’s current ride. The bike of choice for this series, at least the current thinking is the new KTM RC8. By all press accounts this is a fine motorcycle with plenty of power and it handles fairly well. The idea is to have a machine that will not be lacking in power, with a brand that might be hungry to promote it’s self with a new release. Another option, now that they are owned by Harley Davidson would be the MV Agusta F4 312. The bike it self is long in the tooth, it’s been around since the beginning of the decade, but it IS a quality bike and one that should conflict with everyone’s current ride, so it all still works in that no one has an unfair advantage.
Will this bike favor riders who have raced production machines, and twins in particular, in the case of the KTM, maybe, but we are going to be bring elite level racers to play, they should be able to adapt with few issues. The bike would be prepped in a Supersport manor. Keep the stock forks but worked over, upgrade the rear shock, Penske, Ohlins, Elka, WP, whom ever wants to toss their hat in the ring, but everyone runs the same thing. The motor would be lightly worked over, we want about 180-190 HP and get the weight down to about 360lbs. There would be aftermarket wheels in the 16.5” to allow for the latest in modern Superbike rubber. Our tire supplier? Who wants to pay for the privilege? World Superbike riders would like Pirelli’s American riders will want Dunlop's, MotoGP riders, don’t know that they would care. Bridgestone and Michelin would certainly be welcome to bid. The Michelin boys would be keen to do this you would think since they have been kicked out of every other series, but their M.O. is that they only like to race when there are others to play with, so who knows.
Next lets figure out what tracks we are going to run. I think four, maybe five races would be ideal. Trying to narrow down some of the great tracks around the world to just a few is pretty tough, but in my mind there are a few that stick out. The four that we are going to go with are Philip Island, Suzuka, Mugello and Road America. My ideal for the fifth and final race I’m going to hold back for a few minutes because it’s something out of left field but I think everyone will agree would be a fantastic finale.
So, why these tracks? To me these are some of THE signature tracks that motorcycle road racing goes to. Philip Island is often tagged as one of the rider’s favorites, Suzuka is a historic track that maybe one of the most difficult to master. Mugello, in the hills of Tuscany is another rider favorite. Assen would have been a great choice as well, but unfortunately the revisions to the track have taken away greatly from this historic venue. Road America is to me the signature track in the US, and is a much better venue that Laguna Seca. The new road course at IMS could be interesting, but I think we need to see a few more races there before that call is made.
Now comes the hard part, whom do you invite to ride. Lets start with MotoGP. The first three to pick are easy because they are the last three World Champions, Rossi, Hayden and Stoner. We are going to bring three more along with his. Pedrosa and Lorenzo seem like no brainers, the last choice is a bit harder. I’d like to bring along Toesland as the former World Superbike Champion, I’d also like to bring in Andrea Dovizioso, since to me he was rookie of the year last year, kicking some ass, on a pretty bog standard Honda.
Next, lets dive into the World Superbike field. Bayliss, Biaggi and Corser seem like easy choices. I’d also bring Ruben Xaus and Max Neukirchner to the party as very talent riders who I think under-appreciated. We have to give some thought to Ryuichi Kiyonari, he didn’t have the greatest of seasons last year, but he is a former BSB champ and if you haven’t scene what I describe as the Kiyo Slide Show, aka qualifying for the WSBK race at Donnington this past year, then you have not observed what bike control in the wet is all about.
Lets now look to the BSB to grab four riders, Since this was the first year that I really paid attention to the series, I’m going to take the four riders that really impressed me this year. Leon Haslam, Leon Camier and Shakey Byrne and Tom Sykes. It just so happens that save Camier, they are all moving up to the WSBK class next year. Byrne and Haslam have both raced in MotoGP, though on very subpar equipment. Camier, by all accounts is a comer in the series and one to watch out for in the very near future, and Sykes really stepped up his game from mid season on.
Finally we are going to pick four from the American series. The choices here, more likely the omissions here will cause a fuss. From America the first two choices are the easy ones, having won eight of the last nine championships, Messer’s Mladin and Spies. Choice three was easy for me as the best rider who can’t get a Superbike ride even if he brought $10mil to the party until very recently, Josh Hayes. The last rider required some thought, and it came down to two or three choices. Disappointing many I dismissed both Bostrom brothers as to inconsistent, even given Ben’s resurgence last year. Miguel DuHamel, being somewhere between 39 and 45 depending on which of his 35 birth certificates he’s using this week just seems like his best days are behind him. Do for me it came down to Jamie Hacking, Roger Hayden and Neil Hodgson. At the end of the day I went with Hodgson, the deciding factor being that he is a past British and World Superbike champion.
Who pays to put this all together and make it worth the while for these riders to show up? Once again we will walk over to the tree with the low hanging fruit and see which of the energy drink companies would like to sign up. If you want to know why these companies have so much money to toss around, it’s pretty easy. We will use Red Bull as an example since they are the most well known. The company’s cost to put its 8.3oz can on the shelf, including all marketing and distribution costs is $.40. Now the company isn’t getting the full $3-4 that it sells for at the end retailer, but you get the idea, there is quite a bit of profit margin to have some fun with. Money would also come for the buy ins of the manufactures involved in tires, suspension, and all the little bits that you need to run a series. Given that Red Bull pays some of it’s sponsored riders $2mil+, having them put up the money that would pay the series champion €1mil shouldn’t be a problem. That I believe is enough money to get riders interested. However if Monster, Rockstar, Dark Dog or anyone else would like to get in as the title sponsor, they are more than welcome.
One of the largest problems to overcome in pulling this off is scheduling. No two ways about it too many series have dates that conflict for this to come off on a race weekend, say a Saturday feature race in some of these series. Philip Island could be the opening race going along with the World Superbikes, Mugello with MotoGP, Suzuka to go with the Eight Hour, and Road America with the AMA. Now for that final twist. The fifth and final event would also be in the US and run in conjunction with the US MotoGP round at Indy. Now wait you are thinking you just said a minute ago that you wouldn’t rum at The IMS. That is true I wouldn’t. Saturday night, under the lights a 20 lap feature at the Indy Mile DIRT TRACK! Excuse me my cell phone is ringing. Ahh that was Miriam Deitcher, she says that’s a brilliant idea. It all works, KTM has a Supermoto bike that could be used to run this, or, much like Tony Stewarts
Prelude To The Dream race at Eldora, we get some dirt track guys to give up their rides (Harley XR 750’s) and put the stars on them!!
Why the Indy Mile? Because with the exception of Hayden and Stoner, I don’t think any of these guys have really let it hang out on a dirt track, and to really throw them for a loop at the end, when the big paycheck is on the line, would show who truly is King Of The Mountain.
Even in the middle of the current economic unpleasantness, I believe the idea has merit. It maybe isn’t as neat and clean from a time standpoint as the Race Of Champions that just ran at Wembley, but that events continued popularity and good TV ratings makes me think this could work. Selling TV broadcast rights would be pretty easy. Eurosport provides the English language announcers Toby, Julian and Randy, They can handle all the broadcast for Asia and Europe, and we get Chet Burks to take care of the US broadcast, while still retaining the announcing team.
Yes it’s a crazy idea, yes it can never happen, but you tell me that you don’t want to see this pulled of YESTERDAY!